Faced with an increasing number of student-athletes failing their courses and unable to play sports, the Madison School District has taken bold action to rectify the situation. Did they set up special study halls for failing athletes? No. Did the teacher-coaches work with their kids to help them with the subjects in which they are struggling? No. Did they establish peer-driven tutoring where academically successful student-athletes help their teammates and serve as accountability partners? No. What the Madison School District decided to do was lower the bar for eligibility.
Until now if a student-athlete was failing three course (THREE!!) they were no longer allowed to practice with their team. (Fortunately, the WIAA does not allow any students with ANY failing grades to play in games--however, continued practice can occur if that is a school policy.) When a growing number of kids couldn't meet that eligibility threshold, officials decided to basically do away with any failure limits and allow kids to continue to practice with the team--no matter how poorly they are doing in the classroom.
Supporters of the change do have a convoluted logic for this. They believe that by allowing failing kids to continue to at least practice with the team it will give them the motivation to improve their grades at least to the point where they can once again play in games. They also argue that being in sports provides those kids with some structure in their lives. Studies are rolled out as well showing that participation in sports also leads to higher graduation rates for "at-risk" students.
For starters, the higher graduation rates are due in large part to the fact that there are MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR PASSING YOUR CLASSES TO PLAY SPORTS!! (This is the same flawed logic that gave us the "people with bachelors degrees earn a million dollars more over their lifetime--so let's give everyone a bachelors degree"--even though the reason people with degree made more is because not everyone had one.) What's more, how does that make the kids who are actually putting in the effort to pass their classes feel about that effort? "Gee, I'm doing my homework as soon as I get home from practice while he's playing video games and texting girls all night and he still gets to be a part of the team?"
And remember, this is Madison we are talking about--where the principals of Progressivism and Liberalism are practiced to their fullest extent in all facets of life--and the best thing that can be offered to as much as 5% of the student body is "just keep showing up to school so you can practice with the basketball or football team?"
It's a shame that the tractor has replaced beasts of burden in modern agriculture--otherwise we could send a farmer to the next Madison School Board meeting to tell members what happens with a mule when you take the carrot off the stick and just give it to him for not doing anything.