Early this year, in May, an Australian teen, Rose Ashton-Weir, 18, along with her mother, Elizabeth Weir, decided to sue her former school for not providing “exceptional” education, nor adequate support, particularly in math. The school in question is the Geelong Grammar School, an elite Australian private and boarding school whose notable alumni include HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, the Sultan of Terengganu (aka the King of Malaysia), and Kerry Packer (formerly Australia’s richest person). Weir boarded at the school between 2008-2009, and intended to take the International Baccalaureate (IB), but unfortunately fell ill with glandular fever in 2009, and had to move from the school’s Victoria campus, back to New South Wales, where she completed high school at TAFE College. The teen and her mother intended to sue the school on two counts:
- Weir, according to news.com.au, was “failing badly in math in years 9 and 10 and later missed out on enrollment in law at the University of Sydney.” Prior to this, she had scored 99 percentile on many standardized tests, and was bestowed the title of “giftedness”, but she felt that Geelong had stymied her progress and, by not providing her support, helped crush her dreams of studying law at the University of Sydney.
- Her mother adds on to the claims, by asserting that as her daughter had to return halfway through the school year to live with her, not only did they have to pay $39,000 AUD in rent to move to Sydney, but it also cost her her “chocolate fortune cookie” making business that could have raked in approximately $450,000 AUD of profits between August 2009 and 2012. They sought compensation for school fees (AUD $45000 a year), as Weir’s test scores allegedly increased when attended the $500 TAFE College instead) and relocation costs, as they felt that the school had breached a contract to deliver a premium and highly individualized education.
In other news, in August 2009, Trina Thompson, a graduate from New York’s Monroe College, attempted to sue her alma mater for $72,000, according to CNN, as she asserted that the Office of Career Advancement failed to help her secure a full-time job placement. While a charitable perusal of sources would note that Weir claimed to be suing the school not because she failed to “get into law”, but because they had not provided, and delivered, the education and learning support that was promised, it all seems to hint at the rise of a culture of entitlement (with a capital E), where it’s okay to blame schools if you fail – to get into college, to get a job, to . While I would understand if Weir expected to go smooth sailing into university with top grades, and a good education from a top-tier school like Geelong Grammar, the blame for her poor results in Math (she scored an E there), and ultimately failing to make it to the University of Sydney’s law course, should be shifted and passed so quickly to the school. Furthermore, according to representatives from the school, Weir, while intelligent, lacked social maturity and was periodically under “internal suspension”, and was noted to fail to complete schoolwork. Geelong Grammar was working to just get her through the year, and to graduation. I guess the bottom line is that a top-shelf institution doesn’t guarantee that its students can sit back, relax, and watch the As and 4.0 GPAs roll in. I’m not sure if it would be fair to accuse Weir of not having much personal responsibility to keep up with the 99 percentile standardized test scores during her time in school, but I’ll say what Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”, and well, perhaps neither should she (have).