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PICTURED: Football lies just short of the goaline

by Paul Moomjean 

paulmoomjean@yahoo.com 

It’s back to school season, and for me this is always a mixture of nostalgia and PTSD. From 1999 until 2017 I was a teacher and wrestling coach in Ventura County. I coached at Simi Valley High School (1999-2006, 2013-14), Royal High School (2006-08) and Moorpark College (2008). I taught in two private schools in the county from 2003-06 and 2011-17. I also was the Marketing Director for ITT Tech in Oxnard (2010-11) and taught at Eternity Bible College from 2011 to 2017. I worked in every capacity of education for which I was qualified. So, when I say what I’m about to say, please understand where I’m coming from. Many people complain about the “wokeness” and liberal bias in education, but few complain about the tyrannical conservatism in high school sports and extracurricular activities. If we really want to see a change in the school system, we need an overhaul in every area, because it’s not just teachers, it’s our sport programs and our failure to hold students to a higher standard of excellence. 

Too often we keep hearing about these Fox News nightmare stories about wokeness run amuck. 

Fox News recently wrote a Chicken Little piece about a California school district paying for  “Woke Kindergarten” education consultants. (“California school district payingn 20K for ‘Woke Kindergarten’ consulting,” Kelsey Koberg, Aug. 2, 2022.)  They are earning $20,000 to run “anti-racist” and “anti-bias” training in an elementary school. Fox News goes on to report that Woke Kindergarten’s homepage calls the organization a “global, abolitionist early childhood ecosystem,” and says it is “supporting children, families, educators and organizations in their commitment to abolitionist early education and pro-black and queer and trans liberation.” 

According to the contractor agreement, Woke Kindergarten was hired for “thematic unit planning and coaching,” and the financial impact statement states that the purpose of the training is to “continue … anti-racist, anti-bias training and connect to building thematic units along with coaching.”

Yes, that all sounds elitist and awful and not the way we want kids to enter their primary educational years. But let’s also agree that gung-ho social Darwinist training is happening in our sports programs.

Currently, the most scared people walking a high school campus are everyone associated with their sports teams. From the coaches to the players, everyone knows their job or position is on the line 24/7. Football programs are infamous for firing head coaches if they have one bad season. And players know that if they don’t deliver the wins needed, coaches will recruit other players, creating a secret black market underground free agency. Parents will shop their kids around, creating super teams, destroying other programs in the process and leaving behind nothing but rubble. 

The L.A. Daily News has a list of football transfers alone that has reached over 200 names (www.dailynews.com/2022/02/03/daily-news-2022-high-school-football-transfer-list/). That’s a lot of children in their mid-teens being uprooted so they can be on a winning team or get more playing time. This is the conservative side of education we don’t disparage enough; the “win at all costs” mentality that encourages kids to abandon their extended family, childhood friends and community for greener pastures. It’s the Masters of the Universe/Wall Street mindset that creates toxic disloyalty. Why should I deal with anything hard, when I can just transfer? Why try to overcome adversity, when I can just leave? We think we are teaching kids not to settle, but these actions create bad attitudes in the workplace down the road. 

We see the great resignation amongst millennials and Gen Z, but we forget they were the first group pushed by parents to argue their grades, demand more playing time, and get what they want at any cost. Even if it meant teachers and coaches lost their jobs. 

I remember having a principal tell us to let students redo homework until they get an “A.” I also remember being told to grade athletes with more grace because they had a big game that week. 

At the end of the day our system is a mess because the hyper-woke rule the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. part of the school day and the hyper-conservatives run the after-school part. We see this play out in our modern world as workers demand every woke agenda advanced in workplace training and HR practices, while they abandon ship as soon as things are difficult. 

If we are to see a brighter future, we must challenge our current teens to show up on time, ask for nothing but the basics, take their lumps, and not worry about creating a more fair office team, but instead create an even better “you.”