Lettermen jackets Stop subsidizing students’ outerwear

Published 1:32 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Vicksburg Warren School District is mulling a plan to provide lettermen’s jackets not just to traditional athletes, but to students in other activities such as fine arts.

How about mulling this: The district should stop subsidizing students’ outerwear.

Once the district — which forks out about $80 per jacket of taxpayer money to fund students’ fashion — opens the door to fine arts, where will it end? And how much can a district already dealing with a struggling and suffering tax base afford to purchase clothes for students?

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The idea of lettermen’s jackets to signify athletic success has been a longstanding tradition. The purchase should be left to the student or the athletic booster clubs. The district should agree to provide the letter and any pins associated with such a letter, then let either the student’s family or a booster club buy the jacket. If the fine arts students want jackets, raise the money. Car washes are a big success. Sell chocolate bars or magazines or discount books. Do something other than lean on the already stressed taxpayer.

Also, will it end with fine arts students? District 1 Trustee Bryan Pratt actually uttered the often-heard complaint from lower-tiered sports parents: They work as hard as our athletes. The editor of the school paper works pretty hard, should he or she be entitled to a jacket? How about the debate team? Math and history students work hard. What about the kid who has perfect attendance, that is hard …

Once the door is opened, the total cost of these jackets will skyrocket, and we’ll foot the bill.

The taxpayer-funded days of clothing students should end immediately. Take the jacket money and invest in teachers and equipment and yank the district up another notch or two in academic ratings.

While we’re at it, we will be teaching the children of this district a valuable lesson — work for something and it will mean more. In 2003 when the Vicksburg High Gators basketball team won a state championship, did the district buy rings? No. The team worked by selling license plates and washing cars. In 2001, Warren Central’s baseball team won the state championship. Again, a collaborative effort of fundraising and booster club dollars funded the rings.

If the district insists on giving outerwear to students, just give everyone a letterman’s jacket. In some way, every student tries as hard as another. Honor them.

Better yet, tell them to buy their own jacket. Just like everyone else should.