If Americans put as much emphasis on excelling in academics as they do in sports, we might have healthier and smarter workforce-ready graduates. With March Madness in full swing, and the final 16 teams poised to enter the national playoffs, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has blown the whistle on dozens of teams in the NCAA tournament for violating his idea of a 40% graduation requirement. He cites data from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, which reveals that No. 1 seed, Kentucky, graduated 31 percent of its players over the period measured by the institute.
Many of our country’s NCAA athletes do promote academics alongside their passion for competition. For instance, point guard, Jacob Pullen, of Kansas State University is an example of this kind of pursuit of excellence in all areas of life. He is an honor-roll student and in this past weekend’s game against Brigham Young University, scored a personal record of 34 points, a phenomenal accomplishment for any college basketball player.
At LifeBound we provide data assessments for schools using our resources, and we’ve found that many students have goals of becoming a professional athlete. Students may possess an overrated appeal for this career path because of our media’s emphasis on people in the spotlight. The sports field has many pros and cons, similar to the entertainment industry, and it’s a narrow path. Teacher’s can offer differing perspectives to help students develop critical thinking skills and patterns of questioning.
How can we shift some of America’s obsession with sports to the academic arena, a focus that does not defy competition but also promotes collaboration among students for 21st century work?
How can teachers help students develop critical and creative thinking skills that help them value careers in fields just as much as those highlighted in the media?
How can we both support sports and support lifelong learning, personal growth and effective workplace skills?
Duncan: Ban NCAA teams with low grad rates
NCAA spokesman says enforcing the education secretary’s proposal would be unfair to players
From staff and wire reports
March 18, 2010
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says college basketball teams that don’t graduate at least 40 percent of their players should be banned from postseason play.
Duncan said in remarks delivered in a conference call March 17 that his idea represents a low bar, and over time it should be raised.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams says a ban based on graduation rates unfairly penalizes current players for the academic performance of athletes from years ago. He says the NCAA already has a system in place that penalizes schools if they do not meet academic benchmarks.
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