Parents, you’re off the team

By Stephen Harris - For The Tribune

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown

Here’s a news item that caught my eye. A county school board near Atlanta grew disgusted with parents who would not come to parent-teacher conferences in high schools.

So one board member came up with this idea: if parents don’t come, then their kids can’t play sports or participate in other school extracurricular activities.

Parents’ and students’ reactions were predictable. What, no sports! The idea caused an uproar.

As a result, Cobb County school board member David Morgan’s proposal got voted down 5-2. But not before a re-evaluation down there about the roles of parents, schools and sports in education.

In a perfect world, kids come home from school and do their homework before dinner with their parents by their sides. When the class bell rings the next day, homework is done and turned in, and the teacher seamlessly proceeds to the next lesson in the rewarding path to a good education.

But you and I both know that the world doesn’t work that way. Parents have their limits, teachers have theirs, and kids have theirs.

I remember Mom’s and my first Parent Teacher Association meeting here in the hometown. At school they had made it sound like we had to attend. After a hard day’s work at the old Sunbeam plant here the last thing Mom wanted was to turn around and go out again and spend the evening at a PTA meeting. But I told Mom we had to go.

If we had to go, the others did not. There were maybe a half-dozen parents there.

Morgan, the Georgia school board member, said his plan would have required from parents 90 minutes once a year. He said parents had the option of calling or using the Internet to conference. He compared his plan to the requirement for parents to get their children immunized or get their physicals before playing school sports.

“How hard is it?” Morgan complained in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Parents, can you do 90 minutes in a 180-day school year? … People were like, ‘How dare you?’”

I can see the lead story on The Tribune Sports page already.

The Acme High Knights won the conference championship Friday night after 95 percent of parents attended teacher conferences. The full-rostered Knights defeated the short-handed Ajax High Cleaners who had only 50 percent of parents in conference by a score of 24-3.

John Johnson led the way with two touchdowns after both parents spent more than two hours in conference. During the intense planning session, Johnson’s parents agreed with the teacher on a senior public-service project of building handicap accesses along the E&A Rail Trail and on after-school tutoring at Huntington Learning Center in both algebra and chemistry.

The team carried Johnson’s teacher and parents on their shoulders across the field in triumph.

Oh, well, you teachers can dream, can’t you?

Of course the real issue here is the priority of sports in our education systems. Bad grades and failing schools are not enough to rally educators and parents. But if sports are threatened, folks can’t act fast enough.

Some have questioned, fairly, whether schools should even be in the business of sports. And if you question using the word business, just check out the money raked in by colleges and even high schools.

Our grandkids have about aged out of youth sports leagues and all of the games and road trips that can eat up most of a week. One grandkid just got back from some kind of cheerleading program in New Orleans. New Orleans!? What program is she in, the NFL?

If only algebra and chemistry had such support.

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown Harris Back In The Hometown

By Stephen Harris

For The Tribune

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