Puzzling over the sports travel ban

I am an involved parent. I have the capacity to pay attention to what happens inside our community and beyond and how that will affect our children. I know other parents do not have this capacity for many good reasons. As the father of a Kindergarten student in the Juneau School District I am puzzled by the School Board’s recent policy decision.


After attending my first board meeting on Sept. 10, some of my thoughts were confirmed. Being a member of the school board is a challenging job with many difficult decisions that need to constantly be made. The members of this board should constantly strike a balance between what needs to be done fiscally, what is going to enrich the lives of as many students as possible, what works well for the leaders of the schools and their staff, and considering the public input and priorities. This cannot be an easy charge and I applaud the members of this board for their willingness to make the time and effort commitments that come with the seats they occupy.

The passage of a new policy to allow no school travel for Junior High sports teams is puzzling.

1. This policy singles-out a group of students with a particular interest.

2. This decision was rushed with no explanation of urgency for passage.

3. The cost savings to the district are minimal.

4. The case for equality between schools was weak while academic programs are being offered at one school and not another i.e. foreign language studies.

5. Why can’t this decision be made at the school administrator level?

What the passage of this policy did do:

1. Eliminate an opportunity for youth in an isolated community.

2. Eliminate a goal to strive toward, academically and physically.

3. Eliminate an opportunity for students to experience the cost to support their activity.

4. Disenfranchise a segment of the community.

5. Create skepticism or escalate skepticism of the superintendent, the board, their decisions and decision-making process.

6. Give other communities a reason not to travel to the capital city discontinuing other levels of competition, business sales opportunities, and learning about Juneau’s importance to the region and the state.

Stretching my mind this new policy benefits one person; the administrator of the middle school where sports travel is not authorized. This is now a district policy that the administrator can fall back on with ease. This is the only benefit that I see.

Our student loves sports. I will encourage him to stay involved in sports as long as he has the interest and the drive. I have no dreams that he will ever be on sports team with the option of travel because of his size and personality but I hope he proves me wrong. This policy does give me a reason for pause because the involvement of sports and sporting opportunities teaches many things that the classroom does not. Any travel is an asset and especially at the junior high development phase. What alarms me the most in this situation are the processes and the rationale behind the votes that made this idea an approved school district policy.

• Steve SueWing is a parent, neighbor and advocate for families and community.


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