Valedictorian’s education “entirely hollow”

On June 20th, Kareem Elnahal gave his valedictory speech at Mainland Regional High School in Limwood, N.J., quite different from the speech school administrators were expecting. He does not look fondly upon his education, challenging what education has come to mean.

“I speak today not to rant, complain or cause trouble, and certainly not to draw attention to myself,” Elnahar said. “Rather, I was moved by the countless hours wasted in those halls.”

“[It is] grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work.” Elnahal added, according to a transcript of the speech posted on the Press of Atlantic City website.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the spirit of intellectual thought is lost,” Elnahal said. “I know how highly this community values learning, and I urge you all to re-evaluate what it means to be educated,” he concluded before leaving the ceremony without collecting his diploma. — Cybercast News Service

There is some discussion as to the appropriateness of the speech in this venue, and Mr. Elnahal did depart completely from the speech he said he was going to deliver that day. Still, he echoed the sentiments many share toward American public education, especially amidst current trends toward standardization.

Accountability is a good thing. Teachers should be accountable for what they teach and students should be accountable for what they learn. But when this accountability takes the form of a single, high-stakes test, numerous problems emerge. Testing, which is supposed to be a measure of what has been learned, begins to shape instruction. When funding is dependent on a single test, all classroom activity begins to look like preparation for that event rather than like preparation for life. Up to 100 instructional hours per classroom per school year are spent preparing for, administering and recovering from taking these tests.

Are they providing any benefit?

The Harvard study suggested that the [No Child Left Behind] act was not accomplishing its goals. A summary of the study concluded that “the national average achievement remains flat in reading and grows at the same pace in math after NCLB than before.” Like the Berkeley report, it based its conclusions on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. — Los Angeles Times

Education has indeed become “grade for the sake of a grade, work for the sake of work.”

(Hat tip: Why Homeschool)

One thought on “Valedictorian’s education “entirely hollow”

  • March 10, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I am a teacher and have been for the last 10 years. Publicly, teachers have been blamed for not teaching students what they need to know to function in life. Also, students have been called lazy. My comment is, what role do parents play in their child’s education? I know with my students I can tell which parents care and which parents think the school is the only place for learning. Come on, if I am to blame as a lousy teacher and students are to blame for not learning, shouldn’t the parents be held accountable for not taking an interest in their children?

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