Discouraging our kids, dismantling our future

Public education in this country has changed a lot since my son was in school, and it bears little resemblance to what I experienced roughly half a century ago.

Case in point: Apparently it’s no longer politically correct to recognize individual academic achievement. At least one school system is doing away with class valedictorians so that no one gets singled out for recognition. Seriously. That’s what’s happening in Boulder (Colo.) Valley schools:

District officials eliminated class rank, valedictorians and salutatorians in favor of collective student honors starting this year. Principals are honoring high-achieving students — about 20 percent of a school’s senior class — by placing them in cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude groups. …

Fairview Principal Don Stensrud said he thinks the process has gone well so far, but it’s too soon to tell whether it’s encouraging students to balance their schedules with both academically challenging courses and electives like orchestra, choir and student council.

“To some degree, some kids were able to manipulate classes to get elevated GPAs,” Stensrud said. “Some kids chose to drop out of choir and orchestra because it was hurting their GPA.”

Well, we certainly wouldn’t want those kids to get high GPAs, would we?

I can’t imagine what they’re thinking in Boulder, trying to treat all students equally and discouraging individual academic excellence and leadership. In the extreme, honoring all honors none. Students are not all alike. Some will always be intensely studious. Some will struggle just to pass. Some will go to college and beyond. Some will be content with a high school diploma. And some will always drop out, no matter how much the standards are lowered.

We should be encouraging all students to be the best they can be, in whatever areas they choose. We should not be trying to pull all of them down or up to the same level and treat them all the same. We should not be striving for or settling for an “average” student. There’s no such thing.

3 thoughts on “Discouraging our kids, dismantling our future

  1. I don’t think I could possibly agree with you more.

    Is there some secret organization orchestrating a strategy to destroy every US quality that went in to creating the most dynamic, wealthy and free nation on Earth? Children who are hidden from their successes and failures are going to be in for a rude (or pleasant) awakening on the first occasion of their future employers (or even spouses) evaluation.

    It’s systemic. BP recently suffered an accident that will probably cost nearly a billion dollars to fix and yet the government absolves them of any liability exceeding 100 million dollars… Failed banks were recently given billions to bail them out of their miscalculations and fraudulent operations, and at the same time profitable banks were forced behind closed doors to accept bailouts equally in order to keep the winners and losers hidden from the citizens at large. Earlier this week during a high school Cinco De Mayo celebration, school authorities sent some children home from school because they wore shirts designed to mimic the U.S. Flag because some of the Mexican celebrants feelings might be hurt. Well, no darned wonder.
    It’s enough to make this old lady cry. What’s happened to the values I learned? What kind of world will my grandchildren and great grandchildren inherit? What kind of future leaders are we creating? Will our nation survive this slow decay from within?

    And sometimes I wonder, did my parents ask the same questions?

  2. “And sometimes I wonder, did my parents ask the same questions?”

    That’s a good question and tomorrow on Mother’s Day, I’m going to ask it of my Mom who will be 100 years old young this July the 10th. I’ll let you know how she responds.
    Give your mom my best. It should be an interesting conversation.

  3. First of all, your best was sincerely appreciated although explaining who you are was something of a challenge since my Mom has been blind for over 30 years and only knows of computers and the internet what she’s heard from a variety of questionable sources.

    In answer to your question, “Did my parents ask the same questions?” – her answer was an enthusiastic “YES!” And beyond that, her parents did likewise. From what she said, her parents and she herself began and lived life with nothing. Relatively speaking, and compared to us and our children, they really did. The complaint of her day was almost exactly the same as those of today… to wit: “You kids don’t have to work for anything.”

    No electricity. No refrigeration means that eating year around means that everything has to be cured (smoke, sugar, salt, etc), or canned… (remember Ball Jars?) or placed in the root cellar where insects and rot were impossible to prevent for extended periods. Rationed lamp use for reading or chores after dark because kerosene at $0.03 per can didn’t grow on trees.

    No engines. Horse drawn wagons and plows. Daylight till dark jobs just to stay alive.

    Don’t tell my kids, but my walking a mile to school up hill, in the snow, both ways, doesn’t seem so bad by comparison.

... and that's my two cents