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Bill would send sports at low-performing schools into sudden death

Posted March 4, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— A state lawmaker wants to dim the Friday night lights at North Carolina high schools with poor academic performance.

Senate Bill 377 would bar interscholastic athletics at schools where more than half of the students score below the 50th percentile on end-of-grade or end-of-course tests for at least two straight years.

Basketball through net Dropping sports at some schools panned

Sen. Charlie Albertson, D-Duplin, the sponsor of the bill, said the proposal isn't intended to punish students who are doing well. He said he only wants to encourage students who aren't performing well in the classroom to do better.

"We certainly want our kids to keep playing sports because we know how important that is, but we need to remember the first thing about a school is to be able to learn to read and write and do math," Albertson said.

Based on test scores from the past two years, 10 area schools would be affected by such a restriction if it were approved and went into effect immediately, including Hillside, Northern and Southern high schools in Durham and Douglas Byrd and Westover high schools in Cumberland County.

"I think that would be a huge mistake," said Hillside football player Jharrison Gillespie, who carries a 4.3 grade-point average. "If anything, that would make things worse."

Hillside basketball player Jerelle Gorham, who has a 4.5 GPA, said the logic behind Alberston's bill doesn't add up.

"I think that's a little crazy because, in order to play athletics, you have to have the good grades," Gorham said. "I know on our basketball team, we have people that have 4.5 and 4.2 (GPAs)."

Bill Harrison, the new chief executive of North Carolina's public schools, also expressed concern about the proposal.

"I believe athletics are a primary motivator for a lot of our students," Harrison said. "My sense is there will be a lot of resistance from the public."

The other area schools that would be affected by Albertsons bill, based on recent test scores, are Kenan High School in Duplin County, Northwest Halifax, Southeast Halifax and Weldon high schools in Halifax County and Warren County High School.

51 Comments

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  • Amruby Mar 6, 4:20 p.m.

    Albertson needs to darken the door of a school on a regular basis and see what is really going on. The athletes are the ones doing the best of all the students because they have to maintain a GPA and good discipline. As a teacher I know the importance of an athletic program. I do agree with "viewer" all of the elective programs that would provide good training for non-college bound students have been done away with. We need "shop", AG and Home Ec back in the schools. Not all of these students will use a computer to maintain their job skills.

  • Viewer Mar 5, 3:26 p.m.

    Some folks are going to fail in an academic school environment despite the amount of money thrown at the education industry.

    Classroom teachers can not cure all the problems of kids living with totally inadequate parents and an absolutely miserable home life. The kids learn at home that high school is a waste of time and the law is the only reason they attend.

    High school level vocational schools need to be set up again. I don't mean a place to dump the least intelligent kids; but a place where normal teens could look forward to have decent employment skills upon completion at 17 or 18, an apprentice system if you will. The goal would be a real job instead of a worthless diploma.

  • tracycvpulley Mar 5, 1:40 p.m.

    I was a high school athlete and maintained over a 4.0 gpa. I know for a fact that if I didn't have sports (cheerleading for football and basketball and softball) to participate in, I would NOT have done so well in school. In fact, the days that practice was cancelled, I left early about 99% of the time. Another good point that has been made is that student athletes already have to maintain a certain gpa, so again, you are punishing them for doing well.

  • Hip-Shot Mar 5, 1:03 p.m.

    "... the proposal isn't intended to punish students who are doing well. He said he only wants to encourage students who aren't performing well in the classroom to do better."

    Well thats exactly what he is doing: punishing ALL students at a school. The athletes should have to meet certain standards to play and hold them to it. Students that do not meet standards should be held back or put in programs to bring them up to speed. Sports just may keep certain students out of trouble. The athletes that really excel may have a chance to further their education based on their proficiency in a sport.

  • aintbackingdwn Mar 5, 12:11 p.m.

    Get with wake county - If you were busing fairly and balanced all schools would be poor performing not just a few.

  • scarletindurham Mar 5, 11:37 a.m.

    I don't agree with this bill at all, but let me put this out there. I graduated Durham School of the Arts in 2003, which has the worst sports program ever, obviously, it was kind of a joke to play sports there and no one really wanted to anyway. But I graduated with academic honors and I still was only in the 40th percentile in my grade. Most everyone graduated and went on to college, and there was very little violence and everyone seemed to get along peacefully there. There was a big focus on academics due to the lack of distractions like sports events and "cliques" that stem from that. The "competition" seemed to be who could make the grades, take the most AP classes, and be skilled in their area of art.

    I still think that there should simply be a minimum GPA to play sports AND to attend sports events or related things like Homecoming and Prom.

  • PTA mom Mar 5, 10:45 a.m.

    Punish the ones who are not passing- not the athletes who all must maintain a passing GPA and certain attendance rules in order to play their sport. Maybe ban the poor performing students from attending after school activities- be it sporting events, club activities, band, ROTC, etc...... but please don't take away what is a bright spot for many of our teenagers, participating in a team sport with their peers at school.

  • NC Reader Mar 5, 9:31 a.m.

    "So the stoned and drunk kids, the ones who skip class, and the ones that don't study are going to ruin it for the kids that do make the grade. How can anyone think that is fair! That's some more of that Obama logic! -- mrduffin"

    So why, then, were four of the ten co-sponsors Republican? Sounds like there is both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. You should check out the facts before you make blanket political assumptions. I agree with you that it's a bad idea, but this has nothing to do with the President.

  • scorekeep Mar 5, 9:14 a.m.

    Completley ridiculous concept. Most athletes are not causing the schools to fall under the 50% mark. A student with good grades cannot play because of other student's academic failures? The athletes HAVE to do well in school in order to play, why punish only them? Do away with ALL extra cirricular activities.

  • SweetB Mar 5, 9:08 a.m.

    This is the character you need to contact: Sen. Charlie Albertson, D-Duplin, the sponsor of the bill. It is a Very Bad idea to work against the kids! For some kids this may be what is helping them get ahead. Children/kids should remain connected, and sports is one way of doing that. It is proven that kids involved in sports are healthier and safer. STOP looking at school to cut funding for schools and support of schools which directly impacts ALL OUR CHILDREN. They are the Future. The issue IS that it starts with home and environment, then the Teacher Quality. This guy and anyone supporting this bill or anything close to it are to be scrutinized, by the citizens of this state. They should be looking at a more positive impact that PROMOTES good learning, not Scares them into. It will Not work. Email and call the Senator's office and let them know that this is all wrong.

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