If America’s quest for high standards in education were assured by the encouraging titles given to laws promoting excellence, we’d be the best educated nation on the globe. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 supported provisions based upon the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals would guarantee success. The Race to the Top Act of 2009 awarded points to educators for satisfying various educational policies such as performance-based evaluations for teachers and principals. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 provides support to high schools where one-third or more of enrollees do not graduate, as well as schools with students who consistently demonstrate low performance.
Apparently we cannot sloganize our way to scholastic perfection. In reality, the implied goals of the grandiose titles are all unattainable. Many children will be left behind, as they always were and always will be. And the likelihood every student will succeed is as implausible as the possibility all persons will master integral calculus, regardless of mental ability. It’s simply not meant to be. The fact such an outcome goes against current political correctness often leads to strange rulings. I’m informed there are schools in this country in which the students receive neither grades nor class standings, the rationale being it would lead to a loss of self esteem among those with the lower rankings. I’m also told certain institutions have done away with the valedictorian and salutatorian awards for much the same reason. Perhaps the next step will be to declare every student equal, thus entitling all to rank as first in their class.
Let me state I’m an advocate of competitiveness in virtually all of life’s endeavors. I firmly believe the challenge to excel and surpass the performance of competitors is what propels persons to first-rate accomplishment. It’s this striving for excellence which brings out the best in a people and in a nation, which is what I believe to have been the strength of our country since its founding. Conversely, any society which attempts to marginalize talent while it lauds mediocrity will, instead, bring out the very worst. And this is what I witness taking place in America today. Individual talent is suppressed in favor of collectivism while, for whatever reason, it seems superior achievement is viewed as unworthy of praise. I don’t believe this trend portends well for our future. Sadly, I envision the United States developing into the globe’s most prominent third world nation.