NHS not as ‘honorable’ as it seems

National Honor Society logo

National Honor Society logo

The National Honor Society (NHS) is for students who “excel, serve, lead and succeed” and it’s for those students who have a true thirst for a challenge. Students who are eligible to join the NHS receive an invitation to become members and take part in their organization. The NHS supposedly builds students based on their four-pillar philosophy: scholarship, service, leadership and character.

However, the NHS leadership takes advantage of students’ time and money for their own gain, and the leadership doesn’t give back to students to their fullest extent.

So how does the NHS take away a student-member’s time?

In the invitation from the NHS that I received, it said that members are required to attend monthly meetings.

“Students who accept membership and are inducted into the chapter should be aware of the time and commitment involved with this honor,” the NHS website states. “There will be chapter meetings. The chapter bylaws should articulate the yearly meeting schedule and member attendance obligations.”

If members are absent or late to meetings then they are threatened with probation and potential expulsion.

The NHS protocols are taking valuable time away from members who contribute to meetings, events, projects and fundraisers when they could be spending time on other things that assist in building their futures.

The NHS takes money, as well.

According to a participant of the “NHS Whittemore Chapter” in Pembroke, N.H., students must meet routine $100 fundraisers for breast-cancer research. Other fundraisers supposedly go toward events and projects, but these events and projects lack transparency because the NHS financial documentation does not clearly state that fact.

Students also must pay a yearly fee of $25. However, in the form 990 2017 tax returns of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the parent organization of the NHS, their organization generates over $32 million in revenue, but they only distribute approximately $2.2 million to the National Honor Scholarship Fund (NHSF). Only 8 percent of the NHS’ revenue was spent on scholarships. The rest of the funds were administrative overhead.

Now, the NHSF is required to file IRS form 990 or form 990-EZ on an annual basis. But, they have not filed one for the year of 2017, and their extension deadlines have passed. The only action that the NHS has taken to update their financial documentation was to improperly file a form 990-N in 2016: this is not appropriate for their level of reported income.

According the Pension Protection Act of 2006, “Any registered 501(c)3 organization that fails to file a form 990 for three consecutive years will have its status automatically revoked.” This means that the NHS’ nonprofit is at-risk for losing their tax-exempt status, and it also means that both organizations are not in compliance with IRS code.

The person responsible for all this is Mike Shifflet, the Chief Financial Officer, and JoAnn Bartoletti, the Executive Director of the NASSP. Part seven of form 990 reports that those two officers collect approximately $890,000 in annual compensation. This is nearly half of the funds given out by the scholarly distribution.

Do you remember how the NHS takes your time?

The NHS gives out about 600 scholarships to 1 million students, leaving each student with a 0.06 percent chance of being distributed a scholarship. There are two half-hour meetings monthly that must be attended: that’s an hour per month. In a year, a student would invest about nine hours in meetings. All the events and fundraisers that students spend time on would likely be 40 or more additional hours-per-year. A student-member would invest about 50 hours a year in the NHS for their chance at a $3,000 scholarship.

Alternatively, the student would have guaranteed income working a part-time job for 50 hours. The NHS, NASSP and the NSF are all not truly supporting students. The NHS just wants the money and the free labor of the student-members to cater to those unscrupulous, greedy “leaders.”

While the National Honor Society may seem like they’re delivering, they’re not.