Tough Choice in Texas

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ANYONE who follows local politics knows that few issues can become more heated than decisions to eliminate special programs in the public schools. Parents who might snore through most school-board meetings snap to attention when their children's favorite subject is threatened. The calls to alarm are going off all across the country today, as school districts in many areas find themselves short of funds. The causes of tight budgets are many - economic slowdown and decreasing tax bases, expensive state-mandated programs, steep rises in the prices of services and supplies needed by schools. The immediate victims of tight budgets are usually art classes, music programs, and, yes, that traditional fun side of academic drudgery, athletics.

In that regard, the small town of Brock, Texas, recently made the supreme sacrifice. According to an Associated Press item, high-school football will be no more in Brock. So what, some may ask. Isn't it perfectly reasonable that a school district pinched for money slice away a program that costs a lot and directly involves only a small number of students?

But this is rural Texas, where football has long been much more than just another extracurricular activity. It has been the stuff of local legends and community spirit. One might have thought almost anything short of the story of the Alamo would leave local school offerings before football.

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It wasn't an easy decision. Last December Brock's school board voted down a football program, then recognized that such a chilling decision should be put to a townwide vote. But the pigskin lost again, 295 to 190. The need for new classrooms and a cafeteria outran gridiron tradition.

That kind of sacrifice is remarkable. It shows that at least in one small corner of America people are able to make tough choices and put the greater public good first. Legislators in state houses and in Washington should take note of Brock's example.

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