The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 August 2003

Failure is not an option

Public schools in Beaufort County, South Carolina, have implemented a new policy: first-semester grades must be on a scale from 62 to 100.

I thought at first this might be an homage to American Bandstand's Rate-A-Record, which scored current 45s on a scale from 35 to 98, but no, it's a self-esteem thing. Explains Deputy Superintendent Edna Crews:

"What we're trying to do is look at how can we send the message to students that we want them, number one, to be successful. We want to give kids some hope."

Some hope that they can pass a class even if they screwed off for half a year? Why stop at 62? Why not just give them 100 right off the bat? Surely they'll feel even better about themselves when they get that automatic A.

(Via Fark)

Posted at 4:37 PM to Almost Yogurt

This may sound strange, but I'd really hate to be the kid who worked to get that 62, only to find that the screw-offs sitting in the back of the room got one without the hassle.

Unfortunately, in high school I did get 62's (and sometimes higher) without the hassle -- but that's because I'd decided getting A's and B's was boring and ticked off the screw-offs for no good reason.

As it turned out, they didn't much like the fact I still got passing grades despite my lack of effort.

Posted by: McGehee at 6:17 PM on 18 August 2003

Kevin, it doesn't sound strange at all. It is, in fact, one of the very reasons that after 29 years of teaching, I will be setting my calendar at 4.5 years from now and I can get my retirement papers written. These are moronic requirements that the administrations and state departments of education are instilling in curriculums across the land with nary a thought to the long-term damage that is being wrought upon students. In effect, all of this pablum being passed off in the name of "self-esteem" will inevitably cause one of the most serious erosions of an educational system a nation will have ever witnessed. Thank God my own two are virtually out.

Posted by: Vickie at 8:30 PM on 18 August 2003

yet another arguement for home-schooling... geeez.

Posted by: aldahlia at 3:31 AM on 19 August 2003

Well, Vickie, public education hasn't had what I might call a "good" reputation at any time I can remember. After all, my parents, who were two-income when two-income wasn't cool, nevertheless had to cut a whole lot of corners to be able to send my brother and me to Catholic school.

When at one point it came down to one of us having to go to public school, it was no kind of dilemma -- the public high school whose attendance zone we lived in was many times worse than the elementary and junior-high school I wound up going to. I had some good teachers during those years, and some that make Mrs. Krabappel look like Mr. Chips.

There was certainly an effort in popular culture to make every teacher look like a saint, but the performance figures for public education as a whole, and the results that can be gathered in observing so many products of said system, strongly support the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Maybe the problem is that not enough people believe in hell anymore...

Posted by: McGehee at 7:14 AM on 19 August 2003

I wonder if we expect too much from public schools. Private schools draw kids whose parents show extra interest in their education. Home schooled kids require high levels of parental involvement. We know that kids can excel in public schools when and if they are motivated. It's easy to blame teachers in general when actually the biggest problem is the attitude of kids themselves, largely due to their upbringing.

Posted by: Mike at 7:55 AM on 19 August 2003

Politicians blame teachers. Teachers blame parents. Parents blame politicians.

Administrators keep their heads down and try to please everybody by going along with the fad of the week.

Guess who I think is responsible?

Posted by: McGehee at 8:32 AM on 19 August 2003

"The teachers are afraid of the principal, the principal is afraid of the superintendent, the superintendent is afraid of the parents, the parents are afraid of the kids, and the kids are afraid of NOBODY."

Kevin, I'll bet your belief of who's responsible is answered in the above little ditty.

Posted by: Vickie at 10:17 AM on 19 August 2003