The unprecedented meltdown in the U.S. sub-prime housing market has rattled Wall Street, sent interest rates soaring, and made the procurement of cheap and easy loans a thing of the past. But the ramifications of the so-called “credit crunch” extend far beyond the financial sector, threatening one of the most cherished lynchpins of the American educational system—extra credit.
“This is bullshit, man,” said 9-year-old Jacob Alderson, a fourth grader at Washington Elementary School in Sunnyvale, a district hit particularly hard by the credit squeeze. “At the beginning of the semester, me and Ms. Erickson had a great deal worked out where I would get 200 ‘E.C.’ points for a dried macaroni diorama on the ancient Mayans. Then after Countrywide goes belly-up, she totally reneges. My housekeeper spent like six hours making that shit, and for what?”
Despite the plight of thousands of kids like Alderson, some industry observers argue that the rapid contraction in the extra credit market is long overdue and necessary for the system’s long-run health.
“The extension of easy extra credit was getting ridiculous in certain areas,” said Jim Feingold, a grade liquidity expert at Goldman Sachs. “I heard of cases where teachers were giving out extra credit for everything: raising hands, coming to class on time, not grabbing your genitalia when speaking. This is just the market coming back to equilibrium.”
Still, Alderson and others maintain they’re being unfairly squeezed by poor lending choices they never made.
Said Alderson: “Man, do you know what my parents will do to me if I bring home another ‘unsatisfactory’ in social studies? Lupita, I need twelve pages on Apocalypto, rapidamente.”