Saturday, February 11, 2012


SQUINTS has in many posts been harshly critical of US public K-12 sports emphasis, seeing it as an impediment to reform of public schools, versus better balance with academic emphasis, especially 9-12 performance.

Pure chance recently, in an adjacent community’s coffee shop, half listening to a conversation between its proprietor -- originally trained as a quality control engineer, now a creative chef -- and a local teacher, an idea was expressed by that resource that landed on and did some damage to the above POV.

It was that especially high school sports, if served by coaches who are first teachers, hired accordingly, make an important academic contribution to core education; by frequently engaging and keeping in schools students who would otherwise add to our nation’s dropouts.  Without the attraction of that activity, carrying with it the opportunity to incent students to be and remain eligible for team participation, our nations’ schools take another hit in sustaining the learning process long enough to convey some life preparation for students that struggle with traditional learning challenges.

It was a perceptive observation that sent this writer humbly back to the drawing board from simply assigning low weights to school sports as system attributes, seeing that participation as another set of useful learning experiences, social acculturation, and disciplines.  The companion thought, however, is the critical phrase in the above paragraph; “…coaches who are first teachers.”

The contingency is whether a school system is perceptive enough, and has the integrity to hire such personnel, versus hires that have only one function, win games, pander to parents trying to relive their lives through the sports successes of their children, or simply inflate local egos by whipping other teams in a league or area.  Sadly, there may be more public systems that practice the latter patterns, manifested in "booster" promotion designed to insulate a school from criticism or deflect inquiry, and promote levies, than the former strategy.

It appears that the sports card, and especially how it is played, needs to be added to any assessment model for rating public K-12 schools.

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