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Graduation Test Exemption Is An Exceptionally Asinine Idea
March 16, 2005
by Tony Zizza

As if we needed further evidence that our children are being dumbed down both at home and in school, along comes an alarming article published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper om March 11th.

Reporter Mary MacDonald informs us of legislation pending in Georgia that will essentially "give students who repeatedly fail the high school graduation test a chance to get a diploma." We are expected to believe that there are, according to supporters of the high school graduation test exemption, "good students who cannot pass the high-stakes exam." Is this Owellian doublespeak or what? You better believe it.

Let me tell you something. There is absolutely nothing "high-stakes" to a high school graduation test if you as a student, and perhaps more importantly, you as a parent, actually exercise RFE (respect for education) on a daily basis.

Oh no. I can just picture it. Psychiatry will expand on its obnoxious Test Taking disorder and create a stiffer label and drug which will specifically be prescribed to high school students who, for some extremely odd reason, just continue to fail and fail and fail the high school graduation test as many as four times.

Kudos to state Superintendent Kathy Cox, who correctly says to legislators and others such an exemption will "devalue the high school diploma." Wouldn't it be nice if Kathy Cox and others could help weed out all psychiatric drugs and incorrect labels from our schools as well?

The way I see this high school graduation test exemption, there's one reason, and one reason only, that explains why after four long years of high school a student (and more than likely, a parent that never bothered to regularly quiz their child who stinks at tests) has their entire high school career hanging from an itty bitty thread.

It's the D word, and I don't mean Dallas. Or dude. I mean, discipline.

The cold fact of the matter is virtually all high school students who take the easiest track in high school, where one doesn't even have to take the SAT, undoubtedly come from a family where at least one of their parents is more like a buddy to them, than a parent. Discipline may mean no telephone if the child is failing a course, but watching television is OK for that failing child. Talk about pushing a boulder up a mountain just to watch and let it roll down on you.

Good parenting in step with good children who listen, will not tolerate abject failure. Laziness. Stubborness. Constant trauma and drama. Below sea level expectations. Spoiled mood swings. A guiding philosophy of: "Hey, as long as I pass!"

Consider this when you take into account Sean McKenzie, a Dalton high school teacher who supports legislation that will still give students a diploma if they can't pass the high school graduation test. He testified in front of legislators, and was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constutution reporter Mary MacDonald's article as stating this slippery falsehood: "You don't base a kid's future on one test."

Excuse me. But even if we did - so what? When a teenager enters high school, this is when the proverbial bell is rung. It's on. High school has started. It's a constant game of either consistency or pathetic coddling. A cumulative process is at play, if you will. What you do in the 9th or 10th grade, may very well guide you in the 11th or 12th grade. Garbage in/garbage out rules the day as it should. Especially when it's time (and you knew it was coming!) to take the high school graduation test.

You know, all you really have to do is think for a minute about what the most successful and happy people do with their lives, and the lives of their children. There are expectations. Rewards. Punishments. Lists of things to do are made. Eventually, all the things to do are crossed off as completed. Good attitudes abound. By no means, does a philosophy of: "Hey, as long as I pass!" take hold in a truly healthy, loving, disciplined family.

Family matters. The overall success of a family should not be dependent on excuses for failure from our elected politicians. We have been lied to as parents by psychiatrists who tell us our children are the way they are because of deficits in attention. How silly. And stupid. More Orwellian doublespeak.

However, today's award for the darkest doublespeak goes to Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) as she is a co-sponsor of the bill to "give students who repeatedly fail the high school graduation test a chance to get a diploma."

According to Rep. Carolyn Hugley, "We know as a state we have not done as much as we can do to prepare these students to pass that test." Is it just me, or do other people also wonder what kind of cheese is being served with this "whine" at the Capitol?

So, this is what we're faced with. Either our children are responsible for their lives as students - or the State is. Either parents need to study with their own flesh and blood more or simply stop being a buddy to them. Failure and totalitarianism is not an option.

It's just too bad so little is expected of Georgia's high school students when it comes to giving of themselves to take a final test before their life in the real world begins.

Tony Zizza serves as Vice President for the State of Georgia for the organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education.

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