Going mostly unnoticed by anyone with no skin in the game*, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association recently expanded a controversial program – the football select/non-select split – to several sports, which further segregates public and private schools by making them compete in different playoff brackets simply because they operate differently.
The public schools want this split. They need it in order to be able to compete, because the private schools are not limited to zoned areas for their population. The private schools hate it because it is seen as a personal attack against them. The result is a watered-down playoff system that produces nine state champions in a given sport, as opposed to five (one for each class, 1A-5A). It adds four divisions for private, charter, and magnet schools to compete in, and therefore, one class can have two champions. Which one is the real one, though?
The reason behind this is the fact that the private schools are constantly accused of “recruiting” athletes, which is technically banned by the LHSAA (specifically, you cannot recruit for athletic purposes – however, you can mention your academic programs when talking to students who may be interested in your program). The rule is, frankly, stupid: why shouldn’t schools be allowed to recruit? Because you don’t want student-athletes not focusing on athletics? What on earth do you think our current crop of jocks are really thinking about all day?
The solution to this is very simple: Louisiana should switch to full school choice.
Abolish school zones and allow students to choose based on performance, where friends are going, and, yep, even athletics. Students and their parents have the right to choose what education they have access to, and we as a state should offer it. If a school is awful and produces nothing of academic value, why is it even open? Force them to do better, or close down and let those students choose a school that will actually afford them the opportunity to get a good education.
It is absolutely ridiculous to punish private/charter/magnet schools for allowing anyone in. Wouldn’t it be much easier to say “Hey! Let’s just open up education to allow everyone to essentially recruit!” Wouldn’t it make sense (which is a concept I know our state struggles with) for us to level the playing field between select and non-select schools rather than segregate them?
*I work for a public school that is considered a select school because it is a pure 6-12 magnet school, and I work closely with one of our athletic programs.