Give them options

You don't have to have kids at Hayden Meadows Elementary or even in the Coeur d'Alene School District to feel like you have a stake in tomorrow's school board meeting.

That's because you do.

Under the microscope will be the district's Primary Years Programme at Hayden Meadows. Proponents will regale the school board with anecdotal and perhaps statistical support for continuation of PYP, a program for 3- to 12-year-olds that, according to its website, "focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside." Also speaking out, no doubt, will be detractors of the program, some with personal experience and some with other political and philosophical views. All of these perspectives will have some value.

The PYP debate has grown well beyond the Hayden Meadows population because to many people, this issue is about much more than one controversial educational program. Some believe it's about state-sanctioned indoctrination of youth and enforced values that may be contrary to what's being taught at home or in church; others believe it's a significant test of public school districts' determination to offer educational alternatives to willing consumers even when some members of the school board don't necessarily agree with all aspects of those alternatives.

The only thing that seems certain about tomorrow night's meeting is that testimony will flow. The school board might - or might not - vote to kill PYP. It is hard to imagine that board members will vote to keep the program intact and move on to other issues. There is some chance the board will accept this newspaper's recommendation and take time to further study the effectiveness of PYP and the degree of desirability by local constituents, but the writing appears to be on the wall: PYP's days in Coeur d'Alene are numbered.

We make two requests today. First, that the participants in Monday's proceedings set a good example for the district's school children. Passion? Expected. Ardent disagreement? Fine. Shameful behavior? Leave that at home, please.

The other request is this: Members of the school board, if you do decide to relegate PYP to the same academic scrapheap where IB is headed, don't kill it until you have a suitable replacement. The big picture here has little to do with one specific program at one Coeur d'Alene-area elementary school. It has much more to do with providing public school choices, even if some of those choices run counter to your personal views.

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