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Posted at 2:16 PM ET, 11/11/2009

A school that wanted to sell grades. Really.

By Valerie Strauss

Just when I had become worried that capitalism was dying in the United States, what with young people these days expecting to get their news and their music pretty much free, along came Rosewood Middle School in North Carolina to take away my concerns.

How? By offering to sell grades. Really. At least until its school district came to its senses and killed the fundraising effort.

The scheme was different from one that a number of schools across the country have adopted in the hope of encouraging better performance from kids by paying cash for grades--which, in its own way, was a wonderful capitalist enterprise.

Here's the story, as reported by the News & Observer of Raleigh. A parent advisory council at Rosewood in Goldsboro, N.C. came up with a novel fundraising scheme: Selling 20 test points to students for $20.

Last year’s effort to sell chocolate was a flop, so students who had cash were told they could add 10 extra points to each of two tests of their choice. That means they could have raised a grade from a failing “F” to a passing “D” or a “B” to an “A.”

The school's principal, Susie Shepherd, approved the plan, saying that there was no harm in this; the number of points wouldn't have been enough to have a real impact on a student’s overall grade, she said.

Officials at the state’s Department of Public Instruction were not, however, pleased with the scheme. First they simply said that the kids were being taught the wrong lessons. Then, after the News & Observer report, they killed the whole idea.

No more grade selling. The kids who had already purchased their grade points were to get their money back--and their test grades lowered.

I suppose the wrong message those officials thought students were getting was that they don’t have to work hard, and work honestly, for success, because they can just buy what they need--assuming they have the cash.

Where would kids get an idea like that?

It couldn’t be that the country’s prisons are populated with poor folks who couldn’t afford a good lawyer to get them off. Or that wealthy folks in the financial sector can take preposterous risks with the nation’s financial health just to make themselves wealthier, cause a near collapse, and then get away with it so they can start making money again?

Right now I’m thinking that the educators who approved the scheme to sell grades should become a model for school leadership.

Either that, or they should be removed from any position they hold that has anything to do with children.

It’s so hard to decide.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 11, 2009; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  Grades  | Tags:  grades  
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I saw this story in a short paragraph in today's KidsPost. Then I went to the Post online to find a place to comment on it. I ultimately got to this site, The Answer Sheet, which I had not heard of before.

Thank you for giving the whole story! and for giving me a place to comment.

Of course the kids involved were getting a lot of very wrong messages from this rediculouse, not well thought out fund raiser!!

The article in KidsPost should have gone further, and said that the scheme was recognized as wrong and was stopped, that money was refunded and grades lowered to their original level. (It would certainly have lowered the blood pressure of a lot of adults, like me, who read KidsPost.)

I read KidsPost almost every day, because it is interesting and I frequently learn things I didn't know.

Posted by: goodwolves | November 12, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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