Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

May 6, 2013

High school honors are losing importance

I’m going to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court figuring out how to explain that the right to gay marriage has been enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment since 1868 and they just hadn’t noticed it until now; and focus on a less momentous, but equally interesting result of political correctness — the demise of the academic honor roll.

I’m not sure whether to be upset with Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor for his mantra about all the children being above average in his imaginary home town of Lake Woebegon, or with the professional educators who think it’s not a joke.

What I do know for sure is that it’s too late to waste any energy being upset at either. The news out of a small, New England town — Ipswich, Mass. — that the middle school principal recently canceled the long-standing academic honors night because it was “devastating” to some students who had worked hard but not maintained a high enough grade point average to qualify for honors, went viral. It made national news shows, prompted a blizzard of blog posts, and was hotly debated on talk radio.

All of which is amusing in a way because this kind of thinking — that effort equals achievement and that it is destructive to recognize anyone as better than anyone else at anything — has been in place for decades.

It’s just not quite as subtle any more — it’s educational orthodoxy.

The kids who were raised in the ‘70s and ‘80s under this kind of mentality are now the adults running the schools — the indoctrination is essentially complete.

We have gone from “everybody is special,” which is true, to “if everybody can’t excel, then nobody can.” We have gone from “everybody plays and everybody gets a trophy” to “everybody wins” because, you know, some kids might feel badly about losing.

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