By Kathryn Papp, Alexandria (File photo)
Political capital usually is earned in advance and later spent pursuing a policy agenda. However, in the case of our elected school board (and unusually silent superintendent) they want their capital cake awarded upfront and without any effort on their part.
Need an example? Look at the push for stadium lights at T.C. Williams. The fact that a change in educational performance has not yet proven their abilities seems quite immaterial. Clear benefits for students are missing from the ongoing media campaign.
After reflecting on the dialogue between neighbors, the school board, superintendent and City Hall, what is striking is the nearly complete absence of an articulate and convincing argument from district officials as to how a lighted stadium will benefit all students, particularly in their pursuit of a long, active and healthy life. If anything, this maneuver will encourage more students to attend what are largely spectator sports, where sitting down is the extent of the physical assertion required by the viewer.
First lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to challenge the root causes of obesity. Her signature initiative is named MOVE. Lifelong exercise habits formed in school are the start, and high school is one of educators’ last chances to ingraine good habits to all of Alexandria’s children.
How many students are on a football team? How many students are on a track squad? How many students on a tennis team?
How many students need to find a sport they can easily participate in? All of them.
How can T.C.’s sports and exercise training support Obama’s initiative for less cost, more impact and better neighborly relations? Yoga; free weights; jogging; walking; cycling; wrestling; parkour; calisthenics; isometrics; dancing; and even meditation. These can be integrated into one’s life. Classes in how to do that, and how to sustain the effort, can be life changing. Unlike adding lighted fields, there is no political cost or hurt feelings in the community. In fact, there is a lot to gain for everyone.
I hope board members and the superintendent will shift their team to score big by providing all T.C. students the kind of training and assistance they need to help them enjoy daily exercise throughout their lives. Let’s shine the light on lifelong student benefits, not votes.