I have nothing against athletics in high school. I realize its value in teaching teamwork and boosting pride. But I think the amount of money spent is indefensible. In a state with one of the lowest-ranked school systems, Texas nevertheless is known for spending outrageous sums for its sports facilities. The latest example is the Katy Independent School District, which just opened a $70 million, 12,000-seat football stadium, the most expensive in the nation (“The $70m high school stadium - a student sports palace or ‘shrine to opulence’?” The Guardian, Aug. 18).
Texas ranks 36th in per-student spending, $2,555 less per student than the nation’s average of $12,572. Do students really need such lavish facilities to benefit from playing football? Yes, Katy is among the best performing academic districts in Texas. But why not make it the very best by allocating more money to the classroom?
But Texas is not alone in its obsession with athletics. Other states are not that far behind, which makes the U.S. the only country that places such inordinate emphasis on athletics. Asian countries, which are known for their educational quality, don’t place anything even close on the importance of athletics. It all comes down to priorities.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.