Supposedly, America “ended” segregation in schools after the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education. The case declared separate public schools for white and black children illegal, resulting in the current mix of ethnicity we see in many classrooms. However, in reality, the education system has found a different way to legally separate and almost condemn students. National Honor Societies, found in almost every public school in America, offers admission based on educational merit and really nothing else. Although I agree some of the top-notch children deserve, perhaps, recognition of their accomplishments, a National Honor Society is clearly the incorrect way to go about this
I am not educated about America as a whole and how every Honor Society works in different schools, so I will solely base this on the happenings in many New York City public schools.
In my current high school, the cutoff mark is a 92 average. Once the requirement is met, the first err of Arista, the name of the Honor Society in my school, is made. Invitations are sent, not in private, but in public, to students who have been selected for this “honor.” The audacity of delivering such ostentatious letters in front of the entire class, where over half the students do not meet the requirements, is completely superfluous and bluntly obnoxious. The teacher must stop the lesson, not that I can really complain about this, and wait for letters to be distributed. Then, of course, a slew of conversation begins on the idiocy of Arista. Clearly, some students might be offended that they did not receive congratulatory notifications. I believe self-esteem is really lowered when students begin realizing they obviously weren’t good enough for the honor society.
Next comes the induction. The induction includes of using school property and supplies, which is basically funded by EVERY taxpayer in America. I find the entire induction extremely offensive because the tax I paid during my summer job, and the burger I bought yesterday, went towards something I was determined unfit for. Furthermore, around 90% of the school was not invited to this event, but we all dug into our pockets to make it happen. Is such a pedantic showing of knowledge really necessary?
The need to signal out who the Arista students are goes even further. During graduation, these honored students are given a different sash, to, of course, tell parents that if their child does not have a sash, the child has not attained the status of nobility. Most parents do not know about the whole Honor Society, and why should they, considering their child was not accepted, right? What will a child say when their parent asks “Hey, Jane Doe, why didn’t you have a special sash?” Segregating students like this is certainly unacceptable during graduation, where people should be celebrating about passing High School, not exalting people who happened to get along with more teachers.
Who are we to say some students are better than others? Why do we have to put certain children in a group and leave everyone else out? Honor societies hurt morale and also promote children who received admission to brag. Equality is clearly unseen and ignored by the public education system. Not receiving a notification essentially tells the child that he’s not good enough, or even a failure.
Needless to say, the basis of which an Honor Society is found is completely unreasonable. How do we base students on some numbers teachers have given them? True, the numbers do determine knowledge, somewhat, but true intelligence cannot be tested. Maybe I am biased, as I’m obviously not in the Honor Society of my school. Regardless, the education system is separating students in ways previously unheard of, and quite frankly, very little people would realize the striking similarity in public schools during the first half of the 1900s.
I guess we really haven’t gone far in seventy years.