Fixing Schools

August 16, 2013

Our fall sports have begun and, as usual, our good coaches are focusing on fundamentals during these early weeks of practice and play, especially if they are trying to bounce back from some losing seasons. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the fundamentals for fixing schools themselves.

If we really would get serious about a comeback season, we would . . .

  1. Equip the best teachers to work in the worst places.
  2. Provide the highest pay to the teachers working in the lowest grades.
  3. Emphasize   teachers more than technology,
                          pre-Kindergarten more than college prep, and
                          smaller more than larger.
  4. Encourage   fight over flight,
                          tutors over transfers,
                          school improvement over school choice, and
                          investment over vouchers.
  5. And, for Pete’s sake, we would allow public schools to start classes as early as they see fit, even next Monday, not two weeks and a day later as state law mandates. Longer is better than shorter.

And sooner is better than later for putting these fundamentals into our game plan for education.

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.