School Board Votes to Ban Having Valedictorians Because the ‘Competition’ is ‘Unhealthy’

But what if I think competition is awesome?

A school board in North Carolina has unanimously given initial approval to a policy that would stop allowing its high schools to name valedictorians and salutatorians of its graduating classes because that kind of “competition” is apparently hazardous to students’ health.

“We have heard from many, many schools that the competition has become very unhealthy,” Wake County School Board Chairman Tom Benton said, according to an article in the News & Observer.

According to the News & Observer, a final decision on the policy won’t be made until June 7. Given the fact that it was unanimously supported in that initial vote, however, I’ve got to say it sounds pretty doggone likely that it will be approved.  

Under the new policy, the schools would use the Latin honors system that’s used in colleges, giving a “cum laude” designation to students with a 3.75 GPA or higher, a “magna cum laude” designation to students with a 4.0 to a 4.249 GPA and a “summa cum laude” to students with a 4.25 GPA or higher.

Benton said he thinks this change will also stop students from being tempted to fill their schedules with easier classes to pad their GPAs in pursuit of a “valedictorian” or “salutatorian” title.

“Students were not collaborating with each other the way that we would like them to,” he said. “Their choice of courses was being guided by their GPA and not their future education plans.”

#share#Um, Tom? How the hell would the elimination of those titles stop that? After all, those GPA numbers are still going to mean the same thing. Any kids who were going to have their “choice of courses” be “guided by their GPA” is probably still going to have them guided that way because — stay with me here — they’ll still have GPAs!

#related#Oh, and then there’s this: Competition is a reality of life, whether these hippies like it or not. The kid with the top GPA is still going to have the top GPA, no matter what you call (or don’t call) him or her for having it. Class ranking is a competition, and the kid at the top is the winner. Can we cut the crap? Sure, maybe that kid was motivated to win by the force of competition and not by holding hands with fellow classmates and singing “Kumbaya.” But you know what? That’s the way the real world works, and it’s time for more people to start living there.

If approved, the policy would take effect in 2019.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online

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