It started two decades ago when elementary-school field days began dropped 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-place ribbons in favor of “participation” ribbons for everyone. Lord knows, we wouldn’t want to celebrate excellence or anything.

The kids who grew up in that “no one is a loser” atmosphere are now teachers themselves, and look what they’re doing: actually USING what we taught them:

West suburban Indian Prairie District 204 has become the latest in the Chicago area to eliminate high school class ranks.

The District 204 school board on Monday voted unanimously and without discussion to eliminate traditional valedictorian and salutatorian honors at each of the district’s three high schools.

Is it any wonder we get reports like this:

Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a math test and scored in the middle in science and reading, while China’s Shanghai topped the charts, raising concern that the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development, which represents 34 countries, today released the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment. For the first time, the test broke out the performance of China’s Shanghai region, which topped every country in all academic categories. The U.S. government considers the test one of the most comprehensive measures of international achievement.

The results show that U.S. students must improve to compete in a global economy, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Yes, and the Obama administration’s congenital sucking-up to the teacher unions will only make matters worse, Arne.