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The Shelby County School Board has taken lot of constructive criticism recently about its actions relative to the tax assessments for this fiscal year. Some residents are asking hard questions about the decisions and the processes related to those assessments, and we will be watching this commentary unfold as it relates to the elections for the seats in three districts – two contested – this November.
But we also were watching last week when the school board did something we applaud: It decided that the academic requirements for athletes and others participating in extracurricular activities merited some serious review.
Currently, to participate in high school sports in this county, a student only has to maintain a “D” in his or her classes. That meets the state’s not-so-lofty requirement and means a 1.0 grade-point average is good enough to represent the school. That is simply too low.
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association several decades ago established firm academic requirements for college athletes – weighted with their GPAs vs. their SAT or ACT scores – it became apparent that the students couldn’t attain those scores easily because they weren’t being held to similar standards at high school.
Yet, in Shelby County, we still fall far below the general scale of 2.0 to earn a college grant-in-aid.
SCPS has set the goal of having every student college or career ready – a goal we heartily hail – and we know many athletes have ambitions about playing in college. But demanding a 1.0 GPA to participate does not allow a student to be close to readiness for anything, except perhaps to score a couple of touchdowns or net a hat trick in soccer for his or her high school team.
That’s why the review is needed, and that’s why we compliment the school board for deciding to take up what assuredly will be a controversial and painful topic.
It’s the right thing to do.