Back to school used to be a time for students to hit the books, playing fields and homework with high hopes of high success. Not anymore.

With the new mindset, these kids may be applauded for their aerodynamic skills/Thinkstock

Some students no longer have to bother with such stuff as they attend schools that follow a treacherous trend of coddling the students, ensuring today’s youth make for tomorrow’s simpering, spineless adults.

Several academic institutions across the nation have done away with grades and anything else that remotely resembles competition – including some sporting events and playground games.

Competition is much too harsh, these schools say. Ranking one student higher than another can damage self-esteem or hurt a pupil’s feelings. It could make a student cry.

Bad grades will never again make children weep in one Illinois school district that axed its entire grading system. Rather than strive for an “A” or know they better buckle down after an “F,” students instead receive feedback with phrases like “emerging” or “modify.”

Even more ridiculous, the “modify” feedback means the curriculum needs to be modified to better fit the child. School officials would never suggest a child modify his study habits or actually pay attention in class.

Students who paid enough attention to make the honor roll in some Nashville schools were shafted a few years back. The schools stopped posting honor roll listings after parents complained it would make other students feel left out.

Other Nashville schools followed suit, with one school banned from listing basketball games’ high-scoring players and another too scared to announce the winner of a spelling bee.

The playground game of Tag was eliminated in one Santa Monica schoolyard, saying it ruined self-esteem by branding one student a “victim” called “It.”

Valedictorian was also eliminated in some institutions – and simply made more inclusive in several feel-good California schools.

Rather than choosing a single student for top honors, anywhere from 50 to 100 valedictorians were chosen to carry the title. Being the No. 1 student surely loses some of its glory – and all of its meaning – when there are 99 other No. 1 students.

Not only does this coddling take away a student’s challenge to excel, it takes away any reward for a job well done.

Kids learn much better in a stress-free environment, the schools argue, one devoid of those nasty Fs and horrible honor rolls. Instead, everyone is applauded for doing a great job – even if they are barely doing anything at all.

That’s fine and dandy in a fantasy world – but not in schools, which hopefully at least pretend to prepare students for reality. Such pampered pupils can never function upon graduation.

Traffic jams, printer jams and other daily stresses will paralyze them. They’ll buckle under the cut-throat competition found everywhere from the workplace to the line at the local coffee shop.

Even if these students were coddled so greatly they did not cry in school, the real world will certainly kick off some bawling that could last the rest of their lives.


This editorial was scheduled to appear in the Monday, Sept. 13 issue of the Arizona Daily Star.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who was once eliminated from a spelling bee for misspelling “mannequin” and will now forever remember how to spell it. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail