02-17-2011 09:28 AM #1
Amid cutbacks and test pressures, the time honored tradition of school field trips is redefined
This from the Boston Globe by G. Jeffrey MacDonald:
The group field trip — a time-honored tradition beloved by students and educators alike — is getting a makeover as schools adjust to tight budgets and strict curriculum standards.
It is getting increasingly rare for districts to orchestrate an old-fashioned field trip, complete with taxpayer-funded bus ride to one of the region’s natural or cultural resources. Instead, schools are saving money by having students walk to nearby sites, raising private funds for transportation, or by taking fewer field trips than in years past.
Revere High School students, for instance, take only about half as many field trips today as they did in the early 2000s, according to former assistant principal John Perella, who is now assistant principal at the city’s Garfield Middle School. Six per semester used to be common; now they’re lucky if they take two.
“The field trip philosophy has definitely taken a hit lately,’’ Perella said. “Part of it is financial, and some of it is also be cause we’re trying to refine what we’re doing [to meet state testing standards]. The days of the full-day field trip are unfortunately gone.’’
The shift in thinking has broad implications, both for schools and for institutions that depend on revenue from school group visits.
In Tewksbury, parents raise funds to help cover field trip expenses for students in grades K-2 at the Heath Brook School. The Beverly School District doesn’t have a budget for field trips because expenses are paid by students’ families, according to assistant superintendent Maryellen Duffy.
Institutions increasingly are sending experts to schools whose students can’t travel. The Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary has trained at least five naturalists to do in-school presentations, up from just one in 2001.