This morning I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, one of the few news outlets that doesn’t tend to skew right or left and reports on the absurdities of life in modern America, about the trend that public high schools have taken towards eliminating the naming of Valedictorians and Salutatorians as hurting the feelings of those who just barely managed to graduate.
Knowing that my posting the link to the article on FaceBook would cause a knee-jerk reaction among some liberal educators that believe in group think, dumbing down curriculum, giving participation trophies, passing students who should be flunked, grade inflation, and eliminating competition at such a tender age, I proceeded with some amusement.
Most of my peers agree that actions such as this, which masquerade as fairness, only serve to continue the downwards slide of the education system in America that was once the envy of the modern world. The USA spends more per capita on education than any other first world nation; however, we rank far down the list on the success of our students. The skidding towards the bottom can be attributed to the changes in the system which promotes mediocrity, insists on teaching to the lowest common denominator, inflating grades so that an underachiever doesn’t feel like a loser, passing those who should be held back in an attempt to increase self-esteem, and creating a curriculum that panders to special interest groups.
The system is broken when it becomes paramount to focus on the psyches of those for whom a high school diploma is the highlight of his or her life. No wonder people want to send their children to private schools where the students are challenged and where success actually means something.
To me it is tragic that one would even suggest that graduating from high school at the age of 18 should be the pinnacle of one’s existence. I personally know and love numerous people that graduated from high school, did not go to university and still succeeded because of hard work, intelligence, a drive to be accomplished and better oneself and the acceptance that nobody owes us anything. Why should a school system eliminate an award to help underachievers feel good? I am appalled and perplexed.
In the REAL WORLD there are no participation trophies. If 30 applicants post for a position in the corporate world a company doesn’t find the room or the budget to create 30 vice-presidents. There is one successful applicant and 29 that must accept the reality, refrain from complaining, and keep on working, and work harder or smarter for the next opportunity.
The local Winchester Star recently wrote about an organization holding classes to teach millennials life skills they didn’t learn in school. The American education system should be embarrassed that 30 year old educated adults need to be taught life skills because the students were so coddled that they didn’t learn how to lose, fail, fall, get back on the horse, find resilience, rise from the ashes like a phoenix, grow a pair, understand that life isn’t fair, that there are consequences for action and inaction, that money doesn’t grow on trees, that parents can’t fix everything, that self-sufficiency is empowering, that credit cards eventually must be paid, that good credit is really important to get a mortgage, that the bank doesn’t care if you bought shoes instead of paying the mortgage, that tattoos really don’t help one get a job, and that somebody always winds up on top - the Valedictorian.
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