Monday, April 25, 2011

Editorial: Is It Cad Polk Stadium or KIPPSTER Stadium?

Willie Williams
Most of you that drive past Helena-West Helena Central High School have noticed that soccer goals have been placed on the turf at Cad Polk Stadium- the venerable Home of the Cougars.  Some have asked if Central is starting a soccer program.  The answer is no.  The answer to the question of the goals is that Cad Polk Stadium is now the home of the KIPP School Soccer Program courtesy of a decision made by Helena-West Helena School District (HWHSD) Superintendent Willie Williams and apparently supported by the school board since they didn't act to stop this madness.

Letting KIPP use Cad Polk Stadium for its athletic activities has to be the most asinine move to come out of the HWHSD in a generation.  It simply makes no sense.  No amount of heated oxygen from 305 Valley Drive can make it make sense.  HWHSD facilities should be used for HWHSD interscholastic activities.  They should not be used to support the programs and activities of a school whose very existence hurts the HWHSD by taking students and lowering the amount of revenue available for the district's students and activities.  What's next?  Is 305 Valley Drive going to offer Desoto the opportunity to play down on School Road?  Are we going to see "No Shortcuts: Go KIPP" painted on the side of our field house?

Why in the world would those whose first concern is to fight for the interests of the HWHSD and its students make a decision that makes it easier for its competitor to offer more programs which then makes it easier for them to take your students?  The logical among us would say that there is no good reason for the HWHSD to do that to themselves.  It is suicide.

There is no doubt that KIPP is here to stay.  Even though hindsight shows us that this community would have been better off with just Central and no private schools, KIPP and Desoto will remain in place.  Just like Desoto, KIPP has become institutionalized into the local culture.  Just like Desoto, they are run by a private, nonprofit corporation.(They may receive state per-pupil funding but they are a private organization just like Desoto.)  Just like Desoto, KIPP is a competitor in the marketplace for students in the area.  Just like Desoto, KIPP should have to build its own facilities if it wants to have an athletic program.  If they can't afford it, then they shouldn't have athletics.  To those who say "what about the kids?"  I say the kids can play ball if they come to Miller and Central.  Enrolling at KIPP is a choice.

I am reminded of a story I was told once about the late HWHSD Superintendent Harold Chorley.  As the story went, the private school was having difficulty offering a higher level science course.  The administrator there at the time called Mr. Chorley and asked if they could pay to send their students to Central to take the course.  Mr. Chorley's response apparently was, "They can take the class as soon as they enroll at Central High School."  We need strong leadership on this question with KIPP today just as Mr. Chorley offered it with Desoto then.  The issues are no different.

Some argue that KIPP could pay to use the facilities.  That again makes no sense.  Let's say they paid $2500 to rent Cad Polk for the soccer season.  If one student leaves the HWHSD because KIPP has expanded athletics, then that costs the district approximately $7000.  That alone is a good enough reason to refuse to allow KIPP to use Cougar facilities.  If they want to offer competitive athletics, let them spend the money to build their own home.  Our house is owner-occupied and should not be available for lease.  If we don't make it easier for them, they might not be so quick to try and compete with the HWHSD on the athletic front, where HWHSD still has the upper hand, at least for now.

There are those among us who will disagree with this position.  They will say we all need to work together and other such nonsense.  If KIPP supporters had been wanting to work together, then they wouldn't have formed KIPP in the first place just as if Desoto supporters in the 70s truly wanted to work together, they wouldn't have formed Desoto either.  Both private institutions are there trying to take students from the Helena-West Helena School District. Both have marketed themselves by bashing the Helena-West Helena School District.  Both are there because they want to separate themselves and not go to school with those at Central for some reason.  Bringing KIPP into our house with them smiling and talking about working together is like bringing the Trojan horse inside the city walls.

Let me leave you with a quote from Virgil's Aeneid on this subject, "Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse."

Williams and the Board are wrong.  Leave Cad Polk Stadium for the Cougars!  

1 comment:

  1. I have been associated with DeSoto for 18 years and have never known at any time DeSoto using bashing tactics to lure students from any of the public schools in this area!I do not know where Mr.Bagley got his information from but that is an out right lie to state that DeSoto uses any tactics other than offering a quality education and safe learning environment for its prospective students! I know this much...if the public school system could offer either one of those two qualities, there would be no need for either KIPP or DeSoto!!