Thursday, April 15, 2010

School Reform turns its attention to sports and athletics in Pittsburgh Public Schools

Now, it seems, PPS and Mr. Lopez (with the support of Mark Roosevelt) are looking with a reformer's eye at sports and athletics. Yes. This has been a request of mine for years.

Mr. Lopez is the PPS reform guy. He is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools. He works with all 6-12 and 9-12 schools.Plus, he has been named as the Title IX compliance officer for PPS.

Mr. Lopez called an all sports coaches meeting on March 22, 2010. Here is most of what he had to say.

Same movie, different web host:

Update with some notes from at the event:

Business as usual is not acceptable. That's a great quote from Mr. Lopez. I hope that can be the theme for the reform and the determination to make changes.

The role of the boosters needs to be defined. But same too for the athlete, parents, and community. The community is often a missing part of the forumula. And, what too of the role of the taxpayers?

Team talk is hot now too. Everything is done in teams. Group projects are part of school grades. Corporate teams fill the landscape. Let's use a team approach to govern and organize sports in the city too then. Teams are essential in life today, and they must be part of the management process in team sports. How original is that?

Mr. Lopez likes sports because it provides an opportunity for the students to relate in a new construct. They learn new skills in new settings with new relationships. He needs to blurt out the soulful definition of sports:

Sports are games of time, space and relationship.

Coaches are to be a model of commitment. Commitment is frail here. Mr. Lopez talked about teams and coaches calling off too many practices -- even up to one per week. Skipping practices isn't good. Attendance can be a huge thrust for the overhaul.

The biggest practice skip reason for us this past season was the snow delays and cancelled days of school -- by the district. We could not hold practice when the snow days came. No morning practice on every two hour delay. A few times I was in the car headed to AM Swim practice and the district called off the practice. Institutional hurdles hurt our teams commitment this season.

Tuesday of this week, there was no swimming at Allderdice. Those who had a pool permit had to change plans at 2:30 pm for that evening. Swim pool closings are typical. The killer is the commitment on the part of PPS when it comes to facilities.

As a school principal, Mr. Lopez would 'beat the trees' and recruit kids out to the school's track team. Interesting. Beating on the kids to participate is a valued operation -- unless this happens outside of the school itself and then it is a recruiting violation. Talk to someone at the church, playground, on the bus or elsewhere and then the coach can get sanctions and taken off the job. The recruitment elements are a puzzle.

The basketball teams at the middle school level had very few times to prepare for their games this season. Frankly, there was a lot of concern about how long all the middle school seasons are. They are very short. It is impossible to get a training effect in only a few short weeks. It is impossible to get the skills taught, practices, perfected and train the kids too.

The lack of participation and depth of teams at the high school levels is because of the short seasons with the middle school teams. The kids don't get hooked into the sport and understand what it means to train and be a team.

A few are worried about how the teams and fans are always kept apart from one another. The fans from one team can't mix with the fans of the other school. What's up with that? If we can't learn to play well with others in PPS Sports, how can we expect anything otherwise in the neighborhoods?

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