Middle school boys mobilize to keep their coach

Sports4Kids, the nonprofit that runs activities during recess and after school at more than 30 Oakland schools, has decided to pull out of middle schools and focus solely on elementary schools.

A group of eighth-graders at Ascend, a K-8 school in Fruitvale, were concerned about what this would mean for the younger students. They got together and wrote a petition to keep “Coach Josh” next year. One of those students, Jose Jauregui, wrote this piece about why they did it. -Katy

The new depression, it’s hard and confusing even for kids. Oakland, like most of California, is poor and losing money.

It’s understandable why Sports4Kids would have need to leave middle schools. For our school, Ascend, it would be very difficult because not only will the middle school section lose its awesome coach but so will the elementary part. Younger kids need more than middle schoolers, and the fact that most of them are family and friends, we had to do something to save Sports4Kids and Coach Josh.

We chose to made a petition because it’s probably the most effective method students can use. My school is lucky for having a coach that is respectable and trustworthy. He’s a little bit like a mentor. He took the time to get to know us and understand us. We shouldn’t have to survive with a run of the mill coach because we would fear physical activity instead of look forward to it. The younger students deserve a coach who is also a person. Someone who will take the time and treat them like individuals. Someone like our coach.

Jose Jauregui
8th grade

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Sports4Kids is located at various Bay Area school districts. With 37 school sites, Oakland has more than twice as many schools sites as San Francisco with 16 school sites operating the program. Charging $23,500 per schools site Oakland spends $869,500 on the program. The difficult economic times does not seem to be the reason Sports4Kids is leaving middle schools. Why it is leaving Ascend was not explained in the Katy’s article. Perhaps the school rather than Sports4Kids felt it could not afford the program anymore. Or, perhaps because Sports4Kids is expanding in other cities across the United States, the decision was made at Sports4Kids to leave Ascend to utilize trained and talented personnel in its expansion plan working with the help of a $4 million dollar grant.

    I believe there are two problems with Sports4Kids model. First, the cost at one school is the sum of its part problem. $23,500 is not much in a District budget but 37 schools means the program has to be weighed against all the district programs. When 15 early childhood teachers are cut for lack of money that is one of many programs that Sports4Kids must be measured. A problem with site based decision making is the site is not at the top of the mountain and in a position to take such measurement and put the expense of $868,500 in context. Second problem or concern I have is that when responsibility over an outsourced program is devolved to a school site there is no one in OUSD administration that seems to have overall responsibility for seeing that the details of a program are being properly followed. For example, in the after school basketball league or volleyball league that is a part of the program off the school site there is no oversight and what happens off the school site usually stays off the school site, yet the District is paying for that activity and most likely has liability issues not covered by general liability insurance.

    Jim Mordecai

  • http://none Peter Johnson

    I am quite familiar with Sports for Kids–you all should know that they are, simply said, a wonderful organization, providing a physical education program for our kids-with very qualified teachers, that would otherwise be non-existent. Hurray for Sports for Kids!!

  • Nextset

    Interesting problem, especially the liability part. We are all about to live with severe budget cuts. I’m hearing noises that the local Jr College may start imposing enrollment cuts, basically closing the doors to students in order to get their enrollments down. The state won’t allow the Jr College to set any of it’s own fees. yet the state will soon cut the budget, leading to shutdowns of programs (like the counselors, financial aid office, etc) that people would be willing to pay to keep. It seems they will have the buildings and classrooms go unused rather than offer the public a chance to have programs for extra charge. The private colleges face program shutdowns if the revenue from the State Education Grants cease.

    The Budget people are rapidly planning shutdowns but trying to avoid accidently forfeiting federal or other money (revenue) in the process they really want to keep. This is going on a school districts, city and county programs of all types. The bigger and more sudden the changes the greater the risk of unintended consequences.

    After July 1st we are going to see a new California. I’m not sure what else can be done, the people have spoken on the subject of tax increases and borrowing. I voted against all the ballot initiatives along with all my friends who’ve discussed the matter.

    The state should permit more pay as you go services rather than wholesale shutdown of services. That goes for school programs.

  • Sad Dad

    Sports4Kids is a great program that’s been around for a long time in the East Bay. The coaches are at the schools fulltime and are real heroes to the kids and teachers. Ask anyone – parent, kids, teacher, principal – who has been exposed to the program and they will tell you that it rocks and it makes a difference. It is sad that it is leaving middle schools, but since recess is a big part of the program and middle schools don’t have it it is understandable. I feel sad for the kids at Ascend. They are losing a great program and one that has helped many many schools and students learn lessons that can be taught best on the playground and through fun games and sports.

    For too many of our kids in low income schools, it is the only time they can play safely outside. And sadly for too many middle schoolers, they are losing an opportunity to play organized sports. In crunching numbers and talking liability, Mr. Mordecai overlooks the human cost and that is that we have to provide more opportunities for low-income schools and communities to allow kids to participate in organized sports and games their parents would otherwise not be able to get them to. The Sports4kids model gave these kids somethign special that kept them occupied and engaged and doing something their parents may not habve been able to afford the time or cost to let them do.

  • S4k Mom

    I have two children that attend Edna Brewer Middle school and we had the pleasure of having Coach Josh at our school last year. I’m sure ascend will miss him as much as we do.