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Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

RIP Career Ladder & Saline County High

Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011, at 12:53 PM

Career Ladder is dead. Saline County High School is gone, absorbed into Marshall High School. The two programs were prized by teachers, students, administrators and, yes, the members of the school board, who made the gut-wrenching decision to end funding for both.

There has been some debate this week about whether the board made the right decision -- whether there were other options that could have been explored. But as an observer of the board for several years, it seems to me these programs were on their last legs in any case, not because they weren't good programs run by good people, but because resources to support them are no longer available.

The state stopped funding Career Ladder this year. Most school districts in the area did the best they could to keep the program going with available resources, but the squeeze on local budgets is projected to continue for several years, with state funding flat at best (and only with the help of federal assistance) or sinking further.

Saline County High School was down to two teachers, heroically carrying on the mission of the school (and I don't think "heroic" is an exaggerated description of their work). The sending schools had stopped sending. It was managed by a director who also had to oversee Saline County Career Center.

I think it's fair to say a lot of people in this community feel the loss of these programs like they would a fist to the stomach. A painful blow.

After nearly a week has gone by, are we starting to get our breath back?

I ask because I have a hunch this community can and will rise to the challenge. It has before. We can start by asking ourselves what's more important, having two programs that help students? or helping students? Society at large (via the state) is no longer able to provide the programs? Fine. We can.

I think back to just last summer, when funding problems led to the reduction of summer school to just a sliver of what it had been in recent years. Many Marshall kids who might otherwise have been in summer school flocked instead to Indian Foothills Park and Salt Fork YMCA to swim, play and participate in day camps. Summer school was virtually gone, but summer learning and enrichment survived quite well.

Maybe what we need to do is find out more details about the kind of learning and enrichment students received from Career Ladder and SCHS, then see if members of the community would be willing to pitch in and help fill the gap, financially and as volunteers, to provide some of the same opportunities. I don't think a community-based student support effort would necessarily be able to provide exactly what CL and SCHS did, but it might be able to carry on the spirit of those fine programs and continue the work of providing a full, rich learning environment that includes personal attention and academic assistance.

We've thrown up our hands, now lets roll up our sleeves.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

If we can build a cancer center, a community center, a YMCA .... we can do this. Where do I sign up?

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 1:10 PM

The community is lucky to have you guys.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Sun, Apr 24, 2011, at 11:55 PM

I hear ya. the kids come first. who else is gonna take care of stuff when we`re too old?

the issue reaches deeper though. with no career ladder why should an intellegent person sign up for 25,000 a year and 9 months of 60 hour weeks not to mention the 3 conferences you must attend in summer just to keep your certification?

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 12:08 PM

at your own cost! I just found out

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 2:07 PM

YET... we can pay people 28, maybe 30 million a year, if Pujols gets his way in STL or somewhere else, to play baseball and other sports, or we can look to movie an TV stars and Music personalities for role models and to pay their salaries.

But, we want the government to also use tax payer dollars to provide funds to train hookers in China about responsible drinking habits, and tunnels for turtles or airports in the middle of no where, to be named after US Congressmen, where almost no flights come and go, and tax payer funds for everything under the sun inside and outside our borders.... maybe instead of demanding more and more big spending from the government we the people need to reprioritize exactly what we want the government to spend money on.... were we to have a SMALL and LIMITED government, as it was originally set up to be and we were not spending on tons of wasteful programs and things that the government has no business being involved in, then we would have funds available to pay teachers and public safety personnel.

-- Posted by mrxray on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 10:48 AM

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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.
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