david smith

david smith
Lafayette, California, USA
June 04
David G. Smith is a resident of Lafayette, California. He was born in Hollis, Queens, NYC, but has spent most of life in California. Smith graduated from UCLA with an MA in English. He is married and a father of two daughters. He is an insurance broker and girl's basketball coach who loves modern art, musical theater and film, among other things. www.davidgsmith.net


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Editor’s Pick
JUNE 2, 2009 4:33PM

Time to Eliminate High School Sports?

Rate: 20 Flag

Education and Athletics Compete for Scarcer Resources in Financially-Strapped Schools 

The California school district where I’ve coached girl’s basketball for the past two years is in the midst of a financial crisis.  As the state’s economic crisis has developed, thanks in large part to our legislators and governor, school districts have undertaken a process of belt-tightening that is matched only by the gradual emaciation of the participants on CBS’s Survivor.   

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District, where I coach, and where I once attended middle and high school, announced that it must cut $28 million from its upcoming three-year budget.  This action will need to be taken on the heels of the defeat of local Measure D, which sought to increase property taxes by $99 per year to raise $7 million of funding for five years, and which would have replaced funds the school board was forced to cut earlier this year.  All the while, state funding for the district has been reduced. 

Four hundred teachers have already received pink slips, and school board members have projected the loss of reduced class sizes, elimination of programs for fifth grade music and science and art programs, not to mention the postponement of maintenance projects that have already been deferred.  The return to larger class sizes is, indeed, a sad thing.  Forty percent of the district’s students are English language learners, who won’t be able to receive the support and attention they need in larger classes and from over-burdened teachers.   

The status of high school athletics is uncertain for the beleaguered district, but the school board plans to consider funding after-school athletics through private donations. 

I love sports, and I love coaching high school sports, but when, for example, half of the teachers at one elementary school are losing their jobs; when school sites can’t be adequately maintained, arts programs are eliminated and kids who need special attention can’t get it, it is absurd to spend money to support interscholastic athletics!  Shouldn’t the district be soliciting donations to fund teaching positions and the restoration of music and art programs, which provide a broader benefit? 

I admit this is an extreme notion, but it reminds me of North Korea, where millions are starving, while Kim Il Jong spends billions to defend his dictatorship. 

I know there are those who will disagree with me on this.  They’ll assert that sports are important for so many reasons.  For example, sports build character (a myth, see John Wooden) and self-esteem (for those who win starting positions on teams).  They promote a competitive attitude (if the student is given more than a minute or two on the field or court to compete) and teamwork (if the starters don’t shun the bench players).  And the silliest notion is the belief that high school athletics will help a student win admission to the college of their choice.  Firstly, so many kids are playing sports now, that no one gains an advantage by participating in interscholastic athletics (a college counselor confirmed this to me).  Secondly, only two-to-three percent of high school athletes go on to play sports in college.   

It’s time to bite the bullet on interscholastic sports, and redeploy funds that support athletics to areas that will have a significant impact on the lives and futures of those who need the most help.  Athletes have alternative outlets for competitive sports participation through club teams, like those affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union, American Youth Soccer Organization, US Swimming and youth baseball organizations.  Then, there are private schools, which, through tuition and endowments, have the resources to fund athletics. 

Kids who struggle in large classrooms, who don’t speak English well or who need special attention don’t have an alternative.   

It's time to impose a moratorium on high school interscholastic athletics until such time that a sufficient level of funding is restored to financially impaired districts.  Having taken such a step, those in most need can receive the education they deserve and are entitled to.  At the same time, when funds for education once again flow from Sacramento, districts can critically evaluate the costs and benefits of supporting interscholastic athletic programs.  Our schools, after all, exist to educate our children and teach them what they need to succeed in their lives, and with the achievement of success, enable them to create leisure time for playing games.

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Missouri Southern (which is just up the road from me) has cut all tennis, parts of track, trainers, some other sports stuff I can't remember ... they cut the in-house day care, and two majors in order to keep health insurance for their staff. The local schools must be in better shape than the college because they seem to be standing pretty steady.

Of course, we have no interscholastic athletics until high school and my daughter plays on a traveling soccer team because there is no girl's soccer at the high school.

I agree that there are times when cuts have to be made and the curriculum should never be the first place to start making cuts.
I couldn't agree with you more strongly if I tried. I'd probably sprain something in the attempt. Thank you for taking an evenhanded look at what's truly "indispensable" about schools.

Sports ain't it.
Amen. No arguments here.
High school sports is largely an american rite of passage more than anything else. As you said- the tangible benefits are rather elusive. If it's up to me, I wouldn't cut any school program periods. But if push comes to shove- I do agree that sports should be cut or at least scaled back before programs serving at-risk students.
Someone needs to disagree. I can see your points, but I do wonder if sports are the only thing keeping some kids coming to school. Particularly in at-risk or lower income neighborhoods, I think sports may give kids an incentive to stay in school and to maintain their grades.

Also, if we cut sports in schools, then only the reasonably well-off will have access to sports, through private and community clubs, which cost money that families may not have.

But, I am a firm believer in educating the whole child and I think that sports and physical education should be an integral part of any curriculum, as well as arts, music, drama, and other non-traditionally academic subjects.
I don't disagree that athletics have a role to play in education. I think that they don't produce as much benefit as the resources they require to operate. Schools could develop alternatives, like intramural programs and physical education classes that are more than fifty minutes of babysitting, like they are at my high school. Frankly, I think club sports can and often do deliver more effective athletic experiences than public institutions do.
We also have funding problems up the wazoo, and the state budgets are in their way of trickling down through the school districts. We just got a newsletter from my kids' elementary school principal that she won't even know what her staffing levels are until some time in the middle of the summer.

That said, I also live in an area with a fantastic parks and recreation system. Middle school sports vamoosed years ago due to budget cuts. For a nominal fee (like $60 for three or four months), kids can participate in various club-style sports offered at their schools through parks and recreation. The advantage is that everyone gets to participate, not just the ones who are good enough to make the team.

I think sports are great. But only when they make an effort to take EVERYONE and let them participate. Sure a lot of schools have an elite jazz choir or jazz band that kids have to audition to join. But if the kid doesn't make it, he or she can always join the regular take-all-comers band or choir. For the kids who don't get the starring role in the school musical, they can sing in the chorus.

I have yet to see most public school districts make an effort to accommodate everyone who wants to play, particularly at the high school level. Park districts do a good job of this, as they should. High schools are too focused on competition, and not nearly enough on participation. When times are tough, the first thing to go should be any sport with tryouts.
I completely agree.
I become very bitter of the coaches on campus. They get a stipend for coaching for a 10 week quarter, but half of that quarter is spent with a small 15 student team! That doesn't seem right! Eliminating students is part of the program- not including or fostering all students. Right now, we need to spend our money on as many kids as possible- we are spread so thing!
On the flip side, I have a student from Australia who was very concerned because at our school we "hardly spend any time at all on the field staying physically fit." This is true. Obesity is a problem here. By the times students change in and out of their PE clothes, they spend 30 minutes "on the field."
Maybe the money spent on the elite students who already excel at physical fitness could be spread out to make school a healthier place for all students.

Very good points made here! Thank you!
I think it's time for America to think outside of the box and accept ideas that we wouldn't have in the past. But we'll have to ask tough and politically incorrect questions and accept that we can't afford Rolls Royce style public education.

First, exactly what kind of education are we "entitled" to?

Can we afford to continue to educate illegals?

What subjects are REALLY necessary? I would suggest that outside of reading, writing, math and a little science - much of the rest is not absolutely necessary.

Can online schooling help reduce costs?

Can year-round schooling make more efficient use of facilities?

Maybe we should allow corportions/business to sponsor schools or at least sports programs, clubs, activities, etc.

Maybe we should eliminate have kids go to school for half days instead of full days.

Maybe we should allow students to "test out" of certain classes and give them credit towards graduation.

Maybe we should limit bi-lingual education to 3-years per student, e.g. learn English or no free education.

Maybe SOME classes should be taught auditorium style - like in Universities, so that you could have 100 kids in a class.

Maybe the smartest students should be involved in teaching the others to allow for a higher teacher to student ratio.

Maybe - god forbid - we should put kids onto different "tracks" based on aptitude and interest. Do we really need to make kids take advanced math and science if they're lacking in interest and/or gray matter?

How about requiring kids to help maintain the schools, to cut down on maintenance/janitorial expenses?

How about enlisting senior citizens as volunteer teachers?

How about having a "work corps" for those kids who don't take school seriously. If they skip classes or get kicked out of school or have no interest in learning, the finish their tenure in a "work corps" program that gets some work out of them while teaching them some job skills.

How about requiring students to pass a test to be eligible for the last two years of high school? If they're just taking up a seat, but not learning, what allow them to continue wasting our money?

How about having something akin to a "2-year high school" certificate, which shows that someone attained certain rudimentary skills, but didn't graduate. And then make it acceptable for some kids to get those and not finish their last 2 years of high school.

How about apprenticeships instead of high school for some kids? let businesses or tradespeople take some kids on as apprentices in lieu of a high school education.

... ANYWAY...I can think of a gazillion ideas for offsetting or lowering the cost of public education but the key is that we as a society have to be willing to change our preconceptions about the role of public education in our society, AND accept the politically incorrect idea that maybe not everyone is entitled to the same education and that you have to EARN the ability to keep getting free education.
Miss Educator hits it right on the head. We should put more emphasis on Physical Education, which benefits all students; and less on the competitive sports programs, which mostly just benefit a few star students.
I agree. Whole-heartedly.
You should be educator of the year in the State of California. Parents were all over the TV news here in the San Diego area this last week bemoaning a potential loss of sports.
Never have I encountered such an articulate rationale for establishing budgetary priorities.
I had one step-child who only got into college only because of his basketball ability (prop 48). However, I'm sure that he would have found some way to the level of success he now has in the insurance industry if he had not played hoops. He was given a "free pass" through high school because he was 6'7" when if someone besides me had tried to instill in him the need for basic education out of high school he would have been far better off (this was a kid who when his scholarship ran out after 4 years saw his GPA shoot to a 3.4 when tuition was coming out of his pocket and he was working as a framing carpenter to pay for it). And he managed to play pro ball in Ireland and the CBA.
Anyway, I digress. Thank you for an incredible post. It should be sent to every school district in CA, to every school, every parent and every legislator.
Rated A+++++++++++++++++++++
Cut high paid administrators. There's plenty of money - it's just how it's managed.
Mothers who have bake sales to raise money for books makes my head explode. Get accountability from your teachers union and cut out all of the high paid administrators, all the pork.
If the money was spent on the kids and the curriculum, we wouldn't have these problems.
I remember when High School sports were extracurricular activities and Physical Education/exercise programs were somethinng in which all students are allowed/required to participate.

I also remember being a substitute teacher over a period of 11 years in the late 80s and early 90s where most of the students in PE clases warmed the bleachers while coaches worked with their various teams.

I believe that as long as there are sports enthusiasts with jobs a way will be found to fund competetive athletics. I also believe a liberal education including arts, music & the social sciences is an essential part of the development of a well rounded adult mind.

Of course, if sports programs are cut and the coaches gone, one has to wonder if there will be anyone left to show films in what used to be Social Studies classes. Does anybody remember Civics classes? And what will happen to Driver's Ed?
Props to the board of the MDUSD that eliminated some district staff positions...and then lost its Superintendent, who resigned over the move. It's going to be tough in the district next year. I really feel for the kids. But, if sports are eliminated, and clubs spring up to replace them, the district can rent its gym and fields to them and earn some income.
According to researchers, the three Rs of education need another companion. Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic, meet Rhythm.

New findings from a consortium of seven prestigious American and Canadian universities were compiled and released by the Dana Foundation, a non-profit group founded 50 years ago whose stated principal interests are in “brain science, immunology and arts education.”

The study lasted three years and while they stopped shy of drawing a cause and effect relationship, the findings “tighten up” longstanding correlations between artistic endeavors and cognitive abilities according to Michael Gazzaniga, organizer of the consortium and director of the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“What we’re seeing here is quantitative scientific data that confirms traditional assumptions about the interrelationship between arts and learning,” Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia said.

One hypothesis about the effect of arts training on children’s cognition says greater motivation to study that discipline leads to sustained attention that leads to increased efficiency of neural networks involving focus.

Michael Posner of the University of Oregon developed a video game with exercises he described as “designed to be interesting and motivating to young children in just the way we assume arts training to be.”

Children aged 4 to 7 underwent cognitive testing that recorded brain activity before and after exposure to the game. According the foundation, five days of training with the video game showed “clear evidence” of improvements in brain efficiency.

“When you change that network, you also improve general cognitive capacity, as determined by intelligence tests,” Posner said. “This suggests absorbing a child in one of the art forms is one way to train the attentional network.”

Posner also identified slight genetic variations predicting network efficiency involving production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. The researcher believes the variations may make a child more receptive to environmental influence.

Psychologist Brian Wandell of Stanford University found musical training closely correlated with reading fluency. He studied 49 children aged 7 to 12 enrolled in a federally funded study examining brain structure.

Looking at the effects of various arts-visual, music, dance, and drama-on reading and phonological skills, Wandell found the effect on reading only evident with musical training and the more musical training they had, the greater the effect.

The research also showed preliminary evidence of a correlation between early visual arts exposure and math calculation.

Wandell’s team used a brain-imaging technique that measured the tracts of white matter which link various regions of the brain.

“There’s a remarkable connection between the properties of white matter fibers and phonological awareness,” Wandell said. His group plans further studies.

Elizabeth Spelke, a neuropsychologist at Harvard University studied three groups of children aged 5 to 18. She compared moderate musical training to comparable athletic training in one, intensive music training to little training in another, and intensive music training to similar levels in dance, theater, writing or visual arts.

The greatest impact was found in those studying music intensively, defined as 20 or more hours per week. According to the report: they were significantly better at tasks involving geometric representation and classic Euclidean properties such as angles and distance-tasks among the three core systems that support learning math and science.

“We found a clear benefit for intensive music training compared to theater of writing,” Spelke said. Her postulation is that music “taps very fundamental brain systems for spatial representation.”

Other recent studies have shown melodies and sequences of tones activate brain regions involved in spatial representations.

“In the U.S. today we have created a bogus opposition between arts learning and other kinds of learning,” Gioia said. “This strikes me as a recipe for disaster. There is an enormous amount of research still to be done, but I think we know enough today to say that education policy and budget makers are using a false model.”

“The purpose of education is to realize the full potential of each child,” he said. “To do that, children need exposure to a broad range (of arts training), not just traditional hard academic subjects.”

MENC: The National Association of Music Education points to a recent Harris Poll showing 88 percent of those with post-graduate degrees had music education. The association also referred to an earlier Harris Poll showing significantly higher graduation and attendance rates – 90.2 percent compared to 72.9 percent and 93.3 percent to 84.9 percent respectively-in schools with music programs.

MENC also cited statistics showing students in top quality music programs scored 22 percent higher in English and 22 percent higher in math on standardized tests.

According to the Profile of College-Bound Seniors National Report for 2006, SAT takers with music backgrounds scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 43 points higher on the math portion.

“Research confirms that music education at an early age greatly increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to seek higher education and ultimately earn a higher salary,” MENC Executive Director Dr. John Mahlmann said. “The sad irony is that ‘No Child Left Behind’ is intended to better prepare our children for the real world, yet it’s leaving music behind despite its proven benefits.”
To bad you guys can't lower the Govenator's pay down to minimum wage. I bet that would save a TON of money for schools.
In Texas, special ed programs are cut, children are squeezed out as soon as legally possible, arts are cut, music, drama . . . but they still manage to find the tens of thousands of dollars needed to replace the artificial turf at the football stadium with natural grass. Just three years after the turf was installed. In Texas, they would lynch you for suggesting this.

On the other hand, I went to Mt. Diablo Unified, too. Concord High. Where we played our "home" games at Mt. Diablo high, because we didn't have a real football field. Where the gymnastics program was cut to make room for soccer . . . which also got cut. At this point, in that district, I think it's starving Peter to feed Paul.

Curse you, Howard Jarvis!
I think many of you are forgetting that booster club funds keep many schools' sports programs afloat. I do not believe that many programs are as dependant on public funds as they may appear at the outset (otherwise they would have been targeted already). I mean, there's a reason they charge admission to football games, and sell nachos at lady basketball games-- sports is something that, in large part, can pay for itself.
Depending upon the state and school district, boosters provide funding to athletics in different ways. Where I am, the boosters fund purchases of major expense items, like lockers for our girl's team room, scoreboards or uniforms. They don't fund to cover transportation costs, custodial overtime charges, coaching compensation or routine operating costs, including league fees and officiating fees. The annual cost to fund interscholastic athletics in the MDUSD is $721,000. Boosters can't even dent that, because--and it depends upon the campus--it gets very little support from the school community. 40% of the student body in MDUSD does not speak English as a native language and 56% of students are members of families from lower economic situations.
You bring up many fine points.

But isn't [part of] the purpose of sports, to provide "crowd control" for kids so that they have something to do besides stealing someone's hubcaps for weed?
In my part of the world, there are many non-school organizations for sports, from toddler to masters, but the arts programs become smaller and more expensive as the children mature. What this means is that poor kids can play football but not fire clay, which is a sad state of affairs. As a dodgeball target and ex artsy teen, I say ax the sports, save the arts!
They should start by cutting the bloated education bureaucracy. Too many Asst. Superintendents. Too many assistants to the assistants. Too many Vice Principals. Too many assistants to the Vice Principals. Too many useless union workers.
June 02, 2009 06:53 PM

You propose some great ideas. Unfortunately the unions wouldn't go for most of them.

Interestingly, in soccer-mad Germany, there aren't many school-affliated teams. Sure, kids play from the time they can walk, but these are community or club-style leagues.

Sports bring out the character that was already there, and teach kids the importance of teamwork and using their own abilities and weaknesses in concert with others', and they keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.

Sure. So does the marching band. So does the choir. So does the drama club, the A.V. club, and the Future Farmers of America Soil-Judging team (don't laugh--this exists, and is a Big Deal in parts of the rural Midwest).

Basically, ANY extracurricular activity that requires the individual members to work in harmony to create a finished product. And in addition to teaching teamwork, some of these activities also teach real-world, marketable job skills.

Not everyone can be a competitive athlete. The school district needs to recognize this.
I have mixed feelings about your post - I feel that high school sports helped keep my daughters too busy to get into much trouble, but they were among the relatively low-cost sports - XC, track, swimming and soccer (not low cost...) However, I did not like to "win at any cost" attitudes of many of the coaches in high school sports, and the attitudes of elitism of many of the athletes in the more popular (with the parents, especially) sports. I also don't like that special education and other academic, music, drama, speech, and art programs must suffer to support sports. We parents did most of the fundraising to support the XC teams, but this was not particularly fair to the teams from other high schools whose parents did not have the same resources to fundraise for them.
My kids also belonged to club teams in several different sports, but this was by no means cheap. Now that we are retired and squeaking by (one is still in an expensive college), we wonder if we should have spent so much money that way. However, we really have few regrets - we have healthy, athletic daughters, and that is worth some sacrifice.
I was thrilled when parents started a track club at the middle school I taught at, because it could include so many kids who otherwise would never have been able to make the teams on the school funded teams - field events are great for those kids with a few extra pounds who may not excel at other sports. I will never forget the pride in the eyes of a significantly overweight student I had when he brought in his first medal in shot put. He lost around 20 pounds just running the required laps for the field competitiors that year. So in one year this new program included 80+ kids at no cost to them, and has since grown even larger. And it is completely parent funded, unlike the other sports teams at the middle school level. It is also having a significant impact on the quality of the high school XC and track teams that this middle school feeds to.
Why do we have to cut the good programs that include lots of kids at little cost, when there is so much waste in government budgets - tax breaks for large agribusiness and oil companies, bank bailouts with huge bonuses, etc. Educating our kids and keeping them healthy and fit should be more of a priority for this nation than feeding corporate greed. It makes me angry that we as taxpayers have to make choices like this.
Why this suggestion is downright Un-Ammurican. We all know that big money college athletic departments are nothing but farm teams for the NFL and the NBA. It follows that the most important function of K-12 schools is to keep feeding potential talent to colleges.
Why can we afford two simultaneous wars of aggression but not our schools?
I like the comments. Many good points being made. I have two daughters, each of whom participated in varsity sports. Both benefitted from the experience (thought I'm not positive they would each agree). One quit sports after her junior year to concentrate on politics (class president) and theatrical arts, and she blossomed! Her participation in sports was not building her self-esteem nor giving her the confidence her parents were hoping she would develop. The other extra-curricular activities did. I've know countless kids who were primarily athletes in high school, and many who chose other fields of endeavor, including music, clubs, drama and politics. The kids involved in the non-athletic pursuits demonstrated (my opinion unsubstantiated by research data) a greater degree of satisfaction with their lot. The athletic kids always seem to have issues with team mates, coaches, etc. As far as sports keeping kids away from unhealthy pursuits...I wanted my kids in sports for that reason, and they have avoided the pitfalls that some of their peers encountererd, because of alcohol and drugs, but recently, and in a neighboring community, a track athlete accidentally killed himself with Vicodan and alcohol. Sports didn't discourage him from risky behavior.
"...elimination of programs for fifth grade music and science and art programs...."

How can we consider a person educated who has had only a starveling exposure to music and science and art?
why not folllow the french system? competitive school sports are unknown. everything is done through local clubs. my son played soccer on year, did 4 years of karate, and 2 years of fencing. the cost was minimal-- 60 dollars per school semester for the karate. fencing was slightly more expensive. that was because our income was above the poverty line. the poorer your family, the less you had to pay. (of course the st
I was never good at sports, but the jealousy displayed here against athletics is disturbing!

You think the gang problem is bad now? Just wait until inter-scholastic sports is eliminated!

A lot of potential gang members didn't become gang members because they were too busy playing basketball and football, and keeping their grades up to qualify for scholarship opportunities!

I'm NOT saying that playing sports made those kids perfect citizens! But it kept from being hardcore gang members!

You think most of those playing aggressive sports would be diverted from gang life through the chess club, biology club or the arts club? Keep dreaming!

Also, being that the teams are school sponsored, at least the athletes know they're being watched by their teachers, counselors and coaches! That keeps most of them in line!

In conclusion, ending interscholastic sports would be DEVASTATING to many ghetto communities! If you think their situation is bad now, it can get worse! It WILL get worse if the "I'm still upset at being picked last" crowd gets their way!

I know what it's like to suck at sports! But I have ZERO envy at those who are good at stuff I suck at! It's called MATURITY!
Also, I think we need MORE inter-scholastic sports, not less!

Look, I think we should add boxing & mixed-martial arts to the inter-scholastic sports mix!

I mentioned that football & basketball has diverted potential gang recruits away from the gang life! But those sports work well with the big & tall!

There's always small guys with a lot of aggressive energy! They may not be great offensive lineman, but put them in a boxing ring, they will shine!

You think the gang problem is bad now? it will guess worse if the "I'm still mad about being picked last" crowd has their way!

I know what it's look to suck at sports! But I also know that sports have given incentive to thousands of ghetto kids to avoid the gang life!

Let's live in reality, not all kids are interested in the fine arts! That might be blasphemy to some here, but that's the harsh reality here!

But if having a inter-scholastic boxing or mixed-martial arts program will keep some kids from being hard-core gang members, then what are we waiting for? Let's have a inter-scholastic boxing and mixed-martial arts programs
Completely, utterly, wholeheartedly agree. Bravo!
High school sports have created an anti-intellectual, football and cheerleading atmosphere in American high schools. Other countries don't combine interscholastic sports and education in this way. Sports are done through clubs, with some physical education in the schools.

I hated the whole high school culture when I was in high school. And if you think I am an anti-sports person, I'm not. I am a former Olympic coach.

But I just don't think high schools are the right place for it, whether there is money for it or not. It detracts from the academic nature of high school.
They made me play -- or at least be on the field of -- rugby, hockey and cricket, hurt my ankles jumping over things, and excruciate my naughty bits on climbing things. It did nothing for my health or fitness (fitness for what, anyway?) and mainly got me despised by the better-coordinated minority.

Fifty years later my fury has relaxed to the point where I believe there _could_ be a version of sports that would be good for most kids, but abolition of the current version would be a true mercy killing.
I am not particularly "for or against" sports, but I do think you are ignoring the fact that what kids get is largely what PARENTS in the community want. Many parents used to play sports, or more likely, they fantasized about having one of those awesome sports careers where you are the star quarterback in high school, then get a full scholarship to Yale and go on to the NFL. Those dreams die hard, no matter what the reality is.

Many Americans live, breathe and sleep sports -- on TV, cable, internet...look at our clothes! Sedentary and overweight, but WE ALL dress in sports clothes, "running" shoes, track suits, caps and tees with logos, etc.

As far as saving our schools: look to where the problems are in MONEY. Sports programs often pay for themselves with fees or admissions to games; I think they are the wrong emphasis, but they probably are not that costly overall. THE REAL COST IN SCHOOLS IS BLOATED TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR PAY...because they have powerful unions (far more powerful than the Teamsters or Auto Workers) who hold the citizenry (who all have to work) hostage because without stay-at-home parents, any strike would be devastating. As a result, for decades, they have received every ridiculous raise and benefit they clamor for. Every nickel of every levy your community passes goes into teacher/adminstrator benefits and salaries and not a red cent to students or books or maintenance...so we have teachers living in luxury (with THREE SOLID MONTHS of paid vacation, unlike any other workers) while kids attend schools with leaky roofs, ancient textbooks, insufficient computers.

In my modest, Midwestern Rust Belt community, the public schoolteachers earn almost $40K to start -- that's $40K for a 21 year old kid right out of teacher's college (the easiest slacker major available, which takes anyone), AND that is for a 6 hour day, with 10 weeks summer break, 2 weeks Xmas, and one week Easter, PLUS numerous "teacher conference days". After all, after that exhausting six hour day, a teacher needs to rest up! (Unlike policemen, firemen, engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, bankers, computer programmers, etc.) And 30 years later, that teacher can retire at almost full salary (by then, about $100K) at age 52. (With slightly less benefit, they can actually retire after 25 years, at age 48.) Oh, and every year, you get an AUTOMATIC cost of living raise PLUS a "step increase" and this regardless of your performance. Every kid in your class flunking? You still get a raise!

No society can afford to make a special protected class for teachers, and allow them to live in a Socialist Worker's Paradise, while their vast benefits and pensions are paid for by diminishing middle class who must try to survive in a dog-eat-dog, laissez faire capitalist system and still pay for it all.

CHANGE THIS...go back to the normal system we USED TO HAVE when we had the greatest educational system in the WORLD. A system where any college grad could teach their major (no "certification" to artificially hold down the number of teachers), where the market set salaries, where teachers were not paid to sit home in the summer, where unions existed to protect reasonable benefits and not rip off a powerless public. Where there was a social contract between teacher and community that said "you can have summer off and a pension, but in exchange we ask that you LOVE teaching and kids, and are not just in it for the money".

That's dead, and that is why our schools are dead. You can't run a luxury retirement system off citizens who don't have health care or pensions THEMSELVES; you can't create a race of "elites" and think they will bother to educate your kids when all they can think about is their fancy benefits and how to further rip off the public.
To Laurel962 -
As a retired teacher, I have to say, you are soooo not right about bloated teacher pay, benefits and retirement benefits. Rust belt pay must be MUCH higher than in NM, because I have never made anywhere close to the amounts you are quoting. And I have 50 hours of post Master's level classes, so I was very near the top of the pay scale. Also, are you figuring in the summers I spent in summer school staying current? Taking classes I had to pay for myself - most companies pay for their employees to increase their skills, but that is not true for teachers. How about the hundreds of hours I spent after school and on the weekends every year grading papers, etc. Try it before you criticize - you will sing a different tune, I think.
Hmm, this brings back the fact that the Conservative movement has in the past explicitly admitted that they want to disable / destroy public "anything." They are experiencing "success" at this endeavor even as they are discredited by their continuing craziness and dishonesty.

I'm no conspiracy freak but I'll bet anything that by crippling the finances of the average American, they will do more than just wreck our public school system. By eroding our public school system, they're denying millions of kids the hope of advancing by education or the already minor opportunity of advancing through sports.

The "conservatives" I know already express their view of "the masses" - implicitly consigning them to slave labor.

So I say: cut back nothing. We've got to reverse this downward spiral - by any means possible.
I adulation sports, and I adulation apprenticeship top academy sports, but when, for example, bisected of the agents at one elementary academy are accident their jobs; if academy sites can’t be abundantly maintained, arts programs are alone and kids who charge appropriate absorption can’t get it, it is cool to absorb money to abutment interscholastic athletics! Shouldn’t the commune be soliciting donations to armamentarium teaching positions and the apology of music and art programs, which accommodate a broader benefit? I accept this is an acute notion, but it reminds me of North Korea, area millions are starving, while Kim Il Jong spends billions to avert his dictatorship.
clay shooting :: Gym Membership Milton Keynes
Sports in High Schools are crippling American Education. Please read and sign my petition "Tell the NFL, NBA and MLB that if they want High Schools to Turn out Good Athletes, They Need to Pay" for the Coaches.