OUR OPINION: Public schools, colleges aligned

By NEMS Daily Journal

Lee County’s and Tupelo’s schools annual Industry Education Day and the National Collegiate Athletic Association spoke the same language about student achievement and knowledge last week in very different settings.
The NCAA, better known for its enforcement of penalties than its equally important task of steering athletes toward college graduation, approved scholarship changes and tougher academic standards at its national board meeting. The action sent unmistakable signals that the colleges and universities who are the NCAA expect more than athletic performance .
In Tupelo, 600 teachers from the county and city systems heard Bill Daggert of the International Center for Leadership in Education praise Mississippi’s advances but warned that the entry-level requirements to get work have increased even faster than more rigorous academics and testing.
College athletes, at their level, will get more in their scholarships under new rules, but more will be required of them coming in from both high school and college, and the level of achievement in college goes up or the the teams suffer consequences.
The new standards clearly push for achievement that’s beyond average in the classroom regardless of the talent level in sports competition.
Daggert told the teachers in Lee County that even with improved performance in the elementary and secondary schools the skill gap is widening.
The NCAA’s public website reported that President Mark Emmert said, “These changes demonstrate a remarkable resolve by presidents. They represent a return to and a focus on values that are at the core of what intercollegiate athletics are all about. They also represent a clear signal to the world about what we care about and what we stand for.”
The Division 1 board approved an implementation plan – which includes all football bowl games – that mandates a certain level of academic performance in order to participate in postseason competition. Schools like Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi would be under the new standards.
Similarly, public schools,face sanctions for lack of performance and academic progress.
The rapid increase of knowledge worldwide, and the rising expectations of many people, demand school rigor capable of empowering dreams and goals.