Mediocre and entitled

“There is an infinite difference between a little wrong and just right, between fairly good and the best, between mediocrity and superiority.”

Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924), American writer


November 2007, KMGH television Denver Colorado – “To end complaints about the sometimes fierce competition among overachieving high school students, the Boulder (Colorado) Valley School District is getting rid of the practice of crowning a single valedictorian,” ending “unhealthy” class rankings. And in 2010, Boulder graduated its first class without a valedictorian.

Leading to that decision were district concerns that competitive students “were forced to opt for academic heavyweight classes” and that “students were penalized for taking harder courses because they couldn’t maintain A’s.”

Of the change, a thoughtful freshman student said, “I think that if people work that hard they should be rewarded.” A parent added, “The entire purpose of school is to produce scholars.” Are these just quaint concepts?

Welcome to the sharing of mediocrity. Welcome to the envy of entitlement. When did taking harder classes become something we don’t want? When did getting an A in that hard class become unfair to those who did not? When did striving for excellence become “overachieving” and “unhealthy?”

Didn’t our parents teach us we were only entitled to what we earned and nothing more? Didn’t our parents teach us to work hard and strive for excellence? My dad always told me I could do anything I wanted if I was willing to work hard and pay the price to get there.

Are these simple, honest values outdated and just another step toward our socialist mentality? To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill’s comments on socialism, “With a creed of ignorance and a gospel of envy” Boulder Colorado created “the equal sharing of mediocrity.”

But isn’t Boulder just reflecting our evolving national values, best expressed by our political leaders who also exalt mediocrity by demonizing those who work hard and excel? According to Washington, too much hard work, too much success, too much money defines the “enemy.”

Not surprisingly, some of our more enlightened, progressive Ivy League universities are adopting Boulder’s values. These universities discovered that some students were performing too well in high school and basing admissions on merit was interfering with the racial mix they wanted.

The problem students? Asians. As a race, they work too hard and perform too well, ruining the wanted racial mix. So, some universities now accept lesser-qualified students to maintain the “proper” racial mix, turning away better-qualified students of the wrong race.

Is this what we want to teach our youth? Don’t work hard. Don’t do too well. Don’t stand out. Don’t pay the price for excellence. Rather, you will be rewarded for mediocrity. You are entitled. Shared mediocrity, entitled mentality; it’s a short step from one to the other.

Every day we become a more “entitled” society, fewer people accepting responsibility for themselves. Every day, our government creates more indentured servants needing and expecting the government to care for them.

Well, how well is this new ethos serving our nation? A recent report on the math proficiency of graduating high school students showed that the U.S ranked 32nd among 65 nations. And guess what? In our entitled society of shared mediocrity, the U.S. students who ranked highly in these international comparisons were Asian students. Yes, the very same Asian students some of our most prestigious universities see as a problem.

Perhaps our educational and political leaders should heed the advice of Common Cause founder John W. Garner who said, “The idea for which this nation stands will not survive if the highest goal free man can set themselves is an amiable mediocrity. Excellence implies striving for the highest standards in every phase of life.”

Don’t our founding fathers and those who died for us, for our freedom, and for our opportunity, deserve a better thank-you than a mediocre, entitled citizenry? It’s worth some thought.

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5 Responses to “Mediocre and entitled”

  • JB says:



  • SKB says:

    One of your best pieces.


  • Dale Charles says:

    So next year, BVSD will not give letter grades to further reduce any student anxiety. And these are the same students that will then run for political office, and look for people to just vote as ‘present’ (and not accounted for). Keep up the good work, Craig.


  • Denise Bender says:

    I so enjoy your commentaries and just want you to know they are always thought provoking. This one was right up there. Keep up the good work.


  • Joe Brown says:

    Thanks for for an excellent article. Your vision on excellence vs mediocre is shared by all my generation. We are not happy with the entitlement movement that has so much momentum.

    ps – I’m Minden alum, class of 1953. The Holdrege basketball team was led by a Bosley – a good player.

    New Braunfels, TX




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