By Editorial Board (Maureen Meosky, Op-Ed Editor)
After years of causing hardworking high school students unnecessary stress, class rank has finally been abolished in the Williamsville schools. Though this is a huge stride in shaping future high school students to be more well-rounded, and, more importantly, less anxiety-ridden individuals, this decision will not be put into effect until 2020, meaning that the current sophomores and juniors will still be ranked – for no apparent reason.
We at the East Side, though wholeheartedly supportive of the termination of this arbitrary institution, are curious as to why, if it has been decided by the School Board with overwhelming student and parent support, it cannot be eradicated sooner than the year 2020.
We understand, of course, that the process of making a decision on behalf of the entire district is, as it should be, a long, complicated process that ensures that every decision made reflects the wishes of the constituents. While all of this is very clear to us, we do question this particular postponement of action when the action itself is backed by a virtual mandate of the Williamsville community. To further this point, despite the labyrinthine decision-making process of the school administration, terminating class rank sooner rather than later shouldn’t be all that difficult considering the solid voter and administrative support for the effort and the lack of actual work it would take to simply stop ranking students. After all, isn’t it easier to just not do something than it is to do it?
It was stated during the School Board meeting that eventually voted to eradicate class rank that the postponement of its termination would be in the current sophomores’ and juniors’ best interest because these students already had “skin in the game.” While it is true that a portion of these students have been working with the specific goal of achieving a “good rank” in mind, if you asked these students what they thought their chances were at actually realizing this hope, you would discover that, by-and-large, they don’t believe they have a chance. And they’re right – in the game of class rank, only ten truly win, despite the fact that scores of students wear themselves down during their high school careers to achieve what only luck (and, perhaps, UB Math) can determine.
What’s the real difference between number three and number fifty on the class ranking list? Did number three try harder? Was number three just more intelligent? Perhaps. But by asking these questions, we are inherently ignoring all of the valuable things that number fifty worked for in high school that cannot be measured by any number. What if number fifty went straight from school to study ballet for four nights a week, or volunteered at the hospital on weekends when they could have been earning those five extra test points instead? Does that make the test points more valuable than the time number fifty spent helping other human beings?
All of this wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t relevant to the rest of students’ lives – but it is. By ranking students, we are rewarding the sacrifice of students’ hobbies, passions, relationships, and personal development – all for one little number that means way too much in a college admittance-driven world.