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It’s been a long time since your favorite ex-Atlanta Braves pitcher roamed the halls of a public education indoctrination center as a student, but a news story out of New York City leaves me at a momentary loss for words regarding the trajectory our country is headed.

That momentary loss for words is officially over.

Imagine having a child for whom you and your spouse will do anything and everything to ensure every opportunity to succeed. So, as a resident of New York City, you fill out an application for the little tike to be enrolled in an elementary school gifted-student program.

It’s never too early to start pushing your child to be the best and the brightest, so why not apply to have him or her entered in a gifted-student program? Sounds like a great track to begin getting Junior ready for eventual enrollment at Harvard or Yale, right?

Well, in our new, Coca-Cola sponsored America (you saw the Super Bowl commercial, correct?), gifted-student programs are getting the ax if they don’t reflect the new “emerging” United States: the gifted-student program was just too white and lacked the necessary diversity to be celebrated, while we all sit around, link arms, hum “kumbaya” and sip our favorite Coke product in perfect harmony. Sounds like a veritable Norman Rockwell painting, doesn’t it?

The Washington Times reported the controversy surrounding the program Students of Academic Rigor (SOAR – excellent acronym for advocating that students reach for their potential and stay motivated) and why it had to be axed:

“Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in,” Miss McDonald said in the letter posted on Flickr.com.

At least one parent described SOAR as largely white, while others disagreed, the report said.

One mother conceded the program did have a lot of white students, but worried gifted students now won’t be challenged enough.

“Where are they going to put the higher-level students? Sometimes, there are different levels, and teachers can’t handle all the levels in one class,” she told the Daily News.

Get rid of a merit-based, gifted-class system and instead instill a different form of educational value where no one is considered “gifted.” Here’s a news flash, and if you disagree just take a quick look around our society and the rest of the world for that matter. If you lump the future fast-food workers in with the future brain surgeons, I have a grand prediction that everyone won’t turn out to be brain surgeons. They’ll most likely all end up in the fast-food serving line. Not to disparage that type of work, but as the old saying goes, “@#$% flows downhill.”

Isn’t that the motto of modern America, where a merit-based society has been replaced with a society that condones, encourages and is heading in the direction of reclassifying mediocrity and dressing it up like success?

It was only a few years ago that Berkeley High School in California was considering doing away with science labs – you guessed it, it was determined by some milquetoast lefty that they benefited too many white students – with aid instead being given to bridge the school’s racial gap in achievement.

Punish one group because they establish a curve other groups can’t compete with.

To steal a phrase from the late Ted Knight’s character in the movie Caddy Shack, “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

If you can’t cut the mustard in the science lab or the honors classroom, it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person, and all should have the opportunity to apply, but don’t hold the kid back who needs that environment to mentally mature because little Tommy may be a slow learner or just not that motivated.

Rewarding students who strive for academic success by trying to achieve the top score given (usually an “A” – remember?) not only recognizes that student’s hard work, but also gives those who didn’t receive such a high mark the incentive to work harder and hopefully achieve perfection. But in a country where gifted-student programs are getting lifted because they don’t conform to the vision of America Coca-Cola now celebrates, should it be a surprise that a reward system for students and their A’s is under assault as well?

Get this: In Maryland, a middle school had the audacity to reward those students who earned straight A’s by offering them an exclusive celebration (getting out of school early) including a DJ, a game room and free pizza – a dance to reward those students who pushed themselves to achieve excellence.

A great way to motivate students!

Those kids scoring B’s or C’s could join the dance later, but only when the classes were over and the pizza was completely gone; those students with D’s or F’s don’t even get an invite.

Read Rocker’s firsthand account of his public battle with the PC thought police: “Scars and Strikes,” at the WND Superstore

The Maryland schools “Academic Achievement Celebration” is a great program, but it ran afoul of a society that has been taught to value the concept of “When everyone’s super, no one is” more than merit and hard work and realistic accomplishment.

Here’s what the Washington Post reported:

“Some parents say children should not be excluded from school activities, and others are wary of the straight-A emphasis. While parents say student achievement is important and worthy of recognition, the celebration has spotlighted the issue of how best to reward a school’s highest achievers.

“‘The students that don’t get to go end up feeling bad,’ said parent Karen Hanlon, whose daughter has learning disabilities and was not invited to the party. Hanlon said the dance ‘separates the students into groups’ in a school already divided between a highly competitive magnet program and the students who come from the immediate neighborhood.”

Feelings are more important than grades.

Hard work, studying and the “outrageous” concept of a system that actually rewards these values is no match for the concept of a state-mandated disregard for rewarding merit and other virtues.

Then again, in our Coca-Cola country, students’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are deemed culturally insensitive. Seriously, folks, I can’t make this stuff up. In Portland, Ore., an actual principal of a K-8 public school railed against the good old-fashioned American P,B & J.

There’s an active war on merit transpiring in America, where the mediocre are celebrated while there is a desperate attempt to hide their mediocrity from the light of day, as those who are motivated to achieve are forced to sit back and watch as more resources and programs go to uplift those who sometimes can’t, but more times won’t.

Mediocrity has become its own reward in America, a nation where our public schools are getting rid of gifted programs and science classes so as not to offend.

“When everyone’s super, no one is.”

There’s your new motto, America.

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