The misadventures of Little Johnny
May 04, 2011 - Little Johnny had a big problem.
He got his report card and things weren't looking so good. He got one C, three D's and an F.
On top of that, he got his MEAP test results and they weren't so hot either.
Little Johnny was sure his parents were going to kill him for doing so poorly.
They were probably going to take away his cell phone, iPod, laptop computer and Xbox 360. They might even cancel his Facebook account and start making him do chores around the house.
The possibility of suffering these cruel and unusual punishments frightened little Johnny very much. So, Little Johnny did what everyone in the adult world does when they want to make something bad look good – he found himself an "expert" to plead his case to his parents.
Little Johnny went on-line and found an expert in education who had a B.S. in B.S., a master's degree in sophistry and a Ph.D in excuses.
A few days later, Little Johnny presented his parents with his report card and MEAP scores.
As can be expected, they hit the ceiling. Just as they were starting to yell at him and dole out various punishments, Little Johnny introduced his expert.
The expert explained to Little Johnny's parents that grades and test scores were of no real value when it came to measuring how much a child was learning, how hard a student was studying or how successful he or she would be in the future. The expert baffled them with charts, graphs, statistics, university studies, technical jargon and articles from obscure academic journals that no one's ever heard of.
He told them how each child is so very different that it's virtually impossible to come up with an adequate way to judge how much they're learning. Even if they could, the expert said it's no measure of how well they're prepared for the future because college life will undo all their K-12 learning with its endless distractions and temptations such as parties, drinking and late night co-ed biological explorations.
The conclusion to the expert's presentation was done entirely in Chinese, which Little Johnny's parents didn't understand, but they were nonetheless very impressed because it sounded so authoritative and worldly.
At the end of his spiel, Little Johnny's parents fell to their knees and apologized to their son for judging him so harshly.
The next week they went before the school board and demanded that grades and tests be banned from the district.
They even held a press conference to tell the whole world how meaningless these academic measurements are.
A few months later, during summer vacation, a change came over Little Johnny and for some reason, he decided to take his studies more seriously when the new school year began.
It worked because Little Johnny's first report card of the year featured two A's and three B's.
When Little Johnny showed his good grades to his parents this time, they weren't terribly interested or impressed because of what the education expert had told them.
So, Little Johnny brought the expert to his house again, this time to explain why grades and test scores are so very important and how they're the only way to truly measure what a child is learning. By the end of the presentation, Little Johnny's parents were carrying him around the room on their shoulders and telling him how proud they were.
Just before the expert left, he handed Little Johnny his card and said, "Give me call in a few years if you don't do well on the ACT. I've got a whole presentation explaining why it doesn't really matter."
The next day, Little Johnny's parents went to the school board to boast about how smart their son was and how every student should emulate him. They even issued a press release about their son's academic success and paid to have him featured on an infomercial disguised as a news program called "Michigan's Best Students."
So what's the moral of the story?
When you fail, use experts to downplay, spin, distract and shift blame. When you succeed, brag like there's no tomorrow about how you're the best in the world.
The key to success in life is only taking responsibility for the good stuff – and having plenty of scapegoats and excuses for the bad stuff.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.