I have known for a while that athletics, even high school athletics, is big business in Texas. While school districts have to struggle to find the money to buy supplies or build new schools, they never seem to have much trouble building a new weight room, buying new uniforms or equipment, or building a new stadium. There is always money for sports, but seldom enough for education.
An article in the Austin American-Statesman today points out another aspect of the sports vs. education argument - salaries. It seems that many high school coaches are making salaries double that of many teachers. The average discrepancy is $31,000. The newspaper even included a chart of 4A and 5A coaches salaries. Most coaches at the larger schools are making salaries in the $90,000 to $105,000 range.
Don't get me wrong. I love high school sports. But I do wonder if we're being smart in how we're spending our education dollars. Is a coach really worth twice as much to our community as a math or english teacher? Are new sports stadiums really more important to our community than adequate schools and supplies? Three decades ago, American students led the way in math and science. In these areas today, our students are falling behind those in other countries. It's too bad math and science aren't as important to most people as high school athletics.
In our effort to provide fun and fulfilling extra-curricular activities for our students, we have let things get out of whack. Somehow we have elevated the extra-curricular above the real education activities. With education dollars at a premium these days, it is time to rethink how we are spending them. The schools were not created so we could have high school football. They were created to educate our students.