Football star Deion Sanders's Prime Prep Academy has been in the news with accusations about the school's safety and academic records. Prime Prep was also cited for recruiting violations for its football and basketball teams: the school withdrew from its league this past fall after public school coaches accused Prime Prep of recruiting away their star athletes.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that recruiting for high school athletes happens all the time - but largely among private high schools. For the record, I have huge problems with that; I think high school athletic associations are essentially sanctioning the professionalization of sports for minors when they allow private schools to exist that are really nothing more than basketball or football factories. Your mileage may vary.
But Prime Prep is yet another matter, because, as a charter, it operates on public funds. Since when have we decided that it's OK to use public monies to turn some of our schools into a farm system for the NCAA?
And this is not an isolated phenomenon:
And:An N.C. Policy Watch investigation found two-thirds of the players on Quality Education Academy’s basketball rosters from 2008 to present came from other states and nations to attend the K-12 school. Their educations were subsidized by taxpayers who sent $13.2 million in state, federal and local funding to the school for the same time period, according to state education estimates and budgets provided by the school.The investigation also found that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction failed to follow up on its own 2011 probe into funding and enrollment issues at the charter school.Questions about Quality Education Academy’s basketball program highlight criticisms and challenges DPI faces in overseeing charter schools, the privately-run and publicly-funded schools poised to grow rapidly with strong backing from the Republican-led state legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. [emphasis mine]
Hey, come on coach - haven't you seen High School Musical?
Greenville County high school basketball coaches are crying foul over
what they called "unethical" recruiting of their players by Legacy
Charter School, a fledgling elementary through high school program that
targets disadvantaged students for a physical fitness-oriented,
Four boys basketball coaches called for the school district to
establish recruitment guidelines that include an early June deadline
for enrollment and a requirement that coaches be contacted before any
attempt is made to lure a current player away.
"I worked all spring and summer with my players at Greenville High
School and carefully planned each and every practice, camp, game, etc.,
based on our personnel and how we want to do things next season,"
Greenville High coach Mike Anderson told the school board, reading from
a letter he said he sent to Legacy.
"Now I kind of have to kind of go back to the drawing board and redo
everything that I worked to do during the spring and summer." [emphasis mine]
And... go back a few years, and you'll find our friends at LEAP Academy in Camden - the school that just lost its non-profit status and apparently has little oversight from the NJDOE - were involved in a recruting scandal as well:
It’s bad enough that administrators at Camden’s Leadership, Education and Partnership Academy University Charter School (LEAP) routinely violated state collective bargaining law by refusing to recognize the union rights of the LEAP Academy Teachers Association.Bruce Baker recently posted about the different levels of accountability and transparency between public schools and charters. I'd put forward this growing trend of athlete recruitment at charters as Exhibit A that he has a point. As charters move away from public school standards for oversight, they are beginning to engage in behaviors - including some of the worst behaviors - like those of private schools.
Now it turns out they illegally recruited and transferred athletes for their basketball team, according to an investigation conducted by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).
Propelled by the discovery that LEAP and other schools in New Jersey illegally transferred star athletes into their schools in order to develop winning sports teams, NJSIAA looked to find ways to avoid the impending clash between traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. “Indeed (the LEAP case) was one factor that spurred the Committee’s decision to change the rule,” stated Baly. [emphasis mine]
Again, we can disagree about whether private schools should be recruiting athletes. But there's simply no way that schools that run on public funds should be allowed to convert into showcases for potential D-I college stars.
I am the father of two high school athletes. Neither will play in college, but both are varsity letter winners who have made friends, learned valuable life lessons, developed their characters, and stayed in shape because of high school sports. It is in the interest of our society that the opportunity to play a wide variety of sports at an appropriate level of competition be available to as many students as possible; recruiting at the high school level undermines that goal.
Charter schools are either public schools, or they're not. State athletic associations have an obligation to clamp down hard on charters that attempt to go the route of private schools in athlete recruitment.
But I'd go even further: charters that are found to recruit athletes should be shut down. We don't need more schools engaging in these questionable types of behaviors - especially on the taxpayers' dime.
Two of America's most esteemed educators...