Sunday, January 21, 2007

Send Them Invoices

Now this news item has two of my pet interests intertwined -- football and education reform - set in the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota at Hibbing Community College (HCC).

HCC Provost Ken Simberg announced this past week that due to his frustration with the "perennially dismal academic performance of the college's football players" he is recommending that the the school drop its football program for the 2007-2008 school year. Such a decision would make the world worse off for two reasons -- 1.) less football would be played and enjoyed and 2.) the 63 football players (nearly all of them have academic problems according to the Pioneer Press article I read, would be academic castaways since football is the only reason many of them are in college today.

Without the discipline and structure that comes from being a football player how can anyone expect these players to succeed academically? Granted they are doing poorly academically with the team grade point average over the last five years sitting at a 1.8 out of 4.0. However, of the 63 current players on the team only 3 are from Minnesota with a total of 34 players coming from Ohio and Florida.

Since nearly 50% of these underachieving students -- despite the remedial education courses that HCC provides for these players -- are from two states let me call on the State of Minnesota to send an invoice to the governments of Ohio and Florida for the cost of this remedial education and related academic counseling the athletic department is probably providing. I am all for the concept of student-athletes and the diversity that such player recruitment provides but why should our state bail out the poorly-performing K-12 education systems in Ohio and Florida.

Let me close with a quote from Branden Bailey, a freshman football recruit from College Park, Georgia -- "I beg you, please don't take this away from us, where I come from you either sell drugs, or you do something academic-wise or athletics-wide to stay out of trouble. We might go home and do worse."

Let's help these young men and future graduates by sending a very public message by sending invoices to the high schools that "taught" these students to recover the cost of HCC educating them with a copy of the invoices released to the media. Clearly the "No Child Left Behind" federal legislation has failed these students. We need to decentralize education and inject competition into the system not federalize it with more bureaucrats checking test scores.

Competition is good for football programs and classrooms.


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