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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • New sports rules will put pressure on local districts

  • On Friday of this week, the United States Department of Education issued an order about sports and how children with disabilities should be treated.
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  • On Friday of this week, the United States Department of Education issued an order about sports and how children with disabilities should be treated.
    The department said those children should be given a chance to play competitive sports. That can be done by giving them the opportunity to do that on regular teams or through special programs just for those students.
    This decision is likely to have ramifications nationwide, much like what happened years ago concerning Title IX and female athletes.
    The concept of the edict is sound. All students should be treated equally.
    We've seen how that works with the same concept being applied to classroom learning. Students with disabilities must be given the same opportunities as students without disabilities.
    For the most part, this has worked well for both students and schools.
    The important thing to remember in all of this is that people are people, no matter their level of learning or ability to play sports.
    That crucial point is what led to the decision when it comes to education and it's likely that's the same reasoning for the decision regarding sports.
    Of course, both of these come with costs.
    School officials will tell you the cost of special education has spiked sharply over the past decade or more since the rules were implemented.
    Schools are required to provide any and all tools necessary to educate students. If that means hiring an aide or even a teacher, it is required.
    The same will likely be true when it comes to sports.
    It will not be cheap, especially if alternative programs have to be implemented.
    But it is the right thing to do.
    The biggest obstacle facing school districts will no doubt be the budget constraints they are currently under.
    School funding has been a major issue in America for many, many years. It has come to the forefront even more in the past three years with the economy in the tank.
    Districts have to get funding and most of that comes from local taxpayers.
    In some cases, including in districts in northeast Pennsylvania, sports programs have been eliminated because of lack of funds.
    With the possibility of even more sports programs having to be added because of the new rules, it is conceivable that more programs could be eliminated in order to accommodate budgets.
    That would not be a good thing because student-athletes tend to be good in school as well as on the playing field.
    There is no easy answer to this dilemma.
    Page 2 of 2 - It would be hard to find anyone opposed to allowing children with special needs the chance to participate in sports. Everyone wants the best for their fellow humans.
    But how it will work remains a very big question.
    School boards around the nation are going to have to do a lot of soul searching in order to come up with solutions.
    Budgets are very tight right now and that doesn't look to get any better in the future.
    In Pennsylvania, budgets get tighter and tighter every year and the requirements for pensions are putting more and more stress on local taxpayers.
    There doesn't seem to be any simple solution to this new edict from the Department of Education.
    We all know the government is good at handing out rules but very bad at giving out funds to go along with those rules.
    It will be interesting to see how all of this works out since the rules were just handed down this week.
    Time will tell and, hopefully, it will work out for the benefit of everyone.
    Hopefully.

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