Saturday, August 29, 2009

High School Credit...for Athletics?

This news article today got me thinking about several facets of education. The essence of the article (which, I might add, was clearly not written by a professional educator) was that in the past, Texas students could get 2 of their required 26 credits to graduate by taking an "athletics class." Now, the Texas legislature has passed a law that allows students to gain 4 of their required credits by taking "athletics classes."

"Athletics classes," if I understand the article correctly, are basically credits awarded for participation in extracurricular athletics during the school day.

One school board member expressed his opinion with this inspiring comment: "If this is what keeps kids in school, then we should support it," he said.

Sorry, dude, but that's not what we are talking about here. This is a change in the graduation requirements—ostensibly, a change in the academic courses required to gain a diploma in the state of Texas. If I were a music, foreign language, or theatre teacher, I would be pretty ticked right about now.

I have no problem with requiring "physical education" or some comparable "class" as a prerequisite to a diploma. I had to take P.E. in high school, and physical education, if well taught, can be instructive both in the short and long term.

What I object to is allowing physical education or athletics classes to supplant academic courses in the graduation requirements. In Texas, it appears that the two additional athletics courses can only take the place of other electives. This is still not a good idea. The values found in music, drama, art, foreign language, and other similar "elective" classes are important. A student playing a sport after school can still take an art class during school. A student taking an "athletics class" during school likely won't be taking art in the late afternoon—they'll be playing their sport!

As a teacher, my gut feeling is that these "athletic classes" are just allowing the coaches to get some extra time in, during the class day, to prep their athletes. This is happening at the expense of academic classes, and of education in general; consequently, the diploma just received a little bit of tarnish.

That is not a good thing.

1 comment:

Brenda Brough said...

I do have to say, this state does have an over-the-top obsession with it's sports, most notably football. Sounds like a way to further feed their gluttonous appetites for things that have no real long-term benefits....and to neglect a little effort of using their minds.