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article imageFootball coaches get big bucks, as states cut education budgets Special

By Carol Forsloff     May 6, 2011 in World
Wisconsin union protests may not be national front page news, but as its model is picked up nationwide, educators worry as childrens programs are cut while football coaches continue to earn big bucks.
In Wisconsin, educators worry about children’s programs like Headstart being trimmed, and feared cut, as well the breakfast programs for hungry children being eliminated, as football coaches get first rank in the hiring and firing parades.
The FASEB Journal examines the problems of education, as the editor wonders, as educators do, what has happened to education and the value placed on it in the decisions made by politicians. He uses some of what happened in Wisconsin as a model to look at this issue. The Journal points out the United States will continue to pedal backwards in relationship to the accomplishments of other countries, as children fall further and further behind youngsters of comparable ages in other countries. Right now only Luxembourg , among the developed countries, is the only one that pays less per child on education than the United States.
The Journal goes on to say that coaches, for high school and college, continue to be at the top of the hiring slots and are not the ones who are cut as programs related to basic education have been. Headstart is just one example. In addition, music and art, where many children find they can excel and develop pleasure in going to school, are finding less and less money in the till for maintaining their very existence in the schools.
But do sports programs earn their keep? Not according to FASB, examining material from several sources to verify its information. The Bowen report, an encyclopedic examination of American Athletics called The Game of Life: College Sports and Education Values, is one of those sources. This study, written in 2002, maintains the process of favoritism of sports over academics, that the authors refer to as an “athlete culture,” has shown billions of dollars from television and advertising does not go to academics but instead to propping up sports colleges, most of which are losing money. In fact, as FASB reveals through its examination of USA Today’s analysis is “more than $800 million in student fees and university subsidies are propping up athletic programs at the nation's top sports colleges, including hundreds of millions in the richest conferences (19).” In fact, the median shortfall of athletic revenues in the most profligate of Division 1A schools was $11 million in 2009, up from nearly $10 million the previous year (20). “
Where does the money go? According to the analyzes, it goes into the pockets of football coaches, who earn more than University Presidents. The President of Northwestern University, Randall Webb, in Natchitoches, Louisiana said recently, in response to education cuts, “We have to pay our athletics program and our coaches. They support the school. Our sponsors, the ones that donate money to the University, are fans. That’s why we had to trim the budget other places. We didn’t like it, but the sports programs are important to us financially. There wasn’t much choice. I wish there had been, because you know I am strong on education; but there is a great demand in Natchitoches for athletics programs. And I don't make those decisions alone.”
There are better choices, according to those who have examined the statistics on giving and taking in higher education in the discussions of academics vs. sports, in that these financial examinations of University budgets have not shown athletics programs to be money-producing but instead receive the largesse of advertising and other revenues that could go to basic education programs.
The FASB editor who raises these concerns, and the facts from his reviews, leave us to wonder, as he does, how we can expect Johnny to learn to read when the money and books to teach him with foundations of pre-school programs are instead used to pay football coaches so University sports supporters can cheer at the games. At the same time, teachers, with the advent of union-busting as in Wisconsin, are left with few voices to object.
More about Headstart, problems of education, Budget shortfalls, education in Wisconsin
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