Dear Public School System,
I am writing to you because of a crisis we are facing in our society. It is a crisis involving our teenagers, who you are trying to help us mold.
Unfortunately, I think you are creating the problem rather than helping it. Let me explain...
The public school system already complains (and rightly so) that our kids are "too tired" and that they "lack concentration." There seems to be more apathy than ever towards schoolwork and school-related items.
But here's the problem...
You complain that our kids are too tired, but then you make them stay after school for HOURS of extracurricular practice! They lack concentration, so you lengthen their school year. You make them work at camps from 9:00 to 5:00 IN THE SUMMERTIME!
I have teenagers in my church youth group who seem to be able to do NOTHING other than school! Does this produce well-rounded citizens? Why do we think that ALL their time needs to be occupied? Why can we not let them dream anymore? (They don't have time to dream!) What ever happened to lazy summers?
First of all, it is COMPLETELY UNFAIR to take away their summer "vacation." Teens in my church group are going to be BACK at Show Choir Camp just TWO WEEKS after they got out for summer vacation! EVERYONE needs time for rest and renewal, but you don't seem to grasp this concept. Our children are overbooked and overworked. Please, let them have a vacation!
Secondly, this scheduling is detracting from family time...a much-needed (but quickly vanishing) pasttime. Even though many parents are working longer hours and some working through the summers, there are still parents who don't see their kids til 9:00 PM because of schoolwork. Summers are decimated by camp schedules and other things. Families are passing each other by on their way to the next activity.
Third, overscheduling is unfair to other organizations. My youth ministry is trying to affect the same kind of results as you are. I would LOVE to work in conjunction with the schools, but the schools want ALL the time. While YOU are working on increasing the knowledge and athleticism of these kids, I would like to help work on their character, but my time to do so is increasingly taken away. It is very frustrating when schools tell kids (or give them the impression) that their GRADES depend on attendance of all ballgames, shows,etc. Even during the summer! I agree with the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." I certainly do not wish to do away with schooling, but I wish kids could experience more help from church, work, and non-profit organizations.
Lastly, overscheduling is not necessary. It seems that the schedules have been left up to the competitive minds of the local coaches. While I admire their tenacity, I would also question their motives. Are they trying to teach the kids something, or just put another trophy on their shelf? Many kids are working their tails off for those coaches, but they have NO collegiate or professional careers in sight. While hard work is a desired trait, it can also be a boon. Many families are being ripped apart because of dads who never come home. Could it be that we are overworking kids just like we are overworking their parents?
It used to be that we had the WHOLE summer off. Soon, August became "Back-to-school-camps" month with band, choir, etc. Now, the schools have taken June as well. ONE MONTH for summer vacation is not enough! PLEASE leave them alone until August!! Let them have a solid eight weeks of vacation. Let them rest. Let them dream. Let them be gone long enough to actually "miss" school!
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.