Calling for a Common Sense Calendar

September 3, 2013

Finally today, at long last, all the schools of Michigan may legally allow their students to return to their classrooms.

For months, almost every day, I have driven twice daily past a sign in front of a public school proclaiming, “Have a Safe Summer! See you September 3rd.” Almost every drive-by made my blood boil. What a waste of facilities. What a waste of brains!

For all of the bluster about new color-coded grading systems for schools and common core curriculum and countywide consolidation of districts’ support services, Michigan’s children continue to suffer from backward thinking on the most basic matter: the calendar.

As long as public schools are penalized if they start classes days or weeks earlier than today – when their private school competition begins – public schools will be unfairly handicapped in appealing to parents, and public school students will be at a distinct disadvantage in learning.

Michigan’s regressive law that penalizes public schools for demanding earlier or longer academic school days and years is worse than merely being contrary to common sense; it’s in opposition to the best interests of our children. Most of them are more than ready for school by mid to late August, and many of them really needed to be in school long before today.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.