|Many Tipp parents place more emphasis on sports than school|
|Written by Editor|
|Monday, 30 April 2012 17:13|
To the Editor,
At the April 18th STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) meeting we had a sad event that I’m sure was even worse at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. STEM was formed by Dr. English, Dr. Davidson, and me in 2006. Since then it has been a marginally successful organization with never more then twenty to twenty-four members.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Dr. English in using his contacts among area businesses, industries, and organizations, STEM has funded a variety of projects including Science Fairs, Smart Boards, and field trips that our schools couldn’t afford.
However, Wednesday’s meeting really brought into focus for me why our community has shown so little interest in helping promote STEM subjects in Tipp Schools K-12. Three parents visited our meeting. Two were parents of gifted high school students. They were very disturbed that rumors were circulating that the high school was going to drop AP Physics and that AP Biology’s popular teacher’s contract wasn’t renewed. During the remarks time at our meeting these parents politely, but forcefully, vented their frustration on Dr. Kumpf, our assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum. Gretta could only answer these parents concerns that these issues wouldn’t be resolved until Monday’s school board meeting. It saddened me to hear these parents, who believed they were battling Tipp’s administration that they believed was willing to sacrifice the high end educational experience of some of its best students in order to save money.
I can appreciate the effort these parents were expending fighting for their children’s future. My three children (and I) went through Tipp’s schools. Today they all have multiple degrees, happy marriages, good jobs, and a combined six children. As for me, during my whole life in Tipp, I have been involved in helping our school one way or another.
So here’s why I was so sad listening to these parents. They didn’t realize that they were focused on the wrong “enemy” of STEM based academics. It’s not superintendent John Kronour and Gretta Kumpf that don’t want to make the focus of Tipp’s schools on academics. It’s the sports-based culture of Tipp City and the huge majority of the parents that promote this culture.
John and Gretta represent the wishes of the school board that represents the wishes of Tipp’s Citizens. They have little “wiggle room.” An AP level teacher makes $44,000 and in the case of physics, only teaches seven students. This, while a standard class might have twenty-five to twenty-eight students at the same cost. I had talked to one of these seven physics students on Monday before the STEM meeting and she said that there were at least seven more students who have the ability to take this course, but their parents either actively discouraged, or at least were neutral about their child taking AP physics, the most difficult class at Tipp. They were afraid their child wouldn’t get an A – or even a lower grade and this would lower their Grade Point Average and reduce their chances of getting into a “good” university. This student’s observation was confirmed by Brian Honeycutt, the high school Vice Principal at our meeting.
So here’s the point that these two parents were missing – they were too late to make a significant difference. The third parent, who remained quiet through most of the meeting, has children in the second and fourth grades. She graduated from Tipp and works in Tipp.
We talked for quite a while after the meeting. I could double the size of this letter giving example after example of the emphasis on sports and Tipp’s athletes compared to the community’s recognition of the achievements of our most gifted students – and the less gifted but still very successful students that will have good careers in trades.
At our meeting, this parent understood. She realized that if parents want our schools to focus on academics that it’s the majority in our community who must value and support academics at least as much as sports. For this to happen, parents who want to focus their children on academics need to stand up to help STEM create a new balance between sports and academics. They can help STEM, over time, support our school board and administration to make the tough economic choices that will lead to the future academic successes of our children.
At our meeting I personally apologized to the STEM board. I’ve been in charge of membership recruitment since we were formed. I tried everything I could think of and we haven’t had a new member in over six months. For example, I arranged a meeting at LT Ball to discuss ideas on making STEM subjects exciting, fun, and challenging for their children. I was received thoughtfully by the fifteen to twenty parents in attendance. After the meeting, I walked out in the parking lot and saw over two hundred parents on a very cool evening filling the bleachers to cheer on an athletic event for the same age group.
Tipp City’s parents can make a difference through years of sustained effort. The problem that led to the frustration of those two parents was that almost all their focus was on their children and they think academics is the schools board’s and administration’s responsibility, not theirs!
Happily, at the Monday evening school board meeting, both courses are going to be offered. The effort of the two high school parents generated enough interest to get the attention of the board to make sure these positions were saved. However, given Ohio’s economic problems, these situations will only become more serious.
The third parent is going to join Tipp’s STEM. She realizes that if she focuses her free time and interest just on her children beginning while they are in elementary school, when they get to high school, we will have created a balance where the newspapers, radio/TV stations, and even the atmosphere in the school will value the best academic students as much as our best athletes. This parent plans to talk to her friends about not only joining STEM but also partnering with our board and administration to put a balance between sports and academics.
Think of STEM subjects like a second language. The younger the child and the more this second language is spoken at home, the better and more comfortable the child will be using it.
Parents are beginning to understand that if their children are going to have happy, successful lives in the new world that’s rapidly developing around us, that the parents will lead the way in our community, and then, as the day follows the night, the schools will follow the lead of the parents. Study after study shows that academic achievement is the major determinate of success in developing a lifetime challenging, fulfilling career that creates greatly improved economic success and this significantly improves their marriages.
Parents, now is the time to join Tipp’s STEM and create an academic culture in Tipp – our children deserve to have a valued place in this new world. Contact us: Dr. Charles C. Smith, DDS, 667-2417, http://www.tippecanoesteamboosters.com
Dr. Charles Smith
|Last Updated on Monday, 30 April 2012 17:22|