We have all heard the phrase, The Three R's: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. I think this phrase was coined for a reason. If you were able to send your kid to school and all they learned was the ability to read, write, and do math, they would be able to apply that knowledge to get whatever additional knowledge they desired.
I have talked with many parents, and some of the principals, who recognize the desire parents have for their children to excel academically. I have yet to meet the parent that says, "I don't really care if my kid can't read, as long as, he can ______." The same is true with basic math, and writing skills. Once the basics have been mastered, then we want to push them a little harder to pursue greater academic excellence. Each child should reach their highest potential in those three areas. If we have children who can't read or do basic math, that is a major problem.
I'm also a fan of things like science and history, art and music. But again, a child who can read, if nothing else, can learn about all these things.
When we focus on something other than academic excellence, we lose our focus of why we are sending our kids to school in the first place. Every decision I would make as a school board member would be with the idea in mind that it should improve academics in the classroom. If it doesn't, we shouldn't be doing it.