by David Safier
Last year I wrote a series of posts half seriously, half facetiously suggesting we should cut all competitive sports from high schools so we can put more money in the classroom.
Now I'm absolutely serious.
Every superintendent and school board should have the courage to say, "We'll cut everywhere else before we touch the classroom." Teachers in their classes with their students are where the rubber meets the road. To overstate matters a bit, everything else exists just to make the classroom function as well as possible.
I used to infuriate my principals by telling them they served me, not the other way around, because their job was to do everything they could to make me as effective as possible in the classroom. When they looked perturbed, I told them, of course, I served the students, who are at the top of the pecking order. The teachers are next, then the support staff and the school administrators. The district administrators are at the bottom of the heap. They're important, of course, but the further away you are from the students, who are the only reason any of us had jobs, the less central your function.
Within the school, competitive sports are the furthest away from the classroom. They're a frill, an add on, a distraction. No European or, so far and I know, Asian nation puts sports in a similar position in the schools. At most, those nations tolerate informal, recreational sports clubs. Our competitive sports border on the professional in the time, money and effort we put into them.
So cut the after school sports programs. No Friday night games. No coaches or trainers. No manicured sports fields. No team uniforms. Until we fund our schools properly, put the whole program in cold storage.
Of course, it won't happen. Any superintendent who dared touch sports would be tarred, feathered and run out of town. We love that stuff.
But that's just why we should do it. The public really doesn't see or feel the pain when we cut staff and supplies and school maintenance. But maybe they'll sit up and pay attention when something as visible and their beloved high school sports teams are no longer around to entertain them in the stadiums and the sports pages.
So it's a twofer. We save money we need in the classroom, and we wake up the sleeping populace to the reality that our schools are dangerously underfunded.