Saturday, August 09, 2014

Advice For New EGUSD Superintendent: End Open Enrollment For Athletes

Elk Grove Unified School District is searching for a new superintendent. Steven Ladd is retiring next month.

During his tenure open enrollment was the case at most schools - that is, schools with enrollment numbers less than capacity would accept students living outside its attendance boundaries. The system was pretty well organized, with an application window, guidelines, etc. well spelled out.  The rules prevented a mass exodus from any particular school.

But, parents could enroll their students at the school of their choice particularly if that school offered something the neighborhood school didn't. A nice perk for families living within the boundaries served by EGUSD so they didn't have to move residences.

But, it was and is currently being abused by parents of athletes.

This past week the school district had public meetings asking for input on what they'd like to see in a superintendent. Here is my input: Hire a superintendent that will stress neighborhood schooling, building community at each school.... and end open enrollment for athletes.

It isn't so much a case that there is an imbalance of talent in several sports at some of our local high schools. It's the fact that several athletes are robbed of a big part of the high school experience because they sit the bench behind teammates who live across town.

The dream of playing for the neighborhood high school varsity squad is diluted by the presence of kids who are there because of the notion this particular school's athletic program will offer them a better chance at a college scholarship than their neighborhood school.

That is so far from the truth.

If a young person has a talent in one or even two sports they will be discovered no matter where they attend school. This is particularly true because of the presence of so many "club" teams in most sports, where most of the athletes are really seen nowadays.

Elk Grove Unified has excellent coaches at all of their high schools - trained men and women with lots of experience playing and coaching their sport. For a parent to send their student/athlete to a school outside their attendance area is saying their local school's coach isn't good, which we all know isn't the case.

Our next superintendent needs to draw attendance boundaries that are firm, building community in each neighborhood because each school's culture will take on that of its locals. 

If a parent doesn't like the closest school, get involved to help change the culture of the school. Don't be running away from an issue.

There are some high schools with unique academies or curriculum: Elk Grove and Pleasant Grove have the agriculture/FFA program, Cosumnes Oaks has a nice culinary program, Sheldon has an outstanding digital arts academy. Students with those interests should be able to enroll at those schools, particularly if the neighborhood high school doesn't offer something like this.

But, don't use it as a cover in order to play for a "more successful" sports program.

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