The New York Times has an amazing story by Michael Powell on the first page of Sunday’s sports section. Football star Deion Sanders won approval from the Texas Board of Education to open a charter school called Prime Prep Academy (Sanders’ nickname is Prime Time.) In no time at all, Sanders built a powerhouse of a sports academy. The school has a top-ranked basketball team, whose games are broadcast on ESPN, and presumably a super football team. This is a training school for aspiring athletes.

But it is not much as a school. According to Powell, “a respected Texas nonprofit group” that ranks schools gave the lower grades of the school an F, but did not grade the high school due to missing data. Powell says that Prime Prep represents “celebrity culture run amok and shoddy oversight of a charter school.” Parents send their sons there in hopes they might become professional athletes. Powell tells stories of school officials who were threatened by Sanders. The executive director of the school twice fired him but was overruled by the board. She is now the former executive director.

The Texas Education Agency is threatening to revoke the charter because the school cannot prove it used lunch money for meals. But, says Powell, Sanders is a close friend of the state Commissioner of Education, so don’t count on sanctions.

The former executive director said to Powell, “The high school was chaos. Academics didn’t even play second fiddle. It was all about getting those athletes scholarships and contracts. You didn’t mess with Deion World.” Powell waded through Prime Prep’s application for a charter and found it chock-full of jargon. A member of the state board told Powell that the board was awed to be in Sanders’ presence and fawned on him. But “the curriculum design was nonexistent.”

You can understand the allure of enrolling in a charter school that might propel you into pro sports. The teams are really good. The academic side seems to be a shambles, certainly not a priority. Most of the students are unlikely to break into professional sports. What will happen to them?

Is this the kind of innovation that America needs to compete in the global economy?