A Socialist Experiment: Redistribution and Social Justice

The Reading and Study Skills Center at Tacoma ...
The Reading and Study Skills Center at Tacoma Community College Library in Tacoma, WA (Photo credit: WA State Library)

In schools, there are different kinds of students. There are those who never study but always do well on exams – they’re just gifted. There are those who never study and fail. There are those who study hard to make good grades and there are those who study hard and still don’t do as well. In short, success at school depends not solely on hard work, but on ability, parental influence, the home environment etc. As a result, some of the people who do badly at school don’t deserve it.

Doing badly at school affects you in lots of ways – you’re less likely to get prestigious scholarships, attend prestigious schools or get a high paying job. You might not even get to pick the career you take because your GPA is too low. This will, of course, leave you far below your peers in terms of achievement. They might look down on you. You might not earn enough money to care for yourself and your family. You might end up depressed and it’s usually downhill from there. What’s more, your children end up being born int the same situation and might end up like you. It’s like a generational curse.

So, how do we solve this problem?

I have a solution for this gross inequality. We could take a little from the GPAs of the high achievers and add to the underachieving so that they are better off. That way, we could help the less fortunate among us.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking:

English: KIS International School IB Diploma s...
English: KIS International School IB Diploma students conducting a Science experiment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Isn’t it unfair to take GPAs from those who earned them and give it to those who didn’t? How would you feel if you had to study your ass off to make straight A’s but you weren’t given a 4.0 because some people didn’t do as well as you?

A. Remember that I said that good grades are not based on merit alone. Those who make good grades are blessed in that they have the required strength, IQ, etc. to do as well as they are doing. Some of those who do badly still work very hard -I’ve had friends like that. They’re just not as biologically advantaged as others. Should we be selfish and let them suffer? Isn’t it a biblical mandate that we help the weak among us?

2 Our educational system is based on merit. Awarding grades based on merit lets employers know who is capable of what job so they can hire the best people for a job. If we stop awarding GPAs based on merit, it’ll hurt to recruitment process for businesses.

A. The fact that businesses recruit on merit is one of the reasons the unfortunately less gifted of us are left behind, leading to all the problems I previously listed. If companies could stop discriminating against people based on factors they have no control over, the world will be a better place. Of course, companies would have less skilled workers on average, but they’re not going to collapse completely because of that. So, the millionaires who run them will be a little less rich. That’s not really a tragedy. It’ll be a blessing for those who finally get a job.

3. Wouldn’t this destroy our educational system? If students know that they’re not going to fail anyway because the system is fixed to help everybody, they’ll put in less effort. Students will learn less on average.

A. Not necessarily. There are other ways to encourage student participation even with this system. You can make the classes more interesting. Students usually don’t skip interesting classes on purpose. You can encourage hard work using some other kind of reward. You can also educate students about the effect of lack of participation. We’re not just manufacturing their GPA. We’re taking it from the more fortunate students so if the whole class slacks off, the average GPA will fall and everybody will not do as well as they would if they hadn’t slacked off.

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. I attend every class, do every homework, take every extra credit opportunity. I’m not naturally ‘gifted’. I work very, very hard and I have a 3.9 GPA. Are you saying that all my hard work should go to someone else?

A. You are gifted in that you have that capacity and ability to work so hard. You are also gifted in that your hard work pays off. There are people who study as hard as you do and still don’t do well. And even if we grant that you merit your good grades, it doesn’t change anything. Every worker earns his pay but should he refuse to give of it to a starving man? Is that not cruel?