Monday, January 26, 2004

No honor in Nashville

There was a story in the January 25, 2004 issue of the Washington Post that the city of Nashville had stopped posting the honor roll. The reason given was "a few parents complained that their children might be ridiculed for not making the list."

Now, before I go off on this, let's cover a few issues about this story to be fair. The school system in Nashville is following the advice of their legal council on the grounds that "state privacy laws forbid releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission." Fair enough. Although federal student privacy guidelines allow for the release of information such as honor rolls, the Nashville decision is based on a rarely-challenged state privacy law dating back to 1970.

The school board should be applauded because, according to the story, "School officials are developing permission slips to give parents of the Nashville district's 69,000 students the option of having their children's work recognized. They hope to get clearance before the next grading cycle -- in about six weeks at some schools."

My problem is with all these winy-ass idiots who think life should be fair and nobody should have their feelings hurt. Here's what I have to say to them:


In life, there are winners and there are losers. Deal with it. Every front has a back, every day has a night, and every good has a bad.

Now, I realize the days of dunce caps and announcing grades while handing back papers is over. It is unfair and humiliating to point a finger at someone and tell them they are stupid. Many studies have shown that if you tell students they are underachievers, they will be underachievers and vice versa. But the honor roll is something for a student to strive for. It's no wonder Generation X and Generation Y have no goals... all their goals have been taken away.

It is these situations of "fairness" and "equity" that prove that communism doesn't work. If I work hard and achieve some measure of excellence, I hope (and expect, really) to be rewarded for that in some way, even intrinsically. Conversely, if I don't put forth any effort and achieve nothing, I don't expect to share in any glory. Communism says they are the same. (Don't argue with me! This is they way I view it, this is my blog, and I don't care what you think about communism!)

Let me quote you another part of the story...

But some school systems already get parents to sign a release before student information is made public. Others think it might be a good idea to get rid of the honor roll altogether, as Principal Steven Baum did at Julia Green Elementary in Nashville.

"The rationale was, if there are some children that always make it and others that always don't make it, there is a very subtle message that was sent," he said. "I also understand right to privacy is the legal issue for the new century."

Baum thinks spelling bees and other publicly graded events are leftovers from the days of ranking and sorting students.

"I discourage competitive games at school," he said. "They just don't fit my worldview of what a school should be."

What a bonehead!!! Why bother handing out grades at all? If I had a child in his school, I'd certainly be looking at another school because I don't give a rats ass about his worldview of what a school should be. You're in the service of the community and the state, Mr. Baum. This is not your private little citadel.

Here's my point, really. Life has many ups and downs. There are times when we win and times when we lose. We should always work to win in a fair an honest manner but we must recognize that there are times when we will lose. What we need to learn is that, when we lose, we learn from that experience. It is the responsibility of the parents to help the children learn these lessons and continue to feel good about themselves even in adversity.

Related links:
Miami Herald Story
Youngstown, OH Vindicator
Oakland Tribune

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