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Fair and Balanced Discussion from Southern Oregon

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Our Obligations to Each Other 

So this morning on the Jefferson Exchange (link over there on the right), Jeff Golden brought the topic of Pay to Play up with about 8 minutes left in the first hour. I suspect the phones went full - I was unable to get in. The first caller on the topic (Jim - from the comment thread here several weeks back) put the topic in it's place right from the get go. We (meaning the adults here) got all these things as opportunities and are better for it (those who elected to take them, anyway)...not just sports, but all the things that schools historically did to supplement the education of youth - all after school programs.

And as was hinted by a different caller, and was noted in a Mail Trib letter some months back, now that we got those things or now that our kids are through - the rest of you are on your own.

Here's the deal - we are going to pay at some point. We can decide to do it when we'll get good bang for our buck, or we can wait and just see what the bill might be if fate is allowed to run its course. Funding afterschool programs is a huge benefit - it is proactive, productive supervised time at a PHENOMENALLY low relative cost. For just ONE high school soccer team for one season, you are creating about 2500 additional supervised person-hours precisely at the point during the day when parents are unavailable to do it. Does the community benefit? Heck yeah...Would you care to live in Phoenix and have the roughly 100 teens who currently do a fall season after school activity instead being on their own from 2:30 to 5pm every day? sure some may get a job and be 'productive', some may do homework and chores - but some will have after school parties - some will be playing the lottery of "will I get caught if I..." try drugs, drink, have sex, etc...pretty much disregarding the longer term consequences of those activities.

And here's the kicker - if 1 of those kids get pregnant - if 5 of those kids get addicted to something - if 5 engage in some other criminal activity, the overall cost to the community will be higher than if we had just found a way to come up with the dollars for funding after school programs. It IS (can I emphasize this enough?) it IS in our best interests to fund every program we can. Even if we just look at the net difference in earning power of the participants being greater over their lifetime, generating more future revenues, it seems worth the investment. The likelihood for positive outcomes goes WAY up (particularly for females) and the resulting benefits to the community over time are immeasurable.

More later...

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