In Arizona, there are 110 high schools at the 4A and 5A levels. At least ten of those schools have seen their head basketball coach leave after the season concluded in early March. Much discussion has taken place as to why the high turnover.
I have the opportunity to speak to many coaches either in person, on the phone, or via e-mail. Recently, a coach e-mailed a heartfelt explanation addressing some of the challenges he and his colleagues face on a regular basis. I felt one paragraph in particular deserved presentation to the readership. Here's the quote:
"One reason a lot of coaches are quitting is the fact that too many
outsiders influence what happens in the gym with the doors closed. Most good
coaches know how to build a team and how to win. Unfortunately it takes
doing things that may not be something a kid likes the most. An example is
establishing an environment of discipline through hard work. If a player is not
focused or has an attitude, coaches should be able to withhold playing time, run
them, or use other methods to teach the player the right behaviors. Yet, today,
kids go home and act like they were mistreated and were the victim of some
vendetta the coach has against him and the parents go ballistic. They scream for
the coach's head rather than let the process teach the player how to behave in a
competitive team environment. The result is the coach getting pressure from
administration to change his coaching in order to suit one player who clearly is
in the wrong. Multiply that by 36 and you have a head coach's nightmare. It is
virtually impossible to establish your program today because parents and
administration won't allow you to have the structure in
These powerful, moving words struck a nerve and made me recall my own days as an elementary school teacher in the 70's. I left the profession after four years for some of the same reasons this coach mentioned, as well as my inability to earn a decent living.
The point is.trouble has been brewing in our public schools for many, many
I blame the post World War II generation for the initial decline in our educational system. Ever since the mid-1940's, education has been under attack. From not paying teachers fair wages, to substandard funding, to changing societal moral values, to the hiring of too many administrators, to outdated curriculums, and to relaxed disciplinary guidelines, our educational system has been in a downward spiral for over 50 years.
With each subsequent generation, the system falters more. It's gotten so bad I fear the problems are almost insurmountable. Another Columbine could break out at any second and the system is essentially powerless to stop it.
How did it all begin? An answer is nearly impossible to accurately define. But in my own way of simplifying complex issues I'd have to say it started when a few folks were bold enough to challenge authority and get away with it. Some of you may remember the bumper stickers that first appeared in the 60's that said, "Always Question Authority?"
I want one thing made perfectly clear. Revolting against the status quo has nothing to do with the desegregation of schools in the1950's, for that's one of the shining moments in the last century. Nordoes it have anything to do with the civil rights movement.
I'm talking about the people/parents who questioned why "little Johnny" had to stay after school because he'd miss the bus.
I'm talking about the gutless school principals who started entertaining parental complaints about the way a teacher disciplined a child, instead of throwing the parent out on his ear.
I'm talking about when parents started making excuses for their child's misbehavior instead of punishing the child a second time when he got home.
I'm talking about that point in time when teachers had to stop teaching on the offensive and take a defensive posture instead.
I'm talking about the time when everyone turned super-sensitive all of a sudden and books were removed from libraries.
I'm talking about when elementary-aged athletes weren't allowed to keep score anymore because the losing team might get offended.
I'm talking about when it was no longer appropriate for a teacher to give a child a hug or a pat on the back.
I'm talking about when they took prayers out of schools, and Christmas parties too, because a few may be offended.
I'm talking about when it became no longer acceptable to contrast the creation and evolution theories, or even talk about them.
I'm talking about the time when society discounted education so much that music and arts programs were eliminated, physical education departments were shut down, and in some schools, students had to "pay-to-play" their favorite sports.
I'm talking about the folks who did away with corporal punishment....the ones who believed "time out" was better than a swat on the butt.
I'm talking about the time when mirrors no longer worked anymore...that time when it became acceptable to point the finger of blame at the other guy instead of where it really belonged.....in the mirror.
And I'm talking about the thousands and thousands of school boards who sat spinelessly by and watched all this crap rain down.
I could go on all day and night about where the slippery slope to Hell began. That won't fix things though. We must deal in the present.
Today, if our children even will attend school, they find rampant drug use, inappropriate tasteless dress apparel, belligerent condescending student behavior, and absolutely no respect for authority by seemingly the majority. Administrators rubber stamp it all, their hands tied by so many governmental restrictions and political pressures they might as well stay home and let the students run the school.
What can be done? Probably nothing, short of total revolution. Our society at some point must take back our schools. But first, we need to take back society.
Recently, the government put jackass, radio jock Howard Stern out of business. That's a start. Next, Uncle Sam needs to go after trashy TV shows, music, and movies.
Call it censorship if you will, but I suppose some entity needs to take a stand toward restoring sanity to a society that's hated in most other parts of the world. Apparently, we must have an authority figure to ensure compliance with the Golden Rule.
Personally, I have no faith in our government fixing our educational problems anymore than I do their ability to end crime or halt the flow of illegal aliens into this country....or any of the other challenges we face. Our government is simply too big, too inefficient, and too corrupt to do the right thing anymore.
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are really very simple documents. But they've been so liberally interpreted that our entire way of life is approaching gridlock. We'd be far better off if we could disbar all attorneys, burn all law books, and start over from scratch.
So who else is there to clean up our educational mess? Our churches? Not a chance....they can't even get the diversity issue right, mainly because every church feels their value and belief agenda is superior to all others.
I didn't come to you thinking I had all or any of the answers. I'm simply spouting off in response to the coach's paragraph above. When good men like the coach above begin to feel hopeless, it's a strong indicator we're walking in deep doo-doo.
What can we do? Let's talk on the message boards......