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2017-07-21 / Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Where we never fabricate, rarely recriminate, occasionally objurgate, sometimes speculate, usually obfuscate and always ameliorate.
By Brian Miller
HTF Columnist

Did you hear how wicked smaht kids are getting nowadays?

According to research cited in a USA Today story, almost 50-percent of high school seniors – 47-percent to be exact – graduate with at least an A-minus grade point average.

Count me impressed. The future should be awful(ly bright) with all the geniuses we’re turning out. The report also noted that another 44-percent of students graduated withaBaveragein2016,soallin all, a whopping 91-percent of kids are “above average” if C is still the standard for average.

According to one of the researchers, “the modal high school grade” is now an A. Come to think of it, why do we have grades at all? Everyone is so wonderful; let’s just give them gold stars and trophies and iPads just for showing up!

The study notes that while grades are rising, SAT scores are falling – the average is now 1,002, down from 1,026 in 1998, on a 1,600-point scale. How does that happen? If kids are smarter as the insane number of A’s handed out today would indicate, shouldn’t test scores also be rising?

I guess maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe, it’s the new math, you know the common core stuff that takes a kid 12 steps to solve a simple subtraction problem that I used to do in my head. (Maybe whoever came up with that garbage is actually prescient and is simply preparing these poor children for future 12-step programs.)

According to the study, in 1998 just under 39-percent of graduating seniors averaged A’s. That number seems quite high, too, because if my memory serves me correctly, I coasted to third in my graduating class of 1995 from John F. Kennedy High School in Babbitt with an A-minus GPA. At best, only about one in seven students in my grade – or about 15-percent – graduated with an A-minus or better average and even that seems high. Maybe my high school was part of a time warp, or more likely, the teachers didn’t hand out A’s like candy in a Fourth of July parade. A majority of them were older, and they rewarded results rather than assuaged our collective self esteem. I admittedly didn’t work nearly as hard as I could have in high school – I was more of a dreamer than doer – and my grades reflected it. But I did take the ACT college entrance exam twice because I was upset that I didn’t ace it the first time.

My experience aside, so how are these kids faring in college after graduating from high school with such fanfare? Another study by Harvard Graduate School of Education says an amazing 56-percent of kids finish a four-year degree within six – no, not four, not five, but six!!! – years of starting college. Wait, that number isn’t amazing? Well, how about this one? It’s even worse in two-year schools where only 29-percent of students finish a two-year degree within three years of starting school. But according to Stuart Rojstaczer, who founded the website GradeInflation.com, 50-percent of all college grades given are A’s and three times as many A’s are given out now as in 1960.

My brain hurts.

If the children are our future, I’m afraid we’re doomed. We’ve set them up for failure in the real world by lowering standards and rewarding mediocrity and discouraging exceptionalism. Critical thinking skills have been discarded in exchange for thinking the right (read: PC) way. Free speech is wonderful as long as it’s PC speech and any dissent is shouted down.

OK. I’m starting to veer off on a tangent, so I’ll slow my roll. That’s my outsider’s perspective, and I’m overtly generalizing and hyperbolizing to make a point. I do have a lot of respect for teachers who care about their students and go the extra mile to teach them and prepare them for life. But as these studies show, the system is failing on a lot of levels.

But what do I know? Half of these kids are at least as smart as I was back in the day. And they have trophies to prove it. I thought I was taking crazy pills when I read the last story. As it turns out, this one makes even less sense.

In a class at (public) Purdue University, students were given “privilege scorecards” which arbitrarily awards and subtracts points in 11 categories such as the expected – Sex and Race – and the weird – Size and Attractiveness. It’s utterly incomprehensible nonsense.

By the way, if you fill it out on a Friday or Saturday night, subtract 15 points, because that makes total sense.

It’s ironic, too, that something like this uses the word “Retarded” under the Disabilities category – a word the Special Olympics and other organizations for the developmentally disabled have been trying to do away with for years.

You lose 15 points if you’re a Scientist – because scientists are so discriminated against – but if you don’t have a profession, you get zero. If you’re Trans, you lose 500 points. If you’re Bisexual, you gain 10 points.

Also, if you’re a 9 or 10 attractive, add 20 points. (My score is going through the ceiling!)

If you come out at zero or above, you’re privileged. If you’re 100 points or above, you need to check the scorecard daily, curl in a fetal position and cry about your guilt. Or you could consider changing your gender.

You too can be a victim!

The problem with this – ok, just one of the problems, but it’s glaring – is that categorizing people by groups and assigning virtue based on that is the very definition of racism. Look it up.

Until next time…

Brian Miller is a longtime local writer who resides in Eveleth. He welcomes glowing accolades and scathing reviews at brianm@htfnews.us.

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