Monday, February 2, 2015

What the Super Bowl teaches us about education

There has been a lot of controversy around the Patriots' appearance in Super Bowl XLIX. After their win in the AFC title game, "Deflate-Gate" broke, challenging the legality of their game balls. Some said that the Patriots broke the rules by under-inflating the balls, others said there was no way they could beat the Colts, regardless of ball inflation.

Football allegiances aside, this can give us a great deal of insight into our education system. 

As policymakers, we have to ask ourselves: Do resources matter in the classroom? Do resources make-or-break a student, or do the kids who want to succeed find a way, despite their surroundings?  

Since the Patriots prevailed in the Super Bowl, many people will probably say that they were able to win despite the inflation of the footballs, because they were well-coached and well-prepared.  That logic, translating into the classroom, would say that students who have a solid support system and a will to succeed are also able to do so.

But we're forgetting that the Seahawks are a well-funded team. They weren't playing with rocks on a dirt field--they had truly just as many opportunities to succeed as the Patriots. They have a good coach, good equipment and good work ethic.

Neither team got to the Super Bowl by determination alone. They had fantastic coaches and great support from the teams' ownership. They didn't have to practice in run-down facilities, or play without their helmets or other equipment. But every day in Alabama, we are asking thousands of children to go to school in buildings that need repair and to learn without current textbooks and limited access to technology. 

Yes, students have to be motivated just like the Patriots and the Seahawks, but those teams also had great coaches and modern equipment. Just like those teams, our children need the best teachers and better learning environments with current learning tools.

We can sit back and pretend that resources don't matter, but they do.  You can't buy success for children, but you can buy the resources they need to reach their goals.  

We have to protect our education dollars for our children and fully fund the programs that work to make Alabama's education system a Super-Bowl quality program.

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