Bye-Bye, School Sports?

Why do we in the USA have sports programs in our public schools? Surely that’s not something we should have. Surely what we should have our schools doing is teaching kids math, science, history, and things like that. We don’t need them playing organized football or anything like that, do we? It’s something that almost no other country in the world does, and all the countries that regularly beat us academically do not have organized sports at their schools.

I write about this because of an article published by The Atlantic. In it, the author wonders why we have school sports and whether or not we might be better off without them. In addition to making the “aren’t schools about education?” argument, she also brings up cost.

In many schools, sports are so entrenched that no one—not even the people in charge—realizes their actual cost. When Marguerite Roza, the author of Educational Economics, analyzed the finances of one public high school in the Pacific Northwest, she and her colleagues found that the school was spending $328 a student for math instruction and more than four times that much for cheerleading—$1,348 a cheerleader. “And it is not even a school in a district that prioritizes cheerleading,” Roza wrote. “In fact, this district’s ‘strategic plan’ has for the past three years claimed that math was the primary focus.”

She also discusses, at length, a high school in Texas that got rid of most sports, up to and including football. To those who don’t get the importance, that’s like if the Pope said, “This whole resurrection of Jesus business. Probably not a thing.” The author goes on to say:

Football is, far and away, the most expensive high-school sport. Many football teams have half a dozen or more coaches, all of whom typically receive a stipend. Some schools hire professional coaches at full salaries, or designate a teacher as the full-time athletic director. New bleachers can cost half a million dollars, about the same as artificial turf. Even maintaining a grass field can cost more than $20,000 a year. Reconditioning helmets, a ritual that many teams pay for every year, can cost more than $1,500 for a large team. Some communities collect private donations or levy a special tax to fund new school-sports facilities.

Now imagine that schools did not have sports programs. What would happen? You’d likely see what you see in other nations. You’d have private clubs form up, probably with sponsors, and there would be youth leagues and such. Those who are interested in paying for such things would pay for them. Meantime, the money that was going to these things in schools would be going, presumably, to more scholastic things.

The article is pretty long, but well-worth reading.

It Begins…

So I am one measly credit shy of my associate’s degree. Joy of joys. I need to finish the semester that started today first, of course. I’m taking a non-fiction writing class, which is good, because if it was just a made-up class, that would suck (“They’re called bunk beds. I don’t why, because they actually exist”). Beyond that, I’m retaking my racial and ethnic minorities class that I failed last semester. I feel it’s generally a good idea to not have an F next to classes that apply directly to one’s major. Finally, I’m re-retaking math 91. Yes, third try’s the charm, I hope. I actually got credit for it last semester and the semester before that. But I need to move on to math 121 for ASU, and so I have to get at least a C in this class.

I’m also scaling back my hours at work. I’ll only be working two days a week, and those will be weekend days. Hopefully money will continue to pour in, plus I’ll have my money from my student loans to pay for my rent for the next few months. That will give me more time to concentrate on school. So…if all goes well, by December, I’ll have my degree. Then I just need to get math 121 and a couple of other prerequisite classes under my belt (though aren’t they actually requisite, if you have to take them to advance?), and then I’m off to ASU in the fall of next year.

I fucking hope.

Schooling Problems

So my latest semester is just about over with. It’s been…not great. I took a biology course about plants (required for graduation, didn’t want it), took math course (required for graduation, didn’t want it), and a sociology course (on a subject of sociology that doesn’t much interest me, but was all that was available). The results weren’t pretty.

In my biology class, it looks like I’m getting a B, which isn’t horrible. However in the sociology course, I’m going to get a C, which isn’t good. To make matters worse, in my math course, I’m getting a D. I’ll need to repeat that one to get credit.

So in every other semester, I got at least one A. Not this time. I also never got any Cs or Ds. Not this time.

Still, I’m on track to graduate in time, and hopefully next semester will go better!

Wherein the Future Comes Into Focus…Slightly

I think that I’m basically done with Arizona. I’ll be getting my associates degree in liberal arts at the end of this year, and my plan had been to transfer to ASU to study sociology. But the more I looked, the more I realized that they are not, perhaps, the best school in the nation for that, or any, subject. The best in the country for sociology is Berkley, but since I’m not a billionaire, I can’t afford to live in the Bay Area. What’s the second best school? Universtiy of Wisconsin in Madison. The only Arizona school even in the top 20 is in Tucson. I didn’t see ASU listed in there at all.

Madison also has more liberal politics, more reasonable summers (though winters that are, by my standards, horrible because they exist), and it looks like it’s big enough to have all the amenities of a large city but not be so big that one can get overwhelmed. It’s within easy travel distance to Milwaulkee and Chicago, which is nice because there’s a Doctor Who convention in Chicago every year. And, of course, Wisconsin is the Badger state and the UW-Madison’s team are the Badgers. So there’s that.

The cost of living is a bit higher in Madison than in Phoenix, but on the plus side the unemployment rate is substantially lower (4.8% vs 10%), and as I’ve learned lately, finding work these days is hard enough without being in a place where 1 in 10 people are jobless. I also wouldn’t know anyone there, though one of my best friends has family he visits there from time to time and another friend is majoring in a subject where UW-Madison is the 5th highest ranked school, so he might be tempted to join me on my little move.

Nothing is written in stone on this whole thing yet. I’d say I’m extremely likely to wind up moving in June of next year, but I’m not 100% sure at this point. I will probably be visiting the area in September, which will give me a chance to get a feel for the place and then I’ll be able to know for sure. Plus I’ll aslo be able to talk with people at the school about my transfer plans and the like. It will also give me time to accumulate the roughly $3,000 I’ll need to have in order to pull this off.

So it won’t be fast and it won’t be easy, but with any luck in little less than a year, I’ll be in a new place with a new life and ready for a new school.

Good News, Everyone!

So I have done the math (thank you, Math 140), and it looks as though I’m a mere five credits shy of getting my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts! Huzzah! Sure, it’s not a very useful degree, but it is a good stepping stone to better things, like my eventual Doctorate in Sociology (which also isn’t a very useful degree, but anyhow…). In theory, I could have had it by the end of summer, but instead, since I didn’t take any summer classes, I’ll have to wait until the end of the fall semester.

The plus side with waiting is that I can do my last couple required classes (which are heavy on math and science), at a slower pace than I could with a six week summer course. It also means that when I eventually leave community college at the end of Spring 2013, I’ll be guaranteed a place at ASU in the Fall 2013 semester. That’s something pretty neat!

In other news, I still don’t have a job, and the unemployment is going to run out shortly. But I remain confident that something will come along soon. Even if it doesn’t, I just have to hold on until the student loan disbursements kick in. Then with luck, I can just go to school full time and not have to worry about work for a good long while.

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Smarten Yourself Up!

And enjoy doing it! Check these videos, which are each the first videos in their respective courses. I find the history ones to be more entertaining, but, well, I actually get history, and biology…I’m getting a C in my biology 100 class. This does not make for a happy person. Anyhow, here’s the vids.

College in Arizona – The Poor Need Not Apply

At least that’s the plan if HB 2675 passes (which is probably won’t). This bill would create a surcharge of $2,000 per student per year for colleges here in Arizona. This bill was proposed by one John Kavanagh. I won’t bother to tell you what party he’s with. You already know.

He’s got some real gems about this.

“I don’t see why these (college graduates) who are going to earn so much more (than high school graduates) can’t take out loans for $2,000. It’s a small fraction of the cost of their education. Graduating with an $8,000 loan is not the end of the world,” Kavanagh said.

Actually, that’s an extra $8,000, thank you. And if you’re working 40 hours a week earning minimum wage, and trying to go to school so you can earn more, then you’re taking in about $16,000 before taxes. $2,000 is a sizable chunk of that.

He does include an exemption for people with academic and athletic scholarships.

“Academic scholars earned the free tuition and by raising the intellectual level of the university, they create greater value for everybody. Athletic scholars have also earned it because they contribute to school spirit, and those on football and basketball teams also generate a lot of extra revenue,” Kavanagh said.

Uh-huh. I have a problem with the existence of college sports anyhow, so I’ll ignore that part. The academic part is fine, but what if you’re like me, and going back to school 20 years after you should have? I’m not likely to get an academic scholarship.

This is, frankly, just a stupid plan that hopefully won’t go anywhere. If it does, however, I’ll be seriously motivated to move to another state to continue my education. Yes, I’d have to pay out of state tuition at first, but at least I’d be in a state that’s less hostile toward education.

The Anti-Intellectual Santorum of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum was talking recently about Obama’s belief that every child should attend college.

I was so outraged by the president of the United States for standing up and saying every child in America should go to college. Well who are you? Who are you to say that every child in America should [go to college]? I mean, the hubris of this president to think that he knows what’s best.

I have seven kids. Maybe they will all go to college. But if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto-mechanic, good for him. That’s a good paying job: using your hands, using your mind. This is the kind of snobbery that we see from those who think they know how to run our lives. Rise up America, defend your own freedoms. And overthrow these folks who think they know how to orchestrate every aspect of your lives.

Yes, because what could be worse than wanting every child to get a better education? And, I’m guessing here, but I think Obama doesn’t want every child to attend college per se, I think he just wants them to have the option to attend college in a reasonable way, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all.

Even if Obama did think everyone should attend college, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. I mean, sure, if someone wants to be an auto mechanic they should be. But how much better of an auto mechanic could they be if they attended college-level courses on the subject? But then again, this is the sort of warped world-view I’ve come to expect of someone who thinks gays are the biggest threat to America and that abortion and birth control should be outlawed.

It’s worth noting that the other day, when the Iowa caucus votes were being counted, I asked a gay conservative Republican friend of mine the following: “Given that Santorum is extremely anti-gay, would you vote for him if he were the nominee?” Said friend never answered the question, he simply had the attitude that since Santorum won’t be the nominee, it doesn’t matter. Well, true, he likely won’t be, but he might be, and certainly he might help control the discussion during the election, so it’s worth pondering.

For the record, if there were a candidate where I agreed with him or her on almost everything, but said candidate believed gay sex should be illegal again, I would not vote for them. I would instead vote Socialist or something. True, my one vote wouldn’t make a difference, but it would certainly make it easier for me to sleep at night.

Free Education for All

One of the best ways to improve your life and earning power is with a good education. Even in these troubled economic times, the people with higher educational levels have lower levels of unemployment than others. Having a well-educated population is a good thing for nations, too, as I think we can all agree.

But getting an education isn’t cheap. Once you get past high school, you have to pay and pay quite a bit. Even community colleges, like the one I’m attending, aren’t that cheap and they tend to be the cheapest option of all. For twelve credits per semester, I’m paying about $1,500 for books and tuition. Thankfully I can get student loans, but that does mean that by the time I have my bachelor’s degree, I fully expect to owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000. Not bad if it helps me to get a better paying job, though.

The government has a vested interest in making our country more educated.The more educated you are, the more you can contribute to the nation and the more money you earn. Therefore I believe the government should start paying for everyone’s education, right up through doctorate level for those who choose to go that far. Even more than that I believe they should pay for the books and pay a small stipend to every student so they can be full-time.

This would of course be contingent upon students maintaining a certain grade average. If you don’t do that, I’d say you should be kicked off the program and not eligible to get back in for, say, five years. Lots of people start college before they are ready (see: me in the early 1990s), and don’t do well. You don’t want to kick them off the program for life, but give them five years of reexamining their priorities and they might decide to knuckle-down and do their schooling.

I’m not going to pretend this program would be cheap, because it certainly wouldn’t. But I look at this way: if someone gets a doctorate in medicine it’s not unlikely this program would have spent about $150,000 on their education. That’s a lot. But once they graduate, the odds are good they could get a job that pays them $100,000 a year or more. If they paid 30% of their income in taxes, that would mean that in five years they would have paid back the government’s investment in them. It also means that if they paid $30,000 a year in taxes for the next 35 years before they retire, they would have contributed $10.5 million in tax dollars over their working life.

Compare this with someone who didn’t go to college and earns about $20,000 a year. They likely pay no taxes. True, the government wouldn’t have spent money on their college education, but this means that by the time they retire, they’ll have contributed $0 to the tax base and will in fact be costing us money in the long run due to social security and Medicare. To take it one step higher, if the government spends $20,000 to help someone get an associate’s degree and that lets them get a $30,000 a year job, it takes them, at a 20% tax rate, a tiny bit more than three years to pay it off, and in the remaining 36 or so years of work they pay $216,000 in taxes.

This formula even works for lower-levels of education. Say you have a bachelor’s degree and the government spent $50,000 on helping you to get it. Let’s say you then get a job that pays you $40,000. At a 25% tax rate you’d pay off your educational costs in five years and over the next 35 you’d contribute $350,000 to the tax base.

Now I’m sure the cost numbers here are a little low, and they don’t really include my idea of a stipend (which I figure would have to be about $1000 – $2000 a month, depending on where someone lived). But I also don’t factor in the extra money these educated people pump into the economy by buying things. In the end, everyone at every level of the economy benefits and our country as a whole benefits. There really is no downside argument that I can think of.

This program would be very expensive to start, but it wouldn’t take long before we saw it really paying big dividends to our nation. Sadly, there’s no way in hell we’re going to do it. The Republican party is very anti-education and even the Democrats won’t fight for an idea like this one, sensible though it may be. People will talk about the price and about personal responsibility and about all those other things while ignoring the fact that our nation’s educational system is continuing to spiral down the toilet. So it won’t happen.

But I can dream.

(other articles about education can be found here, here and here)

Badger’s Progress

Well, I’m continuing with my schooling. Learned today that I got Bs in my ENG102 and screenplay classes. Ooops. With the ENG102, I just didn’t do well on my last paper. With the screenplay class, I missed an entire assignment that was 15% of my grade. *sigh* There is a disadvantage with learning online and the ease of forgetting due dates is that.

Still, I have my religion class which I should get an A- out of. So that’s not too bad. Plus I did get all As last semester. Hopefully I’ll get As during my summer classes, too! Wish me luck!


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