From the Dawg Pound: Athletics, fine arts can be hurt by educational reforms

By Damon Baldwin

Director of Athletics, Head Football Coach, Ramona High School

Information for this article is referenced from an article by Mark Lucas in the Jan. 12, 2012, High School Today, Voice of Education publication.

The information in this article comes from an article in the monthly publication I receive as athletic director, titled High School Today. I feel the information in this article carries a strong educational message for our community.

Let it be noted that I strongly feel our school district (Ramona Unified School District) has done a great job keeping our programs and helping maintain them as an active form of our student’s education, despite the struggles in the California budget.

In the State of Indiana, more than $600 million in education funding has been cut in the past two years. In addition, as part of the educational reform, legislators have drained more public school dollars by increasing the number of charter schools and approved vouchers under the guise of a “scholarship program.”

Athletics & Fine Arts

As pointed out in previous “Dawg Pound Note” articles, it is no secret that athletic participation is an important part of our educational system.

Studies have shown for many years the benefits of high school athletic participation.

A study performed by H.W. Marsh and S. Kleitman took place over six years and had more than 12,000 participants.

The study concluded that school athletic participation benefited 20 of 21 schooling outcomes that were studied, including academic grades, homework, educational aspirations, self-esteem, number of university applications and the highest educational level attained.

The study’s final conclusion was that, even when schools were facing financial problems and budget cuts, they strongly recommended that athletic programs be retained.

What effect do the current budget cuts have on our students who now have limited opportunities?

In data presented by the National Education Longitudinal Study, it was determined that participants in any extracurricular activity in high school had significantly fewer unexcused absences or skipped classes; three times as many participants had a grade point average higher than 3.0; 50 percent more achieved the highest quartile on math and reading assessments; and 20 percent more were expected to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

There is no question about the value of extracurricular activities for our students. Any lessening of the opportunity will only work against the goal of increasing student achievement.

The Arts Education Partnership published research that compared eighth-graders who were highly involved in the arts with those who had little or no involvement, and found consistently better outcomes for the highly involved students — better grades, less likelihood of dropping out by grade 10 and more positive attitudes about school.

The study also showed that the benefits of high levels of arts participation can make more of a difference for economically disadvantaged students as well.

Even our Congress and former President George W. Bush saw the importance of Arts education in the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

After studying U.S. Department of Education data of more than 25,000 secondary school students, researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.

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