Fox News' Todd Starnes calls it a "bad case" of PTS -- "Participation Trophy Syndrome" -- and he isn't wrong. Apparently, academic excellence creates an environment of "unhealthy competition" so some schools are considering disbanding their entire valedictorian system all together:
The Greater Clark County School Board in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is considering a plan to eliminate the valedictorian system because it creates “unhealthy competition,” according to Supt. Andrew Melin.
“When students are competing for the Val and the Sal, they’re trying to find ways to maneuver through the system to try and get the best grades they can possibly get, as opposed to taking the course work that’s truly in their own best interest,” Supt. Melin told television station WHAS.
For you folks living in a commune in Berkeley, the “Val” is the valedictorian and the “Sal” is the salutatorian.
Starnes notes that if students truly are just landing "easy As" then there might be some merit to the school's concern over unfairness. That said, creating an environment where no one is recognized for his or her achievements is hardly the right answer, either.
"We’ve got all these great students that work very hard, and become very distinguished in their academic career and we want to be able to recognize more of those students at the end of a given year," Melin told WHAS.
Recently, a Whiteville, North Carolina school district switched to a three-tier Latin honor system (i.e. cum laude, magna, or summa cum laude) over the traditional valedictorian system, as a means of honoring students. This system might be more appealing to those like Melin, but as Starnes points out:
But even in the Latin honor system, someone still has to be number one, right? So isn’t that person being denied well-deserved honor and accolades?
Public schools are doing a disservice to kids when they try to cushion them from disappointment. In the real world, not everyone comes in first place.
This, perhaps, is one of the most detrimental things adults -- be they parents or school administrators -- can do: and that is to set children up for future failure and disappointment. What will happen when these students become adults and find themselves faced with the harsh realities of this cold, cruel world?
Ill-equipped to handle rejection, competition, and the daily injustices of life, future generations are doomed to fail, even though in their minds they all were "winners" in high school.