Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wow.

I suppose that the head of the booster club at Bellevue High School's highly successful football team has a constituational right to do what he wishes with the booster club's money.

But paying $55,000 to the head coach is disgusting.

The stipend for a football coach at Bellevue is a little over $5,000. The coach is good and the parents want him to stay. So they pay him more than I make in a year (that's with nine years of experience and a master's plus 45).

Bellevue High School has many excellent teachers. I know several of them. They bust their asses to teach kids to read, write, calculate, and think.

I am not anti-HS-sports. I believe that the time and effort I spend volunteering for my school's teams and officiating all over town proves that. And I appreciate the work that a coach puts in.

Nevertheless, I would like--DESPERATELY like--for a member of Bellevue's football booster club to look me or any other teacher in the eye and explain why the football coach deserves this money more than an actual teacher does. If he/she can do that with a straight face, I'd be tempted to crooked that face up a little bit.

What a hopelessly messed-up group of people.

14 comments:

tommyspoon said...

I thought that booster clubs did stuff for the players like chip in for new equipment and uniforms and stuff like that. Perhaps a nice party at season's end. I guess things are different now.

Pathetic.

Bro said...

Does the school make any money off of concesions or ticket sales - and does this revenue then get to go back into the important stuff?

If so, one could make the case that having a winning coach is benficial and perhaps bring in more money that he/she costs?

If this is true - it is still "wrong" in other ways in a public education environment, but I would be curious if that is/was the thought process here.

Anonymous said...

You don't understand what it is like to be a player on that team. The life lessons and work ethic I learned from being part of Bellevue's football team under Butch Goncharoff will be more applicable throughout my life than any math test or science lesson I was ever taught in high school. Not to say that those things were not a significant part of my overall education...but I am now a young professional only 1 year out of college, and I am making more than the head coach at Bellevue with all of his years of experience. I credit my success to the work ethic I was taught on the field at Bellevue and to the belief instilled in me as a member of the football program that if you want something, you must believe you can achieve it, and work hard to make it happen...whatever it takes. I had many wonderful teachers at Bellevue High School, but for me, and other young men like myself, a teacher cannot have the same impact on my mindset and outlook that a coach, who works day in and out alongside you and sacrifices so much time to work with you to achieve a common goal, can have in my life. This is why they pay him, because even before he was head coach at Bellevue, Butch was sacrificing countless (unpaid) hours everyday to work with us and help us achieve our goals. He is finely being compensated for all of his hard work he has volunteered over the years.

Anonymous said...

The school has recieved so much more money from ticket sales and consessions stands than in years past that goes to fund Academics and other sports at the high school, many of these programs would not have a budget if it were not for the success of the Bellevue program. Having a winning football coach is benficial to the school and perhaps the only reason certain academic and other athletic programs exist at the school. The money the booster club invests in our coach, goes to shaping the lives of their kids, and to supporting opportunities at their children's school.

MCMC said...

So it's great that the concessions money goes to academic stuff, and I'm glad the coach makes a difference in the lives of his players. I'll forego the fact that the Physics teacher and the English teacher probably do about the same without the same kind of parental support.

There's still a problem here folks: This school has a booster club that can raise 55k for a coach, then raise even more money for academics and other athletics (any sense of what percentage actually goes to academics?). Swell. Bully for them. There are lots of other schools without the means to do that. Those kids lose out for no good reason.

We operate out of such a culture of scarcity when it comes to public education funding. We always say that we don't have enough to invest to make our schools great, but we have more resources than anybody else anyplace else at any moment in history.

So a school like this one pulls itself up by the bootstraps, and in the meantime, a whole bunch of folks from that school who might've pushed for more and better public investment in education no longer feel the need because their kid in their school is fine. (Not to mention the fact that they probably get to win the homecoming game...)

The fact of the matter is that we need real, adequate and PUBLIC sources of funding for ALL PUBLIC schools, or the whole thing will never work.

Nice post, TRP. Thanks.

pax
MCMC

TeacherRefPoet said...

I've posted a lengthy response to the former football player on my blog--it got too long for the comments.

tommyspoon said...

To Anonymous,

You say: ... but I am now a young professional only 1 year out of college, and I am making more than the head coach at Bellevue with all of his years of experience.

Do you not see the problem here? Do you not see the injustice and "misplaced priorities" in play here? I'm going to ask you one of my "bar questions" I always ask people that I meet casually: Is there any reason why a public school teacher shouldn't make six figures per year?

You see, I have no problem with the Bellevue boosters giving money to this coach. I just wish they'd spread the wealth around a little bit. Can't you name another teacher or staff member at your beloved school that deserves a little bit of that scratch? Doesn't hard work deserve reward? Isn't that one of those "life lessons" that Coach Goncharoff taught you?

Anonymous said...

Bravo, TRP!

High school sports are great, but such disproportionate funding helps only a small minority of the students at the school. How does a lavish salary for a guy who works with only a small number of the male student body help any of the young women on campus?

Anonymous said...

to tommyspoon: The people who are donating this money to the booster club do "spread their wealth around". They support numerous causes and charities in the surrounding communities...a couple of high profile people who donate to this club even have their own foundations which raise a lot of money to support other causes. This is one cause they also wish to support. It is our right as individuals in this free nation to do with our money as we see fit, and if this is something that someone decides to support, who is to judge how another person should spend their money? It is not like these people do not support other causes around the community as well.

To GrigorPDX: How do you think the other programs on campus are funded...the main source of income at the school is from football tickets and concessions sales. It behooves every student on campus to have such a high profile football team that draws large crowds at every game and brings in the funds that support other school programs.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Anonymous:

It is absolutely your first amendment right to spend your money as you see fit, and I respec that. In turn, it is my (and Tommyspoon's) first amendment right to say that a $55K payment to a football coach is indicative of highly misplaced priorities.

Also, even if I accept your assertion that most money for campus programs comes from football (I do not--at my school, most ASB money comes from the student store--football concessions only go to one or two groups), do you believe that schools with poor football teams deserve to have less academics and other programs?

It is IMPOSSIBLE for every school to have a winning football team. Does this mean that the schools without winning football teams should be required to cut or reduce their other programs? Because that's what your second paragraph suggests.

Why not fund all schools equally and well? Why should Bellevue football, simply because of its economic advantages, have the unfair boost of a coach that makes more than most teachers do?

Anonymous said...

to teacherrefpoet:
Q: why does your coach deserve $55K more than these people (teachers)?
A: Teachers are compensated more than $5,600 a year which is what Butch gets paid, that is why. The average teacher’s salary in WA is $45,728, and the average teachers salary plus benefits is $64,454. Facts according to http://www.effwa.org/pdfs/educationfacts.pdf

Q: Why is football more important than these other activities(debate club, swimming, etc.?
A: Because those sports do not generate the revenue which funds school programs…yes it is true…the debate team might not exist if the football team didn’t generate the money to pay for it.

Q: What teams have been born due to the incredible success of the football team? The Bellevue debate team, as of when I last saw them, didn't appear to be any larger than it was before Bellevue started winning all of those state championships.
A: Now that there is more revenue generated the debate team will not get bigger because there will not be any more high school kids suddenly interested in debate than in years past. But the extra funding will go to other club sports whom have had to “pay to play” in the past and to help academic programs at the school like the bellevue newspaper, which is now online.

Q: Why does Bellevue deserve an excellent coach more than, for example, Interlake does? Why should well-off parents get to gain an unfair advantage for their team by paying their coach twelve times more than the coaches at other schools in Kingco 3A make? Shouldn't the playing field be equal? Why reward the rich at the expense of the poor? Wouldn't coach Goncharoff make just as much of an impact on students of lesser means than those at a relatively well-off school like Bellevue?
A: It is not like we bought Pete Carroll to be our coach. That would be using money to gain an unfair advantage. This coach started out by coaching my friends in little league. He worked his way up to become head coach at the high school. Paying the coach does not give the students on the field an unfair advantage. They are still high school kids playing football.

Q: For $55,000, the booster club could have paid tuition for two needy Bellevue students--football players or otherwise--to attend the University of Washington for four years each. What's more important, that or the team's won-loss record?
A: I can think of numerous students who have benefited from the exposure that this program has given them, and who have received scholarships which pay for there college. Butch spends time sending highlight tapes and writing letters to different Universities which helps get these kids college paid for.

swankette said...

Anon:

It is commendable that the supporters of Bellevue football support other causes. But that does not change the base argument at play here, which is the fact that one coach of a select few students at a select school is getting VASTLY more money than his colleagues are. How is this fair to all of the other students out there?

I work for an organization that is, likely, funded by some of those foundations that these folks have created. When we apply for a foundation grant we are accountable for our results, and the foundations are going to choose agencies who can best serve the largest need to give that money to. Yet that is not what is happening to the funds they are "granting" to Bellevue High School.

Yes, they can spend their money however they see fit. But I also have the right to tell them it is unfit.

Anonymous said...

Oops, please excuse my poor grammar. I used "there" instead of "their" in that last paragraph...chalk that one up to the under-funded public school system :)

TeacherRefPoet said...

Hey, anonymous--thanks for coming back. I also appreciate the civil tone you're bringing to the table--it would be easy for this to dissolve into a flame war, and I'm glad we're not letting that happen.

The quotes below are yours.

"Teachers are compensated more than $5,600 a year which is what Butch gets paid, that is why. The average teacher’s salary in WA is $45,728, and the average teachers salary plus benefits is $64,454."

You're comparing apples and automobiles. High school coaching is an avocation, not a vocation. The coaches at my school have day jobs. Goncharoff (according to reports I've read) has a day job. The coaches of the 3A and 4A champions in every sport I could determine have day jobs. I appreciate the effort coach Goncharoff puts in, and all those hours. But they are NOT comparable to the God-knows-how-many-hours I put in teaching. Not close.

Are you advocating that coaches should be able to quit their day jobs? If so, they all should.

It is, however, comparable to the time that other coaches, both at Bellevue and everywhere, put in, and they don't see a dime, let alone $55K.

"the debate team might not exist if the football team didn’t generate the money to pay for it."

The debate team was around before Bellevue started packing the seats. So it did and would exist without Goncharoff, and certainly without Goncharoff getting $55K.

"But the extra funding will go to other club sports whom have had to 'pay to play' in the past and to help academic programs at the school like the bellevue newspaper, which is now online."

Great. Nevertheless--why does this justify Goncharoff making more for his avocation than I do for my vocation? The newspaper advisor certainly has more to do with the success of the newspaper than Goncharoff does, and works killer hours, too. Why is his/her extra work not worth $55K? What does Goncharoff do that he/she doesn't?

"It is not like we bought Pete Carroll to be our coach. That would be using money to gain an unfair advantage. "

Using money to keep a successful coach is no different from using money to buy one. If Goncharoff isn't such an advantage, why is he being paid so much? You're contradicting yourself.

"I can think of numerous students who have benefited from the exposure that this program has given them, and who have received scholarships which pay for there college. Butch spends time sending highlight tapes and writing letters to different Universities which helps get these kids college paid for."

They're called letters of recommendation. I sometimes write dozens in a year. The only difference between Goncharoff's letters and mine are that his come with videotape. All teachers and all coaches do this for any student who asks. This isn't Goncharoff going above and beyond: it's Goncharoff doing a basic tenet of the avocation.

In any event, that doesn't address my question:

You have $55K. Given the choice of giving it to a coach or paying four years of tuition two not-good-enough-for-college athletes, which is the better way of spending the money?

I'll repeat it: the booster club has hurt Bellevue football with this payment to Goncharoff. When Bellevue wins the state title yet again, nobody's going to say "Gosh, look at how talented/hard-working those kids are." They'll say instead: "Gee, their booster club tipped the scales." That's bad for both your team and your alma mater. Nothing illegal happened, but the accomplishments of the kids won't feel the same.

Incidentally, why are coaches valuable? Because they teach life lessons? Or because they generate revenue? If it's the latter, why even bother with golf, debate, swimming, etc.?