Education or “championship of tax dodges” in BCS excess?

6 01 2009

Regular readers know JJ bleeds orange and blue, and that her beloved Gators are headed for the BCS championship game Thursday, and that UF’s famous phenom quarterback Tim Tebow is also famous as one of home education’s best-known personalities.

None of which means JJ can’t see the merits of a public policy argument like this:

“Football fans unfamiliar with the vagaries of 501(c)3 charities might not discern differences between the game played Sunday, when the Miami Dolphins were pummeled by the Baltimore Ravens, and the BCS championship game at the same address. . .

But the old boys of the tax-exempt organizations frolicking in the
skyboxes Thursday must, by law, be engaged in a strictly educational
pursuit
. It may look like an ordinary football contest to casual fans, but they’re witnessing an orgy of tax-deductible charity.”

Or of this argument, that football as education is structurally flawed because its public “accountability” system builds in misplaced priorities and warped ranking mechanisms, exactly as I think NCLB’s priorities and accountability structure have warped academic education into a cutthroat game for both staff and students.

Much as I LOVE winning after all the decades of disrespect as hated rivals from other colleges and communities get the glory and the big bucks, I can see these problems and this championship competition week as a good time to suit up and “tackle” them together. If this is another manifestation of Alfie Kohn’s punished by rewards problem, more so-called free market success in education, then “winners” are being hurt too and we’re in the best position to squawk up some change.

Supposedly every problem has a solution that is simple — and wrong. School sure has been there, done that! But how about some solutions now that are creative, complicated and at least sometimes right for actual education rather than just for school-as-big-business?

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12 responses

6 01 2009
JJ

And here’s the simple (therefore wrong?) counterargument for singleminded winning within the existing system however flawed, as offered by the current Gator coach:

“I don’t want to say winning a national title legitimized everything we do, but in this world of doubt, it kind of had that effect,” Meyer said. “I was raised that if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say it. But it seems like the public, whether it’s the media or just people talking, they always have ways of finding faults in programs.

“When something happens like winning a national championship, and you see how many lives were turned around and see a group of kids who bought into something and went as hard as they can, I don’t want to say it legitimizes it but it does.”

I can’t simply side with the whiners and faultfinders either, of course. Their motives aren’t pure; too often their “solutions” are just gameplay, a strategy to get some advantage for themselves like most proposed legislation turns out to be, imo. After my school’s years of crippling serial NCAA probation in the 80s, while our biggest rivals flourished (and snatched up all our likely recruits without having to share) I became very cynical about self-policing power systems in which money was the Name of the Game — hmmm, the politics of college football was a lot like Wall Street even back then.

6 01 2009
COD

The NCAA is the ultimate example of IIATM.

6 01 2009
JJ

Can’t argue with that either!

6 01 2009
Crimson Wife

Wow, $3M for the coach’s salary does seem a bit excessive. I believe Stanford pays its football coach around $600k (though the coach of the more successful men’s basketball team makes around $900k). That’s roughly the same as the president of the university and about triple the average prof’s salary.

6 01 2009
JJ

Ah — but what if that’s just the “salary” and the boosters privately pay him several times that?

6 01 2009
Crimson Wife

I dug a bit deeper, and found out that Stanford allows the coach to live rent-free in a university-owned home worth around $2M (which given Palo Alto prices probably isn’t as fancy as folks outside the region would imagine). But the school’s trustees have a policy apparently limiting cash compensation to coaches.

6 01 2009
JJ

Well, given the percentage that home costs typically represent out of a total family budget, then I guess that’s about a million dollar job? (Note that I’m not criticizing, given my state’s football coach compensation craze.)

6 01 2009
COD

College coaches usually make 2X to 3X their salary from endorsement deals, their radio and TV shows, etc.

7 01 2009
JJ

So even if the public schools came up with a boatload of money for teachers (or at least principals) there’s no reason to think it would improve the cutthroat climate or winners and losers, as if academics were a high-stakes game of ranking and hierarchy? In fact, it’s just upping the stakes, making it worse. . .

8 01 2009
JJ

Obama’s on our side tonight! 😉

OTOH, I wonder if he’ll be wanting an academic playoff system for schools now?

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