Minimum Grade

by Don Boudreaux on February 24, 2013

in Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen, Work

WASHINGTON (CH) – In a bold effort to improve the educational fortunes of students who perform at academic levels significantly below the average of their peers, Congress has mandated a minimum grade to be assigned to each student in each course taught at any school in the country.  Starting in September, it shall be unlawful for any teacher, professor, or instructor charged with assigning course grades to assign to any student a grade lower than C-.

Sponsors of the Fair Academic Standards Act decry the injustice that occurs each time a student earns a low grade, such as a D or an F.  ”It’s impossible for students with ‘D’s and ‘F’s on their transcripts to succeed as they deserve in life,” remarked Sen. Bernie Franken, an Independent from Elitia.  ”This law ensures that no American will ever again suffer that hardship.”

Opponents of the Act worry that the requirement of a minimum grade will prompt schools to refuse to enroll students whose academic preparation or skills aren’t yet sufficient to enable them actually to earn good grades.

Sen. Paul Rand, an outspoken opponent of the bill, admits that ‘D’s and ‘F’s are poor grades that are not likely to win good jobs for students that have many such grades on their transcripts.  Sen. Rand argues, however, that the Act will steer schools away from enrolling less-prepared students and, as a consequence, deny these very students the opportunity to acquire the education that will enable them in the future to perform better in the classroom.  ”It’s an unintended bad consequence of Sen. Franken’s good intentions,” suggests Sen. Rand.

Sen. Franken and other supporters of the Act disagree.  ”I can show you several studies, by prominent professors of education at Ivy League universities, that make clear that this Act will in no way diminish schools’ willingness to enroll all the students who seek enrollment,” said Sen. Franken.  ”Opponents of this Act, frankly, are simply indifferent to the plight of academically challenged students and wish to deny to these students the benefits that are enjoyed by their more-talented classmates.  My colleagues and I merely wish to ensure that these benefits are spread more equitably.  It’s the fair thing to do.”

Sen. Rand responds by insisting that grades should accurately reflect each student’s actual performance in class.  He says that the minimum-grade requirement, to the extent that it doesn’t simply cause academically challenged students to be kept from enrolling in school, will result in report cards and school transcripts that are full of “lies” – grades that do not reflect each student’s actual performance.  Sen. Rand worries that graduate schools and employers will be obliged to find other ways, beside grades, to assess the qualifications of students who apply for admission or for jobs.  He worries that these other ways will be less accurate and more arbitrary than are course grades as these are currently assigned.

“That accusation is typical of Sen. Rand and his ilk,” alleges Paula Krueger, the influential columnist.  ”Sen. Rand is bought and paid for by rich and privileged elites who know that a more fair distribution of school grades will threaten their and their friends’ hold on this country’s levers of power.”  Ms. Krueger shakes her head in astonishment.  ”I’m sure that some small subset of people actually believe the tales told by opponents of this Act, but they are clearly blinded by ideology.  They’re enemies not only of less-fortunate Americans, but of science itself.”

Not that Ms. Krueger thinks the Act is ideal.  ”It’s not perfect.  In my view the minimum grade should be much higher.  I think A-.  And I’d also like to see the minimum grade indexed to grade inflation.  That way all students in America, now and in the future, would be exceptionally high-achievers and very well educated.  But the Act as it stands is at least a start.  It’s progress.”

The President is expected to sign the bill at a Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday.

….

UPDATE: Here’s more from reporter Mark Perry.

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