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Anorexic Student Denied Valedictorian Title

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Mistletoe Angel
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0 posted 05-21-2005 10:02 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7884243/?GT1=6542

I was valedictorian at Denver Academy and I absolutely am saddened and sickened by how poor Karen has been treated here.

She obviously put all her heart these last four years into her academics, so she deserves Valedictorian recognition, NOT "Honorary Valedictorian".

Look, it is expected for students to have consistent, exemplary attendance records to fulfill the utmost quality of a child's education. But it is clear she had a eating disorder, that should be respected, it is completely understandable, and they should give her the benefit of the doubt for the absences that resulted from treatment.

Besides, if they already know her well for the quality of her work and everything, they should know quite well had she been there those days she was getting treatment she would unquestionably be producing the same effort, dedication and heart into her work.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

Michelle_loves_Mike
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1 posted 05-22-2005 05:47 AM       View Profile for Michelle_loves_Mike   Email Michelle_loves_Mike   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Michelle_loves_Mike

I dig where you are coming from, and, I know what I say will either be picked apart word for word, or ignored completely,,,but,,,,my son, aged 9, is in a treatment facility as I write this, and they are not counting the missed days from school as approved.

Now, granted, bout all it kills for 4th grade is a perfect attendance award....it still applies to all grades, no matter why you miss the days, they are days missed, and they don't take the why into concideration.

School has become a zero tolerance place over the years, due to, (I hate to use the term bad apple, but it's all that is coming to mind)bad apples spoiling things over the years.

I mean,,,be it missing days from getting help, or getting stoned,,,,,bringing a machette to class or a nail file,,,,,things have grown almost rediculous, and they no longer "judge" the why on an individual basis. It all gets lumped into a labled group, and all hands are washed of it, "we have made it so".


I do hope this made a little sense, and that someone actually sees what I was trying to say.


The girl was hosed, short and sweet. Sends a great message in a way...."Just hide the pain, asking for help will get you punished". And yes,,that was a whole bucket of sarcasm on that last statement.


Regaurdless, and I'll hush my ramble after this, I'm glad she got the help she needed, at least she will now get to the future she was striving for, one title short, but, hopefully stronger from the experience.

If home is where the heart is,,,,,I guess the corner bar is where the mind wanders off to

serenity blaze
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2 posted 05-22-2005 07:35 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I am sympathetic Noah but can't help but note that the same drive for perfection that fueled her diligence in studies is prolly the source of her illness.

(Not a judgement, sweet Noah, but an observation.)

so hugs and peace
Tim
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3 posted 05-22-2005 08:28 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

"She obviously put all her heart these last four years into her academics..."

I would agree she probably put all her efforts into receiving "A" grades.  As to whether she put her heart into her education is another question which I have no idea the answer.

Receiving A's and succeeding at one's eduation are not synonymous.

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4 posted 05-22-2005 08:53 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Learned until proven unlearned.
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5 posted 05-22-2005 10:37 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Quite a dilemma, Noah. I can certainly understand your feelings on this matter and I sympathize with her in all sincerity.

One of the problems today, be it schools, courtrooms or even the government, things get painted with a very broad brush. Rules are called rules. Deviations from the rules are not tolerated well. A killer not Mirandized walks. I could probably go through the Alley and find several instances where you and others have defended actions, the defense involving rules. I do not agree with this broad brush approach but it exists and one cannot cite rules when they are favorable and claim they are unfair when not favorable. She has my sympathy but, if she really is that intelligent, she won't let it matter in her life.
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6 posted 05-22-2005 11:22 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

I'm gonna be a hardass here.  She made choices, she gets the consequences.  She chose to be 'thinner'.  However one may argue, she chose anorexia.  As far as I know, there has never been one born with anorexia.  It's a choice.  And there are some choices which quickly become addictions.  But they too are choices on whether or not to continue, although the choices may become harder.  She chose.  Just as she chose to excel scholasticly, she chose to refuse nourishment, and she chose psychological  help.  She chose.  As she chose, she can accept the consequences for her actions, for her choosing.  She doesn't get Valedictorian?  So what?  She made her choices; she can deal with her consequences.

I am proud of her though.  She did seek help to the detriment of her attendance record.  She knew the rules of her school, but chose to look after herself first.  And though I got a feeling her words about the title not being important, she lies.  It is important to those who compete, who desire praise.  And there's not a person I've met who doesn't yearn for some sort of praise, of acclaim, of accomplishment.  Saying it doesn't matter is merely rationalization to attempt to soothe the hurt.  Keep in mind, the only one to hurt herself was herself.
Mistletoe Angel
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7 posted 05-22-2005 11:29 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

Alicat, I understand the point you are making here, and it is a valid point indeed.

But there is a line between those who choose to just resort to this unhealthy lifestyle (Lindsay Lohan, the Olsen Twins) and those who live with this sort of disorder. How can those diagnosed under the latter with this sort of disorder help but face these difficulties and appear very thin in their everyday lives in many cases?

And I also am not forgetting that, especially in much larger high schools, the faculties have their own sort of politics in deciding their valedictorians and salutatorians. I guess perhaps in instances where you have twenty students with the same peak GPA average in a large high school competing for the honors, politics are necessary and there has to be further consideration. Maybe you can take into account their extracurricular activity records, side projects, additional honors, student body vote, etc.

Who knows, I guess there isn't official word yet how close or further away the runner-up to Karen was academically. Still, Karen obviosuly has an exemplary work ethic and I believe by the looks of it she deserves the honor, and she deserves the benefit of the doubt on her break of absence during part of her junior year.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

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8 posted 05-22-2005 11:42 PM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Unlike some disorders, anorexia stems from choices, as does bulimia.  Although the impetus may be peer pressure, low self esteem, familial abuse, or something else, it's still up to the individual to choose.  For her choices in destroying her body, she doesn't get my sympathies.  That she is attempting to pay the debt of her consequences, she does.  I do hope that makes sense to you, as it does to me.  I've had friends who had eating disorders, and I've had friends with other disorders, like multiple sclerosis.  They are not equal disorders.  One is chosen, the other is not.  And every choice or action has a consequence, be it good, bad, or neutral.  Some consequences are immediate, like touching a hot stove, while others take longer, like the calls I get regarding my student loans.  My choices, my consequences.  Her choices, her consequences.  Some things are that simple.
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9 posted 05-23-2005 12:59 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Nobody is born bipolar, either... that doesn't mean they choose the illness. Anorexic people have different brain structures than people without anorexia, and it still hasn't been fully explained. It's a question of did the chicken or the egg come first... doctors don't know if the altered brain structure causes the disease, or vice versa. Regardless, most people don't wake  up and decide to be anorexic. A healthy decision to lose weight may have spiraled out of her control, leading to a very real and very dangerous disorder.

Whether or not that means she should still get to be valedictorian... I dunno. Shouldn't the school have specific policies for medical leaves of absence? And if she was still doing her schoolwork while in the hospital, wouldn't she technically have to have been enrolled for it to be accepted? I agree with Balladeer about the broad stroked thing- an established student being hospitalized is not nearly the same thing as a transfer student.
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10 posted 05-24-2005 12:46 PM       View Profile for Kaoru   Email Kaoru   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kaoru

Anorexia is a mental disease, and a valid one at that. Their have been numerous studies linking eating disorders with heredity, obsessive compulsive disorder and a vast array of other REAL diseases. It's unfair to say that it was all "choice", when her mind and body were both out of her control. The reason people with eating disorders seek help is because someone eventually does notice and pushes them to do so. A lot of girls that go through treatment STILL end up doing the same things after they're released. I refuse to believe that it's merely a choice, and not some sort of chemical imbalance.

Pretty much every emotional/mental illness is caused by a malfunction in the brain..Why is this exempt?

It's just sad to me that we look at it as a simple "angsty" behaviour instead of a real problem. Something tells me that wanting to weigh 70 pounds is more than just a choice.
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11 posted 05-24-2005 03:01 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

I agree that it's not necessarily a choice and a person shouldn't be "punished" for something outside of their control; they should be helped.

Still, I feel about this subject much as I feel about granting a job to someone because they fit a minority rather than their ability to do the job.

EOE (Equal Opportunity Employment), just like this situation shouldn't be based on whether a person is a minority or not or whether they have a disease or not, it should be based on who's more qualified for a job or who actually met the requirements to be Valedictorian. Fact is, it appears to me, that she almost met the requirements.

Almost isn't quite.

I think she shouldn't be Valedictorian just because she has a valid disease when someone else actually met the requirements, any more than I should get a job just because I'm a minority even though someone else who isn't a minority is more qualified.

egowhores.com - really love yourself.

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12 posted 05-24-2005 03:20 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Actually, I think its an Americans with Disabilities Act or perhaps a Rehabilitation Act issue.  The question is whether, because of her anorexia, the girl qualifies as a protected class and is therefore entitled to reasonable accommodations for her disorder.

By the way ... school codes have specific provisions regarding discipline, but students with disabilities are protected by Federal law requiring a determination as to whether the problem behavior was a manifestation of the student's disability and, if so, to determine the function of the behavior and develop a plan for replacing the behavior with a more positive one.

If I were this child's parents, I'd be talking with my lawyer.  I have no problem considering anorexia a disability as defined by the act and I think waiving the attendance requirements while she recovered is a reasonable accommodation.  If she does the work, she deserves the honor.

Jim

P.S. What if she had leukemia?  Would she then have been barred from being honored as valedictorian?

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13 posted 05-24-2005 06:02 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

so a person who requires accomodation should be chosen over one who does not?
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14 posted 05-24-2005 07:07 PM       View Profile for Capricious   Email Capricious   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Capricious

I think the real question is this:  with regard to an academic award such as Valedictorian, should attendance be weighed equally with scholastic acheivement?

I would say no.  To those who would say "rules are rules," I would say "there is always an exception," and as was pointed out before her case is not one that the rule in question was created to prevent. It isn't as though she knew she had the grades in the bag and decided to piss away the rest of the school year in Mexico sipping margaritas.

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15 posted 05-24-2005 08:16 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

...and to those who say "There are always exception" I would say you are opening a Pandora's box. What happens when you start invoking the exceptions? What happens when common sense collides with law? Do you say "Well, that may be how the law is written but....."? What happens then? Do we throw OJ in jail because everyone with half a brain, except for 12 jurors, knows he's guilty? Believe me, I'd like the common sense side to win out, too, but then you have to decide "Whose common sense?" and Pandora wins again.  If there are rules in place you have to follow them or they are worthless. The school didn't spring this on the student or parents - they were reminded well in advance and their comment was that they were hoping the rules wouldn't be enforced...duh, then why have rules? Personally I think it was a kind gesture on the school's part to create a special award just for her, acknowledging her achievement.

The student came up with the right answer...

More important than the trophy, the teen says, her self-esteem is intact.

“That’s more  important than any achievement or any title you could ever get,” Scherr said. “I’m thankful I’ve learned that at this point in my life, at 18 years old.”

A young woman who says she doesn’t need a prize to appreciate all she’s accomplished, inside and outside the classroom.


That says it all.....
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16 posted 05-24-2005 08:19 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

if the rules have exceptions, then where is the credit for others not breaking them?

how can you justify one having precedence over the other, when the first followed the rules and another didn't? that there is an "excusable" reason for not abiding by those rules doesn't negate that they are there to be followed and weren't. I think it's right that she not be awarded the title because she didn't meet the pre-defined requirements. the rest is just rhetoric.
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17 posted 05-24-2005 10:48 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


I don't see how it stands that she broke a rule.  How can you break something yourself, when you never had a choice?  If someone pushes someone so forcefully at window that it breaks, should the person that is pushed at the window be judged as "guilty" of breaking the window?  And treated the the same as the person that pushed him, and hurt him in the act?  I don't believe so.  
Why should she be treated guilty of breaking a rule, and neglecting schooltime in any way, when it was her sickness that enforced her to leave?

[This message has been edited by Essorant (05-25-2005 02:06 AM).]

Mistletoe Angel
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18 posted 05-24-2005 11:27 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

I respect very much that Karen is modest about her achievements. I too was very modest after I was valedictorian at Denver Academy.

The fact is though, my parents are ecstatic about me being one. They immediately got my plaque and certificate and put in in a scrapbook.

It isn't just about Karen herself, it's about her loved ones and such. Of course I can't speak for them all, and I know regardless of artifacts, they're just proud of her deep down and she knows they are, but I'm sure they'd think it rather nice to have something special they could put into her scrapbook like that to highlight and cap off a wonderful high school experience.

There's just some sentimental value to the honor too.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"

Mother Teresa

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19 posted 05-25-2005 08:48 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Balladeer & Chris:

Ess is right.  First, there is a vast difference between criminal law and school codes.  Most school rules are written with the general student population in mind - those who are capable of abiding by the school rules volitionally.  To argue that a student with a disability should be discounted from an honor solely on the basis of non-compliance with a non-academic school rule through no fault of their own is wrong-minded.  In passing her over for consideration for valedictorian, the school has missed an opportunity to celebrate a student who has overcome the debilitating effects of a dangerous disorder and acheived academic excellence in spite of the strikes against her.

If honoring her dignity and perseverence is opening a Pandora's Box (I don't think it is), then I say open the box.  If a child in a wheel chair doesn't get an "A" in gym because he or she couldn't complete a mile in 10 minutes or less and misses the opportunity for academic honors because of it, the failure is systemic, not the child's.

When education fails to acknowledge and accommodate the individual strengths an needs of students, I believe it has failed in its mission to teach.  There is a difference between an exception and an accommodation.  The first waives a rule with or without good cause.  The second takes the individual into account, and makes adjustments to the general standards as needed in order to preserve the individual's dignity.

If you are against reasonable accommodations, do I think you are against preserving a child's dignity?  Yes.

Jim
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20 posted 05-25-2005 10:43 AM       View Profile for LeeJ   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for LeeJ

I believe in many cases, exceptions have been seriously evoked, but to keep within the conversation of this thread...yes, anorexia is a disease and a personal choice...saying scientists have linked it to some kind of brain alteration, to me is simply an excuse...if one believes in God, then would you honestly believe that he would make is a disease....I really wish, truly and from my heart, this country would stop being so light footed and start generating blame from choices of the individuals...
I'm not taking a stance here on if she should be validictorian or not, but what I do believe is this...a valedictorian is a leader, one who persists to accomplish truth and honor...who serves as example to others...role model of sorts...
I'm sorry, but I must agree, this is and was a choice on her part, sorry to say, and she must be willing to get help, this is a result of some self esteem deficiancy...perhaps a problem childhood, abuse, etc.  Perhaps the only way she feels successful, not to mention, the only thing in her life, she may have control over?
I dunno, but, darn it, I say with respect...not meaning any insult or harm to the individual involved...when are we going to realize, and stop looking for reasons, and just deal with the consequences of the problem, not with medication, but with real honest ta goodness self examination and realize, we're not just hurting ourselves, but everyone who is connected to us.

Sincerely
Lee J.
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21 posted 05-25-2005 02:07 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

LeeJ:

Thanks for your post.  I think it cut straight to the real issue and revealed the fallacious starting point of those who believe she is undeserving of the honor, which is at best naive and at worst bigotted.

quote:
I believe in many cases, exceptions have been seriously evoked, but to keep within the conversation of this thread...yes, anorexia is a disease and a personal choice...saying scientists have linked it to some kind of brain alteration, to me is simply an excuse...


First let's look at the idea that anorexia is a disease AND a choice.  By disease, I suspect you mean disorder, and I agree with you on that point.  "Choice," however, is far too reductionistic to be credible, for it connotes that the disorder is brought on by a deliberate act of volition - a decision to be thin.

Or is it really about being thin?  Perhaps it is a "choice" to become beautiful - like the ubiquitous media images of thin women with disproportionately large breasts, of Paris Hilton seductively leaning over an exotic car while holding a 1/2 pound hamburger or the model in translucent clothing pawning Sky Vodka.  First, I would dispute your seeming assumption that adolescents are able to contextualize mass media images of beauty and make healthy, rational decisions to accept their natural physical attributes in spite of the sexy images of the "ideal woman" that we find on every other page of any given teen magazine.  Behavior isn't a result of choice alone, but proceeds from a complex interaction of cognition, body, and environment.  I think you will discount the notion that there is a physiological component to anorexia (in your own words, "...saying scientists have linked it to some kind of brain alteration, to me is simply an excuse..."), though I believe you do so without giving the matter sufficient thought.

But what of environment?  What of those media ads and swimsuit issues?  What of the OC?  What part do they play in forming the unrealistic notion of beauty that drives those who suffer from the mental illness of anorexia to starve themselves to death?

Anorexia is a mental illness and I would venture to say that nobody chooses to be mentally ill.

quote:
I really wish, truly and from my heart, this country would stop being so light footed and start generating blame from choices of the individuals...


And I really wish, truly and from my heart, that this country will stop treating mental illness and neurological disorders flippantly, blaming the victim in a way that treads heavy-footed to the drum of dehumanization.  This girl overcame a potentially deadly condition while maintaining grades that, had she not been forced to choose recovery over classroom attendance, would have earned her the honor of valedictorian.  This tells me that she is a determined and driven person who will likely overcome adversity later in life while her peers struggle under the weight.  What better role model is there than that?

quote:
when are we going to realize, and stop looking for reasons, and just deal with the consequences of the problem, not with medication, but with real honest ta goodness self examination and realize, we're not just hurting ourselves, but everyone who is connected to us.


And I ask when are we going to stop focusing myopically on the consequences of unwanted behavior and begin trying to discern what that behavior is communicating to us?  To focus on consequences to the exclusion of causes is harmful, and not likely to yield any meaningful results.

While I respect your obvious sensitivity, I cannot respect an opinion that is so poorly formed and obviously wrong.

Jim
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22 posted 05-25-2005 02:43 PM       View Profile for LeeJ   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for LeeJ

Jim
Well, I for one respect your opinion, regardless if I agree or not and you've made some points well taken, on the other hand
I was there, Jim, the bathing suit craze, the stimulus from magazines, etc...and thin was always in...since I was a child...but, again...closed minded or not...if I owned esteem and self respect, the last thing on my mind would be to starve myself and by the way, I've always possessed a weight problem...up and down, but realized at a young age, dicipline and exercise paid off.  

But to literally starve myself down to skeletal?  I don't mean to sound unsympathetic...positively I'm so sorry these children and woman feel so desprately in need of starving themselves to death....

But, it's like anything else, lack of education, obsession, perhaps the blindness of not even realizing how really bad they do look...obviously, a choice to eat or not to eat, but most of all, largely a lack of self esteem, not liking themselves and being comfortable with who they are, let alone, the significance of their lives, and how this affects so many others who love them.

I'm all in favor of discussion, teach me Jim...cuz I'm open, but don't go completely left or right with me on this subject...and I'll admit, perhaps there are things about this I don't know, but hopefully I never came across as idiodic as you projected...

thats why I participated in this forum and this particular subject, doesn't mean my opinion is written in stone...

You had lots of good solid points...but please, I believe that's why this country is in the desprate need of understanding today, due to comments like the one you ended your point well taken in.

I'm not hurt, nor intimidated, but lets talk about this without throwing stone...teach me...with kind words...and a little bit more understanding...

I'm from the old school...and by darn, I've seen to many excuses made for violation to the mind body and soul...addictions...doesn't mean I'm senseless and cruel, just means, perhaps I need a little more guidence on the subject

Sincerely
Lee J.
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23 posted 05-25-2005 03:48 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

alright, Jim, based on your premise, who chooses and how do you choose who should be awarded exceptions?

should the rules be different for a child of a single-parent family?

should rules be different for someone who is overweight?

should rules be different for someone of a different religion, race, sex?

there are differences in all of these that are not (with the exception of religion... perhaps) by choice, but rather by environment and mental pre-dispositions; genetics, maybe.

rules have to exist and have to be followed, without exception, or they become worthless. open the door for one exception and then you will have to start opening it for others. i'm confident that if you and i were to sit down, we could list an endless parade of various rules that we feel should maitain exceptions for _fill in the blank_ condition/situation/predisposition. if we were then able to enact on those exceptions, we'd find that not only would we be making a good portion of the whole unhappy, but we'd also be missing a bunch of exceptions that we'd never even considered.

rules are meant to apply to a population whole, not parts. does that mean i don't believe this young lady "deserves" to be Valedictorian? no, as you pointed out, she is obviously a driven, capable and strong-willed individual whom, i agree, could serve as a much better role model than many other choices available.

that doesn't mean i think the rules should be broken, or even bent to accomodate for her "situation."

let me ask you: would you feel the same if, instead of anorexic, she were a sexual predator that had been seeking help, but managed to overcome and otherwise meet the requirements sae for the days in treatment?

egowhores.com - really love yourself.

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24 posted 05-25-2005 04:38 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

"Exceptions" or "accommodations" should be based on the explicit, individual needs of a student.  Planning for such accommodations should include the student to the maximum extent practicable, the parent, the teacher, support staff, etc. as needed.  I'm not suggesting anyone make unilateral, arbitrary decisions to waive rules, but I know from much experience that it is possible to accurately define a disabled or mentally ill student's needs and plan for them.  The accommodations are "reasonable" in that they provide a student with access to what their specific disability makes difficult.  Once the accommodation is made, it is up to the student to take the next step.  This girl has.

Chris (and Balladeer and LeeJ), the problem I have with your position is that I seriously doubt any of you have a close relationship/relationships with a person or persons with neurological disorders or mental illness.  I also expect you've never implemented any treatment protocols for such cases.  If you had, I think it would be fairly obvious to you that the "compliance-Nazis" rarely enable the neurologically impaired or mentally ill to achieve meaningful outcomes.  It's not fuzzy, politically correct non-sense, but applied psychology with decades of peer review.

And you seriously expect me to compare an anorexic girl with a sexual predator?

Jim
 
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