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When I was in school, we used to be able to get extra credit points for bringing in tissues and various other school supplies. That practice was eliminated in the early 2000s when I was in high school. Initially, I did not understand why “they” would eliminate our ability to earn a few extra credit points. Then my dad reminded me that I was not the one actually earning anything and that he was earning those points for me.
I was surprised when I found out that one of our local high schools instituted a fundraiser where parents could donate $30 and their children would receive, among other things, a pass to drop the lowest test score for a single student. Our public school system should be a place where all students have the ability to succeed based on the merits of their work rather than the philanthropy of their parents.
On Oct. 2, I was relieved when I saw that a flier was posted indicating that rather than dropping the lowest test grade, students would be issued an off-campus lunch pass during certain times.
Then on Oct. 9, I saw that passes to drop the lowest test grade had actually been issued. I also discovered that they were being issued much to the surprise of faculty.
It is my earnest hope that this was done in error. It is my hope that the passes were pre-printed, and that new passes to allow children to go off-campus for lunch had not yet been printed. It is my hope that issuing these passes was an oversight.
I hope these things because the practice of purchasing a pass to drop a test grade undermines the hard work of the teachers, cheapens the hard work and effort put forth by the students and because the selling of academic indulgences undermines the basic tenet of public education that academic success should not be predicated on the socioeconomic status of a family.
The writer is a candidate for the Wilson County Board of Education’s District 7 seat.