A school district in Virginia this month abolished its GPA-based class ranking system, instead moving to a general three-category method. There will no longer be a valedictorian, with school board members of the district, Montgomery County, describing the new regimen as a way to relieve college admissions pressure and encourage students to pursue electives.
As "Fox and Friends" recently discussed, while noble in theory this policy nonetheless does not suite children well in preparing them for the real world. In my opinion, it is another example of “snowflakeism” gone amok.
We coddle our new generations with participation trophies and then wonder why they shut down our college campuses and hit hard landings upon reaching the real world. While it is a natural instinct for a parent to want to ensure the best for their children, in cases like this we exchange short-term pleasure for long-term growth and resilience.
High school nowadays is undoubtedly different than it was decades ago. Our economy is vastly different, with an increasing bifurcation in the economy between extremely high-earning, highly-trained professions amid a general sea of far more modest livings. Along with that, the cost of getting that training has skyrocketed as college tuition has grown well above the rate of inflation and student loan debt is now over $1.48 trillion, and seemingly increasing without end.
Amid this, it initially makes sense to try to reduce the now monumental pressures on young generations as they prepare to face and live these challenges. To do that, however, is to misplace priorities, like applying bandages to a problem while not trying to solve the underlying and worsening disease.
The complex policy problems that have fomented the current economic crunch for young people will not be solved by escapism that only increases the fall once they hit the real world. Rather, we ought to be looking at ways to fix the market distortions that have led to this problem, such as the federal government’s over supply of student loans that is ballooning this bubble without end.
In attempting to protect our nation’s kids from the harsh realities of the world, we not only lessen their preparedness in confronting that future but also cost ourselves immensely, whether economically or morally as a society, at the moment.
For every college student that pursues an economically-questionable degree in gender studies, there may be a parent disappointingly paying tens of thousands a year in loving hope that their child is in college to learn and grow and build a stable and prosperous life. For every college student that shuts down a college speaker, there may be another that had hoped to gain a new perspective and spark their intellectual thought, as theoretically and nominally many are in college to do.
While 18-year olds just around 75 years ago were storming the beaches of Normandy, now they believe bravery is to protest the alleged micro-aggressions of those who have suddenly unwittingly become, in their view, part of a draconian system of immense and all-consuming oppression.
Alleged immense systematic oppression – in a society as technologically advanced, mobile, free, and prosperous as it has ever been in human history. In America even those of modest means have entertainment, consumer, and leisure opportunities unimaginable to even nobility decades ago.
We have the right to speak our mind and worship and live generally as we please, as long as certain members of this new young authoritarian sentiment do not have their way. There undoubtedly are still real problems and inequities for our nation to solve on many fronts, but it is worth remembering too how good we truly have it in the grand scheme of things.
Though this may all seem gloom and doom, the fact remains that our nation has confronted far greater challenges historically than our current national cultural and spiritual crisis. There are immense policy problems with uncertain solutions, ranging from automation’s impact on our economy to mass incarceration, and from the increasingly high-tech nature of warfare to college costs and student loans.
Montgomery County’s class rank fiasco is not noteworthy because it is particularly distinct or impactful in the grand scheme of things, but because it is so representative of this growing tide in recent years that has slowly but steadily worsened our nation’s cohesion and preparedness.
We need future generations capable of confronting these challenges rather than seeking shelter and protection from them. By babying them and creating true “snowflakes,” we do them and our nation a gross disservice. By training them to be true men and woman, of character, grit, and patriotism, I think we’ll more than be able to handle the future.