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Is There Preferential Treatment at Tuscarora?

Marissa Pycha, Cloe Hartley, and Mia Egerman

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We all have preferences. Some people like spicy food and some don’t, some people like Football and some like Baseball, and some don’t like sports at all. Throughout our lives, we gain personal preferences as a result of our cultural experiences as well as our personalities. Our preferences are an aspect of our individuality and our individuality is what makes us unique. But, what if our preferences are for a certain type of person and what if our job is to be educators? Is it possible to be a human and to not have preferences as a teacher or administrator? We decided to look into the idea preferential treatment at Tuscarora in order to shine some light on student perceptions, teacher opinions, and administrative reactions. The following is the result of our investigation. 

When asked, “Do you think there is preferential treatment in Tuscarora”, roughly 88% of students said yes. Lauren Beaudoin feels that student athletes are given a boost in class and that “[they] get a slap on the wrist when another kid would get in serious trouble”. On the other hand, Kreggor Clark feels that a difference in treatment isn’t affected by athletic ability, but rather, “If you’re not respectful and put forth effort, you won’t get help.” In other words, Kreggor holds a somewhat unpopular opinion that you get back what you put in and if you feel that you’re being reated unfairly it might have more to do with your own behaviors rather than something that’s out of your control. Emily Frocke thinks that preferential treatment “effects a student’s ability to learn, especially if they aren’t the favorite, because it hurts and can leave the student feeling unmotivated.” All of our interviewees, regardless of personal experience, agreed that if the majority believes there is preferential treatment, it should be brought to the attention of administration. As Emily Frocke mentioned, it is important to keep in mind that, “as humans, we are naturally going to have favorites.”

The opinions of teachers, however, are more evenly divided. Mr. Coughlin, among the 57% who believe there is preferential treatment of students, feels “if [students are] a good athlete, they may get more passes” to maintain academic eligibility. Regarding capabilities in a subject, he thinks “it’s more about the effort.” Yet, Ms. Reid does not believe there is preferential treatment because she has not witnessed it firsthand. She thinks that a dependent student who needs more attention may be misinterpreted as a student who receives preferential treatment. In her words, “performance should be the defining factor of their grade”. Mr. Miles claims “it depends on how a teacher wants to run their classroom.” Although he strongly feels there is preferential treatment, he recognizes that “we are humans, we are built on judgement, we are built on preferences.”. A number of teachers offered opinions but were uncomfortable being named in this article. Their responses typically feel along the line of recognizing that preferential treatment does indeed happen here, but several also noted that it’s worse in other schools in which they have worked. 

As Mr. Kibler puts it, we can’t overlook that “we put a heavy weight on our teachers”. Despite what we have found most people feel, he says “in terms of athletes [and other involved students], they are held to a higher standard of accountability” because they represent our school. This issue of preferential treatment is based on the way our society is built. In Mr. Kibler’s eyes, “There isn’t a one-size fits all to any high school”. It’s our teachers’ job to remind themselves that every student is different. Likewise, it’s our job as students to recognize a teacher can only do so much. The purpose of the information we collected is to shed light on the feelings of our fellow Titans, and to improve as a school.

So there is some evidence that, at least as far as perception goes, many students and teachers feel that not all students are treated in the exact same manner. However, what isn’t clear, is to what extent this impacts, negatively or positively, a student’s academic success. There are also some rather common sense themes to take from this: if you treat your teachers with extreme disrespect or if you are a constant behavior problem, you probably are not going to be favored by that teacher in any circumstance. Any time we get large groups of people together it gets complicated and schools are no different. Our intention with this article was to do a little investigative journalism and to inform our readers of our findings. Do you agree or disagree with what we’ve discovered? And, more importantly, if you agree, how do you think we can change it? We’d love to hear from other Titans out there in our comments section.

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Is There Preferential Treatment at Tuscarora?