NYT article on multiple valedictorians

<p>"In top suburban schools across the country, the valedictorian, a beloved tradition, is rapidly losing its singular meaning as administrators dispense the title to every straight-A student rather than try to choose the best among them.</p>

<p>Principals say that recognizing multiple valedictorians reduces pressure and competition among students, and is a more equitable way to honor achievement, particularly when No. 1 and No. 5 may be separated by only the smallest fraction of a grade from sophomore science. But some scholars and parents have criticized the swelling valedictorian ranks as yet another symptom of rampant grade inflation, with teachers reluctant to jeopardize the best and brightest’s chances of admission to top-tier colleges...."</p>

<p>At</a> Some High Schools, Multiple Valedictorians - NYTimes.com</p>

<p>H was just reading from this article to me over breakfast/brunch. IMO, it's ridiculous. These are HS seniors -- welcome to the real world where you can't always win/be the best.</p>

<p>No one ever has a problem that athletes win competitions by fractions of a second - but it has become politically incorrect to honor students who excel academically. You don't see principals wringing their hands that there are 20 qualified quarterbacks for the football team or allowing the top 10 wrestlers in a weight category to all be named state champion. The move to eliminate top academic honors or have committees "choose" top scholars is ridiculous IMO. It devalues true commitment and achievement.</p>

<p>Oh. No !
Another tradition bites the dust-
It joins segregated schools, outdated teaching methods and curriculum.</p>

<p>Neither one of D's schools weighted grades. One didn't rank- one did.
One school with a very small class ( it was a private prep), virtually everyone who participated in graduation, performed on stage. My D sang a solo.
She had, along with most of the class, attended the school since 6th grade- it was a celebration of their years together and of their vision of the future.</p>

<p>Having one person represent the class would have been odd.</p>

<p>Other school inner city public in fact this school which some years has 40 students who have maintained a 4.00 throughout and can claim the title of valedictorian.
For D's own graduation, they didn't have as many but there were more than a couple students who wanted and deserved IMO, a chance to speak- it was a celebration of who they were as a class- instead of just one persons perspective.</p>

<p>I disagree that education needs to be about ranking and measuring more than it needs to be about reflecting and contemplating.</p>

<p>I think the real motivation behind this change probably has a little kernal of resentment towards Asian Americans taking the prize from little Biffy and Buffy. Biffy and Buffy's parents scream loud enough and so everyone is a valedictorian just to shut them up.</p>

<p>Biffy & Buffy parent's weren't resentful when the Jewish kid was taking home the honors?</p>

<p>Just more delusion from the 'everybody wins' crowd.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Biffy & Buffy parent's weren't resentful when the Jewish kid was taking home the honors?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Yes. Biffy and Buffy's parents were resentful of that, too. See the sordid histories of "Jew quotas" at top colleges like Harvard and Williams from the 1930s to 1950s and beyond. Limiting Jews was the whole idea behind the "well-rounded student" profile and starting to recruit in the West and South. Williams didn't end it's Jew quota until the 1960s.</p>

<p>I suspect there is a similar resentment of Asian Americans today. I suspect there are Asian American quotas in place at some colleges, although it would be a difficult thing to prove.</p>

<p>My point, obviously, is that we didn't have multiple valedictorians back then - which leads me to think that racism (or whatever word you prefer) isn't what is causing multiple Valedictorians.</p>

<p>And yes, there are Asian American quotas at top colleges (Ivy Leagues, especially).</p>

<p>Okay, don't mean to distract from this intellectual conversation but what is "Biffy and Buffy"?</p>

<p>White trash inbred Republicans (racists). I believe that's the politically acceptable definition.</p>

<p>Ah, thanks. This Parents forum is great; it's always so mature and you learn at a lot about the world.</p>

<p>It's just a tradition and frankly traditions have a tendency to evolve over time. I'm fine that it's loosing favor. With schools reluctance to grade on a curve, with schools creating 5 pt. and 6 pt scales, honors classes, AP classes, IB classes, college track classes, accelerating kids in middle school, dual enrollment with area colleges, on-line classes, home schooling and then attempting to say one or another is "better" becuase of tradition? I feel like parents and schools created the situation so until they can figure out a way to fairly rank kids in order to name one "the best" they are best not to rank kids. Figure out the top 10%, give them their due respect and PR and so be it. That is an honor in and of itself. It might even be better for the kids who will focus more on taking the appropriate classes and less time trying to figure out how to be #1 or #2. There is a vast, vast difference between lining kids up in a starting line and awarding a prize to the first one that crosses the finish line. These days the kids aren't all taking the same classes and the "race" course isn't linear.</p>

<p>I don't think you can compare selecting a val to naming a top athlete. Athletic accomplishments are measured by far more objective criteria. There's no question who had the best time in a race, gained the most yards in football, pitched the most strike-outs in softball or came out on top in a tennis tournament. But high school students take different courses, and have different teachers with different styles and demands even when taking the same courses. Should a school equate an "A" in an AP Calculus class with the school's most notoriously difficult teacher with an "A" in AP Psychology with the school's most notoriously easy teacher? </p>

<p>I don't see any problem with naming a slate of top students, whether called valedictorians or anything else. But one thing I do remember from both S and D's graduations is that nobody much cared one way or the other about who was the val or sal--by that time, the college acceptance results were really the accepted measurement of who was deemed to have excelled. I guarantee it's the parents, not the students, who freak out about the valedictorian issue. </p>

<p>When it comes to honoring achievement, I was much more impressed by one student who graduated from our high school last week than I was by the val--this student emigrated from South America 2 and a half years ago with limited English and proceeded to excel academically, participate in demanding EC's, and hold down a full-time weekend job because his parents didn't have 2 cents to give him. He landed a full-ride (tuition, room, board and stipend) at an Ivy, but didn't even qualify for consideration for val or sal because he hadn't attended the school for the full four years (I don't know if his grades would have been sufficient anyway). I think that demonstrates how silly the whole valedictorian thing is.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Okay, don't mean to distract from this intellectual conversation but what is "Biffy and Buffy"?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Biffy (or Buffy): "But Daddy, the BMW convertible you gave me for my 16th birthday needs waxing. I can't take that to Dartmouth. You promised me a new one for graduation. You're a rotten mean father...."</p>

<p>
[quote]
My point, obviously, is that we didn't have multiple valedictorians back then - which leads me to think that racism (or whatever word you prefer) isn't what is causing multiple Valedictorians.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>They just hadn't thought of it yet. They needed NPR, Garrison Keeler, and Lake Wobegon to open their eyes to every little Bif and Buf being a co-valedictorian (well above average).</p>

<p>^ ??????????????????</p>

<p>Being Valedictorian does not improve anybody's college admission chances. It is announced after all the final decisions are made. It is an honor at graduation to make the speech.</p>

<p>
[quote]
^ ??????????????????

[/quote]
</p>

<p>At Lake Wobegon High School, all students are "above average".</p>

<p>
[quote]
Being Valedictorian does not improve anybody's college admission chances. It is announced after all the final decisions are made. It is an honor at graduation to make the speech.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Not necessarily. Some high schools list every student with a 4.0 average as ranked #1 in class. There could be 10 students applying to college from a high school with a #1 class rank.</p>

<p>Many of the more hoity-toit high schools have simply stopped ranking students because they don't want to hurt anyone's "feelings". At a lot of the top colleges, less that half the accepted students are supplying a class rank (although the college admissions offices can usually figure it out).</p>

<p>I was a valedictorian. But, as a parent, I have seen lots of difficulty with discerning a true #1 at our local high school...with weighted and unweighted classes, more or less difficult teachers, harder electives, etc. Nothing against the anti-Bif or Buf, but it seems just a little unfair to crown 1 student, while ignoring certain factors that may have been (relatively) out of the control of the #2 or #3 (or #20) ranked student. Our HS does not currently name a valedictorian, and in fact only ranks people "top 10%" or similarly. It does not even rank "top 5%". Yet, the students seem to do fairly well at college placement...and students actually end up at schools for which they are well-suited. This being said, there are still students that take (slightly) easier classes, and avoid more difficult electives, despite being at or near the top of their class...all for the benefit of a higher GPA to the detriment to intellectual curiosity...kind of sad...</p>