Let’s save middle school sports
In the slow-motion wreckage littering the path of the on-going, everlasting California budget debacle, the cancellation of middle-school sports programs may not have the greatest social significance.
We’ll concede that the ability of middle-school students to master math, science and a reasonably literate declarative sentence is more important. But tell that to the eighth-grade basketball hopeful just beginning to master his fade-away jump shot or the pick-and-roll. Tell the super soccer player, who has progressed through the ranks since kindergarten, that she won’t be able to compete at the scholastic level until high school.
Middle school is when kids begin to develop their athletic identities, when their physical bodies finally begin to mature, and when they truly discover what it means to be part of a team. And any school coach with an ounce of wisdom will tell you that lessons learned on the athletic field translate into all areas of life.
So when middle-school athletics are eliminated – as they were by the Sonoma Valley Unified School District for the next academic year – it may not be the end of the educational world, but it is a hard drop off a high cliff.
We’re not blaming the school district – it has become a fiscal punching bag thanks to the indefensible inaction of a legislative minority.
We continue to be astonished at the skewed priorities of politicians who would rather watch the agonizing, incremental and unnecessary demise of what was once one of the world’s finest educational systems slip ever deeper into mediocrity, than support even the slightest increase in revenue because that would constitute a tax increase.
The United States has, by far, the highest disposable income per capita in the world, the sixth highest GDP per capita and an economy – even in the midst of a staggering recession – three times as big as any other country. Meanwhile, our marginal tax rate is the second lowest among all developed countries, and California is by no means the most taxed state in the country, standing 11th in per capita taxes while we enjoy the eighth biggest economy in the world.
But instead of a modest regime of tax increases, we shift the fiscal burden to hidden taxes such as tuition increases, decreases in vital services, closure of state parks and the elimination of middle-school sports.
It will take $55,000 to restore the SVUSD middle school sports program. A group of private citizens – Save our Sports – has so far collected about $40,000.
The Sonoma Index-Tribune has pledged to contribute $5,000 in a dollar-for-dollar match, to close the gap. You can contribute by sending a check made out to either SOS c/o Altimira PTO or SOS, c/o Adele Harrison PTO. Checks should be mailed to Save Our Sports, P.O. Box 752, Sonoma 95476. Online donations can also be made by going to adeleharrison.org and following the links. Donations are fully tax deductible.