Education: what's real and what's percieved?

March 10, 2010
By Anonymous

Educational Decisions: What’s real and what’s perceived?

The state of Nevada has many public programs and one of the main ones is the public school system. The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is one of these public programs. The majority of the school age population relies on government funded education. Unfortunately, the WCSD, along with any other public program has the tough job of balancing what it can financially afford and what the majority of the students need. We depend on the school district to do what is best for us. But many people wonder if it is the kids’ needs or convenience and financial value that are the basis of their decisions.
My best friend is hearing impaired. Last year, she attended McQueen High School because of the government assisted hearing aid county wide program located there. This program is a branch of Special Education for hearing impaired kids to get the help they need with certain benefits for free. My friend, for example, was given a note-taker to take notes of her classes in case she missed hearing something. She also has the FM system. Teachers wear a microphone and the microphone transmits into her hearing aids so she hears every word.
There are 2 high schools with this program in the WCSD: McQueen High School and Wooster High School. The difference between the two programs is that Wooster’s program is for the deaf whereas McQueen’s program is for the hearing impaired. Next year, due to budget cuts, these two programs will flip flop schools. Kids will have to be moved from one school to the other. The county is making choices in what to cut in our education system and this program is one of those. McQueen High School doesn’t even have a director for the Hearing Aid program because there is no money to hire one. The program is also short on note takers for the same reason. A solution to this would be that the parents of these kids would, unfortunately, have to pay money so that their kids could get the same education that their peers will who do not have a hearing deficit. With the parental financial contribution it would be assured that their son or daughter is being acknowledged of their disability and is given what they need to be successful. Unfortunately, this program is affected greatly because the hearing impaired student population is a minority group and programs that benefit minority groups are sometimes the first to be cut.
However, sometimes minority groups benefit. This can be seen at Depoali Middle School. Depoali has made a good number of decisions that people might feel have been made with convenience in mind rather than money. About 2 weeks before school started, a letter was sent home addressed to parents and kids. Parents were asked to not let their kids bring any food containing any type of nuts due to a minority group of kids who have severe allergies to peanuts. If your student did happen to bring this type of food, it was mandatory for them to turn their lunch into the main office and when lunch time came, they would be required to eat their peanut butter food items in the main office. This was Depoali asking the parents of about 1000 kids not bring food containing nuts because 2 or 3 kids have an allergy. If the allergy is so bad, then the parents should home school the kids to prevent such a horrible thing as having an allergic reaction to a ingredient that is included in many products and could also be traced to products not containing nuts at all.
It is inconvenient for the parents and for the kids to have to watch what they eat for fear of causing a potentially life threatening situation. Do not get me wrong, I feel incredibly sorry for kids with such a horrible allergy. But I do believe that by the time they are in 6th grade they should know not to eat their friend’s lunch. If they aren’t mature enough to handle the responsibility of their allergy and the parents really insist on their highly allergic children attending public school, then maybe the school could flip that rule around and have the highly allergic kids eat in the main office while the rest of the student body is free to bring their delicious and nutritious nuts to school.

For 6 years, Damonte Ranch High School was a 7-12 school. For the duration of this time at Damonte, a point was made to separate the middle school kids and the high school kids; whether it was at lunch or on the bus, middle school and high school was efficiently separated. With the lack of little people at Damonte, changes have been made. These changes include the buses. Every morning, a bus will come to Washoe Valley and pick up the middle school and high school students. The middle school students will be dropped off at Depoali just in time for the first bell. The bus then goes straight to Damonte to drop the high school kids off about 45 minutes before their first bell. What some people don’t understand is why such a big deal was made about separating middle school and high school kids when they went to the same school and after they no longer go to the same school, it is finally okay to put middle school and high school students on the same bus.
I remember last year I would leave at the same time as the bus that picked up the middle school kids and we would always get stuck behind it. If you would look behind you, you would see another bus picking up the high school kids. We understood why there was a separation. Parents had demanded that their middle school children be separated from the high school children. Now that there is a separation of schools, where is that separation of buses? Even if the middle school kids are attending a new school they should still be separated; even more so now that there are even younger kids, 6th graders, attending Depoali. In the past, the school spent thousands of dollars to keep these kids separated. In this case, it could be a matter of convenience, money or both. The bottom line is: the school district once again put convenience and money before the kids.
Nevada is going through some tough times right now. But that doesn’t mean that we have to make our kids pay for it with their education. Every child deserves an equal opportunity to be successful. With the actions the school district is taking, this could become more and more difficult. We need to make sure that our kids are getting what we expect them to get education-wise. If not, we could all suffer the consequences of an under-educated future population.

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