The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pop Machines in Schools

Well, as you can tell from the comments, there are a variety of viewpoints that can be held on the "pop machine in schools" issue. Which view is right? Why, yours of course! :-)

This issue is a good one for looking at the core values at play. (If you are a new reader - look at the two previous posts for the descriptions of the values.)

One value you might consider is Liberty. This view might say parents and children have the right to make these individual decisions. No government or government organization ought to be able to deny personal choices as simple as "pop" from someone! The opposing argument is that the courts have always held the "en loco parentis" view which means "in the absence of parents" schools have the right to make some of these decisions on behalf of parents. In other words, it IS in the schools rights to make simple decisions like this since they are in charge of the students when the parents have sent them to school. When the schools decisions appear to conflict with a majority of the community, it usually results in changes in school policy to reflect community views.

Another value is Prosperity. Those who give weight to this value are saying that the profit from the pop sales is put into the student activity fund and is used to buy academic prizes and other awards for students. This benefit return to students is worthy. Besides, say the proponents of pop machines, many of those students go straight home from school and have pop and a cookie after school anyway. The students may as well reap the benefits of all the academic prizes and awards purchased with the pop money. All schools put the student pop money into activity funds to return to students.

Another value at play is Community. This value is the one most quoted by opponents of pop machines at school. The community will benefit from healthy choices, healthy students and the overall community good. This is a long-term view but to some, this outweighs any other benefit. Therefore, any individual benefit of the student or liberty value regarding student choices, is trumped by a perceived societal good from removal of pop machines at school.

So how do these issues and conflicts get resolved in a political democracy? Compromises are reached that try to satisfy as many values as possible. For example, the schools may choose to only turn on the machines after school for athletes and extra-curricular events. They are turned off at lunch so as not to compete with more healthy alternatives. Also, many of the machines are replaced with milk or other healthier choices.

So what is right? When the issues are not absolute moral and ethical issues, the best decision is usually viewed as the one that satisfies the most values and hence the most people.

Last one of the week.

How do you feel about schools adopting curriculums for almost all students that are driven by private business interests? A current example in Indiana is the business community at the state level is pushing the CORE 40 curriculum to be the standard high school program. This tends to limit high school courses to college preparatory classes and discourages students from taking more elective classes.

Good idea or bad idea?


Anonymous said...

No comments about curriculum, 5 comments about pop machines. Maybe THAT is a comment.

Anonymous said...

Good point. I think the Core 40 is unacceptable. All the research says that when graduates get out into the workforce they still don't have the skills required. However, how many jobs do you know of have lecture followed by pen & paper tests?

I think we, as a society, need to lean more on "real world" instruction and assessment. This applies not only to the students whom we hope enter colleges, but also, for the "certificate track" students who need meaningful and real-world experiences and content. In my opinion, Wawasee does a better job preparing the certificate bound students fo real life than the college ones. Except for those whom we kick out.

And that's a whole other can of worms!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
No comments about curriculum, 5 comments about pop machines. Maybe THAT is a comment."

Since 2 of those 5 comments were from me I think you have to consider that not all of us can take the time to sit in front of the computer to leave comments 24/7! And don't forget there are many parents that have kids that are in the lower grades and are not concerned about HS classes at this time. Whereas the pop machines are in more than one school.

"How do you feel about schools adopting curriculums for almost all students that are driven by private business interests?
Good idea or bad idea?"

I do not like the current set up of having 8th graders pick all 4 years of their high school classes at one time nor the classes they have to choose from this year. How can the school lock in a student for 2 years of automotive classes? What if they decide they'd rather change career choices? Many things can change in an eighth graders life before he/she is ready to choose their classes for their junior year. Many adults cannot decide on a career choice yet you expect our 13-14 year children to commit to a choice. Then there is the relevance of some of the classes. How many jobs in our area really require the Hospitality, Travel & Tourism and Sports, Recreation & Entertainment Marketing classes? They sound like like fluff classes to me. Forget all the career specific classes and get back to the basics. Maybe then our students would not be scoring so low on all the government required tests. I'm sure the accounting class will show the students how to write in a checkbook register and how to balance the register but they won't learn something so simple as counting back change w/o the assistance of a cash register. I've had a high school student dig in her pocket to come up with 3 cents so she would not have to count out 97 cents in change. Or how about the Wawasee grad that refused to give me a refund because my husband had purchased the item with his debit card...even though my card has the exact same number and could be entered MANUALLY (which is exactly what the manager did after I complained).
Then there are the students that do know what career they want to aim for but the majority of the classes do not support their goal. I guess we'll just let the HS bore them for 4 years. For example I noticed there is a class for seniors to train to be an EMT. Exactly what full schedule of classes can support this career choice? Or are they expected to be an EMT part-time and a welder part-time?