Roy Exum: Participation Trophies

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

You may remember several years back when James Harrison, a linebacker for the Steelers at the time, came home to discover his two sons, who were then ages 8 and 6, had received “participation trophies” on a sports team. Harrison, who earned his way into the NFL (he was not drafted out of Kent State yet played in five Pro Bowls), promptly loaded his sons and the bogus trophies in his car and took them back.

"I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing … participation trophies!" the linebacker wrote on Facebook. “While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them til the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy.

"I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something, just because they tried their best," he said, adding that "sometimes, your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better."

Harrison’s stand was widely cheered. It’s quite true: “participation awards” mean nothing but now a flood of similar garbage is flowing into our public schools. The Hamilton County schools will spend over a half-million dollars next year in an effort to cheapen education. This talk about “diversity,” and “inclusion,” and “equality” is the worst cancer in America today. It is a cheap cop-out, a racially-driven bunch of nonsense, and the School Board should abandon it immediately. In truth, a lower standard is lethal for all of our minorities.

The liberals among us want to lower the bar so the minorities won’t “be embarrassed,” but do you realize the Hamilton County Department of Education – rated among the worst in the state -- just advanced all 42,000 students into the next grade? Who was cheated by that?  It’s blatant: Our black and Hispanic kids - this gooney ride will literally sentence our poor and most deserving into another generation of poverty aplenty.

Every member of our School Board should demand a proficiency report on every school. The HCDE leaders should be held accountable. These numbers are easy to obtain but easier to hide. It is understood that several School Board members would like a revote on approving a ridiculous plan that will involve hundreds of thousands of dollars in a quest for nothing. Again, it is clear – just to participate achieves nothing.

We are setting up our black children to fail because no one on the HCDE has the backbone to insist a child cannot advance to the next grade until the kid has the chance of success in the next grade. Clearly, many of our minority children are not ready for advancement. We know that 60 percent of our third graders cannot read at grade level but in the name of “equality,” we shove them into the fourth grade where they are guaranteed to languish even worse. If “Mrs. Smith” can’t get it done in the third grade, how is “Mr. Jones” going to do in the fourth? This is beyond nuts!

Fact: the kid is not served. If the third graders hated their failures, it is clear to see they will dislike them far worse a year later. As they go through a yearly gauntlet where they’ll never catch up, you watch: these desperate children will do anything to escape the drudgery. Yet our “deep thinkers” can’t understand why absenteeism among our older black kids is rampant. At Brainerd the daily absentee list sometimes seems longer than the “present” list – and wait! – Brainerd has to have two full time truancy workers!

Bob Brooks, who retired from HCDE, has helped me a lot with the reality of education and, in a recent email, described how failure has perpetuated itself for decades. “My work was a close up on the problems of poverty, education and the challenges of changing the status quo. Let me begin with this ‘lump of clay.’ Kids start school at age 5. That’s wonderful but news from experts suggests that most of brain development occurs before age 5.

“That child so young, and so innocent, is in the home of a mom and family that has a poor educational background,” Brooks found. “Several of these mothers reported to me often that they quit school because (they were ill-equipped, and) failed to progress. Most are ashamed, and most are victims of generational poverty. That poverty cannot stop until the people with money (seek the root cause) and get a plan in place that actually works with mom in the home, including family members, starting nearly at birth.

“This idea, so simple, remains unsolved,” according to Brooks, “because of thinkers being unable to see and develop educational programs that actually serve the learner,” he writes. “The Benwood Foundation, the Public Education Foundation, and others have spent millions attempting to improve education under the shameful illusion that money cures.

“We know it does not … and the silly idea of spending lots of money to see what the ‘pulse’ is for schools in this community lacks, that word again, imagination.  Instead, that same money could hire two-to-four full time people working in the elementary schools in these target zones who would work directly in the homes with coordination of the home schools.

“What I consistently found in my work up close with mom and family members they would like help. Why not try it?” Bob poses a valid question.

Why not? Here’s why -- It’s easier to make everybody feel good with ‘participation trophies.’ Yes, let’s just go ahead and admit the obvious -- all 42,000 children in Hamilton County passed into the next grade the day school ended this year. Man, don’t you feel it – welcome to “equality.” By ignoring a true grading system, the victimized black children will feel “inclusiveness” and – viola! – we’ll have such diversity that everybody will get the same size diploma.

And, don’t worry, Chattanooga employers will never know our most needy graduates are also our most non-proficient in reading, math, and life. Oh, yes, they’ll catch on quickly and realize that diploma is just a “participation trophy.” Then, we won’t be able to get a minority “graduate” hired within a 100 miles. Profit and production have never included diversity or any other liberal causes. Let’s admit this, too – any child who gets a “social diploma” also receives a life sentence that comes with an ankle chained to a ball so big they can never lift it. We call that cursed ball poverty and anyone who gets a ‘participant trophy’ is destined to live in the same public housing that their grandparents once did.

Cast a curse on the liberal’s social experiments – teach a child to read and you have saved a life.

royexum@aol.com



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