A Rhode Island school district has canceled the elementary school spelling bee because it produces a winner.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Newman said the decision to scuttle the event was reached shortly after the January 2004 bee in a unanimous decision by herself and the district’s elementary school principals.
The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
“No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards,” Newman said. “It’s our responsibility to find as many ways as possible to accomplish this.”
The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards — because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind.
“It’s about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That’s contrary to No Child Left Behind,” Newman said.
A spelling bee, she continued, is about “some kids being winners, some kids being losers.”
As a result, the spelling bee “sends a message that this isn’t an all-kids movement,” Newman said.
Furthermore, professional organizations now frown on competition at the elementary school level and are urging participation in activities that avoid winners, Newman said. That’s why there are no sports teams at the elementary level, she said as an example.
Newman wants to build students’ self-esteem, “so they believe they’re all winners. Even if they’re not.
Of course, No Child Left Behind doesn’t require schools to pretend all students are achieving at the same level in all subjects.
Via Opinion Journal.