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She Says I Want a B NOT to the Plastic Surgeon

Posted on the 14 February 2013 by Fadi Bejjani @DrFadiBejjani
Megan Thode's father is a professor at Lehigh University (PA) and got her in tuition free. That was not good enough, as she wanted free grades too. When her instructor, Amanda Eckhardt gave her a C+ instead of a B, instead of making up for it, she sued her professor and Lehigh University for discrimination, demanding a better grade and $1.3 million in damages because she claims the C+ cost her a career as a licensed therapist.  From the pictures on the internet, MT looks like she is a single mother with one baby, so I guess she needed to figure out the easy way out. She got the easy way in after all! 
Of the bat, several questions arise: where is the discrimination coming from, since her instructor is a woman? Was she discriminated against because a single mom or professor's daughter? If she was really serious about a career as a therapist, wouldn't it have been a lot easier for everybody to make up for her grade and improve it (I am convinced her teacher would agree)? The answer of course is that she wanted easy money (HERE and NOW) and she found a lawyer to oblige. The Judge did say that this case should not be in court but lets it go on anyhow!
Judges in the US have been dumped on by the Executive branch, the Legislative branch, the State governors and everybody else and their brothers. Although NON-ELECTED officials, they are being asked to settle all kinds of conflicts and make all kinds of decisions for us. Are they now going to be asked to grade our students?! what next?
In my 13 years as a Jesuit student, the best grade one could ever get was 16/20 and that was labeled EXCELLENT. It was a constant reminder of how much more one has to learn NOT how much one already knows (or thinks one knows). It was the Jesuits' way to imbed humility, constant quest for knowledge, and thriving for improvement into the grade. 
Later on in Paris, The concours d'internat des hôpitaux (residency entrance exam) was structured such that the top grades did not exceed 11/20. They would give you one hour to write down everything you know about appendicitis for example, or the branches of the abdominal aorta (without drawings) and that was it. It was a constant reminder of how little you knew not how much you knew. When my grades which were quite decent in a French perspective, were translated into American they looked puny: 16/20 (Excellent) becomes 80/100, which means close to MT's grade! Needless to say I had a lot of explaining to do!
In the mid-80s (a few years after I immigrated) I taught one summer at a NYC college. I had to apply a two standard deviation Gaussian curve to lift the grades to be in the 70s! Needless to say it almost caused a riot among students and parents. Not one concern was: what do I have to do to improve my knowledge of the topic and my grade. Instead "kill the teacher" or "we paid for that A"!
One main fact is that in the US people do pay a lot of money for education and by extrapolation they need the A to show for it, whether they deserve it or not. In France, you pay little to nothing for your education so the system can actually demand knowledge from you and be more meritocratic. Then again MT paid nothing for her education and she wanted the B regardless. That is the other sore spot in our education system: for any ridiculous peccadillo, Americans go the lawyer and the judge, not the French or any other people I know of on this planet.
Grade inflation is also a problem: what does it mean to get an A+? Does it mean the student more than knows it all and should just close his/her books and be done with learning? One can certainly read that into it. How is this inflation enticing students to learn more, since undoubtedly there is ALWAYS a lot more to learn? How is this A+ inspiring the kind of humility that is needed to seek more knowledge.
We can certainly start by keeping lawyers and judges out of the classroom. Imagine if MT has her way, not because of the merits of her case but because of the savvy lawyer who is dreaming of his third. This will establish a nightmarish precedent  which will further destroy our already embattled education system. 
Should we put a caveat to the old aphorism?
Knowledge is Power...Unless One Has Money!

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