Tossing the Baby

Originally published July 28, 2007

When making changes, it’s always desirable to keep good stuff and jettison bad stuff that will be replaced by other good stuff. When you toss good stuff along with bad stuff, either accidentally or on purpose, you are “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” Not a pleasant picture, is it?

The primary business of public schooling is academics, but athletics is important too. Every student, regardless of sex, race, religion, or ability should have access to athletics at some level, and access should equitable according to law. The most obvious, and sometimes most contentious athletics inequities occur in major sanctioned sports like baseball and softball.

State athletic associations sanction sports, and those sports that are at the top of the list get first crack at the funds schools have to disburse for athletics, federal and local. Unsanctioned sports are either nominally supported by districts or exist as club sports with only a secondary claim on district facilities, and possibly no funding at all from the school district.

Recently, some of our patrons – parents of high school girls’ softball team members – have threatened a lawsuit against the district under Title IX, a series of federal laws that, among other things, demand equal treatment for both sexes with regard to athletic opportunity, and therefore, funding.

Why would they want to sue? They resent that boys’ baseball supporters have fundraised and contributed labor to building what they consider better facilities for boys’ baseball than the district has provided for girls’ softball. Ironically, girls’ softball boosters have provided very little in the way of augmentation of district funding for their sport.

The district, which has equally funded each sport, wisely undertook an outside audit for Title IX compliance. Guess what? We’re in compliance, but the lawyer who wrote the report (she works for the state school board association) recommended that the district get a handle on private contributions that are the root of perceived inequities.

So, should we tell boosters that their money is going into a general fund to be distributed equally amongst all sanctioned sports? (Guaranteed to dry up the flow of funds.) Or should we forbid private contributions, use only scarce district funds for sports, and tell patrons if they don’t like it, come back as a club sport? (There goes the baby!).

Our supe is a state scholastic athletic commission member, loves sports, and does a fantastic job overall. He is confident that what we have is an opportunity to examine and redefine the importance of sports in our district and provide other districts with a model to follow so that they may avoid Title IX lawsuits by treating participants equitably despite differences in patron donations.

But I wonder if we can avoid tossing the baby. I am very disappointed with parents who’d rather complain and sue instead of follow the example of more prolific fund raising parent groups. I’ll let you know what I learn from all this right here on the RepairKit channel. 🙂

Oh, I forgot to mention that the disgruntled parents, according to today’s major metro paper, don’t believe the compliance report, an executive summary of which was distributed at our board meeting early this week. That lawyer would have crucified us if we were violating federal law. It’s what lawyers do. Any bets on the outcome?

Posted by Repairman
Labels: athletics, Boardsmanship

Here’s the Anonymous comment I chose not to publish first time around:

I understand Repairman wants to throw out the federal law that says all kids are created equal. He wants to replace it with one that says some kids are more equal than others and that is really not a pretty picture.

If this “lifelong teacher” goes to Google Earth he can gather information as he looks at satellite shots of the school district. In each picture he can zoom down to where he can count the features on each sport field for each sex. Girls lose and the evidence will suggest some kids in the district are really less equal and now a lifelong teacher wants to punish them further. Repairman wants us to wink and look the other way as he blames parents of kids now playing sports for 35 years of district blindness.He says the girls are going to pay because the boys have better booster clubs and have had since these girls weren’t even born.

The school district spends the money they receive from the federal government. The money is sent to districts that agree to treat boys and girls equally and now Repairmen wants to rescind the law that says equal treatment is fair. He wants to scrap Title IX and ignore the effects of discrimination, blaming the girls for not having built booster clubs years ago when this huge difference started.

He also credits the superintendent, a state scholastic athletic commission member, with wanting to define ways to avoid Title IX lawsuits.

May I suggest the district invite a real outside expert to assess the equity of sports and the rest of the areas covered by Title IX of the Amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

May I suggest RMC Research Corporation can handle the job along the lines of the one they did for California Postsecondary Education Commission and California Department of Education a couple of years ago.

May I suggest the superintendent give away copies of the full report so I can read more than the Executive Summary? It seems silly to have to go to court to get public documents written by the district’s own Risk Management Pool’s young lawyer but I just don’t believe Title IX is as simple as the Executive Summary pretends it is.

I have read the law on the Internet at the Office for Civil Rights website and so can you. Let’s stop pretending something is wrong with parents who want the best for their kids and stop using phony measures that distort the meaning of words like, “equal.”

The problems of the district are there. Anyone can see them and the best way to avoid lawsuits is to stop discrimination paid for with my tax dollars. Or let the boys and girls programs trade between existing facilities and budgets every other year and let the parents and students decide if they are equal or not.

Anonymous Sportsfan

3 comments:

The Science Goddess said…
No bets on how this will turn out. It is unfortunate that some parents want someone else to fix problems…instead of taking the initiative themselves. Might the softball team have benefitted more if those same parents had used time and energy to fundraise or solicit private contributions…rather than parents using time and energy to whine?

Life doesn’t have to be fair—just equitable. Your district has done its part.

It might still be tossing out the baby, but what if the district set a ceiling on private contributions. And after a set amount, any overage would go into a general fund that would be shared among all athletic groups?
July 29, 2007 6:44 PM

DrPezz said…
Our school’s journalism program recently started a booster club completely run by the journalism parents. I know other clubs (Debate, Knowledge Bowl, and others) are taking notice. Just like in academics, the parental support can greatly raise the level (of the playing field?) of the students’ achievements.

By the way, thanks for the well-wishing on my admittedly novice-level blogging. I hope to improve.
July 29, 2007 7:17 PM

Repairman said…
Very reasonable suggestion, SG. I’ll toss that into the discussion mix at our next work session.

Like SG told me, DrPezz, it’s whatever you want it to be. 😉

With the feds involved, well-meaning parents who want to do right by the kids wind up getting the district in trouble. What is wrong with that picture???
July 29, 2007 9:03 PM

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