Feb 12, 2013, 11:53 am
Local and State Media have been covering the MPHSH Showcase and are diving into the Public vs. Private School issues on the High School Athletic playing fields of Michigan.
It is very important all Public Schools and Public School Athletes understand some, if not all, the issues. These issues directly affect Public School Districts and their respective Athletic Programs for all Student-Athletes.
Please take a minute to understand a few of the issues that we believe contribute to the uneven playing field and the private school disproportionate success in MHSAA playoffs.
Jim Derocher, President of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, Inc. writes on page 2 of the 2009-2010 MHSAA Handbook. "The Michigan High School Athletic Association, Inc., is a private, voluntary association for public, private and parochial secondary schools which choose to join and participate in the organization. The primary function of the Association is to conduct post-season tournaments and help member schools have rules and guidelines to follow and enforce locally to promote equitable competition." That same publication states on page 12 that one of the four Purposes of the MHSAA, Inc. is to, "Promote uniformity, predicability and competitive equity in the application of eligibility rules for athletic contests."
Private Schools account for 15% of all schools while Public Schools account for 85% of all schools in the State of Michigan. Across the board for all High School sports(male & Female), the less than 15% of private schools are winning on average up to 50% and more, in some sports, of MHSAA State Championships.
It is our belief that despite the MHSAA's best effort, athletic competition in Michigan is anything but equitable, uniform and competitive as supported by the data from the MHSAA State Tournaments.
Public and Private Schools have significantly different business models and should not intersect on the Playing fields of high school sports for MHSAA State playoffs with the current rules favoring private schools. Every private school can choose to conduct business like any and every other private school just as every public school can choose to conduct business like any and every other public school. However, Public schools can never conduct business like a private school:
Private schools have discriminate selection processes.(Private Schools can establish their own selection criteria, including but not limited to aptitude testing, entrance exams, ability to pay tuition, athletic ability, etc...).
Public Schools must accommodate and take anyone. (Public Schools must educate any and all enrolled. Public School Districts cannot identify academic capacity, diversity, athletic potential, etc.. and make selection decisions based upon those factors while private schools can and do).
Public Schools are held accountable for their success or failure in educating all students while there are no statewide standards of certification or academic accountability for private schools.
Private schools have unlimited zip codes.
Public schools have limited zip codes, even with school of choice.
All aspects of School of Choice are strictly regulated by Michigan Department of Education and the Schools of Choice provision in section 105 and 105c of the State School Aid Act. As of 2010-2011 there were 552 School districts: 450 Districts were school of choice and 102 were No school of choice. Only 6.2% of all students in the state of Michigan chose SOC, which is for K-12 and not just high school. Districts that choose SOC must choose between 2 plans of SOC: Communities bumping up to one’s district or Counties Bumping up to one’s county. Regardless of Choice of plan, each school must establish maximum enrollment for each class and the total number of classroom seats available. After this is established specific application procedures and timeline must be followed as described in the legislation. Furthermore, when the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats for a high school, strict guidelines must be followed for a “random draw” and waiting list. All of these procedures must be documented in detail for public record. Private schools have none of these procedures in their discriminate selection process. A Student-athlete can be guaranteed entrance to a private school but not a School of Choice. As private schools target market student-athletes, private schools can guarantee enrollment to the Student-Athletes of their choosing. This option is not guaranteed or available to Public school programs and would violate MHSAA rules if public schools even target-marketed student-athletes in their own SOC or No SOC districts. This is a major advantage to private school athletic programs.
Private schools do not have to comply with FOIA.
Public Schools must comply with FOIA.
This is significant because, in our opinion, the undue influence rule is extremely difficult to apply without having full access to the private schools financial records. For example, a student-athlete receiving financial aid from a private school is not going to turn around and bite the hand that is feeding him/her and go after the Undue Influence rule against his/her own private school. Public Schools have Full Disclosure of all finances and all enrollment procedures and processes. Private schools do not have to show the discriminate selection processes. Private schools do not have to open financial records to show per student revenues, per student-athlete revenues, academic scholarships, standards for academic scholarship, demographics, cultural and ethnic diversity, and many more items important in the fair and reasonable application of the MHSAA established rules. The MHSAA states very clearly in an issue of their published magazine "Benchmark" they are not an “investigative” agency. Obviously, This is not the NCAA. If the MHSAA is not an investigative agency and they make up rules how can they possibly know if the rules are being broken without complete access to both public and private school records?
Private School Business Plan: Private schools win a disproportionate number of State Championships or have continued and consistent playoff success on this uneven playing field and then they market their success implying they are "better" than the local public schools. They use this current system to build their business model around enrollment of Student-Athletes. As this process goes on and the Student-Athletes from Public Elementary and Public High Schools are target-marketed by the "better" Private school athletic programs and choose to leave the public school system based upon the uneven playing field results, the Public School system loses on average $8,500 per student per year. That is a $34,000 loss of revenue over 4 years per student leaving the Public School District. We are talking about Millions of Dollars of Revenues lost in specific districts and at least $100,000,000 across the State of Michigan.
If Public and Private Schools are going to compete according to the MHSAA goal to "Promote uniformity, predicability and competitive equity in the application of eligibility rules for athletic contests" then the playing field must be leveled for Public Schools or the intersection of High School Sports of Public and Private Schools needs to be separated by the MHSAA.
Public Schools need to operate in the best interest of the Public School Student-Athletes and not allow uneven playing fields and/or apple and orange comparisons to be used against them. It costs public schools tax dollars in their respective communities. The loss of these revenues can be crippling to Public Schools.
We promote competition on even playing fields. We know the MHSAA is not the NCAA but we believe there are processes and standards that the MHSAA can apply just as the NCAA applies processes and standards to Athletics for Private and Public Colleges and Universities across the country. Status Quo is not an option and is not in the best interest of the Public School System.