Rethinking Choice

August 26, 2013

I’ve never been a member of a union, refusing to join even when I was the lowest paid teacher at a suburban Milwaukee school in 1970.

Nevertheless, I find that the results of a recent poll conducted by the American Federation of Teachers correspond closely with what I am hearing and seeing. AFT reports . . .

  • Parents favor strong neighborhood schools over expanding school of choice, charter schools and vouchers.
  • Parents oppose reductions in art, music and physical education.

Those who are advocating that we provide parents with “choices” for their child’s education need to be reminded to offer the choices parents really want - neighborhood schools where there are more performing arts and physical activity.

Destabilization of our most fragile communities – whether they are found in our most distressed urban areas or the most rural and remote crossroads of Michigan – is worsened when community-building educational programs are cancelled and neighborhood schools are closed. Those who advance such an agenda are making bad choices for our schools, communities and state.

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.