Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Do Jim Tressel (and the NCAA), Governor Kasich (and SB5), and a High School Principal Have in Common?

Let me begin this post by stating that my opinions do not necessarily represent those of my employer.  It should also be noted that I am by no means a political guru or a college football expert (although I am a fan of the latter).  Furthermore, I should clarify the title by stating that this is more about what I hope that I, as an educator. have in common with two prominent Ohioans.

Allow me to bring any non-Ohioans up to speed briefly:
  • Recently elected Governor of Ohio John Kasich has been making some waves.  Among other things, he has been behind a recent piece of legislation (Senate Bill 5 or SB5) currently in the Ohio House of Representatives that seeks to do away with collective bargaining in Ohio (in addition to several other initiatives that will have a deep and lasting impact on education in Ohio).  
  • Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has also been a primary subject of recent Ohio news when it came to light that he knew of certain NCAA violations committed by some prominent members of his football team months before the university knew of the violations.  His failure to report these violations has gotten him into some hot water. 
My knowledge of either of these subjects is relatively limited as I tend to surround myself with mostly positive news!  However, both of these events have in some way reminded me of one of my guiding principles as a leader in education.  Seems odd that two controversial and public issues might remind me of my leadership morals, but there is a connection!

In my work, I try to make decisions based on what is best for students.  Ask any of the teachers or other educators I work with on a day-to-day basis... when approached with a controversial issue or some new initiative, we try to approach the issue with a mindset of "think about the kids".  That is what we are here for, right?  The students?  

So, here is my political opinion for our state leaders.  I am sure there are reasons for bringing about Senate Bill 5.  Maybe they are good reasons, maybe not.  But whatever decision is made in Columbus, I certainly hope that our leaders think of the students.  As politicians, I am sure they have many things on their minds; I just hope the students are at the forefront on this issue. 

As for the NCAA... The violations committed by OSU players involved exchanging memorabilia for money and gifts.  Its about money.  Always about money.  So often we see players in trouble for wanting money.  Why then, when the NCAA found out about the violations right before a big bowl game -- that was not yet sold out by the way -- did they NOT suspend the players immediately.  If the NCAA was trying to send a message (that's what discipline is for, right? I should know... I do it for a living!), I think they sent the wrong one.  In my world, the purpose of discipline is to teach a group of [young] people a lesson.  So, what was best for students here?  What lesson did the NCAA teach the students?  That it's OK to do things for money, as long as the NCAA is the one getting the money?  

And how about Tressel?  Did he really do something wrong here or was he trying to 'Do what was best for students?'  I am sure the NCAA and OSU took many things into consideration when doling out punishment to both the players and to Jim Tressel; I just hope the students were at the forefront on this issue. 

Again... sorry to get all political and athletic... but these events did indeed remind me of my guiding principle as an educator and leader and the thing that I hope I have in common with the above named individuals & groups: 

'Do what is best for students... NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES!'