Magazine article New Criterion

Prizes for Everyone

Magazine article New Criterion

Prizes for Everyone

Article excerpt

Remember the Caucus Race in Alice in Wonderland? The creatures "began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over." "But who has won?" the contestants asked when everyone stopped moving. At last the Dodo said, "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes." We thought of the Dodo's approach to competition recently when reading about the decision of the Nashville, Tennessee school system to abolish its honor roll because it had become "an apparent source of embarrassment for some underachievers." As The Washington Post reported, "after a few parents complained that their children might be ridiculed for not making the list, lawyers [it's always the lawyers, isn't it?] for the Nashville school system warned that state privacy laws forbid releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission."

Surely, we thought, this is to take a very parochial view of the matter. …

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