One mom questions the level of commitment families are asked to make to the local high school marching band.
Homeschool Mom: I haven't been involved with a local public high school since I graduated, well, let's just say a few decades ago, and now that we are looking to hook my 14-year-old up with a regular, good old American-style public high school experience, I have to admit I'm rather amazed at the machinations within which I have become a tiny cog. He plays drums, and they have a first-rate champion marching band and really top-notch music department at his new school, so my husband and I thought it would be great to get him involved. He has already started practicing a couple times a week since before school even let out. Little did we know what marching bands, at least champion marching bands, require from students and parents. Let's just say if Betsy Booster Club wrote a perky memo asking for my kidney, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised.
First of all, it costs something over $1,000 for a semester, and it is not clear how much "something over" is at this point. We have to agree to do hours and hours and hours of fund-raising to just get the "something over $1,000" price. It's called "Your Fair Share," which I fear is some kind of Orwellian Band Speech. I am having trouble understanding how a public school can charge this much for band, because isn't it free and equal education for the masses? How is a single mother making a little over minimum wage going to have her kid in marching band? So marching band then becomes elitist instead of being something to enrich the lives of the children at the high school.
The next thing I was floored by was the amount of hours my son is required to put in. He will be at school until 6:00 PM four days out of the school week, and then on Saturdays for four hours as well. (But we were told not to pick him up until 6:30. So doesn't that mean practice goes until 6:30? More Orwellian Band Speech, I fear.) During the weekdays, that puts his time commitment for school at almost 11 hours a day, and that does not include homework. Betsy Booster Club says that it teaches him time management. Well, I suppose that would be true if it actually left him any time to manage.
I'm having trouble understanding how this type of schedule is in the best interest of the kid. I understand it is great for the prestige of the school to win every band competition they enter. The thing is, aren't you kind of stacking the decks? I mean, if I worked out five hours every day and I didn't have an incredible body, something would be strange. By the same token, if the kids are marched like it's a reenactment of the Bataan Death March, aren't they pretty much guaranteed to be good? It's a bit of an overkill. How about let the other school have a chance for goodness' sake and respect the child labor laws?
Needless to say, our first foray back into the traditional school system has been a bit of a shock. At least I can say "No thank-you" to Betsy and the band, but I am apprehensive, wondering if I will be able to politely decline other things that I find objectionable.
|Homeschool Mom: Pam Heilman is a California Credentialed Teacher who once won some body lotion in a raffle at the Y. She is currently residing in Southern California with her husband Eric, and homeschools their three children.|