Equal Is Equal?


July 1, 2012

Now and then I find myself wondering what kids are being taught about earning their way through life.

Recently, I was in a school hallway listening to more than one student attempt to negotiate their end of term grade points up. From what their teachers were saying, these students had missed several classes, not turned in all their work, or came late to class on a regular basis.

Yet they still felt entitled to a good grade, so they could … Oh, let’s see … Prevent their peers from laughing at them; Stay on a school sports team; or not have to attend summer school.

It went through my mind that even I — as a teen of course — had felt some of my teachers were unfair. The low marks they gave me on occasion were surely acts of vindictiveness and had nothing to do with the fact that I just hadn’t done my work properly, or otherwise.

And the other day, as I stood in that hallway remembering the lectures and punishments my mother and teacher lavished upon me, I noticed something that was unlike my own by gone days. A couple of the students returned later with their marks altered — and not by their own unskilled hands.

Someone had decided to “accommodate” their situation allowing them an “out”  of some kind.

So what lesson had they learned at the end of the day? That if they played their cards right, they could get over. They could leap the fence and escape the penalty.

Problem is no one was telling them that they’re being set up. Get over now, get plowed under late. When?  Just about the time they hit up against their lack of skill readiness — such as when they can’t pass any tests for colleges or jobs. Or when they can’t make it through the first semester because they have poor study habits. And when they can’t earn a better living because their minds haven’t been stimulated enough to prepare them for the tech-heavy future that lies ahead.

Numbers are a funny thing. They can be manipulated by experts to appear to be larger than they really are. But in the end … in the final tabulation … 2 + 2 will never equal 6.

Short change them … and you short change us all.

Where do I go from here?

About SimmonsHereAndNow

Alex Simmons is an award-winning freelance writer, comic book creator, playwright, teaching artist, and educational consultant. He’s written for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. Simmons is the creator of the acclaimed adventure comic book series, Blackjack. As a teaching artist Simmons has created and taught creative arts workshops for students and educators in the US, Europe, West Indies, and Africa. Simmons has served on panels, and delivered lectures on children’s entertainment mediums, as well as empowering young people through the arts. Simmons founded the annual family event, Kids Comic Con, as well as three comic arts exhibits, which have traveled abroad. He is currently developing a comics and creative arts program for children all over the world. For over 30 years, Simmons has been a member of arts and education boards for the New York State Alliance for Arts Education, the Department for Cultural Affairs, and is on the State Department Speakers Program. As a teaching artist Simmons has been paid to have fun working with youth through the Apollo Theater In-School Arts Program, Henkel McCoy, Upward Bound, New York Council on the Arts, Children’s Art Carnival, Wings Academy, and NYU Creative Arts Team, to name a few. He has been a panelist at many literacy and arts events, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous colleges and educational institutions here and abroad.
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