Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sitting in for the principal today, I fielded many questions that were out of my league. One I was unable to give a definitive answer to got me to thinking...

If a student leaves our school to continue his/her education at the alternative school, is that students eligible to play sports?

My gut, knee-jerk reaction was NO. If you didn't cut it HERE, couldn't meet the eligibility requirements to play sports HERE, why would we let you jump ship to another school and still let you do the fun stuff we provide as extra-curricular enhancement for OUR students?

Of course, I don't have the final say, or for that matter, even any input on the final decision on the matter. Just the thought of it got me riled up....

My own daughters played sports, both of them. Sports provided them a physical outlet as well as an opportunity to be part of a team with all the benefits that affords player. They learned about being good, being not so good, being supportive of others, following rules, sacrificing sleep for something you want... all while keeping their grades to both the school's standards as well as ours at home.

I think sports are wonderful for all kinds of kids. I think sports need to be a integral part of the public school experience.

But are sports THE REASON for school? Absolutely not...

As a teacher, I've seen it happen repeatedly. A kid is a pain in the butt, disruptive, insubordinate, refuses to do anything.... until his sport season comes along. Then suddenly, Johnny becomes a model student, maintaining his grade average required to play, avoiding detentions that would interfere with practice. What a great motivator!! until the season is over.... then back to the same old same old...

Policies have changed, at least within my district, to hold students accountable for being a 'student' for more than just the actual sport season in which they play. For some kids, that works. But for others, it eliminates them from the program entirely. To them, I say, "so be it..."

Coaches try to bolster young athletes to grow and mature, trying to grab some of those borderline kids and hook them into the programs, hoping to see a carry over from the team to the classroom. It does work in rare instances.

The bottom line to me is... School is about academics. School is for learning. In today's educational arena where budgets are being slashed to the bare bones, teachers' salaries are being cut, educational programs are being eliminated.... we need to be careful about making sports a priority instead of academics. Sports are a privilege. Learning is a requirement.


knittingaddicted said...

Students who are working towards a diploma in Michigan have to meet the same standards at an alternative school as those in a regular public school. Some students can learn better in an alternative environment -- they may have social handicaps that look like behavior problems or laziness, but I would argue that this baggage stands in their way. It's not that they "can't cut it."

Are children who are home-schooled entitled to play sports at your school? If so, how is this different from an alternative student?

If a student is working towards a GED, then I would agree with you; he or she has given up the right to pursue the things of high school.

cossondra said...

I don't know the home school policy but would think it should be the same. I look at sports as an extra, the sprinkles on the cupcake's frosting.
I agree whole-heartedly that alternative schools are better placements for some students. I just don't want kid x to sit in class doing nothing year after year, and then think," hmmmmm I wanna play basketball this year. I'll just drop out and go to the alternative program so I can be eligible." If we're going to allow alt ed kids and hoemschoolers to play, they ought to have to meet the same academic requirements other students have to meet. Otherwise, we've made sports more important than academics and provided a loophole for slackers to circumvent the system. Eligibility requirements should follow you regardless of where you go.