Flight From Excellence

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This is mind-boggling. Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marquis Harris, a black college graduate with excellent credentials, says he was rejected for a high school teaching job for being too articulate. He quotes from the rejection letter.

Recently, I interviewed with a school in one of the metro Atlanta counties, only to receive an e-mail from the principal stating, "Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become. However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated. Good luck."

When Harris was placed in foster care at the age of 13, it was unrealistic to expect he’d excel in high school and win a college scholarship. And yet he did. I’d bet he had some role models along the way.

Excellence is unacceptable in Tennessee as well. Afraid of lawsuits by the parents of mediocre students, Nashville schools won't post honor rolls.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The school honor roll, a time-honored system for rewarding A-students, has become an apparent source of embarrassment for some underachievers.

As a result, all Nashville schools have stopped posting honor rolls, and some are also considering a ban on hanging good work in the hallways -- all at the advice of school lawyers.

After a few parents complained their children might be ridiculed for not making the list, Nashville school system lawyers warned that state privacy laws forbid releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission.

Some schools have since put a stop to academic pep rallies. Others think they may have to cancel spelling bees. And now schools across the state may follow Nashville's lead.

Some principals are asking parents to sign permission slips allowing their children's achievements to be recognized. But others want to abolish academic honors and competitions.

The Look That Screams

Every year, the Kappas of USC receive an e-mail telling them what to wear for rush week. A copy of the sorority's rush note fell into the hands of a Stanford student, who posted it to a campus mailing list.

Hey there Kappa...

Not only do we hope that you are having a relaxing summer but we also hope that you are getting excited for rush shopping. We have decided this year to make a specific statement with our rush wardrobes: Klassy Kappa's who know good style! We are looking for the konfidant, klean-kut, komfortable look that screams how put together we are as Kappa women. After a great deal of research, we have officially decided that the following options will be best for this years rush.

Attached, is a checklist that you can cut off and put in your wallets. This is to avoid any "Oh I forgot's" or "I was confused" on what to buy....When you attend rush school, we will ! do a thorough check on the items that you have purchased. Please buy as close to the items as possible to help us get that 'look' we are striving for . . .

Convo Day:

The Outfit: Aqua, Turquoise, Light Pink and Fuscia sleeveless, crew neck cotton shirts and white flowy skirts with Dr. Scholl's.

Provided: The shirts. We will match your skin color with the shirt we think will go best!

Must Buy's:

1) Knee Length White Flowy Skirt. No A-lin! e. Think pretty and feminine. Obviously no hoochie skirts that you can buy at Contmepo. And no white denim. Only flowy, cotton/linen/eyelet pretty skirts. This item may be found at Abercrombie, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Club Monaco and French Connection (and at any of their dot-com's).

2) Dr. Scholl's Classic Slide. White or Nude. You know, the wooden heal ones. None of the semi-suede stuff that they are selling. Just the wood and leather. We understand that walking on wooden shoes for hours could be painful but we have ! ; tested the shoes out on a long 8 hour day filled with walking, shopping and dancing. We found that our feet only mildly hurt at the end of the day and had no blisters . . .

The note goes on to specify the outfits for House Tour Day and Slide Show Day with information on stores where the items may be purchased.

Notes for everyday:

Nude Undergarments: Nude bras and nude underwear. We prefer Calvin Klein Bra's and Cosabella G-strings (absolutely NOOOO full butts) but anything cheap will do the job. If you have big boobs, don't buy a bra that doesn't fit you. If you have small boobs, stay away from awkward looking push-ups. Just make sure that you have enough G's for everyday! Try Bloomingdales, Macy's, or Gap.

Jewelry: Nothing but one pair of Pearl (must be simple) or Diamond (1 kt. max) earrings and your lavaliere. Oh and no watches either.

There's more on make-up, manicures, scents, lotions, hair care and putting together a "rush box" of grooming essentials.

The Kappas may not be kareful about spelling and punctuation, but they're certainly konscientious about kreating konformity. Seems a bit krazy to me.

Show Them the Money

Most college freshmen want to be prosperous; a minority think it's important to "develop a meaningful philosophy of life." So says the latest American Freshman Survey, which has tracked attitudes for 38 years.

Far more high school students go on to college now than a generation ago. Yet grades keep rising. Students earning A averages hit a record high of 47 percent, compared with 18 percent in 1968.


Ray Trombino of Washington, D.C., writes:

After I retired from the Air Force, I thought about teaching, because I truly enjoy forming young minds and challenging them with the physical sciences. As a civil engineer, with both a bachelor's and master's degree, I applied to teach physics and mathematics in high school.

When the Virginia Department of Education issued the temporary certification, they issued it for physics, but not mathematics, so I asked for clarification. They told me that I did not have "enough mathematics credits to qualify as a math teacher." Because my engineering mechanics courses counted as physics courses, I had enough physics courses, but I would have to take the following courses, in college, to qualify for math: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry.

I had taken those courses in high school to qualify for engineering school. They were prerequisites for the calculus I, II and III and Differential Equations classes that I took in college. Further, even without my engineering mechanics courses, my physics courses included nuclear physics and quantum mechanics.

The final insult was that they ignored the 18 credit hours of education courses that I completed at the Air Force Academic Instructor School. Is it any wonder why we can't attract highly qualified individuals as teachers?

Joanne Jacobs writes about education and other issues at JoanneJacobs.com. She’s writing a book, Ride the Carrot Salad, about a start-up charter high school in San Jose.

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