Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's an honor?

We recently received a letter from the school regarding my son.  I never fear these letters because all of my kids are great students and have consistently done very well in school.  On this occasion, the letter related that my son had scored very high on some standardized math exam and as a result he is eligible for participation in XYZ.  The letter went on to laud what an honor this is and how participation in XYZ can offer so much for my child.  Also, sandwiched within the letter was a brief notation of the $40 membership fee which would make my son eligible to take exams from XYZ (for an additional exam fee of between $30 - $75) which may open whatever elusive, nonspecific doors of opportunity.

Over the years, I have become more cynical and disgusted with these "honors".  I think back to my first exposure to this type of "honor" scheme when I was a student.  It was "Who's Who Among Students...," whereby I received a letter in the mail that as a result of my academic achievement, I was being recognized and please send us $50 (or whatever it was) to list your name in our book.  I suspect many others were duped by this as well, forking over the money and getting our names printed in some printed record of no relevance.

I am disgusted by the guilt that these "honors" dump on the parents.  I want to do what is best for my son; after reading the recent letter noted above, I am left to feel that if I don't fork over the bucks for this honor, I am slamming the door shut on opportunities for my child.  I am also disgusted that these organizations have so easily roped in the schools as unwitting accomplices in these honor business schemes.  I have no doubt that they may award a few scholarships to the very lucky few; however, I suspect what is really going on is a redistribution of our fee money to a few with a sizable chunk carved off for "administrative" overhead.

Let me add, that unlike the single "Who's Who..." example that I encountered in my childhood, as a parent, I have now encountered several instances of this "honor for a fee" bestowment tapping the heartstrings of a parent.  As a parent, we received letters from the school for each of my daughters relating that teacher, so and so, had "nominated" my daughter to participate in ABC program.  In that case, the fee was much greater than the recent letter (my recollection was that it was around $1000).  On at least one occasion, an "honor for fee" letter has included a short blurb relating in its politically correct polished way that if you can't do right by your child due to finances, you can plead poverty by letting us know how much you make, how much you have in the bank and how much is hidden in your underwear drawer...maybe it's a flair up of my OFS (old fart syndrome), but why is it that honor is now a commodity to be purchased?

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