Missing the point 

Oklahoma City Public Schools, specifically
inner-city high schools, will never be able to compete against schools
in Edmond, Moore, Norman, Mid-Del and others because the most important
product — a quality education — is perceived as subpar by the residents
in those districts.

Take, for example, the John
Marshall effect. The boundaries that include John Marshall High School
draw from several middle-income and wealthy areas such as The Village,
Nichols Hills and parts of The Greens, among others. Many parents in
these areas demand a bigger bang for their buck in terms of their
children’s education and, when compared to Marshall, schools like
Casady, Heritage Hall and Bishop McGuinness provide just that.

This
does not mean every bright student is a great athlete or that every
great athlete is tremendously smart, but in this range there is an
overlap, and parents are sending these students and athletes to private
and suburban schools instead of to their OKC counterparts. When tuition
is an issue, these parents move across Memorial Road into the Edmond
school district or into areas serviced by Deer Creek. In the end, John
Marshall is the loser, both academically and athletically, because these
students and athletes have gone elsewhere.

Parents who
live in areas such as Heritage Hills and Crown Heights look at those
options, too, as do other parents inside the OKC school district. This
is no knock on the teachers at these schools, but the fact remains that
parents are not sending their children to the district in which they
live, and the question not being asked is: “Why?” The effort Sinor is
undertaking to have some of these schools dropped down into another
competitive class athletically not only ignores the larger problem, but
does a disservice to those student-athletes who compete at those
respective schools. Ed Sheakley, executive director of the Oklahoma
Secondary Schools Athletic Association, is correct in his leeriness of
this proposal. Running away from competition, especially when athletics
is competitive in nature, makes little sense; it hurts those athletes
who truly want to get better.

As athletes, myself
included, it was a better situation when we competed against those who
were better because it made us better. Winning against an inferior team
gives a false sense of accomplishment.

Sinor, while
doing his job, should be asking the bigger question of his
superintendent: “Why are students and athletes leaving in the first
place?”

—Kevin Connolly, Medicine Park

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