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In Theory:

Does this tactic make the grade?

December 12, 2009

A middle school in North Carolina last month was selling grades to students to raise money for the school after chocolate sales failed to meet expectations. For a $20 donation, students can add 10 extra points to each of two tests.

The extra points could take a student from a C to a B, or a B to an A.

The school’s principal, Susie Shepherd, says it is wrong for one grade to “ruin nine weeks’ worth of work.”

The state Department of Public Instruction disagrees, saying that “exchanging grades for money teaches students the wrong lessons.”

What do you think? Is this wrong or a bona-fide way of raising funds? Does the school’s fundraising strategy have the potential to teach kids that money can buy you anything — even grades?

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Expediency is often the enemy of appropriateness. Actions that solve our temporary problems can lead us down a path that undermines our fundamental beliefs. When we shift focus from our core values we eventually and inevitably take actions that violate them. This is true of schools and churches and families, and even of our own spiritual lives.

Schools exist to educate children, not to get money. Students attend to get an education, not to get grades. Yes, schools need money to stay open so they may educate children. But awarding grades for donated money creates a never-ending cycle of futility. “Give us money to get a grade” means that the school hasn’t educated and the students haven’t learned. I believe in and contribute to voluntary school fundraisers. But this approach defeats the purpose of the school’s existence.

Our primary purpose in life is to know and love and honor God our Creator, being rightly related to Him through faith in Jesus Christ His Son. He gives us every good material thing we possess that we might enjoy Him and serve Him with it all.

When we seek material things more than relationship with Him, our lives quickly head down a path of futility. When we seek Him first, He supplies all our needs and we discover life’s greatest fulfillment.

Pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Burbank

There are many values that we need to pass on to our children. Their own self worth and potential are two of the most important. These special gifts that we pass on have little or nothing to do with the material, but are solely founded on the spiritual.

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