Sometimes, real life is so ironic.
There is probably no issue more discussed–in Indianapolis and elsewhere–than education. All kinds of grand reforms are being proposed, all manner of expensive “fixes” and pet theories advanced. And meanwhile, we are failing to support proven programs and experiences for the kids who most need those experiences.
Yesterday, our daughter forwarded an email to me from a social studies teacher at Arsenal Technical High School. After 16 years of sponsoring Model UN participation, Tech no longer has the funding to cover transportation and other costs to participate in Chicago in February, and the school board is refusing to authorize the field trip until the teacher can prove he has the cash in hand.
Anyone who has ever taught high school–and that includes me, back in the day–can confirm the importance of programs like Model UN, We the People, Boys and Girls State and the like. Anyone whose children have participated in one of these experiences knows how educationally valuable they are, especially for kids who come from families that don’t have the means to provide travel and similar “extracurricular” enrichment.
Part of the problem facing Tech is evidently that the state has not yet released Title One funds–something that should have happened months ago. These kids will lose a valuable learning opportunity through no fault of their own, because our public “servants” aren’t performing competently.
The teacher, Troy Hammon, feels so strongly about the merits of Model UN that he is offering to use two personal days to pay for his substitute teacher, and covering his own meals and bus ticket. (Shades of those greedy public sector workers people keep complaining about…)
The per student cost of participation is 450. for each of the eight students going. That covers registration, hotel, bus and meals for four days. Extra dollars would pay for a meeting room for research and preparation, and would reimburse the teacher. The kids–honor students with limited time to work– have been asking their parents and grandparents for help. They can get by with 1500 (with the teacher’s contribution), but ideally would have 4,500.
We’re sending $100, and I’m doing something I’ve never done on this blog–I’m asking those of you who can do so to chip in a few bucks so these kids who’ve been working their hearts out to prepare can go to an event with demonstrable educational benefit.
If you are willing to help, contact Troy Hammon. His email is HammonT@ips.k12.in.us. I believe he is setting up a website through which contributions can be made, or you can just send a check to Model UN, 1500 E. Michigan Street, Indianapolis, 46201. [Update: make check payable to Arsenal Technical High School and put Model UN on the memo line]
Grandiose reform efforts are well and good–and needed, obviously–but shame on us if these kids are denied a valuable experience now because we’re all too busy pontificating about policy to do the job that is currently at hand.