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March 23, 2011 - 11:39am

Statement by Matthew Peterson at Pembroke Central School District meeting, March 22, 2010

posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke.

Statement by Matthew Peterson at Pembroke Central School District meeting, March 22, 2010

Dear esteemed Members of the Pembroke Board of Education:

I feel compelled to briefly express the thoughts of the “silent majority” of community members who greatly oppose the actions and the intent of the group of soccer advocates speaking to the Board of Education on March 22nd.   Having lived in the Pembroke community my whole life, I am deeply connected to the past, present and future issues concerning the Pembroke school district.  Let me also assert that I am writing this letter, NOT as a football coach and NOT as a teacher, but within my role as concerned parent, resident and alumnus.

First, I reject some of the tactics used to bring this issue to light.  I am referring specifically about the recent “announcement” sent home from school with students to encourage people to attend tonight’s Board of Education meeting to “support soccer.”  Students should not be receiving soccer propaganda at school, yet my elementary aged children brought home from school such a message last week.  Although I’m unsure as to the extent to which school resources were used to produce and distribute the propaganda, I am certain in my conviction that the forum to deliver the message was inappropriate.  I always assumed that the “take home folder” at the elementary grade levels was used to foster parent-teacher communication and was used for primarily academic purposes, not to further a specific social agenda for a small minority of residents.   Many community members have since expressed the notion that using innocent kids as pawns in a strategic manipulative way to falsely portray solidarity is wrong, and should be condemned  at tonight’s meeting.  I agree.

I also wish to express the opinions of the thousands of concerned and unpretentious residents of this community who chose NOT to provoke others to bias the democratic decision making here at Pembroke with an intimidating show of force.   I simply wish to have this statement read aloud to illustrate on record that many others disagree with both the means and the ends of adding an additional fall boy’s sports program, and I choose to do so without the media hoopla and disruptions that surely accompany the throngs of people incited to be here tonight.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to clarify some misconceptions regarding the addition of soccer and/or any other additional fall sport.   The most misunderstood idea centered on soccer is that students here greatly desire to play soccer and are being denied.  That assumption is entirely false!  Soccer does exist here and students do have the opportunity to play from ages 5 to 19 in the spring season through PYA.  The argument and the hidden agenda is to add another soccer team to compete in the fall, funded by the school district, and competing with and drawing from a dwindling student population.  Let us not lose sight of the reality that soccer already exists at Pembroke.  Furthermore I must clear up why I and so many others oppose the addition of another soccer team at Pembroke, and it is NOT out of an inherent hatred of the sport, but rather at the effect that its addition would have to other sports.  Some falsely make the claim that adding soccer would not impact the success of other sports, and blindly cite other schools as evidence.  I believe that further studies need to be done, and further evidence needs to be collected before any decision can be made.  These studies must go beyond a few phone calls and random quotes, and consist of a thorough and unbiased study to determine if indeed such drastic additions to our sports programs are feasible.  Previous studies have been done and have shown that adding another fall sport will severely hinder other sports from competing at the high levels we’ve come to expect at Pembroke due to lack of available students.  We should not choose to add soccer simply because other schools have done it.  Pembroke is and has always been trend setters, not followers.  The decision to support the addition of soccer has also been justified with the simple notion that many students “want to play” and that the Pembroke schools therefore must address the “needs of all students.”   I believe that this is a dangerous precedent and should be cautiously addressed.   Such “mob rule” justification for decision making would open the door for other groups, advocating other fall sports to merely collect some signatures, make enough noise, and demand that their needs be met too.   In the face of these flawed arguments, we must begin to ask the right questions, “Why are we adding sports in a time of declining enrollment.”  “Why are we adding expenses in a time of economic despair?”   But most important of all, “What effect will this decision have on the proud and successful sports programs and traditions that have existed here at Pembroke for decades?”  No one in good conscience can claim that adding soccer will have zero impact.  And surely no one can then justify that catering to the will of a small boisterous minority is worth potential negative effect on the programs that DO currently exist to serve the students at Pembroke.

I have some humble, reasonable but important requests.  Please allow for this issue to go through the proper channels of investigation and discussion that is a natural part of any proposed change.  The District and Building planning teams have yet to hear this issue let alone discuss it.  In accordance with my first request, please allow time to form an unbiased committee that independently can gather facts and offer recommendations for both short and long term implications.  Simply put, please allow for the long and arduous process of fact gathering and delay any irrational action on this matter until we are certain that the right thing is being done in conjunction with our mission and vision which states, “We will maintain high expectations…and celebrate success in order to promote responsibility, accountability and pride.”  Diluting the programs renders this commitment statement impossible to fulfill, as the scantily filled rosters of a plethora of fall sporting options compete primarily against each other for mere numbers, and therefore inconsequentially against other schools in competition.  Success will be fleeting, pride less fervent, expectations lowered, and in our efforts to be all inclusive, MEDIOCRITY will become the norm.


Matthew Peterson
(A voice for the concerned but heretofore silent community member)


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