Why Not Make Everybody Valedictorian?
Sheesh, this is a dumb article
even by Margaret Talbot's standards on the growing practice of not having class valedictorians any more. The story starts with Sarasota High School, where apparently several students had perfect GPAs.The school had a system in place to break ties. “If the G.P.A.s were the same, the award was supposed to go to the kid with the most credits,” Kennedy explained. It turned out that one of the top students, Denny Davies, had learned of this rule, and had quietly arranged to take extra courses during his senior year, including an independent study in algebra. “The independent study was probably a breeze, and he ended up with the most credits,” Kennedy said.
Davies was named valedictorian. His chief rivals for the honor were furious—in particular, a girl named Kylie Barker, who told me recently that she had wanted to be valedictorian “pretty much forever.”
Let me get this straight. You wanted to be valedictorian pretty much forever, but you never thought to find out what the rules were? Now Davies, not being piggish, offered to be co-valedictorian with Kylie. Problem solved?But the Barkers weren’t excited about it. “The principal was trying to make everybody happy, and when you do that there’s always somebody who isn’t,” Cheryl Barker said. “I guess it was me.”
Well, I have a question for you, Mrs Barker. On what basis should your daughter have been valedictorian alone? Should the school have reversed its policy and said that ties go to the person with the fewest
The rest of the article is pretty much standard liberal fare: Why are we putting the kids through so much pressure, and who's going to remember who was valedictorian five years from now....In some ways, it seems that the valedictorian is a status designed for a simpler time, when fewer people aspired to college. It isn’t entirely suited to a brutally competitive age in which the dividing line between those who go to college and those who don’t may be the most significant fissure in American society, and in which the children (and parents) of the upper middle classes have been convinced that going to an exceedingly selective college is the only way to insure wealth and happiness.
But of course, almost anybody who's in the running for valedictorian is going to college, and most of them are going to those exceedingly selective schools. And ironically it is Cheryl Barker who has the last word:Cheryl Barker still marvels at how hard Kylie worked, how determined she was, how she never missed a day of school, how she’d go to the library all the time to use the computer because they didn’t have one at home. Barker thinks that it was a mistake for the high school to stop naming a valedictorian and a salutatorian. “Those kids all know who the No. 1 and 2 are, anyway,” she told me over coffee. “Everyone’s so afraid of getting sued or losing their jobs these days that they try too hard to candy-coat things.” But, she added, “there are some kids who what they’re good at is studying. That’s what they do. They deserve something special to strive for. They do.”