Thursday, July 31, 2008

Schooling system passes laws to discourage over-achievement

In the 1960s and 70s and even during the recent decade of 1990s, USA was considered a land of great opportunity and where people were provided opportunities to excel in the field of their choice. The concept of American Dream has been hyped up and continues to stir passions among people here.

But sometimes when I read newspapers I feel that the American Dream is perhaps only for Americans i.e. White people. Couple of months ago I had blogged about Anjali Datta a student of Grapevine High School, Texas who had completed the four-year high school diploma in just three years and had managed to achieve the highest GPA. Anjali's GPA surpassed the topper in the four-year category by a large margin. Yet despite this demonstrated superior achievement, Anjali was denied the title of Valedictorian by the School district, which cited an age-old rule to prevent a brown-skinned Indian from attaining the top-honor and ensured that a "White American" got it.

But naturally people of all color and race stood in support of Anjali who had truly worked hard for three years to achieve the grades that others would not be able to in four years. There was a huge outcry and loads of media coverage on the issue which led to public shaming of the Grapevine ISD. Despite all the uproar Grapevine ISD went ahead and conducted its graduation as planned, Anjali was not named the Valedictorian. Indeed the ISD was stubborn enough to carry out its discriminatory policies.

Now the latest news is that Grapevine ISD learnt its lesson thanks to the Anjali Datta controversy but did not reform itself, rather it went ahead and passed a new law which denies any honor to a student who over-achieves. According to the new law any student who takes lesser than 4 years to complete high school will not be considered for the title of Valedictorian.

I was under the impression that school boards in India had absurd rules and stupid administrators. But US school boards have outsmarted Indians in this aspect, denying honor and recognition to someone who truly deserves it and giving it to their own preferred candidates.

Anyway, in the US, enforcement of rules is very high. So once the law is passed, can anyone question it? No. Students have to just sit back and relax and forget about working hard or attempting to stretch themselves to achieve more than normal.

1 comment:

Padma said...


First you should stop generalizing US based on your one news item in a local news paper. I have been through Indian school system all my life and have gotten my MS from US. And believe me, the US system is much much better. This is not to say that US system is flawless or perfect.. just that I have always found a platform to raise my concerns and get them sorted out where as in India I always had to resort to finding out who was more powerfull and how to satisfy their ego even before I would have an opportunity to state my opinion. I never had to do that in US and that to me is a huge difference.