Dr. Victoria Martin, a Child Psychiatrist in Richardson, TX. is becoming increasingly concerned about the “no pass, no play” law and the effect it is having on our children.
“I am sure that this law was passed with the best of intentions but it is time to acknowledge it’s complete failure”. “According to many educators I have spoken with, there have been very few, if any, children who have truly benefited from this unjust rule”. “Many students I see as patients have definitely suffered because of it”. “It could be better titled the “no pass, no live” law for many children”. Dr. Martin feels strongly that if weighed in the balance, this rule does far more damage than good. It is a means by which children who are already feeling like failures are made to feel even more so. It takes away from many of them their only source of achievement and self-esteem. This will only lead to increasing anger, frustration and hopelessness”.
Dr. Martin continued by saying: “Instead of beating these children down even more, we should be encouraging them to participate in activities where they have talents and abilities. We are punishing the “good” kids, the ones who care about their school and want to participate in school activities instead of being involved in gangs and other destructive groups.”
Dr. Martin believes that most of the kids affected by this “no pass, no play” rule, are those with learning disabilities of some kind. The ones without those disabilities have no problem negotiating academic requirements with the demands of their extra-curricular activities. By their success in the band, choir, dramatic productions, and athletics at least some of these learning challenged sudents will gain enough confidence to believe they can achieve in academics as well. Even if they fail academically or drop out of school, we will have given them the hope that they are good at something. And, believe it or not, people do make a living in music, art, athletics and using many skills that we call “extra-curricular.”
We don’t tell a child that if he is poor in math he won’t be allowed to go to English class or that if he is poor in art he won’t be allowed to learn science. The message we are sending is that “what you are good at isn’t important or valuable.” We take kids who are already struggling with fitting into this world and who are already very aware of their inadequacies in academic subjects (and doing the best they can) and just to make sure they know what “losers” they are, we deny them their only pleasure in life, the only way they do gain some sense of achievement. It’s no wonder that kids are taking guns to school!