Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

February 12, 2007

State control is okay as long as we win

Filed under: sports, Texas, University Interscholastic League — texased @ 10:26 am

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Texas is believed to be one of three states in which private schools are typically not allowed to compete with public schools in statewide extracurricular organizations.

So the vast majority of states have found a way for private schools to compete with public schools? And schools in Texas can’t because of what? We want to keep our academics untainted by the influence of sports. We want to keep our sports untainted by “pro” athletes?

The whole extracurricular thing in public schools has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot. If football offers such important benefits to students, why are the number of students who can participate limited? Why is it more important to have a winning football team rather than an intramural program where all interested students can participate? Spare me the potential college scholarship argument. We’re talking about the education justification for participation in sports or any extracurricular competition for that matter.

Why is so much invested into resources that are only used by a small percentage of the population of 14 to 18 year olds in the state? To make school more palatable to that small percentage of students? Does having a winning basketball team make it more likely that students who don’t participate in basketball will attend school?

Why do kids have to compete to get on the UIL number sense team or Destination Imagination? What is it about these activities that make them valuable only to those who are “good enough?”

Apparently private schools are excluded because if would be “unfair” for students to compete against those who don’t have to meet the same academic requirements because the academics are more important than the competition. However, is it fair that public school students who meet the academic requirements are denied the opportunity because they aren’t as good as the next kid? If academics are really so important, shouldn’t the A student be rewarded with the place on the baseball team over the C student? I know, I know, academics are important, but not that important.

What would happen if schools were not allowed to compete against one another? They can have all sorts of competitions they want, it just has to be internal. What are the drawbacks?

Loss of exposure to students of other backgrounds? What, there are student mixers during half time?

Limit the level of competition for those at the top of the sport? Sorry, even colleges are able to offer intramurals while competing with other schools.

Limit the opportunity for building “community spirit?” As opposed to generating a a social hierarchy based on excluding those who can’t compete?

I really don’t expect there to be a sudden change in attitude and we totally redesign the extracurricular process. That would be like actually creating an equitable public school finance system in Texas. I do wonder how many people would support high school extracurricular programs if you point out that it is really just a form of social control by the government that is increasingly subverting related activities outside the school system. But that would be un-Texan.

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