Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mindless Bureaucrats

In the United States, a bachelor's degree is sometimes referred to as a "four year degree," based on the length of time it takes to complete the requirements for the degree when a student takes a normal course load. The Oracle managed to complete the requirements for his "four year degree" in 2.5 years. However, most people would not disagree with me if I claimed that my B.A. is a "four year degree."

I do not mention my rush through college in order to brag, but rather to provide background for my disdain for the wooden thinking of a group of mindless bureaucrats at the Grapevine Independent School District who are depriving a graduating senior of the designation of valedictorian -- and a scholarship that goes with that designation.

According to Grapevine's school policies, "The valedictorian shall be the eligible student with the highest weighted grade-point average for four years of high school." No one denies that the highest GPA belongs to a student named Anjali Datta. However, the student has managed to complete her requirements for high school graduation in three years, not four.

Even acknowledging that the policy is not particularly well-written, one can still easily maintain that the language is intended to convey the thought of completing the credits for a high school diploma -- which is normally a four year enterprise. Did the district really set out to punish a student for excelling by graduating early? And, after all, because students start in August and finish in May, none of them actually went for four calendar years. Since the written policy doesn't stipulate "academic years," perhaps no student should be permitted to be valedictorian under the ridiculously wooden interpretation of the board's lawyers.

An injustice is being done to Ms. Datta.


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