After months and months of preparation the grand finale of Alabama public high school football kicks off this weekend with the first round of playoff games. By Saturday night (Nov. 11), 208 teams will have played 104 games.
And the 2017 football team will be over for 104 teams. Cheerleaders will store away pom poms, band uniforms go to the cleaner a final time and tales about touchdowns and fumbles and caught passes will become memories in young minds.
(Interestingly enough, some private schools choose to play in a public school league, whereas some do not.)
Of the 208 schools competing this weekend under the auspices of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, 21 of them are private. There is one in the largest classification, 7A; none in 6A; two in 5A; six in 4A; six in 3A; three in 2A; and three in1A.
Since the Alabama Accountability Act began providing vouchers for private school scholarships in 2013, many have wondered if there are instances where scholarships are being used to boost athletic programs.
The most recent quarterly reports (July -August-September 2017) for the five active Scholarship Granting Organizations have just been posted on the Alabama Department of Revenue web site.
These show that there are now 3,458 students across the state on scholarship. Of these, 967 went to students “zoned” to attend a “failing school.” (Remember this does not mean these students had previously attended a failing school, they were just zoned to attend one. They may have well been enrolled in a private school for several years.)
Now back to football. Of the 21 privates schools competing in the public school playoff, only 11 of them have received scholarships. (Four of them do not participate in the AAA program, and six that do have no scholarships.)
This means 11 schools competing this weekend have students on scholarships, a total of 362. Of these, 147 went to students “zoned” for failing schools. It is noteworthy that 307 of these scholarships went to only five schools. The sole private school competing in 7A got 125 scholarships. One competing in 4A got 48 and one in 3A got 45. One school in 2A got 40 and one in 1A got 49.
Unfortunately there is no way to determine how many scholarships went to athletes, or more specifically football players.
And once again we realize how little “accountability” there is in the Alabama Accountability Act.