Extracurricular Programs Must Be Heard

A team assembled by our Governor has brought forward the most thoughtful and comprehensive proposals to overhaul public education our state has seen in a long time, perhaps ever.

Nevertheless, there is little evidence that the hard work has included more than cursory attention to the extracurricular programs that create a point of connection for students and a sense of community from small towns to urban neighborhoods across our state – programs that provide motivation for students to stay in school, like school and do better in school, and for parents, boosters, friends and neighbors to invest in that school.

Some may argue that the neighborhood school is as anachronistic as the nine-month school year.  While I’ve long and often criticized the school year as too short, I continue to advocate for neighborhood schools.

I’ve seen too much harm to students educationally and to communities economically as a result of sending students hither and yon for their schooling.  And the so-called innovations have been resegregating public education every step down this ill-advised path.

The mantra “any time, any place, any way, any pace” may be a catchy phrase to describe where reformers wish to take public education in Michigan.  It may also be the wrong direction for students, communities and ultimately our state, taking us back to a time when students dropped in and out of schools without much accountability.

As for our little piece of this – emotion-charged extracurricular programs – we’ll do our best to maintain a little order, some respect for rules and responsibilities, and a sense of fairness and equity.

There are many days in many places where 40 or 50 or 60 percent or more of a high school’s student body is participating in extracurricular athletics and activities.  They are not unimportant to the education of those students and to the quality of life in those communities.  Even if they haven’t been consulted during recent planning, extracurricular programs will be heard from during the coming debate.


There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.

About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.