Is selling grades teaching kids the wrong things?

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A teacher in North Carolina was recently fired for introducing a fundraising program at school that involved selling grades to students for $10 each. For $10, one extra grade would be added to a test. If you gave $20, you would get two extra points on two tests throughout the year. This allowed students to go from a C to a B, or a B to an A. However, the state’s Department of Public Instruction disagrees, saying that “exchanging grades for money teaches students the wrong lessons.”

We asked our writers what they think about this. Is selling grades a bona fide way of raising funds for a school, or are we teaching kids that money can buy you anything in life — even grades?

Here is a sample of what they had to say:

Rev. Richard Albarano: “Money and earning money is a most important part of living life in our age. It is not a bad thing; it is a good thing. However, it is earned always through hard work, whether intellectual or servile. It is a means to an end: a reasonably comfortable life.”

Bishop Fred L. Carpenter: “Schools should teach children correct principals. Selling grades does not do this, even if the fundraising is for a good cause. In fact, if the principal’s rationale for approving the program is correct, then the children were being motivated by a false premise — that the donations would have a positive effect on their final grades.”

Rev. Jeri Linn: “A good grade needs to be earned by study, doing well on the tests, good attendance and participation in class. Perhaps, other fund raising projects, other than selling candy, can be done by the school to raise funds.”

Rabbi Simcha Backman: “Offering points for money — even if its disguised as a ‘fundraiser’ — sends a poor message to students and will only serve to further exacerbate the sad state of our educational system.”

Rev. Bryan Griem: “This is much ado about nothing, and I do not see it as a moral/spiritual issue. In fact, if my kid told me he could up his grade by participating in such a school fundraiser, I’d say, ‘Great. Wash the car, mow the lawn and clean the garage, and the $20 will be on the table at breakfast.'”

Pastor Jon Barta: “Schools exist to educate children, not to get money. Students attend to get an education, not to get grades. Yes, schools need money to stay open that they might educate children. But awarding grades for donated money creates a never-ending cycle of futility. ‘Give us money to get a grade’ means that the school hasn’t educated and the students haven’t learned.”

Pastor Paige Eaves: “Though the cash-for-grades scheme was terrible, Principal Shepherd’s motives were good. So let’s step back from her blunder and look at the bigger picture. Sharing is not just kindergarten good manners, it’s good public policy, and it’s what God has asked us to do.”

Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian: “Instant gratification and taking matters into our own hands are not teaching the moral standards we need to learn — whether we are Christian or not. A middle school in North Carolina failing to make their quota in chocolate sales, and then deciding to add 10 points to the student’s grades if they donate $20, does not teach a work ethic, is unfair to the students who do study hard, and is unethical — period.”

Rev. Skip Lindeman: “A middle school in North Carolina is not a Las Vegas show; you can’t pay your way to the front of the class. I can’t believe what a no-brainer this is.”

Rev. Beverly Craig: “Providing students with an escape route for what must be earned is unethical and a travesty.  Principal Shepherd obviously didn’t think through the future ramifications of her decision. This is definitely not a bona fide method of fund raising. Bringing students’ grades into the arena of fund raising is like mixing oil with water.”

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Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Religion

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