To question the priorities of parents who would...

IT'S EASY

June 08, 1993

IT'S EASY to question the priorities of parents who would file a lawsuit in order to force a school to make their daughter co-valedictorian. Turning class rank into a competitive sport somehow seems to go against the ideal of seeking excellence for its own sake -- which is, however unrealistic, the way many of us idealists would like to view outstanding young scholars.

But let's look on the bright side. Remember the 1991 Texas cheerleader scandal, the sordid story of a mother so obsessed with helping her daughter make the squad that she tried to put a murder contract out on the mother of her daughter's rival? Wanda Webb Holloway just wanted the best for her 13-year-old daughter and, in the small Texas town where she lived, the horizon she saw didn't spread much beyond the glamour of high school cheerleading. The story led to two television movies and some bad publicity for the town of Channelview, Texas.

In Baltimore, the rivalry at Dulaney Valley High School between Angela Lee and Amanda White for top ranking in the class of 1993 is at least a contest for academic excellence. Maybe Ms. White and her parents -- or even Ms. Lee and her parents -- are putting too much emphasis on rank, to the detriment of the joy of excellence for its own sake. But give both girls credit for having their eyes on a worthy prize.

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