in North Andover
the Devil to
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Perfect System at Last!
This week I learned my
mother might have been wrong all these years. All this
time I thought competition was good for the soul and made
you try harder at everything you do. I guess I was
mislead to believe that you learn more about yourself and
your capabilities when you give it your best shot and
compete with people considered better than you.
After hearing that North Andover High may eliminate class
ranks because some kids might have their little feelings
hurt, it made me realize what a cold and evil woman my
Mom must have been. What ogres my teachers, coaches and
principals must have been all these years as well. How
dare they? Didnt they know that the competition of
baseball tournaments, spelling bees and (gasp) class rank
might have made me cry and lose my self esteem?
How could they be so insensitive as to expose me to the
possibility that I might feel stupid because I didnt
rank high in my class or didnt win the little
league championship? What a revelation at 34 years old to
find out that competition is bad. Did Mom not know that
placing below 50% of my high school classmates might send
me into a spiral of academic failure and really sad
If I had only been born later in life and attended North
Andover High School I might have had a chance in this
world. Dont get me wrong, I still love Mom she did
the best she could. She just didnt know any better.
How could she? She actually thought that college
administrators were supposed to set the standards of
admissions, not public high school principals and local
school boards. But alas, I have seen the light.
Officials in North Andover are much smarter than the
college administrators. Heck, theyre even smarter
than my Mom. If they eliminate the class ranking of high
school students, they say it will force colleges to look
at more important things when considering a student for
Brilliant! Who knows better what a college should be
looking for than public school employees? Who needs those
academic know-it-alls at the college level telling public
schools that comparing students in the same school with
the same curriculum is a worthwhile measuring tool for
success in academia?
Drop the class ranks? I say these politically correct
notions are fabulous. We can even take it one step
further. Lets eliminate grades altogether. If competition
is making kids feel sad because they might not do as well
as their classmates, giving some kids an "A+"
while others only get a "C" could send lower
scoring students running to a therapist for prozac or
worse, destined to work as a Citizen columnist for the
rest of their lives.
To avoid that nightmare, lets give every kid who
shows up for school a letter grade of "E" for
effort. Of course, you cant measure their level
of effort because then you would have to compare them to
other students or hold them to a certain standard, and
then we would be right back where we started.
While were at it, we should eliminate ranking
schools across the state as well. After all, those poor
kids in Lawrence might have their feelings hurt when they
find out their school system ranked much lower that North
Andover on state test scores.
Just imagine the psychological damage running rampant in
the next community. Under this new way of thinking,
nobody would be better than anyone else. Kids in Lawrence
would all get "E"s on their report cards just
like the students here in town. We would all be equal and
nobody would have to feel bad any more. Except teachers,
they still have to take tests to prove their competence.
We should eliminate that idea as well. If you have
teachers feeling bad in the classroom, how can their
students ever achieve happiness?
With this line of thinking, I envision a future where the
only question on a college entrance exam is "How do
you feel about your life right now?" Naturally,
every answer would be correct because you are the
foremost authority on your own feelings. A perfect system
I only wish my childhood wasnt deprived of such
sensitivity when I was growing up. If Mom had this
enlightened view of education when I was in school I
might still be a poor journalist but my self esteem would
be as high as Carl Marx.
Who could possibly put a value on that?