Do you remember the Texas cheeleader mom?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Do you remember the Texas cheeleader mom?
By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:04 pm: Edit

Well,well.To paraphrase the noted philosopher Chris Rock, I in no way agree with what she did , but...... I understand. Y'all have heard about these val / sal fights that end up in litigation ? Well, I know now how they get started.

Kid A is 1st in the class over kid B by .003. The School hires a new science teacher with great references, supposed to the real deal. After 1 week the kids are in an uproar that this guy grades too hard, and unfairly (-2 for a T that was crossed too low on the vertical line), is unable to follow the course outline, and refuses to help kids in the tutorial.

After week two and the first test the students are bailing out, first the atheletes, then everybody else. 15 out of 3 classes of 25 (15/75). 25 parents schedule conferences with the teacher. Tough situation as this science is required for graduation and the average grade in the class at the 3 week mark is a 60. Kid A has an 87, kid B has an 89.2 (the 2 highest grades in all 3 sections).

Kid A bails without notice to B and signs up for a juco course in the same science at night that will give him "honors" extra on his GPA for the dual credit class. Stated reason? Conflict with the teacher in a field he dearly loves (which is true). Kid B finds out, freaks, calls Dad, says "get me in that class". Dad finds the juco course is not open to her as in the time between Kid A starting and when B could be in , the window had closed. Anyway, B would have had to quit band and basketball to take the course from 6-9 M-W and she would not have been willing to do that to be valedictorian.

I am having a hard time understanding how this is fair, whether the intention of kid A was pure or devious. Also, what kind of precedent does this set? I told the GC to plan on my D having conflicts every semester in all classes that don't give honors points, so that she can attend on the same basis for honors credit like A was able to do. (Hyperbole has its place) I have told everybody involved that I don't question the motivation, as I think that it is impossible for us to know, but I can question the effect. I also said the 2 of them (and the others) should have to fight it out fair and square, with only classes counting that all could have attended. Dang, I hate it when things like this happen.

So, poor old kid B is stuck with the teacher who says "nobody ever makes an A in my class but they'll thank me when they are in college" while kid A is at night school junior college where I have no idea of the grading or difficulty of the course. Is there anyone with any advice for Kid B , or the parents of Kid B? All attempts will be welcomed. BTW, it is highly likely that this scenario will put A too far ahead for B to catch him, but she'll play it till the clock says 0:00. She always does, and maybe that's more important than Val anyway.(Maybe I can chant that like a mantra, over and over)

By Mini (Mini) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:18 pm: Edit

(If you homeschool, you can be both valedictorian and salutatorian, and not have to give the speech, 'cause you're also last in the class.)

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

Also most popular and most likely to succeed. Gee, it does have it's good points.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:34 pm: Edit

Well, how much does being val matters?

>>I also said the 2 of them (and the others) should have to fight it out fair and square, with only classes counting that all could have attended.>>
Education should not be a fight. It should be about what is educationally best for each child. What about students who are so advanced that they must take college courses?
My S had to take Bio in college because of scheduling conflict. He had 1/3 less class time than the students in AP-Bio, and he knew that grading was rather harder than in AP-Bio. And he was in a class of 200+ instead of 25. Unfair? I don't think so. He knew what he was getting into and it made educational sense to him.

By Klc (Klc) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:45 pm: Edit

Okay! I have questions. How close is Kid B to Kid C? AND If Kid A receives an A in his/her respective class and Kid B attains the miracle of an A in his/hers, w/ all else being equal, will their class order change?

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

I didn't create the competition, the school did. In my D's case if she attends one particular well thought of LAC she would gain or lose $4000. At others it may make a greater difference. Several scholarships are for Vals only, Sals don't get to apply so don't try to say it is not important. You can argue it shouldn't be but you can't argue it's not. On the calculators that supposedly mimic the Ivy's admission criteria (yeah,right) it changes her score a full point on a 1-10 scale. I don't see why, but so says the calculator. Advanced students should be challenged but the opportunity has to be there for other students just as gifted. Wouldn't you agree? If it is not available to all, then the course should be removed for Val, Sal selection purposes.

By Justice (Justice) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

well it's not fair, but no one ever said it'd be fair. we all start on different privilege levels, have different home circumstances, have been lucky and unlucky with tests and teachers...i just think it doesn't help much to get hung over about one detail that is a bit unfair.

and education and distinction should be a personal process. if your daughter gets the best education she can and does the best she can, i fail to see how being #1 or #2 is relevant at all. i'm sure my gpa could be even higher if i took easier classes, but who cares?? i never understood obsessions about valedictorian, and maybe it's because my school doesn't rank, but think about this: nobody besides the two people and their families care, colleges don't care and can't even see it, and in twenty years no one will remember. there's just gotta be more important things...

By Irock1ce (Irock1ce) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:55 pm: Edit

go to a high school that doesnt rank, give awards(vals,sals,honors, etc.) or weigh your GPA. That'll make things nice and fair. Kinda like my high school.

By Irock1ce (Irock1ce) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 08:55 pm: Edit

go to a high school that doesnt rank, give awards(vals,sals,honors, etc.) or weigh your GPA. That'll make things nice and fair. Kinda like my high school.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:09 pm: Edit

B and C are both sticking it out. C is not in reach of B, barring a total fold by B.( A-4.550, B-4.547, C-4.3??) The class at the high school is not presently listed as Honors in the handbook. As such, if A makes a 98 (it's all numerical) in his dual credit he will receive a 4.8 on a 4.0 scale while if B makes a 92 and the course is not treated as honors, she gets 3.2. If that happens for 2 semesters that is 3.2 point differential (1.6x2). Only a selected 28 semesters of course work is tallied for Val/Sal and this science is one of them. As you can see, it would become the defining moment in the selection process.( I'll try to do the exact calculation and post)

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:11 pm: Edit

"Education should not be a fight. It should be about what is educationally best for each child."

Hear, hear. It sometimes seems to me that people get so caught up in the "bean-counting" aspects of measuring meaningless distinctions in GPA/rank that they totally lose sight of what education should be about.

A lifetime fron now, a decade from now, even a year from now, who won the val/sal race will matter not a whit.

Particularly when one speaks of making distinctions out to the third decimal place, it all seems about as meaningful as a bunch of medieval philosophers trying to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

What *will* matter a year from now, a decade from now, a lifetime from now is *what they learned*, the *habits of mind* they acquired in the process of learning it, and whether they came away from their high school years with an enduring love of intellectual inquiry and engagement.

All this makes me glad our local public high school does not rank. (Nor does it grade-weight.) There is a huge menu of different courses--honors, AP, college-in-the-high-school programs, plus the possibility of taking college classes at several local colleges. Students are free to make the best choices for their academic program without feeling the need to worry about "level playing field" issues.

Education is a journey, not a footrace.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:18 pm: Edit

I can see from your second post that being val has financial consequences, something you did not raise in your original post.

I would not put too much faith in the admission calculators. It's well known that plenty of vals get rejected at Ivies. As Harvard likes to point out, more vals apply than can be admitted every year. If your D took the hardest course available to her (that means at her school) and did well, that will be sufficient to impress the adcoms.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:19 pm: Edit

For those who continue to say Val/ Sal is not important, try this -google just this, "valedictorian+scholarships", see what happens.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:26 pm: Edit

As others have said, who cares. And it's not even a year or a decade afterwards that people won't care. Most colleges won't care. Most colleges will recalculate gpa on their own scale anyway. Every one of these stories which I've heard over the years seems to be of more concern to the parents than to the children involved. I'd say if this issue is the most important thing which they have to worry about in their lives, then they are extremely fortunate.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:26 pm: Edit

I googled and I saw quite a few references to scholarships available to both vals AND sals and to NMS finalists.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:29 pm: Edit

I just did it and got 15,500 matches. Not all are scholarships and I'm sure most are repeated over and over . You can work to change reality, but it's never smart to be blind to it. D does the work for the work, just like you want your kid to do. Please understand I am not debating what should be. That can be another thread. Y'all start it .

By Klc (Klc) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

Here's my small town take! Which all of you probably had way ahead of me!

Kid B rises to the occasion! Decides if this teacher is so great, he/she is going to learn everything he/she possibly can from teach. Looks at all available materials for class so far in order to get a handle on where teach is headed. Goes to teach and says OKAY! I CAN DO THIS! Prooves work ethic as month goes on, may even have a heart to heart w/ teacher as time goes by... about what student can do reach desired goal! In the long run, Kid B is better off putting himself/herself in the best possible position, not to mention how much he may gain from acquired knowledge in both science & ability to challenge oneself!

Rereading this, sounds a little like Alice in Wonderland, but my point is really that it is better to put your energy into putting your best foot forward than agonizing over what is not fair. (Since we know what life is!) Plus, I'm thinking "essay" ...

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

It seems potentially harmful to your daughter to put so much importance behind her being val. Will her self esteem suffer if she has a bad day and throws her chance? Will she feel she let the family down if she doesn't get the 4K scholarship?Does she resent classmates who have other opportunities? This is beyond healthy competition.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:35 pm: Edit

Marite, and sometimes that sal scholarship is for less, right? So how can someone say it is not important to a kid trying to financially bootstrap herself into a better school than her family can afford? It's pretty important at my house, as are all the criteria used by colleges on their merit aid formulas. In a perfect world where some of you must live, I guess it's not but at our address you'll find a kid trying to help herself go to a better school .

By Frazzled_One (Frazzled_One) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:42 pm: Edit

It would seem as if there's just no way for the val issue ever to be decided fairly. Unless every kid in the class takes the same courses from the same teachers, you'll always be comparing apples and kumquats. It's lousy, it's unfortunate, it's disappointing - but it's inevitable. While many scholarships DO favor vals, many others do not - and while many colleges publicize the number of vals accepted (or rejected), not everyone on every elite campus graduated first in his/her class - opportunity is there for many high-achieving students, not simply the number ones.

I take comfort in knowing that folks who are well-informed on the subject (and unfortunately there aren't enough of them) recognize that serendipity plays an important part - perhaps THE most important part - in who winds up with the highest GPA, and that a difference of three-thousandths of a point means exactly ..... nothing.

I do love that TV movie about the Texas cheerleader mom, though - Lesley Ann Warren is spot-on. I regret never having seen the Holly Hunter version.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:44 pm: Edit

Folks, I don't put any pressure on her. Haven't had to . Ever. She's just wired this way. I try my best to get her to date more, and study a little less.

I would like her to go to school where she wants and reality dictates that she achieve some amount of merit aid to do so. Remember, she called me. Kid A is the one who cut and ran. She was the one I said would NOT give up EC's for val. "A" gave up his music lessons that he had been in for 10 years.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:45 pm: Edit

And there will always be the kid who goes to a better summer program or gets a tutor. Where does fair begin and end?

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 09:56 pm: Edit

I can see from your second post that being val has financial consequences, something you did not raise in your original post.

If all the parents who worry about the minutiae of class rank calculations took all the time and emotional energy they spend worrying about the bean-counting aspects of GPA/class-rank calculations and put it into some sort of constructive and creative fundraising enterprise, I bet they could collectively raise a significant amount of money, enough to fund a bunch of scholarships!

If teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators could be free of the burden of having to deal with all the minutiae of calculating GPAs and ranks, committee meetings to make policy about the same, and spending time explaining and justifying the system to whatever parents feel aggrieved by the current regime of computing them, I bet they would have more time and energy to devote to improving the students' education.

There is no perfect ranking system, no matter what you do. (Issues like--what do you do about students who transfer in as upperclassmen, etc. are always going to complicate things.)

But obsessing over all this minutiae is coming at the cost of time and energy that could be going into substantive educational pursuits.

I'm surprised that the original poster is so intimately familiar with the GPAs (out to the third decimal place!) of students who aren't even his own children!

Personally, I'm glad I went through high school and college in a state of "ignorance is bliss," blissfully unaware of my GPA or my rank until just before graduation. It certainly *NEVER* influenced my choice of classes.

I didn't even KNOW my own GPA nor my class rank until right before I graduated from high school. (My family had moved right before my senior year of high school, and I had no idea how they'd deal with my grades from my previous school, which had a different grading system than my new school. I guess my old school put something down on my transcript that they sent along with ED application--at the time I applied I only had grades from my old school, but I never did find out what that GPA/rank was from my old school. At my new school, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was 4th out of 400 right before graduation.)

And in college, I didn't know my GPA or rank until right before graduation. As it turned out, I was among the top 4 out of 200, but then the faculty got in a big to-do, because there were special fellowships for the two top students--and it turned out that two of the top four students were transfer students, who'd spent their first two years elsewhere. And depending on how you computed the grades (including the old school or not, or just comparing everybody on the last two years of grades, or making a variety of other computations), you could get it to come out a lot of different ways.

The standard policy was to compute ranks just based on grades earned at the college, but that favored the transfer students, because normally grades in the two final years are higher than the four year average. But comparing all four years of grades for all four students meant comparing grades from radically different grading systems of different colleges (with different pass/fail options, etc.) And comparing just the last two years for everybody was inconsistent with past precedent.

I only found out about this, because they decided that they would let the major departments of each of the four students involved "advocate" for their students by singing their relative praises in a special faculty meeting. My senior advisor told me about this before the meeting (probably an indiscretion on his part...but anyway) and I had a pretty good idea of who the two transfer students were (small school, not many transfers.) One of those transfers was a very good friend, and I knew she could really use the fellowship. I had already been fortunate enough to receive a generous outside fellowship from the NSF, so I asked my advisor just to "Say nice things about me, but please don't press my case at the expense of the others."

In the end, the faculty decided to honor all four of us at graduation, but actually awarded the money to the two transfer students--including my friend.

One could have made the "level-playing-field" argument that it would have been fairest just to compute ranks based on the last 2 years of college grades for all four of us, in which case I would have won the fellowship (which would have allowed me to spend a year studying and traveling in Europe before using my NSF funds to study at the university that had accepted me for grad school.)

My request to my advisor that he not press my case too hard might or might not have made any difference, but the outcome is something I feel good about to this day.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:00 pm: Edit

I have no idea what the differences may be among scholarships available to vals and sals. My first post and the responses of others were to your original post which made no mention of your financial situation or of the link between being a val and receiving a scholarship.
Your D has decided on her priorities. So why repine?
>>Kid A bails without notice to B>> Are students supposed to share their plans of study with others in your D's school?

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:13 pm: Edit

The two kids in question study together and in fact plan on attending college nights together . Kids talk. They are friends, as is C. All of the parents of the kids involved know the differential and it will again be the talk of the town when gpa's and rankings are released this Friday.

Don't fool yourself, at school's that rank it is quite common. At honor's night when the Top Student in Math, Science, etc is announced there is a rousing ovation for the academic stars that rivals the sports heroes. Just an aside, the students in the top ten are seated in reverse rank order, and everyone knows it. (That ought to send some of you screaming through the halls.)

By Kingkonglives (Kingkonglives) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:20 pm: Edit

no offense but i don't see how this would be unfair at all, kid A clearly took more intiative, and i wouldn't be surprised if the juco course is harder than the HS course.

kid B clearly values his/her ECs. seems like a tradeoff if juco college courses are closed, one can usually go to the instructor for a slip, no? that's how it works for the few classes i went to

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:25 pm: Edit

I think beyond the financial implications of val/sal...

The real issue is that the two classes which are being incorporated into the GPA (same topic,different course) are like apples and oranges.

Instead of the school rewarding the kid who sticks it out with their new teacher who is "the real thing"...the policy rewards the kid who ducks out (!) and "plays the game."

This establishes a bleak precedent. The school should examine it from this point of view.

I would approach the issue from this perspective. The school should want the top students taking the classes from the toughest and best teachers in your school...the val, the sal, and even (gasp) #3...The school could facilitate this by NOT incorporating the grades into the GPA of courses taken elswhere. I would talk with whomever the powers that be are, and lay out the case.

On the other hand, if your daughter is mostly looking at schools or scholarship options for which the val/sal distinction makes no difference...than I would completely focus on the life lesson "It isn't always fair" and encourage her to defy the teacher's expectations. IF she is as tough and self motivated as you suggest...she probably will!!

For what it's worth, of the last 5 kids from our school accepted to Harvard and Yale, only one was the val or sal...

By Frazzled_One (Frazzled_One) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:29 pm: Edit

I wouldn't care so much about how the kids are seated (my 7th grade math teacher seated everyone in order of how they did on that week's quiz, and I endured), but I would NOT care to live in a community in which every student's GPA is public knowledge, subject to evaluation and debate. Yikes! What happened to privacy?

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:32 pm: Edit

Marite, Why it was important was obvious to me. To some colleges it is important and that is good enough for us. D read the posts decrying rankings and just laughed. By the way a number of schools that are thought of highly on this board are among those who have Val scholarships. Hanover and Southwestern leap immediately to mind.

To the poster who tried to offer advice , I appreciate it and I don't see it as "Alice" at all. That strategy was what we had initially thought of as best.

And to the poster who believes four thousand after tax dollars is not a significant number, please mail that pocket change amount to me at 123 Regular Joe Street, The Real World.

And as for my financial situation, we are the rich advantaged people at our middle class school. So, no, poor little B does not feel underpriveleged or that she has missed out on anything. She's just trying to get to Davidson instead of Texas, or Texas A+M like all her friends, for which she has or will have guaranteed admittance. I can pay those even without help or even if my medical condition does not improve.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:38 pm: Edit

Robrym, thank you, thank you thank you thank you. How would you suggest I approach the administration or the teacher?Ib agree with your reasoning , but don't know whether to bring it to the GC then from her to the principal. Don't really kow when or how to approach the teacher. But ,yes, that is the best sounding approach.

By Mstee (Mstee) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:41 pm: Edit

Kid A is doing what seems best for him, kid B what is best for her. There is a lot of merit money out there for high achieving kids, not just vals. Kid B is going to be fine, and would not have compromised anyway, give up what she loves just to try to win the val title. Good for her! That shows integrity, which is worth more in life, no? No, life is not always fair. Watching the Olympics really drove that home. The Korean gymnast did not get a gold medal because of a judging error. The marathoner got pushed off the road by a renegade ex-priest.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:44 pm: Edit

Even if the class had still been opened, it appears that your D would not have wanted to take it since she would have had to give up on some of her ECs.
So there is no point repining or bemoaning the fact that some scholarships are available only to vals. There are many that are available to good students (and mention has been made of some of these on this board). Voronwe recently posted that one relative applied for a scholarship that came up to $20k over four years. There are more like this.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 10:56 pm: Edit


>>I would approach the issue from this perspective. The school should want the top students taking the classes from the toughest and best teachers in your school...the val, the sal, and even (gasp) #3...The school could facilitate this by NOT incorporating the grades into the GPA of courses taken elswhere. I would talk with whomever the powers that be are, and lay out the case. >>

The one argument one can safely make is that the courses and grading practices are too different to be judged on the same scale. Whle it makes sense not to incorporate courses taken elsewhere in the GPA calculation, it should not be assumed that those courses are less tough. In fact, they should be assumed to be more tough since they are college courses. Some high schools in fact do not factor college courses into GPAs so that students will not be discouraged from taking these more challenging courses for fear of getting low grades.

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 11:09 pm: Edit

Interesting to consider the following scenario: suppose the OP's daughter had managed to get into the juco class and that it had not conflicted with her ECs. I'm guessing that daughter and dad would have gone ahead with that arrangement, and would not have been posting decrying the system--even if other students had been shut of the juco class with some sort of conflict or whatever. (There's presumably not room for all 75 kids to bail out into the juco class, right?)

It's also interesting that there's any suggestion that student A is supposed to "consult" student B before making a schedule change.

I certainly never felt obligated to consult other students before making schedule changes in high school or college. What classes I took was primarily my own business, though I might talk things over with friends, I felt no obligation to do so.

In my view, there are so many random (Brownian-motion-like) factors that can bump GPA around that it's really best to forget about GPA, just do one's best, and hope for good luck in the long-run. If the val thing doesn't pan out, then something else might.

A constructive, positive, philosophical, resilient and resourceful attitude will serve students and parents best.

And I agree with Marite--there is a huge array of scholarships out there and the ones for vals are a very small fraction of those that are out there. Perhaps your daughter can look into scholarships that are associated with her EC's--clearly student A won't be eligible for those (since she must have different ECs, given that she's able to take the juco class.)

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - 11:16 pm: Edit

When these two, A and B, finish high school they will both have finished college semesters as follows: 4 history ,2 economics, two in math , and two in English . The only difference , as of now anyway, will be this course.

I agree with Robyrym wholeheartedly on the bad precedent point and I will push that the hardest. I really want to hear what they say when I announce that next semester B may be taking Speech, a non-honors course at the high school, for dual-credit at the same junior college. That should show them quickly that they are going to have a hard time getting the juco gpa genie back in the bottle. ( We have no real intention of doing that.)

By Justice (Justice) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:05 am: Edit

What do you want them to do? Change the value of the junior college course after the fact that A already enrolled in it? That's ridiculous. That's like changing the finance plan for someone's house after the person buys it. What kind of precedent is that? I can't see any course of action that would help the situation, except maybe get rid of ranking.

And you're still ignoring the fact that your daughter COULD'VE taken the same class but elected not to take it because she had other commitments at the same time. Now surely you're not arguing that your daughter should be entitled not only to an easy A class but also a well-scheduled easy A class that fits with everything else. Part of balancing pace of life is about making sacrifices and prioritizing. If those ECs are a higher priority than being vale, then I think that means you lose the right to complain about it.

And how do you know that A didn't also have to give something up to attend those classes? Even if it's not the same kind of structured commitment, 6-9 on weekday evenings is not a pleasant time to be in school.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:13 am: Edit

My take: get over it. Stuff happens. Your D may not get val, she may not get a particular scholarhsip, you may have to find some alternative financial aid and/or pay a little more.

Is this unfair? Possibly. So what?

Over the scale of the next 10 years and all the unfair things that could happen or all the random negative events that could strike you or your D, this is small potatoes.

Move on. For her, for yourself.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 01:59 am: Edit

As has been pointed out, this could go both ways- the JUCO course could turn out to be more difficult, etc..It really doesn't matter. YOu would have to agree that the issue is the same whether your daughter is advantaged or disadvantaged by this to approach this from any sort of "ethical" persepctive..

To me it just seems logical that in a situation where val/sal distinctions are seen as important and where it is likely this issue could arise again...the school should re-think the computation of GPA process as it relates to outside courses(ESPECIALLY courses that are already offered at your school!). Your school neither can nor should monitor grading or content at the juco. They have no control over how the other student is assessed. I might take these points to the principal...though this is surely a district wide policy and ultimately would not be decided at a building level.

Of course, even if the policy was adapted, your daughter is still in a class that is going to be challenging to get a great grade in, no? So, this could be a "pick your battle" situation-- you might have to say..not worth it...I think that is a personal decision.

No one likes to see their child in a situation where "circumstances" seem a set up to somehow disfavor your child- no matter how much you rationalize it(and I am sure we all would predict wonderful things for your daughter regardless of the outcome of this issue). I think this is a normal parental emotion(at least I know I have had this emotion at times). I do agree that advantages and disadvantages (related to GPA or other things in life) have a way of evening out over time.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 02:21 am: Edit

I appreciate your comments Robyrm, but I am not reacting from emotion, parental or otherwise.I presented the case as fairly as I could in my post. I have asked what others would counsel. I have heard 30 choruses of it shouldn't be important, 1 who thinks she's the little beggar girl angry at world over the horrible luck the fates have brought her, and about three that understand what I am saying.

Obviously the wrong audience for this discussion. I do appreciate your attempts, though. I just kind of wish they'd all remember their "it shouldn't matter" positions the next time their child is in this kind of situation, be it admission, scholarship, whatever. Life is not fair, a lesson she has learned many times already as a smart female. I will deal with this along the lines we discussed.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:08 am: Edit

Nothing wrong with a wolf protecting their young...

By Dadx (Dadx) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 07:51 am: Edit

I think this falls into the category of "it does matter, but you can't change it by yourself, or in a short period of time". Any "progress" on the issue will have to recognize that.

By Megsdad (Megsdad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 08:38 am: Edit

The story rang an all too familiar note for me from several years ago. A Pre-Calculus teacher who insisted on giving my daughter her first B because she thought " it would be a good learning experience for her" (I kid you not!!!, her exact words). I had been to the school over the objections of the rest of my family who also said "let it go." BTW, D ended up graduating 2nd in her class because of this incident.
The rest of the story.....
the school did not re-hire the teacher at the end of the year for many, many other reasons and the B stood.
Life went on...but I still remember the feeling of my child being treated unfairly.

By Matth (Matth) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 08:50 am: Edit

Man, and you parents think that the kids on here post crazy stuff. If my dad was complaining about something like this and went to the school pleading for my gpa, I'd die of embarrassment. I was the val of my school, and got a great scholarship to NYU. The three kids who were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in my graduating class all got bigger scholarships to other top tier schools. It's not that big a deal. If your daughter is that smart, she'll get scholarships whether she's first or second. Next we'll be hearing that you've started legal proceedings a la Blair Horstine's dad. Good grief. Get a grip here, Dad. You're making yourself look ridiculous, and scary, especially with the title of the topic.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:04 am: Edit

I think its a real shame that scholarships make such a distinction betw val/sal. I never looked to see about scholarships for that. I did note that those colleges that give full/good rides for NMF were not of interest to my S.
I posted about a similar situation with my S. If he had taken 7 APs first semester in his HS, he would have been #1. That would have met AP Stat or AP Psych, but no math, science, Latin, econ, all of which he took at CC. There was a precedent several years before, when one person moved into #1 spot by taking a silly course at CC. To prevent that happening again, CC classes were weighted below APs. My S suffered from this new policy in ranking. To complicate matters, my S said most APs harder than CC corses. Where Marite's son takes classes, the college courses would be much tougher. The whole business is just so complicated. In my earlier post, they now have NEW procedure. Parents muct come for conference to discuss and approve CC class, and everyone knows beforehand how it will be weighted, etc. Friends affectionately named this rule after my S. Can you imagine the extra time GCs will have to spend with each family of dual-enrolled kids?
Its a sad situation, but even a good school cannot control the vicissitudes of which classes are most rigorous. Further, ECs like band not weighted like APS. Then again, HSs differ in # of students, and difficulty. Recommendations and SAT scores give a fuller picture to colleges. It seems your D was focussed on particular scholarships which do diferentiate financially on the rank. Do these same schools have other merit packages? I would be most curious

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:05 am: Edit

Csbballstardad, I seem to have a different take on the situation. Kid A played the system better than Kid B. Plain and simple. It's only "unfair" insofar as the system itself is unfair. The only thing I can see Kid B doing is protesting to the principal -- without mentioning one word about the val/sal competition -- that no teacher should be allowed to say he never gives out an A. Otherwise, there's not much to do but put it behind you.

Kids do get pretty intense about the val/sal competition, and the best thing you can do for your daughter is to help her aim for what she wants, help her put it in perspective and recognize that this is not just about ability but about gamesmanship, and -- most important -- to let her know you're on her team whether or not she makes val.

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:11 am: Edit

Lots of anger here......and I just don't understand schools taking part in pitting kids (and parents, obviously) against one another in such a way. I've never seen this kind of thing, first hand.

Is this really that common?

"All of the parents of the kids involved know the differential and it will again be the talk of the town when gpa's and rankings are released this Friday."

"At honor's night when the Top Student in Math, Science, etc is announced there is a rousing ovation for the academic stars that rivals the sports heroes. Just an aside, the students in the top ten are seated in reverse rank order, and everyone knows it. (That ought to send some of you screaming through the halls.)"

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:30 am: Edit

This is just another special reminder of what today's insane college admissions process is doing to children and families. The most sad aspect IMO is that it is doubtful that the kids and parents will remain friends when this is put to rest. The whole town is waiting to hear GPAs? Could this be true or has all perspective been lost? I totally agree with the poster that the only thing that needs to be dealt with is the teacher who proclaims he won't give an A. Seems he doesn't know he's risking serious injury in that community.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

Mom of a former val here; and mom of a non val who declined in class rank after receiving A's in courses at a local Ivy during regular term-- college didn't give A+ and courses were weighted the same as AP which does give many A+ grades... does it make sense? - no- did we think to argue it? again no but we had so much going on just trying to provide an appropriate education for this kid that class rank wasn't my main concern and I was pretty sick of the whole ranking system personally

my val is a *bit* more externally motivated and took his college classes during the summer when they wouldn't impact gpa; MHO is that colleges that put an emphasis on class rank are looking for a certain personality type.

csbballstarsdad: IMHO do what you and your daughter are comfortable with re the situation. I caused lots of ruckus at our school, just not about this particular issue. It does seem to me that rank matters both in admissions and in aid offers.. and a lot more at some schools.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 09:47 am: Edit

As a Texas parent with one son who just graduated from a 5A high school with 2250 students and a daughter that is a freshman there, I have seen so many unfair things about val and sal that I think it's a moot point to even name them. Honestly don't know why they continue to do it. In my son's case, his class was academically competitive, and you had to have a schedule stacked with AP's to be at the top. But in other classes, kids have left the AP curriculum to raise their GPA, have taken fewer core courses to up their GPA because courses like music and athletics carry no points, and have switched classes to get the teachers who grade easier. The latter two did go on in my son's class. (The class val had 4 to 6 fewer GPA credits than the students behind him.) My son ended up with every hard teacher that taught sophomore classes and his GPA took a hit because of it. He did learn a fantastic amount from most of them, though, and their prep work has done him well. One more thing to add in the equation are those students that transfer in from other schools. Now we're really talking apples and oranges. Only in Texas is there this much weight put on class rank and I think the val/sal situations in most schools is just icing on the cake.

A side note from my son's class, as I have posted elsewhere, is that the big scholarships to the private schools went to kids that weren't even necessarily one of the top ten students. SAT's, both I & II, high school transcript and EC's seemed to weigh more heavily in consideration.

By April_Mom04 (April_Mom04) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:08 am: Edit

Listen to Matth - the student's perspective.

We had a situation locally where a mother made a big stink about her child not being given val status. The student was incredibly embarrassed by the whole thing, including all the newspaper coverage. He was ostracized by his peers and lost a lot of respect in the community. And he stated to the newspaper that he could care less about the val status - it was only important to his mom.

Also, at the local HS, the students vying for the val/sal status avoid AP English like the plague. Again - they lose respect among their peers. Everyone in the HS knows who the smartest kids in the class are - and they are usually the ones who avoid the Val/Sal political game and stick it out with the tougher courses.

As far as the disappointment over scholarships, we were also disappointed that our son did not receive a prestigious book award to one of his top choice schools. This award would have guaranteed a huge scholarship. The award went to a student who had no intention of even applying to the school. But we congratulated the other student, and wished him well. As a result, my son ended up reevaluating his choices. He ended up at a school that he had never imagined he would be accepted to - an Ivy, while the other student ended up at a much less prestigious school. Life does "even out", as stated above.

By Kjofkw (Kjofkw) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:19 am: Edit

My son was close to Val. spot. (I advised him to go for speeches required.) He was penalized because he took an honors course as an elective. It gets very complicated. Basically the math works out so that students who take a non-honors course (or study hall) achieve higher GPA's. At his school you can take non-honors courses on a no-credit basis so that they don't hurt your GPA, but you are not allowed to take an honors course the same way. Honors courses can then hurt a GPA (even w/ an A) because although weighted, they still pull down the average for students taking numerous AP courses which are weighted even more.

He already signed up for all the AP classes possible. He didn't want a study hall. He wanted the honors course. So he technically lost the Val spot.

HOWEVER! The Val didn't think it was quite fair, and asked that the Val slot be shared!!!! The school agreed. So, while technically his GPA is #2, they shared the top honor. It does happen. It can happen. It doesn't have to be so cut-throat!

BTW. While my son did get some nice scholarships, none were all expense paid trips! #20 in the class however DID receive one of those (and not based on athletics or URM). While rank can make a financial difference, there are just too many variables. There are other opportunities for scholarships out there. Very few go to just Val or Sal spots. It is only one piece of the picture.

Oh...and he had to give that speech ;-)

However, I am as guilty as the next person since we are looking at the best combination of classes for my daughter as well. While she is taking honors and AP where possible, she is also taking some courses for non-credit, and we are trying to determine which these should be. We are not playing the game solely for GPA, as ultimately some of her choices will hurt her average, but it is still a factor.

We have also come to the conclusion there is no fair method. Our school does not have AP art or music for example. Therefore a student who excels in science can take all kinds of AP science courses, but a student gifted in the arts cannot gain the weighted “bonus” points of honors or AP classes. Their GPA is automatically penalized.

Ultimately, I prefer being ignorant of the process, as it was back in my day. No one knew rank until right before graduation. There were no weighted honors classes. There were no classes that could be taken for non-credit. While there were choices of subject matter, there were no choices as to performance level – you were assigned which level you were in, based on your standardized tests and past performances. There was no game-playing and number crunching (of which I was aware). Despite the pitfalls of a non-ranking system, I still think it is better than a ranking one.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:45 am: Edit

How odd to say that no emotion is involved: looked at the title of the post! Even though the OP says she doesn't agree, she sees how the fights get started!

I am a BIT sympathetic because my son's rank dropped when he took an Ivy (yes!) college course in high school that was not counted AT ALL in his GPA, while community college courses were. But the point I most agree with on this whole thread is this:

If all the parents who worry about the minutiae of class rank calculations took all the time and emotional energy they spend worrying about the bean-counting aspects of GPA/class-rank calculations and put it into some sort of constructive and creative fundraising enterprise, I bet they could collectively raise a significant amount of money, enough to fund a bunch of scholarships!

If the REAL problem, as the OP seems to want to make clear, is the CONSEQUENCES - primarily in terms of scholarship money - then I would follow the above advice. I know it works - my son got $20,000 in outside scholarships, and it was very, very easy - mostly recycled essays; concentrating on more local than national scholarships; only applying for those for which he had a real shot; and seeking out the "odd" scholarships that relate to something he's done.You'd be surprised how many scholarships there are that almost NO ONE applies for. Twice he had scholarships renewed simply because no one else applied OR people applied who were not qualified!

If this idea is rejected, then the real issue was never scholarships, but some perceived prestige.

As a former college professor I would say that the key problems is "innumeracy." The OP assumes that the original numbers, with .003 difference, were accurate. But that involved at least SOME subjective grades (say, on English papers); SOME classes in which teachers graded harder than others; SOME cases in which an unnoticed error was made (once my daughter got an 89 because the tacher reversed the grade in the grade book. It should have been a 98. It was SHEER RANDOM CHANCE thatwe found out an got it corrected. How many OTHER uncorrected errors can slip in over four years, sometimes in A's favor, sometimes B's)?

Believing in that first .003 difference was the problem. Trying to make a statistic accurate to that may decimal places is laughable in the face of the subjective nature of grading. Even if your school des it, it doesn't mean you have to worship at the altar of irrationality.

{And NB: And believe me, no parent ever goes in to argue the OTHER way - that the kid's grade is MORE than she deserves!]

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

{And NB: And believe me, no parent ever goes in to argue the OTHER way - that the kid's grade is MORE than she deserves!]

LOL! How true! Though we used to go in to ask that S be given tougher work.

By Mini (Mini) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:22 am: Edit

I'm glad that they'v lifted the assault weapons ban.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:25 am: Edit

I didn't read all the posts here, but I did read the first one, and I'm having a hard time figuring out what is so unfair here.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:35 am: Edit

OK, I read a little more carefully now, and I can sympathize with the concern about scholarships. Sorry, but 4K after taxes is NOT insignificant!

OTOH, this really does fall into the "can't do much about it" category. If you're really thinking through the process, also, is there some concern that by making a big deal out of this your D will be otherwise penalized (in GC rec, or by teachers who are annoyed and may grade her more harshly)? That would certainly affect her prospects, too.

My D's school did not rank, BUT they also did not weight grades. They provided enough info on the school profile that it was pretty clear to colleges that D was one of the top few, and also that she had taken the most difficult courseload. But I suppose for these scholarships, she wouldn't be eligible b/c her school doesn't rank? even if she had the highest GPA? and if these scholarships simply rely on the school's determination of val/sal, that's ridiculous, given all the different systems (weighted, nonweighted, etc).

I realize none of this helps you, but this may be one of those things you're not going to be able to change. Your D sounds like a very qualified applicant for ANY college, and my guess is there are some good ones who are known for generous merit aid where she'll get a very good deal and a great education.

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:45 am: Edit

{And NB: And believe me, no parent ever goes in to argue the OTHER way - that the kid's grade is MORE than she deserves!]

I wouldn't say this is universally true.

I know of a case where a student was incorrectly credited with points on an important exam, which wrongly had her placing ahead of everyone else in her school. Her mother supported her in her decision to go to the teacher to get the mistake rectified. Ultimately the record was set straight, to the gratification of another student who was thrilled to be first in the school on this exam, which carried with it special recognition and the possibility of selection for special opportunities outside the school. Both the original student and her mother felt very good about all of this afterwards.

I'm reminded of the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, where students call their own fouls (no refs or umpires) and where the "Spirit of the Game" award is more honored than scoring or winning.

People talk about "soccer moms" or "Texas cheerleader moms." Personally, I think I'd rather be an "Ultimate Frisbee" mom.

(Edit: As a postscript, the boy who replaced the girl as the rightful holder of the top score award did indeed get selected for the special opportunities outside the school. And the girl went on to distinguish herself in other ways and had plenty of opportunities herself down the road.)

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:52 am: Edit

>>People talk about "soccer moms" or "Texas cheerleader moms." Personally, I think I'd rather be an "Ultimate Frisbee" mom.>>

LOL! You should note the ultimate frisbee rivalry between RSI and PROMYS!
I think I qualify as an "ultimate frisbee observer's mom" as the last time my S actually took part in a match was after 6th grade. That summer, it rained steadily, and most of the matches were extremely muddy. Since then, he has mostly observed (not even sure if he cheered).

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:59 am: Edit

Be careful what you say about sokkermoms!

(I may have to change screen name anyway. S is on an athletic team in college, and it is not soccer! Little sis still plays soccer though.)

By Demingy (Demingy) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 12:21 pm: Edit

LOL to the soccermoms (sokkermoms) and ultimate frisee moms.

In regards to the original topic, I must sadly admit that I am incredibly disappointed to see this posted here......

By Momstheword (Momstheword) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 03:28 pm: Edit

Csballstardad--I hope this all ends on a happy note for you and your kid. Look long-term. It's not easy to navigate the details at times--and bouncing it off others isn't always useful. Over my travels, I've come to see that many people hold their own dreams dear, while dismissing those of others. You, the parent, are suddenly accused of "going overboard" when you voice your concern by people whose kids seem to effortlessly land the coveted spots by happy "accident."

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 03:37 pm: Edit

This certainly is a tough crowd.

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 04:23 pm: Edit

I'm sympathetic to the OP, but everything everyone else has written about the vagaries of determining who's no. 1 also ring true. You might look at your school's written policy regarding how val and sal are determined; it might help you live with what you think is going to happen. You don't know how this is going to play out, but your worst fear is that your child will be #2 because of circumstances. Maybe the best you can do is to try and change the process for the future. I would play it close to home - you know how hard your child has worked, deserves whatever recognition she gets so I'd focus on the positive. If the determination was made today, she would be no. 2.
It's not in your power to change it midstream (at least I don't think it is, and if you attempt to do that, you'll probably sour her senior year) - learn to accept it, work to change it for others if you're really determined, and recognize that it's not an exact science.

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 04:32 pm: Edit

Upon further reflection, it seems to me that the whole rank thing is inevitably fraught with flaws, no matter how you slice it.

But, IF one assumes that there has to be a val/sal sytem, it seems to me that the ideal would be to create a culture in which top students separated by statistically insignificant differences in GPA would graciously agree to share co-valedictorian status.

If this means there are schools with 40 vals, so be it, more power to them. They can all apply for those scholarships restricted to vals, and if the field has to be narrowed down further, then obviously the scholarship committees may have to look at other factors beyond class rank, which is as it should be.

Is there really a need to report GPAs out to the 3rd decimal place, anyway?

It's sad that kid A felt he had to give up his music lessons if it had been a 10-year passion, no matter what his reasons for enrolling in the juco course. (Even if he had sound educational reasons entirely unrelated to gpa/rank, it's still sad. It's even sadder if his primary reason for enrolling was the gpa issue.)

I'm also struck that nobody has yet addressed the possibility that perhaps the new science teacher needs some oversight and counseling on how to be a more effective teacher--the original poster's complaints that he is "unable to follow the course outline and refuses to help the students in tutorial" strike me as far higher priorities for all 75 students involved than some bean-counting dispute among the top 2 students.

Great references from his old school don't necessarily guarantee he's a great teacher. Some employers are so eager to unload a problem teacher that they'll write glowing references even if they are unjustified. But with appropriate support and guidance from supervisors, maybe he can turn his teaching around.

And maybe, just maybe, this could be an incredible learning experience for student B, in much the same way that Carolyn's daughter had an incredible learning experience with her AP Euro teacher last year (who originally seemed so unreasonably demanding last fall.)

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." --attributed to Albert Einstein

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:00 pm: Edit

Thoughtfulmom-- the problem w/your suggestion is that wherever you draw the line (statistically insignif diffs, or whatever), there will be SOMEONE who BARELY misses it.

I have very mixed feelings about ranking. Since my kid's school didn't do it, we didn't have to worry about small diffs in GPAs. But they also didn't weight grades, which did seem unfair, but again I think you could probably argue in favor of not weighting.

Another problem that will probably NEVER be able to be addressed is differential grading among teachers of the same course. How do you make that uniform? So the kid taking the hard teacher is penalized compared to the kid taking the same class w/an easy grader?

The best solution is to make sure you know the system you're working under and work it as best as you can to achieve the results you want. If that result is #1 rank at any cost, figure out how to work the system to get that.

By Thoughtfulmom (Thoughtfulmom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:12 pm: Edit

Stepping back a bit and looking at the bigger picture painted by the OP, I started to put myself in the shoes of a concerned-citizen/taxpayer in his town concerned about the quality of education offered in the school system I'm paying for.

The OP states that the class average at the 3-week mark is 60. Unless there is some plan to curve the grades, this means that half the students are at risk for failing a course required for graduation.

Moreover, parents and students are clamoring that the teacher is unable to follow the course outline and unwilling to provide help in tutorial.

To my mind, the highest priority of the school's administration should be on ensuring that all the students get the educational support they need to learn effectively.

I'd be very unhappy if my local administrators were wasting their time dealing with gpa minutiae at a time when many students are in danger of not graduating at all.

(Actually, our local district has had some serious problems with ineffective new teachers over the years. Fortunately, the administrators didn't have to spend their time dealing with class rank issues, and their time was available to address the educational issues head-on. In some cases, teachers got mentoring or direct co-teaching assistance; in some cases the district provided tutoring assistance; in some cases, unfortunately, the teachers were replaced or reassigned.)

By Xdad (Xdad) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:36 pm: Edit

My perception on this story is that CSBall has the right to be angry, frustrated, and disappointed. In this case, the school does not only have an obligation to develop a fair ad equitable system, but a greater obligation to make sure that the entire process remains fair and accessible to all. What good does it do to have a 72 pages Student Handbook if the Director of Instruction/Curriculum and the Principal fail to discharge their responsibilities by allowing situation like this to occur. Allowing a lunatic teacher to create such havoc at the school is pure heresy.

For most of us, it would make no difference if our children were Val or Sal. In the case of the OP and his daughter, it does make a world of difference. They started a battle three years ago and have made substantial efforts -if not sacrifices- to participate in the ... competition that was created by the school district. The OP does not campaign to change the rules; he asks for justice and fairness in the continuous application of the rules.

Collectively, we may be entirely correct that the best cause of action is to let it go, weigh the cost of fighting an unpopular battle against a faceless enemy, and consider the impact on his daughter's future. This, however, does not change the fact that the OP has the right to value the Val ranking in monetary and reputation terms, and that we should not judge his motivation.

In my eyes, this is another example of the lack of respect for human feelings exhibited by schools when administrators can hide behind rules and policies.

PS The OP might check into Honor correspondence classes to level the playing field.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 05:39 pm: Edit

>>The OP states that the class average at the 3-week mark is 60. Unless there is some plan to curve the grades, this means that half the students are at risk for failing a course required for graduation. >>

I agree that the shortcomings of this teacher are a more important issue than the GPA one. Perhaps this is what the OP could bring up. It is also more amenable to an immediate solution than changing the rules governing class rank.

I have a different issue, though not one that can be fixed. My S is a junior. All his high school classes seem to be focused on preparing students for the SAT (which he took last spring and has no wish to retake). These include not only the humanities classes (history and literature) but even Latin and Spanish. Talk about teaching to the test.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 11:47 pm: Edit

The path to becoming valedictorian is not only unfair at times, but involves luck and chance as well as hard work and brains. So it is in every endeavor. I can think of hundreds, thousands of things that can sandbank a potential val. It just hurts more when it is closer to the finish line. And this is the situation in any event where there has to be a first. My friend's son missed the Olympics by a margin that would make you cry, and he was the best at his sport for the past two years, but was "off" during qualifiers. The "best" man does not always win. An mishap or twist of fate can change the outcome.

The situation with the new teacher is a whole separate issue from the val situation, in my opinion. Yes, it is a shame that someone gets a bad class or tough grader or unfair teacher, or someone who does not like him who downgrades him, knocking him out of val contention. But that is part of the gauntlet, and happens all of the time. You can get the bad breaks, you can get the good ones. You can lose your spot for any number of reasons that are not your fault. So getting a teacher that is a tough grader is just the bad breaks and not being able to schedule out of the course is also a bad break, but is just the way it goes. However, a teacher who is not doing what he should be doing is a totally different story, and that issue needs to be addressed. A new teacher trying to make a statement, trying to raise the standards by giving everyone low grades does occur too often. The administration needs to look into the situation. If it is possible for your child to get out of the course, it may be the best option.

By Nedad (Nedad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 05:52 am: Edit

For most of us, it would make no difference if our children were Val or Sal. In the case of the OP and his daughter, it does make a world of difference. They started a battle three years ago and have made substantial efforts -if not sacrifices- to participate in the ... competition that was created by the school district. The OP does not campaign to change the rules; he asks for justice and fairness in the continuous application of the rules.

Some comments: "a WORLD of difference?" Oh dear! 'Nuff said!

"The started a battle three years ago?" Omigod.
A "battle"?????

"Substantial efforts to participate in a competition"?" Double omigod! High school education is a "competition?" And as for "efforts" - Why have so few picked up on Voronwe's comments about the fact that ALL previous grading to GET to the .003 difference was IN ITSELF SUBJECTIVE? Did the OP ALWAYS double and triple check to make SURE that the Number 1 and Number 2 kids were GRADED PRECISELY THE SAME - same English teachers, on the same day, in the exact same mood, for example? Or that NO mistakes were EVER made? If not, where is the "justice and fairness in the continuous application of the rules?"

There is none, because pretending something that is heavily subjective can be statistically analyzed to the thousandth of a point is irrational, illogical, and impossible, with different teachers grading in different manners.

The whole thing is nonsense, and to view it as a "battle" is utterly beyond the pale.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 09:50 am: Edit

Nedad, I have to agree with you totally. This thread is probably one of the most ridiculous I've ever encountered on CC. I've always heard stories about situations like this, but thought them to be overexaggerated or urban myths. Apparently not. I'm happy none of my children attended schools where parents, or students, acted like this. People need to take a step back and take a good look at what they're saying/doing/thinking.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:14 am: Edit

Hey, the battle terminology was not the OP's. It was by Xdad (xiggi's dad), who, also being from Texas, must know a thing or two about competitiveness in high schools there. My Ss have gone to schools where competition is frowned upon so it does seem like a very different world.

By Nedad (Nedad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:48 am: Edit

No, the OP just compared it to the Texas cheerleader mom story - the woman who tried to have her daughter's rival murdered!


By Garland (Garland) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:54 am: Edit

And I think he was being just a bit tongue-in-cheek...that's how I read it, anyway.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:55 am: Edit

I really feel some of the folks most critical have not tried to understand, but for those that have and still disagree with my attempts to get advice on how to handle a situation D feels is unfair to her, you are entitled to an opinion . For some, the gratuitous insults say a lot about how you were raised though, don't they? Rest assured, I also don't want my child in your world of unrecognized achievement and acceptance of an unfair situation that can be changed with hard work and effort.

To that end, and to the posters who care, the GC and principal met yesterday. The outcome was a decision that those who do not follow the rules in the handbook do NOT get extra credit for classes not listed in the handbook as available to other students . I believe this is somewhat due to the arguments pressed by some of you , and relayed to the GC who argued forcefully. Additionally, the school had already without my urging counseled the teacher about his strategies. So, I am pleased to say that even though I had to weed out many, many unresponsive posts, the posts that tried to help did give me the information I needed to present a thoughtful response. The field is level again.

So, all in all, this forum again heped me understand an issue or topic more clearly, and I remain convinced that the dialogue here can be a resource to parents dealing with practical scholarship and college entrance questions. I don't come here to talk of politics , ethics, or philosophies of life. I believe at our age most of those opinions are unlikely to change. I just need advice on topics that I have dealt with one time over 30 years ago. I would hope that those of you who just like to insult others for holding differing views would find your home in College Cafe but ,if not, I have learned to use the cursor to speed through to the next post when I see your name. Thanks again, parents, it helped.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:59 am: Edit

And to some of you who will remain nameless, get a grip. Rent a sense of humor, if you have to. Jeez. The comedian's name Id'ed in the first sentence wasn't a clue?

By Xdad (Xdad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

Nedad, before attempting to find ridicule or utter paleness in some posts, you may want to explore the finer points of our language.

For your benefit, here are a few definitions of the word "battle"

1. An encounter between opposing forces: an important battle in the Pacific campaign.
Armed fighting; combat: wounded in battle.

2. A match between two combatants: trial by battle.

3. A protracted controversy or struggle: won the battle of the budget.

4. An intense competition: a battle of wits.

5. an energetic attempt to achieve something.

As you said, nuff said!

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:20 am: Edit


LOL! I can hear Xiggi discussing SAT vocabulary! I hope he is completely recovered and enjoying himself at CMC.

By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit

One more thing. I find it very interesting that my daughter's quest for a much needed valedictorian scholarship is ridiculed, but there's 40 folks on here trying to get full rides for the NMSQT competition. Huh? Go get'em , folks. You know that "ranking and recognizing" is the work of Satan. (That's a joke, Alwaysamom, and Nedad, I really don't think it is the work of Satan). I find the efforts made in in $1000. 00 prep courses to learn calculator tricks, and test strategies a liitle over the top, myself, but some of you don't seem to mind. Is it because you can't see the faces of the other students who didn't get the national scholarship?

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 11:48 am: Edit

You asked for opinions, and you got them; not all of them were to your liking. That should not be a surprise, should it?

To repeat myself, you did not mention in your original post that your D depended on being val for scholarship purposes. I and others responded to that earlier post. And frankly, I do not quite see what the unfairness was about. Student A was not obligated to communicate his plans with your D; he available himself of an opportunity which no longer was open to your D when she learned about it. Happens all the time. Furthermore, your D did not want that opportunity even if it had still been available. Now you may be happy that rules--whether reasonable or not is another question-- are being changed in midstream; I'm sure there are others who will think that it is not fair.

As I--and others--pointed out, there are plenty of scholarships that are not reserved exclusively for valedictorians. The NMSQT competition does not depend on one student edging out another by .003.

If you don't ask you don't get; but if you ask, be prepared to accept.

By Nedad (Nedad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:23 pm: Edit

Csbballstardad and others who think I have no sense of humor:

Look back at my post above! See the little smiley face at the end? I have been on the Net since 1988, and little smiley faces have always denoted (among other things): irony; trying to be witty, even if I fail; I am smiling as I say this so my tongue is probably in my cheek; etc. ad inifinitum!

Let's ALL have a sense of humor please!

And Xdad - hey, i'm on your side. However, I took the word "battle" not as a generic list of dictionary definitions, but within the present context. However, I am the first to admit that the context is colored by the battle-to-the-death of very angry valedictorian Blair Hornstine last year! (And it did turn out to be a battle to the death - the death of her Harvard admittance, which was rescinded for plagiarism!).

[Edit - and you have to admit, it is VERY hard to hear about people hysterical about the val-sal thing without thinking of the esteemed Judge Hornstine and the insane things he did for his daughter! The story has entered into legend!]

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit


The Hornstine affair must be the Northeastern equivalent of the Texas cheerleader's mom case.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:32 pm: Edit

One more thing. I find it very interesting that my daughter's quest for a much needed valedictorian scholarship is ridiculed, but there's 40 folks on here trying to get full rides for the NMSQT competition. Huh? Go get'em , folks.... I find the efforts made in in $1000. 00 prep courses to learn calculator tricks, and test strategies a liitle over the top, myself, but some of you don't seem to mind.

Wow - what a nest of assumptions! I posted to your original post, and I think there are plenty of other scholarships available, but I did NOT try to get a free ride for my son on the NMSQT, nor did I pay $1,000 for test prep courses. How can you make these blanket assumptions? There are many individual people posting here - you can't lump us all in a group and insult us generically!

We like to be insulted individually! As Nedad would say:


By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:42 pm: Edit


Ditto here! :-)

By Mstee (Mstee) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:47 pm: Edit

Well, one thing that certainly has been driven home by this thread is how often the "val" title is "earned" by gaming the system, avoiding certain teachers, classes, etc. Certainly it happens often enough that many of us are somewhat cynical about the dubious honor of being "val." There was an article in the local paper some time ago about a student at Cal that admitted cheating in high school because of the pressure to get the val title. I agree with the others that it is too bad there is so much emphasis on this title at your school. Also, have to say that there is a tone to your posts that make it seem as if you are 100% sure that "kid B" deserves/needs this title more than "kid A," that this is somehow just as much about "kid A" NOT getting the "val" title as it is about "kid B" achieving it. The tone is off-putting. Seems sort of sour grapes like to me.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:47 pm: Edit

Wow! As parent who suspects her child may be on the short end of the stick going to a school that does not rank, I'm changing my opinion. I'll take our GC that writes recs to put each child in the most favorable light possible, over absolute ranks.

I understand the thinking in a rural school district that leads to seating kids in order at an awards banquet, intense competition over rank - it is not just money and admission to UT-Austin. People in more cosmopolitan, urban/sub districts may not realize how important high school graduation is in some areas. In some settings high school is merely a prelim to the more important wider world of college, in others the recognition that kids get at high school graduation is a VERY BIG DEAL to their schools and community, if not to the students and parents themselves. It may be the only recognition some of these kids ever expect to get (I don't think that that is the situation with csbbs's daughter, but I bet he understands the attitude I'm describing).

Csbb - if my finances were that tight, I would be moving heaven and earth not to get my daughter to be val, but to find other scholarships that would add up to the few extra thousand needed to allow her to go to the school of her choice, loans, extra work, whatever it took. After all, it is awhile until the end of the year, other disasters may strike. Children taking on 40-50 or in debt, I very much disagree with, but having her give up a dream because she's short a couple thou a year - that's different. But every family must make their own decision.

We're in the opposite situation - something may have arisen that will "catapult" my daughter into being val - and she doesn't want it. To her it's a stupid speech at a time when she wants to shake the dust of the school off her feet! In fact, I fully expect her to do some higher level math, and be sure she has whatever degree of senioritis is necessary to be sure she is #3, and out of speech territory.
Seriously, she pleaded with herfuture val friend who is interested in engineering to stay in AP Physics, we think the other child made a mistake dropping - not because of status or college admissions, but because of learning.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 12:52 pm: Edit

Sigh. As the parent of a val, I don't think we need to see it as the equivalent of intellectual canonization or as the reprehensible product of evil gamesmanship. Most of life falls somewhere in between. Most of us who work for a living navigate our way between the two poles of doing what we love and making tactical choices to reach our goals.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:01 pm: Edit

Just a minor addition: my niece has a $16,000 Stafford school loan that she pays $200 a month for. That means $4,000 would probably cost $50 a month to pay back. So it is not a total disaster if one does not get a $4,000 Valedictorian scholarship. It's much nicer, of course, to get free money, but it is not impossible to pay $12.50 a week after one begins working. The student should not be taught that so much is riding on those three-thousandths of a point.

By Xdad (Xdad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:02 pm: Edit

Nedad, there is no problem. My rebuttal was as much prompted by the lack of a couple of 20 ounces of Starbucks Americano as by the post. FWIW, I also tried to look at the context of the original post.

I still think that we are not in a position to judge the situation of the OP without really know the circumstances, and that the OP deserves a bit more understanding and sympathy.

Again, while we may be correct in supporting the notion that the val/sal honor won't really matter in the long run, the ultimate analysis belongs to the OP family. The Texas system, by rewarding valedictorians with a free ride and top 10% students with a direct admission, has exacerbated the importance of ranking. For a family that may not qualify for financial assistance, the ranking is far from being unconsequential. Families did not create the existing system or make the rules, they simply have to follow them and hope for fairness and equity.

As far as "battles", I believe that what happens on Friday nights in most football stadiums in Texas would better espouse the undiluted meaning of the word.

By Nedad (Nedad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:30 pm: Edit

Oops, Xdad - I missed that the OP was Texan. Reading too fast, I guess. Yes, it certainly DOES make a difference if Texas vals get free rides. I am an ignorant jerk - sorry!

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:49 pm: Edit

I believe that Aparent4 has a valid point. The reality is somewhere between good and evil. Son's friend, the class val, as well as his parents, thought that the val spot was his ticket to everything, and as I have said before, it was not. He received a one year tuition waiver to UT and a $250 school scholarship. As I have posted before, the downside of pursuing val for him was that he spent so much time on being val that he didn't spend prep time for the SAT's and given that he doesn't do as well on standardized tests, it cost him dearly. Even UT becomes score driven at scholarship time, and EC's become important. What I tried to say in my post, is that if scholarships for private schools are what the student wants to attain, being val isn't necessarily the only way to go.

Xdad, you've got the Friday night football games right. And then, there's the "battle" between the bands at halftime! Competition is something we Texans understand and many have elevated to an art form - although we may not always embrace it when it goes too far as with the cheerleader mom.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:51 pm: Edit

As far as I know, Texas vals get a one year tuition waiver (as in my previous post) at UT. Full ride, as I understande it would entail other scholarships.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 01:55 pm: Edit

Xdad, your comments support the reasons my daughter has been known to mutter, "No new Texans."

I look forward to helping Xson become a Californian.


By Csbballstardad (Csbballstardad) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 07:44 pm: Edit

I don't have my list in front of me, but there are valedictorian scholarships at 3 private schools of some note , certainly not top fifty, which combined with a reasonably accessible score on the SAT will yield $60,000.

Folks , I don't see how my specific financial situation is any of your concern, and I have not asked for help with it, but it is not simply a question of income earned. I am a proud enough person to resent the implication that I have not tried hard enough to finance my d's education. I resent it that people would think that someone as vociferous as I would fail to pursue all financing options. In fact I have saved probably enough for 2 years tuition , fees , Room and board at any school in America. Enough ? No, but based on the criteria I analyzed at the time, something. A careful reader would have seen me mention "health considerations". I'm in kind of a race myself. No failure to receive a scholarship will deny my D a quality college education. I have seen to that. I just want her to have the opportunity to go to the schools we talk about on this board. And with that, adios.

By Lamom (Lamom) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 07:59 pm: Edit

I hope things work out.
I felt like son got short end of the stick lots of times w/the district and teachers. I worried about fairness etc, probably just created gray hair. In the end, didn't matter- things worked out and he even received several more scholarships than we dreamed. One kind person even sent him a check after reading about him in the paper. I have thought that perhaps "things even out"--sometimes. The yuk he put up with actually did "make him stronger". I think he can deal with lots more situations and different people.

By Annieivy (Annieivy) on Friday, September 17, 2004 - 10:08 pm: Edit

My parents care musch more about my status at school than I care. I have had to stop my mother from visiting the principal about things similar to this. If it is really your daughter driving this, why didn't you let her handle it at school?

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