Monday, July 27, 2015

School boards owe a huge duty...

School boards owe a huge duty to the general public. They are tasked with overseeing the overall functions of local schools, approving the hiring of teachers and coaches, seeing that state and federal curriculum guidelines are followed, drafting and implementing policies, approving and overseeing budgets and a host of other, often mundane, duties. However, too many school boards seem to have forgotten the greatest part of that duty.

School boards owe it to the general public to search for, find, employ, and retain the best teachers available. This should be their number one priority. However, it often isn't. The pursuit of this goal has been lost in favor of the pursuit of 'state titles'. Sports titles, that is. Sports is where the money is in education. Everyone knows that unfortunate fact. Schools split gate proceeds, enter 'bidding wars' to recruit coaches, vie for tournament hosting, etc. Local communities also count on visiting spectators spending money on food, gas, and lodging . 'Everyone' benefits. Right? Well, do they?

Too often school boards hire a 'coach first', rarely taking into account that coach's ability to teach. This is not to say that there aren't some truly wonderful teachers that also happen to be coaches. There are. Some of the finest teachers that I ever had were also coaches. But I digress. School boards, in order to secure a 'winning coach', will often, too, guarantee the desired coach's spouse a teaching position, very often failing to even consider more suitable candidates. A few years ago, one local school board hired a 'winning' head football coach, paying that coach over $90k/yr to 'just coach'. That coach's salary was almost double the teacher's salary for that system. This particular coach had no classroom or administrative duties whatsoever. When was the last time a school board spent over $90k/yr to hire a 'winning' classroom teacher? Do practices such as these fulfill a school board's duty to the public?

No one denies the fact that few things are 'as American' as attending a home ballgame. However, sports-related functions and expenditures affect only a small segment of a school system's student population, yet seem to consume the greatest amount of time, effort and financial expenditures. To some, the trophies and headlines that result from a winning season seem to justify the expense and sacrifice. 
It's too bad that academics rarely benefits from the same enthusiasm and zeal. In the end, sports teams frequently 'win', but students always lose.

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