There is another side to the September 6th story in the Rockford Register Star concerning ESPN’s visit to Auburn High School to discuss academic eligibility.
That side concerns the athlete’s education and the reasons behind the 2.0 Grade Point Average requirements, a point totally omitted in the article.
One of the reasons our board passed the 2.0 GPA in August, 2001 by a vote of 4-2 was that almost one-third of the freshman class in some high schools were reading two grade levels below the ninth grade - a few students were four grade levels below.
The freshman class also had 42% of the students who couldn’t maintain a “C” average. These students had been socially promoted and a number were playing sports. They only had to pass four classes in those days to meet IHSA requirements to participate in sports.
The RRStar.com article refers to the current IHSA requirement that athletes only need to pass five courses, in order to remain eligible to participate in extracurricular activities. A Physical Education class may be counted as one of the five courses, even if the school does not give credit for P.E.
RSD205 is thus lowering the bar of educational achievement from the mediocrity of a “C” or 2.0 average, to the IHSA standard of 5D’s and 1 or 2F’s, a less than 1.0 GPA. Reducing the GPA from 2.0 to less than 1.0 is lowering the standards any way you look at it!
Mandatory tutoring is also required of athletes, who are failing subjects in their 6 or 7 hour school day, but what about the non-athletes, are they receiving extra help if they are failing to meet standards? The community is paying for all students to achieve educational excellence.
In sports, the high jump bar is raised each time in order to achieve the next level, not lowered. In the long jump, the athlete with the best jump is awarded the ribbon and the fastest runner gets the medal.
Mediocrity is not the goal of sports, but the state is allowing much less than that for passing courses in order to play those sports.
The school district is obviously trying to keep the athletes in school, and that is understandable, if it is to achieve a better education for the student, who would drop out without this incentive.
However, if the rationale for this reduction in educational standards is simply to have more competitive teams because there are more students to choose from, or to increase the average daily attendance for increased state aid, then the educational goals will never be realized.
Playing sports is a privilege not a right. Higher achieving students should not be held back or slowed academically by athletes in their class, who are struggling just to make a “D.”
The higher achieving students are there to learn, and should also be given as much financial help and tutoring, as the athletes receive to “earn” less than a 1.0 GPA.
The credits required to graduate was recently raised to 48 after RSD205 reestablished the seventh hour. That equals 56 possible credits in the eight semesters.
The question that still remains is, if the athlete successfully completes 5 credits in each of their eight semesters of eligibility, the athlete would only earn 40 credits and they would not be eligible to graduate with their class, unless the graduation standards were also lowered, correct?
Do these athletes have to attend high school two additional semesters at a cost of $13,000? Possibly, they need to attend summer school each year and earn the 8 credits required to graduate – at what cost? The district might consider athletes passing 6 credits rather than 5 in the 7 hours of class in order to maintain eligibility to participate in sports and maintain graduation schedules.
What do you think the odds are that any Rockford athlete will be offered a professional major league contract versus a great job with a world-class education? Teachers know that students succeed if standards are maintained, not lowered.
RSD205 mission statement promises to equip all students with the tools necessary to compete in the global marketplace, succeed in future educational pursuits and contribute to society.
In today’s global job market, these student-athletes with their less than 1.0 GPA better continue to excel at their games, because without a world-class education, they are going to have lots of free time on their hands.