Here in the astute offices of The Curmudgeon, we are, for the most part, an educated mish-mash of personalities and talents. I would suspect that not everyone got the best report cards on their block—their proud mama’s showing the undeniable evidence of the very cards to anyone they could get into a corner—but that matters not to me. It only matters if they are good at their jobs. Still, speaking for myself, I would have liked to have better grades. Imagine the feeling that swept over me when I read that there was a school with budget problems, that in their divine it’s-the-kids-that-matter wisdom, put their grades up for sale.
“Foul,” I cried. The cash-for-grades scheme came to light when the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. raised concerns about it. As it was, for a mere $20 dollar donation a student would have gotten 20 extra points, 10 points each on two tests of the students choosing. To put it in context, this meant that a student could significantly increase their grades in two different subjects. From a B to an A, or a D to a C, for example.
My school offered no such program and I’m pissed about that. I could have said, “Mom, I’m flunking Advanced Trigonometry. Can you loan me $20 bucks?” Maybe then I would have gotten into Yale. Let it be known here that I did get into Yale, without bribing my school, but in fairness to Yale, it was in the Drama Department, as an actor. Not the same standards are applied there as say, biology. Still pretty high standards though. I didn’t go. Mom said it was too expensive. So I switched to Ithaca. Wouldn’t let me go there either. Turns out she didn’t want me to go anywhere, bless her heart, and that is the one and only thing I regret between myself and my parents. She meant well, however. Yes, um, let us matriculate back to the story…
The plan was working, but fortunately or not—depends on your point of view—when the school district administrators became aware of the absurdity, put the kibosh on it. They said A; stop this shit, and B; any extra credit given will be revoked, and finally C; give back the money you dumb asses. Sorry to use their official language there, but in the interest of accuracy…
In defense of the payola scam, Suzie Shepard, the principal said, “”Last year they did chocolates, and it didn’t generate anything.” (News and Observer, Nov., 11, 2009) State officials didn’t like it either, I mean, the negative publicity sucks, and they and all kinds of scholars have come forward to wax eloquent on “wrong message” and other noble subjects.
I do, however, want to make a couple of observations: When the government introduced the “No child left behind initiative”, and tied federal funding to grade requirements, did the schools rise to these new, necessary levels? Of course not. They lowered their standards and gave higher grades for crappier education. They lowered their standards. That’s why kids can graduate from high school and not even know how to read and why America’s school system sucks and we trail many other developed nations in education, and actually producing products, and other things too numerous to mention. We’re supposed to be the best? This is a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Secondly, show them the money. You’ll deteriorate as a country if you don’t teach your children well. (Crosby, Stills, Nash, written by Graham Nash, 1970)
And as everyone knows, you get what you pay for. Buy some damn books and pay the teachers well.
Show them the money.
(Information for this article came from The News & Observer, in an article by Lynn Bonner. This is, however, an editorial. If you want a news story, you could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to be credited for saying, but it was really coined by James Thurber in his 1941 short story, “You Could Look It Up.” Hey you could look it up, in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. )