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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Fail safe

Why do people continue to believe they can change what we think about something by changing what we call it?

To soothe the bruised egos of educators and children in lackluster schools, Massachusetts officials are now pushing for kinder, gentler euphemisms for failure.

Instead of calling these schools "underperforming," the Board of Education is considering labeling them as "Commonwealth priority," to avoid poisoning teacher and student morale.

Schools in the direst straits, now known as "chronically underperforming," would get the more urgent but still vague label of "priority one."

The board has spent parts of more than three meetings in recent months debating the linguistic merits and tone set by the terms after a handful of superintendents from across the state complained that the label underperforming unfairly casts blame on educators, hinders the recruitment of talented teachers, and erodes students' self-esteem.

People in Massachusetts aren't that stupid. They know which schools are doing well and which aren't, and it won't be long before "priority one" carries the same stigma as "chronically underperforming" (which itself is a euphemism for "failing"). And the kids whose self-esteem is bring protected will know their intelligence is being insulted. Heaven forbid they try something that might actually improve performance, such as setting high standards and holding everyone to them.

Posted in: Current Affairs


Bob G.
Mon, 03/24/2008 - 11:32am

Looks like George Carlin has another several year's worth of "material" with THIS One...LOL!

-They're not failing, they're graduationally-challenged.
-They're not failing, they're succeeding at a substantially lesser rate.
-They're not failing, they're strategically re-evaluating their own efficacy to pass.
-They're not failing, they're just NOT PASSING.
-They're not failing, they're scholastically-disenfranchised.

...And the sideshow continues.

"Heaven forbid they try something that might actually improve performance, such as setting high standards and holding EVERYONE to them."
(AMEN to that, Leo!)
Worked for US pretty darn well.


Karla Frownfelter
Mon, 03/24/2008 - 11:34am

I say don't attempt to confuse anymore. This is like Indiana calling welfare the division of family services. I worked as a temporary for a few months and would answer the phone with division of family services and was always secretly delighted when clients would actually listen and ask if they could get the number for food stamps or medicaid.