In turbulent times, great leaders are often forced to choose between short and long term interests. While the cyclic nature of the universe tends to even out the swings, it is those with an eye on the horizon that will gain the advantage. It has been said that there is no better long-term investment than our children, and as such, it should be obvious that cutting Franklin Elementary’s poker budget would be pure, short-sighted folly.

In any of Man’s highest endeavors, training starts young and continues throughout a lifetime. Can we put a price on the development of another Mozart? Or on laying the foundations for the scientific achievements of a modern-day Newton? Yet our school’s poker prodigies would be lucky to get any such price. They’re lucky to get anything apart from mandated kickball and cold lunches. Does the administration realize that poker is both art AND science, and furthermore one that pays its backers off, unlike the black holes that make up the so-called “traditional” liberal arts?

I do not believe that it does. We’re not considering putting the axe to marching band, painting, tennis, or any other number of marginalized, niche activities. Yet we are on the verge of cutting one of the cornerstones of American society—stylized gambling—completely out of our children’s elementary school experience. Little Jerome will never learn the proper spots in which to check-raise bluff the river; Betty will be clueless about the dangers of drawing out of position. To utilize a proper poker metaphor, we minimize our long term expected value merely to rack up a small pot now.

Let’s be honest. A couple children at Franklin will fail to make millions and buy their concerned parents in the PTA luxury condos on the strip. Sadly, that’s reality. But everybody benefits from continued poker education. This—I hesitate to say the word—"game" teaches their impressionable minds all matters of cunning, methods for reading and intimidating enemies on or off the felt, and the value of breaking someone by taking their last dollar and using it to buy a sandwich. These skills are the bread and butter of the corporate world, and even the worst of our students will go far in the society of tomorrow.

It’s not just the children who benefit, either. Youth poker generates those evergreen memories that parents will cherish in their later years. Trust me, the relief at saving a few dollars now will be tragically offset by effectively trading David’s $80k score in Monte Carlo for a $7/hr job at Burger King on Washington Ave. Do you recall when you were a child, witnessing the joy that emanated from your loving parents’ eyes as you raked in pot after pot from the neighboring district’s chip-spewing droolers? Where will you find a substitute for watching Brianna crush some sunglasses-and-iPod sporting hotshot heads-up, sending him or her to the corner of the auditorium in tears, cursing fate and pounding the tile with miniature fists?

But if this program is diminished, you will undoubtedly see your children lose everything to the sniveling shitbrains at Lone Pines. Imagine, your precious Steven busting out on a flush draw, forever dooming himself to shine Jared Scuttleworth’s boots. A lifetime of railing weekend tourneys looking for a $40 stake to play $2-4 limit hold’em, desperately praying for a bad beat jackpot that’ll pay off the debt from the rehab clinic. Have we already forgotten last year’s close call at the final table of the Summer Classic? Believe me, our opponents won’t be jerking around with tubas and trombones while we torch the only program with measurable impact on our students’ lives and future socio-economic status.

Look, if we act now, the program, and by extension the prestige of the school, is not doomed. Some strong Franklin kids are already bluffing as well as typical 10th graders. Level-two thinkers can be found even amongst our second grade team. And the bet sizing at this school, all across the board, is one precarious and crucial step ahead of the competition.

I understand there are some misgivings after the incident with Slick River McGee. We were all burned on that deal, and I’ve been grinding $.50-1 online to make up the difference. To ensure the success of Franklin’s emerging talents, I am offering to take full responsibility for coaching, expense handling, and expanding the school’s poker bankroll. You can ask around at the Bellagio or Rio—Ol’ Double Check hasn’t ever let a backer down.

Look, do you want our youth pulling down seven figures at the WSOP Main Event final table, or a bunch of filthy kids from Robinsdale?