I had occasion late last week to visit an area public school. There are 10 or so celebratory banners lining the hall, proclaiming, “We made adequate yearly progress in 2009!”
Adequacy! It’s so … whelming. To be charitable, perhaps this school had to overcome lots of daunting obstacles on the road to adequacy, but it seems so American somehow to trumpet one’s own institutional mediocrity as a victory. Then again, in this case, maybe being merely okay does feel like a victory, given the odds. I wonder, though, what sort of parent and student is inspired (versus discouraged) by these banners, which are clearly displayed to serve as uplifting and confidence-building.

UPDATE: I think this is as much about the choice of words — “adequate” — as anything else. If the school posted banners saying “We met the state’s goals for progress in 2009!”, it would say the same thing, but not look so strange.
(Image for sale from the brilliant satirists at Despair.com)
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