The State Board of Education–Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back

The State Board of Education seems to be providing a steady stream of interesting stories. Forgive me for taking these up out of order and let me begin with a recent decision that I suspect has a great deal to do with the heart of public education in Texas: high school football.

As the Dallas Morning News recently reported the State Board of Education initially voted to give more credit to high school athletes. Previously, athletes received up to two credits for participation. Under the new rules athletes would receive four credits. That would have translated into 1.5 credits in athletics with the other 2.5 counting as electives. Since graduation requires 3.5 credits of electives the result of the rule change is that athletes would only need one additional elective for graduate.

The fairness issue is that students in choir, theater, and band can already get this much credit for their participation. A story from the Austin-American Statesman’s website reported that Coach Craig Agnew portrayed allowing more credit for athletics as a way of combating racism, low self-esteem, and drop-out rates while teach students about leadership and confidence.

On the other hand, athletics began as an extra-curricular activities and have now become part of the curriculum. If students aren’t getting enough credit for all those hour put in on the field the answer might be to spend less time on the field. If you’ve taught in a university you know that many former high school athletes are poorly prepared. If “fairness” is the issue the answer should not to lower the standard for everyone.

I would have liked to heard more details the debate over this. High school football doesn’t seem to be suffering in Texas. The teams I see in east Texas seem fully stocked and it never occurred to me to worry about high school athletics. It looks like sports have begun to reclaim their hold on high school after setbacks with “no pass-no play.”

Apparently, some Board members agree. According to the Houston Post the SBOE voted on Friday (11/21) to put off the change until next year.

I’ll now yield the soap box to others. However, we can revisit the labors of our beloved SBOE soon.

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