ABC News On Campus reporter Sara Loeffelholz blogs:
Growing up in a small Texas town, I know firsthand that it is not uncommon for high school athletes to become local celebrities. Businesses shut their doors Friday nights, and the only lights on in town are the high school stadium lights, where fans of all ages come to watch these football heroes.
In towns where the movie "Friday Night Lights" becomes a reality, high school athletes spend several hours a day practicing so they can live up to the expectations placed on them by their parents, coaches and admirers. Many of these hours go unnoticed, and students don’t receive much credit for participating. However, because of a plan approved by the state board of education this week, these extra hours may soon pay off.
The board approved a plan that will give high school athletes twice as much credit toward graduation. This proposal, which would allow students to receive a maximum four years of elective credits instead of the current maximum of two years, could go into effect as early as the next school year. The board must vote again to make the decision final.
As reported in the Dallas Morning News, the board’s 10-5 vote came after an emotional debate between coaches and school reform advocates.
A skeptic of the plan, board member Geraldine Miller said in the article, “Our school reform movement put everything in perspective, with academics coming first. Now, we are opening the door to water down all the efforts we have made to strengthen standards in our schools.” Board member Terri Leo said it would “open up a huge can of worms” because other extracurricular activities will now ask to receive more credit.
Supporters of the proposal argue that other extracurricular activities such as band, theater and dance already get four years of credit for participation. Advocates also say that more kids will stay in school if they receive credit for athletics … lowering the state’s dropout rate.
High school students in Texas must take four years of math, science, English and social studies, while fulfilling elective credits and other required classes such as foreign language.