In our discussion of what if anything we should do to improve K-12 education in South Dakota, eager reader Heidi Marttila-Losure suggests that we need to get schools to stop hiring teachers to be coaches first and teachers as an afterthought.
Not gonna happen in Rapid City:
Major universities across the country don't consider team athletes from Rapid City Area Schools when it comes to recruiting, according to a member of the Board of Education.
He wants to change that.
"Either we're going to be competitive or we're not," board member Jim Hansen said at Thursday's board of education meeting.
Hansen said he and fellow board member Brian Blenner requested a meeting recently with Superintendent Tim Mitchell, high school principals and athletic directors from Rapid City Stevens High School and Rapid City Central High School. The result was two hours of focused, passionate discussion on the district's present and future plans for its athletic programs.
"We're going to start pushing this," he said, calling the meeting "inspirational" [Lynn Taylor Rick, "School Board Focuses on Improving Sports Teams," Rapid City Journal, 2013.01.18].
School board focuses on improving sports teams... Rapid City neighbors, is that what you elected your school board to focus on?
The jockocracy rants on:
Hansen said he believes the district needs to decide what its philosophy is regarding athletics. Right now, it appears to be "everybody plays," he said. That attitude isn't real world, he said. When it comes to jobs, the students will be competing for top positions. "Everybody" doesn't get the job, he said.
At the same time, Hansen said, he also wants all students to have the chance to play sports they love. He believes the solution is a more tiered system and a stronger intramural program, possibly in partnership with the city. "If we could work with the city and make them bigger," he said of the current intramural offerings, then everyone could play, but at their "level," he said.
Board member Bret Swanson said that while he wants everyone to play, he also really wants to beat the East River teams. "We've got the athletes, and that drives me nuts," he said [Taylor Rick, 2013.01.18].
Yes, because sports are meant to create a hierarchy, where we settle to our proper level as we coronate a few elites on whom we will focus our school board's efforts.
Board member Laura Schaad said she has experienced the situation firsthand with her own daughter's athletic career. "It took going out of town to get her looked at," she said [Taylor Rick, 2013.01.18].
I know the feeling, Laura. I'm working on my daughter's Supreme Court Justice career, but my school has this silly "everybody learns" philosophy that has us teachers constantly breaking into small-group activities and individualized instruction to help the slower kids meet the basic standards. Why can't we work with the city to create a nice after-school intramural learning program so those kids could learn at their "level" and free up the school to act as an incubator for my daughter and other elites who will be the star players in government and business?
In Web page coding, I would now type </biting satire>.
The above-quoted Rapid City school board members make me think Heidi has put her finger on the biggest problem in South Dakota education. The words focus and sports should never appear in any sentence spoken by or describing school board members unless chaperoned by a not. School boards should focus on programs to propel students to top universities and top careers in science, medicine, law, the arts, and commerce. Once they achieve that goal, then maybe—maybe—they can consider creating additional opportunities for kids who are good at throwing balls at each other.
Related: In the undercard to Wednesday morning's House Education hearing, a few legislators are really worried that the South Dakota High School Activities Association will make rational business decisions about where to hold certain state high school sports championships. House Bill 1088 would forbid the SDHSAA from taking away hosting opportunities for high school state tournaments from communities otherwise willing and able to host.