Putting Field Trips in the Proper Academic Perspective

In her recent letter to the editor, Susan Felice chastises Rhoda
Bress and Tom Bundros for having the gall to suggest that our high
school students spend more time in the classroom and less time on
the traditional Gilroy High field trips which cut into
instructional minutes.
In her recent letter to the editor, Susan Felice chastises Rhoda Bress and Tom Bundros for having the gall to suggest that our high school students spend more time in the classroom and less time on the traditional Gilroy High field trips which cut into instructional minutes. These two school board members were elected believing that the job of school is to instruct our students to be successful in the classroom. Success in the classroom is now defined very clearly by the state and the federal government. The state requires that all seniors in high school must pass the California High School Exit Exam, or they will not graduate. Students are also expected to be proficient in the subjects they learn in school. The federal government expects all schools to make adequate yearly progress.

I am guessing that Susan Felice may be the president of the David McRae fan club. I attended the school board meeting last week, and was stunned when Trustee MacRae asked why there was so much discussion on the approval of overnight field trips. Board member MacRae actually suggested that high performing high schools might be taking more overnight field trips than we are, paving the way for what I’m sure will be his follow-up report on this issue.

Here is one active parent’s unequivocal opinion: Gilroy High students are spending way too much time out of the classroom. Our flagship school is not a high-performing school; one out of five seniors have yet to pass the high school exit exam and nearly nine out of 10 students at Gilroy High are not proficient in mathematics. Those are frightening statistics with implications that cannot be dismissed. I am not certain exactly what steps will get them to proficiency, but I can assure you that wrestling in Reno will not do it. Nor will cheering in Hawaii, racing down Magic Mountain or singing Christmas tunes to the hospital-bound. I really don’t think we need to wait for the “MacRae Report” to acknowledge that time spent out of the class where the instruction is taking place directly impacts a students ability to succeed in a given subject.

One popular argument in favor of these many field trips is that we are allowing our students to have “once in a lifetime” experiences. A trip to Disneyland is not such an experience. The Chamber Choir trip abroad would qualify as a “once in a lifetime” experience. This trip has appropriately been taken over the spring break. All overnight field trips should be taken on weekends and when such trips will not interfere with instructional minutes. How can I say this? Because I know that the real job of Gilroy High School is to give every student a genuine “once in a lifetime” experience: the opportunity to walk across the stage at commencement and receive a diploma. For most students, this will be the beginning of a life of limitless possibilities.

As for her other points of contention, Ms. Felice and I am in agreement on the tardy policy; it needs an overhaul. However, she needs to get up to speed on some of her other complaints. The cell phone policy is a necessity in this day and age. I don’t think most students use their phones to cheat, but too many kids have fallen into the habit of text messaging someone who they will be seeing face-to-face within an hour. Cell phones are a distraction. Are our teachers under funded? Yes they are, but I then didn’t vote for Arnold.

GUSD and the rest of the state are still waiting to get the education money he “borrowed.” Last year, the GHS Parent Club attempted to supplement the lack of funds for teachers and spent in excess of $5,000 on supplies for teachers. Some classes are overcrowded, but others are not. Classrooms may have older desks, but they finally have new textbooks in the classrooms.

In these tight economic times, I’ll take up-to-date book over new furniture. Finally, it wouldn’t be another year at Gilroy High if we didn’t start addressing the Day of Silence. The public and the new principal have six months to decide whether to support the right of teachers to participate in this student-centered political protest. As a parent, I support the concept of teachers teaching the subject matter for which they were hired. Tolerance is borne of respect, and that job must fall to parents. If the kids don’t have respect for themselves and others by high school, it will not and should not be acquired in Algebra II.

Gilroy High students, for the most part, are nice and respectful kids, maybe Ms. Felice needs to give our students another look. Finally, I believe uninvolved parents are in the minority. A record number of parents who are involved turned out to attend the Gilroy High back to school night.

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