By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Val Verde Teachers Association member Steve Brockman is a science teacher and former "coach of everything."
The district: Val Verde Unified School District, serving students in Moreno Valley, Perris and Mead Valley, has approved eliminating 126 teaching positions plus nine others in an attempt to balance its budget. The cuts are part of the district’s plan to reduce spending by $27 million through the 2010-11 school year. Last year the district lost its middle school sports program, and many after-school intervention programs were cut. Next year there are plans to eliminate elementary music, middle school choir, middle school art, some high school AP classes and the high school freshman sports league.
Student Micah Herbert, eighth grade, Vista Verde Middle School
In seventh grade I was the running back, cornerback and middle linebacker on the football team. We were good. Actually, we were great. We were in first place. Our school was all about sports. Everyone at the school knows you when you play football. I love football, so I felt disappointed when they canceled it this year. For a lot of my friends, it was all they had; football was how they kept their grades up. Now their grades are lower. Some of them say, “I’ve stopped being competitive anymore.” The excitement level of our school went down once sports left.
Now I hear they may take freshman football away. That’s really messing me up because I want to play next year. They’ve eliminated middle school sports, and now they may eliminate freshman sports. That could jeopardize my chance for scholarships. I don’t think it’s fair.
When I grow up I want to own my own business. I want to go to the University of Southern California. And I want to be on the NFL. But right now, I just want to play football.
Teacher Steve Brockman, science teacher and former “coach of everything,” Val Verde Teachers Association
Sports gives kids a buy-in for coming to school. It can be what hooks a kid into education. When I’m teaching Newton’s laws of physics, I’ll talk about sports and the flow of motion and a light bulb goes on in their heads. Sports teach teamwork and discipline. And all of that is transferred into their classes. When kids are involved in sports they keep out of trouble. They aren’t out on the streets. And the school is transformed into being a community.
Student Raymond Phillips, eighth grade, Vista Verde Middle School
I was upset when I found out they were canceling art classes here. I was able to take art, but other kids won’t be able to next year. Art classes help you cool down after a stressful class and let you express yourself in a creative way. Some students release emotions like anger through art. I look forward to this class every day. It’s sad to think it will be gone.
Teacher Billie Kerr-Mosher, visual arts, Vista Verde Middle School
The district sees it as a cost-saving measure, but they don’t understand what it will cost students in the long run. Art helps with cognitive skills that are essential for math, language arts and social studies. People who take art score higher on testing and do better in high school.
It’s also a way for students to express themselves and have self-esteem. When people are sketching, they are on a level playing field here. They are all equals and nobody is smarter. Oftentimes I find that my best kids are those that are discipline problems in other classes. But in here, they shine.