Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday 3-25

There's a saying about youth sports nowadays that the only thing wrong with it is the parents. The situation surrounding the dismissal of Kimberly boys coach John Miron is another perfect example of that. A two-time state champion coach is dismissed after 17-season for what school board members say is a "lack of leadership". Nobody who voted in favor of the firing wants to expound upon that reason--but they really don't have to. The real reason Miron--and most high school coaches are dismissed--he wouldn't play the "political game".

By political I don't mean helping boardmembers win re-election--but rather playing kids with certain connections, or running an offense that would spotlight a kid whose parents think he has a chance to play college ball, or perhaps even not challenging a child who until that point had been coddled by his parents into believing that he should be rewarded even without working hard.

Those who have not gone through the high school sports process probably think the kids who bust their butts in practice, or have the best talent, or who work best together get the playing time. For those of us who have been through the system, we can tell you that is not the case.

I played for a coach who was not successful in the win and loss column and chose to play the "political game". My senior season we started the freshman son of the school board president and the freshman son of the booster club president. The sophomore power foward who should have been starting in the place of his older brother came in off the bench--because their mother threatened to take both kids to another district if the older brother didn't start. It just would have been "too much for him to handle" being outdone by his younger brother.

It amazes me that anyone still wants to coach youth sports anymore. I was umpiring a high school softball game a couple of years ago and the head coach sent a runner home--where she was thrown out by about ten feet. One of the parents--probably of the girl thrown out--stood along the fence behind the coach and just berated him as a "know-nothing" who should quit so they can "get someone in there who knows what he is doing". Unfortunately, the coach decided to return fire leading to a yelling match in the middle of the game. I had to step in and tell both of them to cool it.

Parents might think they are helping their kids by exerting their influence on sports programs--but that is exactly the opposite of what happens. The other kids always find out what is going on--and that leads to resentment and division on the team. How embarrassed do you think the girl on that softball team was to see her dad acting like such an idiot?

We always extoll the benefits of youth sports--lessons about hard work, learing to work together toward a common goal, while finding out that life isn't always fair and that you aren't always going to win. Unfortunately, more kids are learning that it's not what you know--but who you know that gets you ahead in life.


  1. Years ago, we had a son and 2 daughters go through the basketball program, and several other sports. The parental "involvment" was nauseating. Fathers who came to "watch practice" (what?)and then chat with the coach, and the elaborate after game parties thrown by influential parents with massive amounts of food, etc. One tried to outdo the other. The coaches egos were so inflated, some thought they could control the kids' lives off the court; who they were dating, where they went, etc. The whole thing got spookier and crazier. Mine are all out of college now, and they still talk about the craziness of it all and how they were lucky to escape without therapy. While we enjoyed watching the games, I'm happy that part of our lives is over. Parents: stay out of it. Good coaches will do the right thing. But keep your ears open for strange rules and mind games. Coaches: DO the right thing and don't let your egos get in the way of being a good role model for the kids.

  2. 34 Teachers to be layed off in Appleton
    58 students leave the Kaukauna district, teacher lay offs loom

    Has the cost become too high?
    Have expenses grown too much?
    Revenue caps are expected to remain.
    Has competition between cities had any effect?

    What’s ahead for Oshkosh? What’s ahead for public employees?

    Kaukauna schools face exodus
    Open enrollment forms show 58 students plan to leave
    By J.E. Espino
    Post-Crescent staff writer

    KAUKAUNA — School administrators plan to carefully review the responses they've received from parents whose children intend to transfer out of the Kaukauna Area School District next fall.

    For unknown reasons, 58 students applied for open enrollment outside the district in February, double the number of applications received for 2007-08. Also, fewer students who live outside the district but attend Kaukauna schools applied to return next school year.

    The loss of one student to open enrollment represents $6,000 in lost state aid for a Wisconsin school district. If all 58 students leave to other school districts, Kaukauna will lose $348,000, though administrators say typically about two-thirds of applicants leave the district.

    The concern is that the district, which operates on more than $40 million annually, already is carrying a projected deficit of about $120,000 to $180,000 for 2008-09. A loss in student aid compounds the financial downturn.
    "What is our recourse?" asked Todd Arnoldussen, school board vice president. "Do we have a plan for staff reductions?"

    Nervous school officials question whether the numbers were driven by recent financial decisions.

    The state's three-week open enrollment period kicked off Feb. 4, four days after the board approved budget cuts of more than $1.4 million that gave way for staff layoffs, the closing of Nicolet Elementary School, reorganization of grades at the other elementary schools and River View Middle School and a reduction in the orchestra program.

    "What they have to worry about is losing capacity," said Dale Knapp, research director for the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance in Madison.
    "You've kept seats filled, and you've been paid for your $6,000 per student. That covers your education costs. If you're not generating that money, you've got empty seats but you still have all these fixed costs."

    Before the vote, board members received e-mails, calls and petitions from parents who opposed some of the proposed reductions and threatened to send their children to another district.

    Supt. Lloyd McCabe said his district must wait for the return of questionnaires sent to open enrollment applicants before anyone can conclude what's driving the trend. He said it is unlikely the district can make staff cuts based on open enrollment because the number of applicants are spread across all 13 grades.

    Several parents said they intend to go through with the transfer but Kaukauna's situation had nothing to do with their decision. Some said they are teachers in other school districts and want their children closer to their workplace. Others were set on enrolling their children in charter schools or were preparing to move to a neighboring community.

    "It's really nothing, per se, that we were upset about with Kaukauna," said David Duncan, whose two home-schooled children will attend the Little Chute Area School District in September. "We want them to be with their friends."

    For Roy Van Zeeland, on the other hand, Kaukauna schools "aren't good enough" for his two children, a pre-kindergartner and first-grader in the fall. They will attend Kimberly schools.

    Knapp said the process of losing students can compound a district's financial struggles.

    "Once you start losing students either through open enrollment or open enrollment students not coming there anymore, now you have more empty seats and you have to make more cuts," he said.

    Kaukauna schools financial officer Bob Schafer is confident the district can close the deficit gap. He is budgeting $100,000 for students the district will gain through open enrollment.

    Other ways to close the gap are through:
    -New student enrollment (about $9,000 for each new student).
    -Health insurance premiums under the teachers' modified salary schedule that would save the district up to $200,000.
    -Unemployment compensation that comes in lower than the estimated $25,000.

    Kaukauna would be in big trouble if it weren't for other school districts in the Fox Cities facing tough times.

    Appleton, which will release its open enrollment figures next week, recently announced it would lay off 34 educators to offset a $4 million shortfall.

    Menasha officials considered eliminating the district's track program as part of a series of reductions totaling $1.5 million.

    "Districts throughout the state right now are dealing with the revenue caps that have been in place for 15 years," Knapp said.

  3. Copy and paste dude is getting desperate. His bizarre behavior is causing him to post in places that don't even apply to his ramblings.


  4. I agree! Stick to the topic please.

  5. Adam at WOSH reported that 13 teachers are in fear of being layed off in Neenah. That on top of 10 other administrators there in Neenah - 23 total. Things are difficult in education in the Valley I guess. Wonder if that will trickle down to Oshkosh?

  6. That's funny. I didn't hear that any city employees were in fear of losing their jobs.