Dear Dr. Crew:
I am Andrew Scherman, the President of the Florida Chess Association, which is the official state affiliate of the United States Chess Federation. I have been alerted by some members of the Miami-Dade Chess community that there is discussion of severe funding cuts for scholastic chess in your area. This is a terrible idea. Chess improves standardized test scores in every level of achievement: gifted students, challenged students, & mainstream students.
Chess is mathematical, and there are repeated patterns of tactical maneuvers. Once a student learns these tactical patterns, they look to use them. They are applying what they know to what they see. Now, every test they ever take is applying what they know to what they see, so playing chess reinforces that skill. With a clock running, as is usual among intermediate players and especially in tournament play, you are applying what you know to what you see with time pressure. That’s the FCAT’s and the SAT’s. I tell parents to have their children jump up onto the kitchen table 100 times every day. At the end of the year, their vertical leap will show improvement against other people their age, as they have exercised those muscles. Well, when they play chess, and exercise the mental muscles needed to take standardized tests, the result is the same. If your students are going to grow up and go to the NBA and earn their living rebounding, have them jumping onto the desks. If they are going to go to college and earn their living with their minds like the rest of us, keep your chess program going.
Any investment in chess is repaid by rewards obtained through better scores. Besides, chess is inexpensive. For the cost of outfitting one football player for one season, you can get twenty-five chess sets and fifty students can be playing chess every day. And, if you have 25 sets today, in ten years you have twenty complete sets. How many lives could be changed by that opportunity to hone critical thinking skills which will help them in and out of the classroom forever?
You have a magnificent program going in Miami-Dade. Taking away the funding for it wouldn’t put you worse than the ordinary county. It would just remove you from the ranks of the extraordinary, and deprive your students of a fabulous path to success.
Thank you for taking your time to consider this. If you need to see studies backing up these assertions I can provide them; I will happily answer any questions. By the way, I was a tournament chessplayer as a child. I got into law school with a 2.96 GPA. Because my LSAT score was in the top half of one percent in the nation. Because of chess. Please keep doors like this open for your students.