Gwen Larsen: Not too late to make the trip happen

April 7, 2014 

The decision to deny the Bret Harte Elementary Chess Club approval to travel to the National Elementary Championships was a central office administrative decision and was not on the Modesto City Schools board’s agenda. The board should have been given more specific background, a chance to discuss the district’s policy for such trips, and should have taken a vote on the request.

The reasons for the administrative position should be made public. It appears to be a decision that discourages minorities, and particularly girls, from such scholastic endeavors. Were more parents needed as chaperones? Was there a step in the procedure not followed by the principal and the coach of Bret Harte? Is there an age requirement for school trips that was not met? These questions need to be investigated by school board members and answered by the administration.

National-level spelling bees, choir and music competitions, and math and science events involve elementary children traveling long distances. How does this particular group of elementary students not meet local standards of participation? The cynical answer is that they are from the wrong side of town. A more positive answer is that some concerns need to be clarified and any procedural discrepancies mitigated. If further investigation reveals no substantive reasons to deny this trip, it is not too late for Modesto citizens to request that our school board make this trip happen.

GWEN LARSEN

Modesto

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