Melissa Mellor

Whole Child in the News: Budget Woes Chip Away at Whole Child Education

News publications across the country are filled with sad examples of the recession's effect on district and school budgets. And it seems like many of the first programs to go are those with a special focus on engaging children.

Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times reported that L.A.'s three-year-old Diploma Project is destined for the chopping block. The program has received praise for its efforts to assign counselors to at-risk middle and high school students, including those who have failed classes or the state exit exam, exhibited behavior problems, or frequently miss school. The counselors also help kids who have already dropped out return to school.

But the program's $10 million price tag is too much and Superintendent Ramon Cortines thinks there are more efficient ways to provide students with the support systems they need.

Meanwhile, New York City's Dancing Classrooms program—featured in the 2005 movie "Mad Hot Ballroom"—anticipates it may have to cut services to several schools if it doesn't find a way to raise more cash.

And Education Week reports that many school districts are downsizing or eliminating school sports programs. The article quotes the athletic director of Florida's St. Lucie County district, who believes his district's athletics program keeps kids off the street and engages them in positive experiences. He says the district's sports program is the "best dropout prevention program available."

Is your school or district making cuts? If so, what programs or services have been eliminated? Do you think your school or district officials made the right call?

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