Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Texas School Drops Athletics To Save District

This from the Huffington Post
In a desperate effort to boost student performance and save a school system from closure, one Texas school district has made the mid-year decision to eliminate its athletic programs -- in a state where sports are a highly coveted pastime.

The Premont Independent School District in South Texas lost accreditation last year after it had failed to meet adequate yearly progress requirements since 2007 under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Premont ISD was slated to close by this July, but the closure has been suspended to allow the district more time to turn around its student performance and attendance rates.

"A Not Accredited-Revoked status means that the Texas Education Agency no longer recognizes the district as a Texas public school," according to the Houston Elementary Education Examiner.

Threats to closure have already sent many packing, and others are looking to leave the district. Enrollment has fallen to 570 students this year, from 800 five years ago, the Associated Press reports. About 100 students take part in school athletics.

Now, schools Superintendent Ernest Singleton is looking to go door-to-door for truant students, seeking to raise the district's 88 percent attendance rate. The Texas average is 96 percent, according to AP. Student athletics will be suspended at least until next spring.

By cutting sports, Singleton seeks to increase study time for students and save $150,000 over two semesters, to be reinvested into bringing in highly qualified teachers and install two new science labs by August.

Parents and critics are worried that the elimination of athletics will decrease students' opportunities for physical activity and increase chances for bad behavior. Some say that the loss of sports could further demotivate students to go to school, and do well.

The Texas Education Agency, charged with school accreditation, can suspend Singleton's experiment at the agency's discretion if the district is not making sufficient progress.

"The hole is so deep it's going to be very hard for them to dig out of it," TEA spokesperson Debbie Graves Ratcliffe told AP.

Overall, Texas' education policies and curriculum have seen mixed reviews. A report in the fall by University of Texas at El Paso professor Keith Erekson said the state's K-12 standards in history are inadequate, ineffective and "fail to meet the state's college readiness standards."...


Anonymous said...

Kentucky (AKA bizzaro world) - higher ed - 6% cut, K12 ed no increases in four years, UK basketball - new area

Anonymous said...

Sorry "arena"

Anonymous said...

I know this is heresay in some schools but if you look at the European and Asian schools with whom we are trying to keep up and compare ourselves, one will find that team sports are not school based but organized by the community or an independently organization. No funds or time are used in an endeavor which has at best very limited academic significance.

I realize that each school/district handles financing of sports a little differently but they are never self supporting even when you have decent gates, strong sponsorship and significant family fees.

Curent case in point, just this year KHSAA started requring 3 referees instead of 2 during basketball which means a 50% increase in official fees for which I have no alternative but to pay. Similarly, baseball teams are epected to replace last years bats with inferior ones with the justification being safety. (Does it really matter if a ball comes off a bat at 85 MPH instead of 93 MPH?). The bottom line is that schools pay thousands of dollars for coaches, transportation, facilities, field maintenace,
officiating, uniforms, training, equipment, etc. and in the end that always equates to reduction of instructional resources.

I realize that sports have a school culture, social and community value and hold an romanticized spot in some graduates school experience. Equally, I also see these athletic budgets growing along with parent preassure and expectations. I am not sure how you reign it in, expecially when the KHSAA is expanding competivite sports to include such things as bowling, archery, lacross, etc.

At the same time, I am not sure how in good conscience, even under significant school and community preassure, a school administrator can seek clothing donations for FRC but at the same time spend thousands on team uniforms; how we can lay off teachers while maintaining coaching stipends which could often cumlatively fund one or two teaching positions; how we can buy new sport equipment but not have funds to purchase textbooks?

Just imagine how muchmore learning could occure and our scores on these darn assessments would go up if the amount of time our students spent practicing, traveling and competing was converted to studing and enrichment.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that if schools divested themselves of sports, that it would not take long for the various AAU, travel teams, etc to take up the slack and release educators from facilitating what is basically a non instructional expenditure. As a school administrator, I already spend way too much time dealing with athletic issues which have nothing to do with what we are suppose to be doing in the classroom.

To be perfectly honest, I suspect that parents and community members would quickly become much more proactive and vocal if we told them that in order to teach their kids we were going to have to cut athletics. Don't see any parents or community members picketing or writing their legislators about stagnant or reduction in state support of their childs' education but I am betting that once their local taxes start going up to off set reduction in state support as well as the loss of their school's athletic teams, they might start waking up to what is happening.

Kind of sad that is what it might take. Maybe that in itself is an indicator that it is not solely teachers who the burden of low achievement falls.