Correctable Error

January 17, 2014

I have written at other times and places that if it had been the stated purpose of our state’s and country’s chief executives and legislators for the past 20 years to weaken public education, they would have done exactly what they have done. They have spoken about strengthening schools and improving education, but their actions have done the opposite.

This is precisely the point of the richly researched Reign of Error, The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Rovitch (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013).

Competition, choice and corporate influence are all attacked, as are the misuse and overuse of standardized testing and the excessive reliance on e-education.

The author’s prescription for schools is not everything new and different, but removal of politicians and profiteers. And, catching my attention most, Rovitch writes: 

“As students enter the upper elementary grades and middle school and high school, they should have a balanced curriculum . . . Their school should have a rich arts program where students learn to sing, dance, play an instrument, join an orchestra or band, perform in a play, sculpt, or use technology to design structures, conduct research, or create artworks. Every student should have time for physical education every day . . . Every school should have after-school programs where students may explore their interests, whether in athletics, chess, robotics, history club, dramatics, science club, nature study, scouting or other activities.”

The kinds of programs that the MHSAA promotes and protects are the keys to the type of education students want, need and deserve. And I admire every school that provides these programs in spite of all that has conspired against them for two decades.

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.