Ali Velshi showed immersive journalism with a purpose as he became an educator/facilitator in the West Point Mississippi valedictorian/salutatorian fiasco.
Ali Velshi as educator/facilitator
Ali Velshi did a great job in having a civil dialogue among the parents of the aggrieved valedictorian and salutatorian and the parents of the kids who were given undeserved shared honors.
The two black kids, Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple took more difficult classes, and their scores are justifiably weighted higher. Those who were anointed subsequently by the powers at the school to share the awards, Emma Berry and Dominic Borgioli, took the easier classes.
But as too often is the case, technicalities are used to disenfranchise. In this case, they decided to use a straight GPA, weighting all courses equally as they claimed that is what the handbook advises and also that is how it has been done for 6 years. They conveniently did not state what else was clear in the handbook, as reported by Mississippi Today.
“There are two methods to determine class rank. One method is the 0-100 scale and the other is the 1.0 to 4.0 scale. The process that West Point Consolidated School District uses for determining class rank is in the High School Student Handbook,” the statement read.
“The handbook states that class rank will be determined by semester averages which is the procedure followed for many years,” the statement continued. “The School Board has reviewed and verified that for the last six years class rank has been based on the 100 scale average. However, this year when the first Valedictorian and Salutatorian were announced, the selection was not based on the 100 scale, but instead it was based on the 4.0 scale.”
McDonald has previously said the district refers to the 0-100 scale as “GPA.”
When it was discovered the wrong procedure was used, the statement said, the superintendent awarded the honors to all four students.
Washington and Temple, along with Ross, point to another page in the school handbook that says that GPA is “calculated by averaging the grade point weights assigned to semester averages. Some classes may be weighted double see counselors for this information (sic).”
McDonald has acknowledged the school’s policy is unclear and needs to be better defined. He apologized for the error at the graduation ceremony.
Given the ‘confusion’ and given that the reality was that the original valedictorian and salutatorians demonstrably took more difficult courses, ethics and morality would have prevailed. But that was not to be. The two black kids did the work, and once again, they were told it was not enough.
If one wants to know what can dispirit and kill the drive to succeed, this is an example where doing what is right and excelling is not enough. Unfortunately, we see it too often. President Barack Obama, a moral and ethical man, has been through the wringer. Donald Trump, an immoral man with several baby-mamas, assault on women verbally and physically, serial liar among his better attributes, is still glorified by many.
There is a phrase many people of color hear from their parents. You must be twice as good as your white brother and sister to succeed. And a corollary, you must be 10 times as meek to make it alive from an encounter with a cop.
The great thing from Ali Velshi’s segment is that all of the above is inferred from the parents’ narrative. Most Americans are good people, if not ignorant to much of our realities. More dialogue sheds the façade and enlightens most.
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