Sunday, January 14, 2007

Federally-mandated Cheerleading: EduCracy Run Amok?

The United States Department of Education has now mandated that high school cheerleading squads must now cheer as enthusiastically for girls as they traditionally have for the boys:
WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. — Thirty girls signed up for the cheerleading squad this winter at Whitney Point High School in upstate New York. But upon learning they would be waving their pompoms for the girls’ basketball team as well as the boys’, more than half of the aspiring cheerleaders dropped out.

The eight remaining cheerleaders now awkwardly adjust their routines for whichever team is playing here on the home court — “Hands Up You Guys” becomes “Hands Up You Girls”— to comply with a new ruling from federal education officials interpreting Title IX, the law intended to guarantee gender equality in student sports.

“It feels funny when we do it,” said Amanda Cummings, 15, the cheerleading co-captain, who forgot the name of a female basketball player mid-cheer last month.

Whitney Point is one of 14 high schools in the Binghamton area that began sending cheerleaders to girls’ games in late November, after the mother of a female basketball player in Johnson City, N.Y., filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Education. She said the lack of official sideline support made the girls seem like second-string, and violated Title IX’s promise of equal playing fields for both sexes.

But the ruling has left many people here and across the New York region booing, as dozens of schools have chosen to stop sending cheerleaders to away games, as part of an effort to squeeze all the home girls’ games into the cheerleading schedule.

Boys’ basketball boosters say something is missing in the stands at away games, cheerleaders resent not being able to meet their rivals on the road, and even female basketball players being hurrahed are unhappy.

In Johnson City, students and parents say they have accepted the change even as they question the need for it.

Several cheerleaders there recalled a game two years ago, long before the complaint, when the squad decided at the last minute to cheer for the girls’ team because a boys’ game was canceled.

The cheers drowned out directions from the girls’ coach, frustrated the players, and created so much tension that the cheerleaders left before halftime.

“They asked, ‘Why are you here?’ ” recalled Joquina Spence, 18, a senior cheerleader. “We told them, ‘We’re here to support you,’ and it was a problem because they kept yelling at us.”

But, as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association warned in a letter to its 768 members in November, the education department determined that cheerleaders should be provided “regardless of whether the girls’ basketball teams wanted and/or asked for” them.
Read the whole piece.

Those of us who are traditional conservatives fondly remember when the Republican Party was against this sort of mandate from the Central Government.

The Royal House of Spellings U.S. Department of Education continues to behave with the sort of high-handedness that is disquieting to many observers on both the political Left and Right

But then again, maybe one might expect high-handedness from ivory-tower Washington EduCrats who've never served a day in a public school classroom and would never encourage their own offspring to pursue a career in which one actually works with children.
See our latest EduPosts.