Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To Comment On This Post Fill Out The Participation Form, Which Doesn't Allow Commenting

Frequent reader(s) of this blog take comfort in the  impending heat death of the universe...um...we mean know that as educational technologists ourselves we often comment on the adventures of  colleagues laboring alongside us here in the garden of reason. And sometimes, the content of said adventures makes us wish we'd enrolled in that long distance truck driving school instead of the College of Education.
A high school southeast of Little Rock would not let a black student be valedictorian though she had the highest grade-point average...Kymberly Wimberly, 18, got only a single B in her 4 years at McGehee Secondary School, and loaded up on Honors and Advanced Placement classes. She had the highest G.P.A.
Apparently the administration of  McGehee Secondary School is made up of former Band and Phys-ed teachers so let's see if we can help them out. The "Valedictorian" is an academic title conferred upon the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution in the USA, The Philippines. The term is an anglicized derivation of the Latin vale dicere ("to say farewell"), historically rooted in the valedictorian's traditional role as the final speaker at the graduation ceremony. The valedictory address generally is considered a final farewell to classmates, before they disperse to pursue their individual paths after graduating.

Now, while it's true that traditionally, Latin speakers who invented the term were white dudes, that doesn't mean you have to be white to be a valedictorian today.  It's not, like, you know a requirement or anything. It's all about the G.P.A.'s brother, you grok?
Wimberly says that despite earning the highest G.P.A. of the Class of 2011, and being informed of it by a school counselor, "school administrators and personnel treated two other white students as heir[s] apparent to the valedictorian and salutatorian spots."
OK we think we see your problem. You don't inherit valedictorian, you have to earn it.  That's all right. It's a mistake anyone could make. Well, anyone with the mental acuity of tap water that is.
McGehee Secondary School is predominantly white, and 46 percent African-American, according to the complaint. Wimberly's mother says that McGehee Principal Darrell Thompson, a defendant, told her "that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian," although the white student had a lower G.P.A.
When asked why he would name a student with a lower G.P.A. to share an award for highest G.P.A. Thompson replied, "Because I'm an idiot, and I have to do idiotic things. It's right there in the idiot's policies and procedures manual."
Wimberly's mother says she tried to protest the decision to the school board, but defendant Superintendent Thomas Gathen would not let her speak, because she allegedly had "filled out the wrong form. Instead of 'public comments,' Gather [sic] said Wimberly's mother should have asked for 'public participation.'" The superintendent told her she could not appeal his decision until the June 28 school board meeting; graduation was May 13.
Well, there you go then. What kind of valedictorian doesn't even know to tell her mother what form to fill out?  We mean, come on. This kid's supposed to be the smartest kid in school and she can't even explain to her mom the difference between commenting and participating? Cripes. Everybody knows that if you want to comment on a school policy you have to participate, and when you're participating, you aren't allowed to comment. It's right there in Robert's Rules of Order. Chapter six. The one written by Jim Crow.
The last African-American valedictorian in McGehee School District was in 1989.
Forty six percent African American students in the school leads to 9% of the valedictorians in the last twenty some years? Well,  you can't blame the school for that. It would probably be higher if the African American students took harder classes like AP and Honors.
Wimberly says the school discourages black students from taking honors and advanced placement classes, "by telling them, among other things, that the work was too hard."
 Oh. Umm...see the school can't be put in a position of rewarding this girl's behavior when she went against the advice of her counselors, now can they? What kind of message are you sending the the kids?
"Because of defendants' continuous disparate treatment of African-American students, defendants' actions toward the plaintiff can properly be classed as intentional," the Federal complaint filed on Wimberly's behalf  states. "Defendants did not support African-American students, and did not want to see Wimberly, an African-American young mother as valedictorian."
 Hey, "disparate treatment of African-American students" is a little harsh don't you think? We mean Jeebus, now you've...whoa! Wait a minute. Did you say "African-American young mother?" This kid got pregnant and had a baby? And she still managed to graduate with the highest G.P.A. in her class?

Aw man, we have to side with the school now. Think of all the white girls who got knocked up along with her. They're probably going to spend the rest of their lives in a trailer park trying to complete that cosmetology correspondence course while the state tries to get back child support from the father. Then along comes this girl--a black girl no less--who not only overcomes the challenges of being a teen parent, but leads the entire school with her accomplishment. Now she's off to make a better life for her and her baby. Is that the kind of role model you want out there? Well is it?

Didn't think so.


Nancy said...

I will have to say rarely am I at a loss for words. This is one of those occasions. Unbelievable. School administrators made this decision? Failing to reward the student with the highest G.P.A? Gee, do they substitute as aldermen in their spare time, too? Ignorant, backwater mentality. My heart goes to Ms. Wimberly, but as your final paragraph (that got me to laughing) pointed out her advantage, she has a great future ahead of her.


Seeing Eye Chick said...


I am not surprised in the least bit.

I liked your use of Grok--Heinlein Fan?

ren lu said...
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