11/13/09 — Poor choice: Rosewood fundraiser was simply unacceptable

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Poor choice: Rosewood fundraiser was simply unacceptable

The intent might have been innocent enough -- raising money for more technology for students at a time when school funding all over North Carolina is tight.

And perhaps the nobleness of the purpose blinded those who made the decision to offer students points to be used for tests in exchange for a donation to the school.

But no matter what they meant or how many people supported the idea, the bottom line is the Rosewood Middle School fundraising plan was, quite simply, irresponsible and wrong.

Examine the fundraiser from an outsider's point of view:

First, you are offering children points in exchange for a donation to their school. Whether those points would actually affect their grades or not, the reality is that if a student did not have the money or parents with the inclination to donate to the school, he or she would be at a disadvantage. How would a student feel if he or she could not afford to pay for those extra points -- or to attend the fifth-grade dance, for that matter?

And then there is the other message such a program sends to children -- grades can be bought. And whether it is actually the case or not, such a fundraiser also suggests that there is less value in the letter grade that appears on some report cards, that a student can purpose an advantage rather than actually doing the work necessary to earn the higher mark.

There has been much media attention about this decision in Rosewood -- and there might be some who feel that it has been unfair, that the fundraiser was really just an innocent attempt to bring more resources to the students.

But the reality -- as harsh as it is -- is that the criticism of the fundraiser was deserved -- and those who sat down and approved the idea made a serious mistake in judgment.

With education facing so many challenges these days, the last impression any school needs to leave on the public or its students is that there is less reason to trust those who provide the instruction and the value of the diplomas that students receive at the end of their time in school.

And what is sad about this case is that Rosewood Middle School has good teachers and parents who are striving to provide the best possible education for all the children who walk through the school's doors.

It is a shame an incident like this had to tarnish that reputation -- if even for just a moment.

The good news is, the school can move forward and get back to their good work -- with, hopefully, a lesson learned.

Published in Editorials on November 13, 2009 11:02 AM