Last month I wrote about the explosion of valedictorians at schools in Portland, Oregon, but as The Washington Post reported Saturday it also extends to the D.C. area. At Fairfax Virginia’s Robinson Secondary School they extended this honor to 41 students who finished with a grade point average of 4.0 or better.
How do you achieve a GPA of better than 4.0? Take an AP or similar course where your grade is given more weight thus boosting the GPA. I don’t have a problem with weighted grades and the like , but I still think that the schools should choose one valedictorian based on his or her academic achievements and shouldn’t be forced to share that honor with students who fell short of the standard, but still did well academically.
While I was expecting the article to defend this practice there was a ray of sunshine from Oxon Hill High School principal Gordon Libby who told the Post “We have a society where you’re going to be competitive your whole life,” he said. “When you apply for a job they aren’t going to say, ‘Everybody did good, come on in.’ Somebody wins, and somebody loses.”
This craze in multiple valedictorians has its roots in the outcome based education policies that the education establishment has been foisting on unsuspecting students for years. Creating multiple valedictorians only cheapens this reward for academic excellence and fosters an aura of sameness. I certainly don’t think it’s a big deal to be named valedictorian of 40 some other students carry the same honor.
When I was growing up I understood that I wouldn’t always be the top student in every class or the best at a particular subject, but it didn’t hurt my self esteem. It gave me a reason to try harder. Under the current system, there is more of an emphasis that everybody should progress at the same rate and receive the same honors. Real life doesn’t work that way and we are not doing our sons and daughters any good by making them think that society will be so touchy feely.
As principal Libby says, “Somebody wins, and somebody loses.” Many students aren’t prepared to lose.
The only winner with this policy is outcome based education and that’s a losing proposition for everyone.