Get Smart

A few school policies that need to be re-thought.

With the colleges finally opening for the year, school is in all over town. Students at the University of Arizona will go to school for an entire week and then have the much-deserved, three-day Labor Day weekend. The UA also solved its long-standing dorm overcrowding by effectively banning half of all students from dorm residence eligibility. Now, that's high-level thinking.

With that monstrosity nearing completion on North Shannon, now more than ever it's fair to say that two-thirds of the world is covered with water and the rest is covered with Pima College branch campuses.

Whose idea was it to put mini-Pimas next to every Starbuck's? There are eight different junior colleges in the Phoenix area and only one in Tucson. Seems a bit odd.

In other school notes:

· Several students, including the student body vice president, might get expelled from Arizona State University after participating in the filming of a porno movie at several frat houses on campus. ASU officials have to check the books to see if this sort of thing violates the code of conduct!

Wait a minute: They make porn flicks at the frat houses and yet ASU didn't make the list of the Top 10 party schools this year? They should demand a recount.

· School districts all over the state are fighting a losing battle with cell phones. The pretentious little pieces of electronic crap, which constitute the most annoying technological advance of my lifetime, used to be banned completely from most campuses. But then parents started complaining that they wanted their kids to have them "in case there was a school shooting or something."

Why not just have your kid wear a block of cement on her head in case a meteorite falls on her? The odds of that happening and a shooting at a school are about equal.

I volunteer at my son's school and I see kids talking on cell phones between classes! Who is there to talk to at 10:15 a.m.? One's parole officer, perhaps?

· For the past few months the Sunnyside School District has received a buttload of positive press over its new policy calling for a minimum of straight C's for a student to be eligible to participate in sports and/or other extracurricular activities. And now the Amphi District is considering a similar policy.

In a time where slackerism has been elevated to an art form and dumb jocks earn some sort of bizarre street cred by being one-dimensional and aggressively ignorant, one might think that such a policy would be met with universal praise from involved parents and educational professionals. Well, not so fast.

In all my years of coaching, tutoring and being a parent, I have always preached academic achievement, first and foremost. I have seen countless examples of how excellence in the classroom goes hand in hand with excellence on the court and playing field. I'm proud to say that I have never had even one kid miss a game due to academic ineligibility. If a kid is falling behind in her studies, she doesn't practice until she has caught up on her schoolwork. I had one team at Amphi where 14 of the 16 kids had straight A's and the other two each had five A's and a B.

I talk it and walk it, but I also know that there are special cases that might slip through a well-intentioned policy. First off, a C grade is meant to be average. What's wrong with being average? (Unless of course, we're talking about grade inflation and how today's C grade is equivalent to a D or F grade from 30 years ago, which may be a valid issue, but one to be set aside for later discussion.)

Let's assume that a C grade means average. I know some kids who work very hard just to get C grades. They suffer from crappy home lives, bad peer pressure, poor study habits, language barriers, the need (as opposed to the desire) to work and any number of other factors that rob them of their time and ability to focus on their studies. These kids should be applauded for their efforts, not threatened with the loss of an activity which just might be the only thing keeping them sane and in school.

I coached a kid once whose (single-parent) mother was hooked on crack and supported her habit through prostitution in the home. This poor kid would go home after practice and barricade herself in her room lest one of her mother's "friends" try to get a little something extra. (I contacted Child Protective Services and was told that a kid can't be taken from the home simply because the parent has a drug habit and that prostitution would be hard to prove.)

To top things off, the kid was being treated for an early form of cancer. That she was able to get out of bed in the morning and show up to school was incredible to me. And her getting five C's and a D in geometry was far more impressive than my daughter getting straight A's. There has to be room in the policy for kids like that.

Finally, what about an honors kid who gets scared away from taking an ultra-hard class because it might mean not being able to be in the band or playing ball? It's very conceivable that a bright kid could get five A's and a D in AP Physics or Calculus? Should that kid be punished for aiming high?

The policy is a good starting point, but there has to be a safety net, perhaps an appeals board made up of teachers and administrators. Some might argue that loopholes will be exploited by the lazy jock or the unscrupulous coach, but the loopholes have to be there for the kids who truly need them.

A strict, no-exceptions, C-average policy is the equivalent of a Republican education-platform campaign slogan. It's platitudes without either common sense or compassion. The policy is simplistic and you know you can do better.

Now Playing

Get Smart is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

What others are saying

  • Tucson Weekly

    Best of Tucson Weekly

    Tucson Weekly