Lone Star Gridiron

School Choice will Permanently Change UIL Football 


The End of Texas High School Football?

I am not going to get into the politics of whether or not the Department of Education needs to be abolished or whether we have the right to use our tax dollars sending our kids to the best school.  What I am going to address is the dramatic shift it will have on Texas high school football.  Again, not picking sides - just looking at ramifications.

I asked the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) for their take on the subject and here is what I got:

D.W. Rutledge, Executive Director of the THSCA said, "In our opinion, school vouchers have the potential to hurt public schools in a big way financially. Our organization has maintained our stance against school vouchers for the past several legislative sessions and intend to do the same this session."

Jamey Harrison,  Deputy Director of the UIL responded, "UIL will work with its member schools on any issues that arise. As for potential legislative issues, UIL takes not stance on potential or pending legislation."

My take on these responses is that THSCA is clearly against it while the UIL doesn't take a position.

For some parents, the choice of which school their child should attend comes down to sports.  We can pretend it doesn't happen, but it is true. You see attempts to get around the residency requirements of school districts because a school has a better football/volleyball/baseball program.  You also see the misdirection that the school is safer or the school does better academically. You see parents using friends and relatives' addresses on admissions to get around the system.  You see "jobs" created in the area to justify the move on paper.

I am not putting all of this on the feet of sports.  The bottom line however, is that if a full on voucher system (or educational savings account) is put into place and all regard to residency is eliminated, the landscape of Texas high school football will be changed forever.

Over 100 years of history will be wiped away with the passing of a law.  Do we then put an asterisk* beside all the new records denoting after school choice?

Initially, I was at a crossroads on this issue personally.  I love the idea of parents being able to choose the best school for our kids, but when I looked behind the scenes at what it the ramifications, the downsides seem just too high. Also, the fan of Texas high school football in me fears anything that could mess up that tradition.

It is much more than tradition.  It is the culmination of all the values and life lessons taught by "the greatest sport in the greatest state" ™. If that is lost, then no gain from the perceived freedom to choose will have been worth it.  

Will the landscape of Texas education devolve into a select group of schools with super teams focusing on football while other focus on teaching science, ballet or social work?  Will schools stop trying to teach broad strokes and start turning into little hyper-focused one-trick ponies?  Will these private enterprises (and public schools) transform into trade schools and lose incentive to create a balanced student?

Rutledge brings up a very good point.  What about the schools that lose the race for your money?  These schools won't be shut down because the kids still need education.  When you exercise the freedom to take your tuition somewhere else, it comes out of their budget.  What happens when a local government entity is underfunded?   They raise taxes or cut areas. Either way, you pay for it.

by Chris Doelle


  1. Jenifer Freeman

    September 8, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    As a born-and-bred Texan, I love the whole idea of our high school football. I love what it can do for a school and the community at large, not to mention the sounds, smells, and sheer energy of a Friday night game. That being said, as a parent and high school teacher, I see that many areas – both academically and geographically – have a real struggle filling all positions with qualified, quality teachers. It is not the school’s or the community’s fault, necessarily. A teacher is often more likely to be cussed at, yelled at, or blamed rather than appreciated or supported. The job demands and expectations seem to grow exponentially each year yet are met with seriously inadequate pay given the responsibilities and training. The ones who suffer the most in these situations are the kids. I am undecided/unconvinced on the long term effects of the vouchers, but I wholeheartedly believe that the sports programs should not be the deciding factor. When it comes down to the bare bones of it, we are educational institutions intended for academic training and preparation and that should be the first priority. I’m not saying that there aren’t people taking advantage of the situation. There are absolutely parents who uproot and move transfer their child just to get playing time, and many are dishonest about the cause of the move, but the right of all students to a quality, equal education should outweigh the reactionary response to the dishonest ones. Parents should be able to advocate for their child to ensure they are getting the best education possible in a safe environment. All the other things, like our boys of Fall, are the whipped cream on top, albeit glorious, unforgettable whipped cream.

  2. Chris Doelle

    September 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Thanks so much for the comment. Conversation is the solution, as I mention in the article, I agree with a lot of what you say and that is why it has been such a struggle for me to come to grips with.

    The bottom line for me however really isn’t even football. That just makes another reason why it is not a good idea. A very good reason.

    What needs to happen isn’t another government program giving you the “right” to choose a school. What needs to happen is to get the government out of education entirely. Schools are not a subject that politicians in Washington should be concerned over.

    If education (and pretty much anything other than national defense and general welfare) is returned to the hands of locals, it will be much better.

What are your thoughts?