The Faribault Public School Board has a work session tonight and some interesting items are up for discussion.  One of them was touched on during our Faribault Coaches Show Saturday at Bashers.

I was on the deck enjoying breakfast along with show Co-Host and Sponsor G&H Property Management Agent Royal Ross and Bethlehem Academy Activities Director Ed Friesen.

Friesen talked about the possible elimination of cooperative athletic sponsorships between Bethlehem Academy and the Faribault Public Schools.  Friesen was not upset about the proposal because the agreement has been negotiated "as it should be" in his words, a number of times in his over two decades at BA.

In the Faribault Public School Board packet for tonight's work session that starts at 5:30 p.m. and can be watched on Youtube there is a one page outline of the "Rationale for Dissolution of Cooperative Sponsorships."

Here is what that page states: "MSHSL cooperative sponsorships exist to provide a mutually beneficial participation opportunity in League-sponsored activities and athletics for students who would otherwise not have had the opportunity without the cooperative agreement."

"The Faribault Public Schools believe that in 11 of our 13 cooperatively sponsored athletics programs with Bethlehem Academy the cooperative sponsorship does not provide a mutually beneficial participation opportunity."

"The Faribault Public School can provide students participation opportunities in these sports independently.  FPS believe that the the athletic cooperative sponsorships with Bethlehem Academy promote open enrollment."

"In sports that are cooperatively sponsored Faribault Public Schools:"

  • Schedules all contests
  • Hires and pays all game officials
  • Hires and pays all event staff
  • Schedules and pays for all transportation
  • Schedules all hotels/transportation for state and out-of-town travel
  • Independently manages 100% of all events with no BA staff
  • Independently manages most facilities (City of Faribault partners in some)
  • Hires and pays all members of the coaching staff
  • Evaluates all coaches
  • Evaluates all programs
  • Registers all athletes for participation
  • Handles parent/athlete concerns
  • Independently manages all other administrative duties
  • Per-participant fees have not been charged to middle school athletes

The agreement has been in existence for 37 years.

Also included in the packet for tonight's work session by the Faribault Public School Board is a statement by board member Carolyn Treadway stating her, "Opposition to continuing the athletic coop agreement with BA."

Treadway says her opposition is, "Philosophical and rooted in social justice."  She points out the demographics of Faribault have changed over the years, "I believe the conditions it has created represents systemic injustice.  It has enabled middle class flight while enabling advantaged students to enjoy in it's entirety the benefits of the larger public system."

"Rest assured that I don't hold BA wholly responsible for the move of middle class students out of our public schools.  The result of the collective departure of middle class students has resulted in an inequitable structure for Faribault's impoverished students, many of them students of color."

Treadway goes on to say, "In light of the societal and systemic racism that has come to light in the last week, I believe school leaders MUST look at every decision with an Equity lens.  Consideration of the BA coop agreements presents itself at a time when each of us is called to contemplate our individual roles in perpetuating systemic injustices."

In her letter Treadway adds, "The events of the last week requires each of us to speak out against intentional AND unintentional injustice and racism."

"With the coop agreement as it currently exists, FPS unwittingly encouraged families with the advantages that enable them to access education in a small, religious-based school system to exit our school district.  While I very much value school choice, I do not believe that simultaneously providing more-extensive resources of our schools in the form of complete access to our athletics programs has created an equitable and just system for the less-advantaged students who remain in our schools."

"Research affirms the stabilizing effect of middle class students on behavior and academic performance in schools.  Indeed, discipline is an issue that impacts decisions whether to attend Faribault schools.  This is issue is cyclical, the more middle class students exit our schools, the less stability in behavior.  Problematic behavior drives even more middle class students away and so on and so on.  My responsibility as a Board member is to create policy and practice that serves ALL of our children well.  Practices that we have unwittingly promoted has left a remarkable absence of middle class students, thereby weakening our school system."

Treadway asks in her statement, "Has FPS and our community created an equitable system for all, one that encourages middle class families to remain in FPS schools so they may access it's full benefits?  In these tragic times, our community must reflect on the practices that reward privilege while creating a separate yet unequal education.  Allowing families who choose a private school education to access the highly-valued resources of the schools that they don't want their child to attend is the essence of subtle classism and racism."

In her final words the Faribault Public School Board member says, "So, as one deeply committed to addressing systemic injustice, I oppose continuation of the coop agreement with BA.  Together our community can restore our public schools to a fair and equitable system.  Faribault High School offers excellent and broad educational options in a setting that promotes values (rather than religion).  I invite families to explore it's programs and for all of us to join in addressing racial and social equality."

On our show Saturday Friesen speculated if BA had to close it's doors the majority of students would probably go to Northfield, Medford, Shattuck, or Kenyon-Wanamingo.  Faribault Public Schools has been an option for them and one they have not taken for whatever reason.

As far as the athletic cooperative Friesen says the bottom line is, "Giving kids an opportunity to participate in a sport they want to compete in."  He pointed out a lot of the Cardinals players get the opportunity to play a sport when they probably would not at the larger school competing in a big schools conference.  There are a number of studies proving the benefits of such participation to students.

It is my personal observation there would not have been a Faribault High School girls or boys hockey team the last couple of years without the cooperative agreement.  Some excellent wrestlers for the Falcons over the years have been students of Bethlehem Academy. They might not have been able to fill all the weights on their roster without them.

The BA kids do pay a participation fee just like the FPS students. Most of their parents pay Faribault School District taxes. And a majority of the property taxes go to the Faribault Public Schools.

Also on the agenda tonight is a presentation on equity as well as the introduction and welcome of Cultural Advisors for the School Board, Cynthia Gonzalez and Ahmed Hassan.