NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Schools Faulted for Too Many Student Activities

February 14, 2003

At a time when public schools are under the gun to improve student academic achievement, pupils are being distracted by a cornucopia of time-consuming activities that don't advance that goal. Activities ranging from field hockey to drug education to celebrations of children's birthdays and holidays are eating away classroom time.

Members of school boards in various parts of the country have been analyzing their budgets and coming up with some surprising findings.

  • A school board in Maine found that 10 percent of its $4.8 million high school budget was being consumed by such non-academic items as insurance for sports teams, transportation to away games, and a standby ambulance mandated for home games.
  • Another Maine school board discovered that $50,000 had been spent fixing up a ball field -- while 70 percent of students at the school barely met standards in math and reading.
  • That same school sent seven members of its golf team in a 72-passenger bus to participate in a tournament 100 miles away.

Some critics have come up with a novel suggestion: privatize school sports and other extracurricular activities, and remove all but basic academic studies from the classroom. Activities could be sponsored by community business, religious and scouting organizations, as well as the YMCA.

Source: Etta Kralovec (author of "Schools That Do To Much,"), "No More Pep Rallies," Forbes, February 17, 2003.


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