Hey, KISD, Brainpower Doesn’t Pay for Buses


Abby Tow, Managing Editor

If I had a dollar for every time a boomer-aged guy told me something along the lines of, “Work, and you will get what you deserve,” I’d have enough money to pay for the Keller High School Academic Decathlon team’s recent trip to their UIL Region competition.

Now, you may be asking, why would somebody need to pay for this? Isn’t it already taken care of by the team’s school district? By the looks of its athletic stadium, beautiful band halls, and football fieldhouses whose windows are shrink-wrapped with colorful action shot images, wouldn’t it be safe to assume the 12 competing members of Keller High School’s award-winning Academic Decathlon team wouldn’t have to pay their own way to their region contest?

The answer is a resounding no.

It’s no secret that Keller High School was recently renovated (i.e. a dozen or so expensive garbage cans and a massive chandelier in a huge foyer). While the renovations were nice, and a new staircase that isn’t so cramped makes my day as a student slightly easier, this school has a definite problem. The allocation of funding is, simply put, fairly screwed up, and shockingly good at screwing over smaller organizations and the students that they consist of.

Keller High School financially neglects its competitive academic teams.

“We used to go to practice meets. I used to take the kids to San Antonio… My budget was cut by fifty percent,” AcDec coach and English teacher Shawna Lynch said.

The Academic Decathlon team has been told both directly, through instruction by administration, and indirectly, through merely watching the success of other organizations, that while additional funding cannot happen, fundraising can. However, for a team as small as academic decathlon, “fundraising” just doesn’t cut it.

Success of other organizations at Keller is, yes, sustained by fundraising, but the most financially able ones fundraise to a base of hundreds of people. Take the Keller High School Band, for example. With over 300 participants in the program, hundreds upon hundreds of relatives are available for pooling funds. Thousands of dollars can be made if every student sells at least one candle or tub of cookie dough in just one round of selling. Or, consider the Indianettes. Their annual craft fair provides funding to pad what they are given by the district. The publicity for this event is done extremely well, with support from the district, of course. The sheer man-power of the Indianettes enables massive events like these, as well as the element of tradition that many Keller residents want to uphold. Going to Indianette craft fair is a family tradition for many people- I know this because my family attends every year.

But for an organization like AcDec, fundraising like this can’t be accomplished on a sufficient scale. Academic competitions naturally remain steadily small; only a select group of top students are given spots to compete. Growth will never happen for these organizations because it isn’t the type of activity that is designed to. The promise of “more people, more money” will never come true for these kids, but it also isn’t meant to.

Moreover, Texan culture prioritizes athletics. We pour thousands of dollars every year into our football, softball, volleyball, and other teams. While these students deserve the utmost support for their hours of dedication and hard work, Academic Decathlon students work just as hard in an unfortunately glossed-over aspect of our state’s educational culture.

“Administration often overlooks us as a legitimate club since we are such a small group, leaving us needing to scrape up money from fundraising to simply afford transport to and from meets,” AcDec team member, senior Kate Jefferys, said.

The general sentiment of the team is a feeling of abandonment. They’ve made it to state numerous times and scored exceptionally well more often than not. This group of students puts several hours a week into this activity, learning skills that employers crave and a holistic knowledge of topics that aid in being a productive member of society.

“What administration fails to recognize is that AcDec and other academic teams aren’t merely clubs. These academic clubs allow for students to become involved and meet others with shared interests in an environment that encourages an academic attitude, teamwork, and leadership,” Jefferys said.

All of this being said, the reason Keller High School and other schools don’t properly fund their academic teams lies far beyond a simple fix. While a sudden shift in budgeting next semester that funded AcDec the way it deserves would solve an immediate issue, the underlying issue still remains.

Texas education needs to lend its hand to competitive academics. Our culture is so wrapped up in football we overlook the brainpower of our best students to get a front-bleacher view of our athletes. I’m not calling for a mass departure from our love of sports, not even a little. I’m saying that Texas has a whole lot of spirit for its students, and that it would cost nothing to show our academic competitors a little more (or a lot more) support. I don’t know if Texas will ever wake up to the fact that money put into academic teams will produce brighter, more engaged, and more successful students, but as a student body, we can make an effort to congratulate these hard-working brainiacs on their victories.

A shift in culture should eventually shift our district’s budget, but if it doesn’t, a shift in our attitude as students towards academic teams makes this group of dedicated kids feel as valuable and important as they are. The kids who compete in academics will grow up to be our engineers, our teachers, our congresspeople, and our most progressive thinkers. We should be granting them the financial support they need, but more importantly, the financial support they deserve.Hey, KISD, Brainpower Doesn’t Pay for Buses.


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