Thursday, August 12, 2010

D's don't get degrees??

Courtsey of 
In the Mount Olive, N.J. school district, "D" is defunct -- banned on report cards. Now, students who receive less than a grade of C automatically fail.

Mount Olive school district superintendent Larrie Reynolds says "D's are simply not useful in society ... No one wants to hire a D-anything, so why would we have D-students and give them credit for it?," according to an article in The New York Times.

Taken at face value, I can definitely see the point. I hate flying, for example, and panic at the thought of a low-achieving, D-level pilot trying to keep my plane aloft. And the unsavory image of a filthy, rat-infested kitchen is more than enough to keep me out of a low-ranking, D-rated restaurant.

But wait -- is this what we're really talking about here? Would a D in Humanities mean that my pilot couldn't find his way to London? If the chef at my favorite bistro got a D in French, would that mean he couldn't plate a boeuf bourguignon?

[blah blah blah insert boring info about article writer's children]
The Mount Olive school district is developing a support system to help students meet the tougher grading standards, according to The Times, including a "watch list" for those who continue to fail, extra-help classes and tutoring from other students. It has also created an optional evening school, known as "Sunset Academy," that will charge a fee of $150 per failed class that needs to be made up.

All of the parents and teachers quoted in the article support the no-D policy, as do all but one of the students interviewed by the Times. I can't say I'm surprised. We have created a world where our kids are over-scheduled from the time they're toddlers and face, quantifiably, the fiercest competition ever for precious Ivy League school slots.

We have also created a world where schools and school districts with high-scoring students receive more funding, and more accomplished and dedicated teachers, than those where students struggle.

Sure, there will always be Spicoli-type slackers and stoners who do just enough to skate by. But for every one of those purposeful underachievers, there are kids who are truly doing their best. Kids who have after-school jobs or take care of younger siblings. Kids whose parents simply don't have the resources to send them to expensive tutoring centers. Kids who will be successful novelists even if they get a D in math, or revolutionize physics even if they're thought to be slow language learners.

I could easily fall back on the lists of millionaires and celebrities who made good without a high school or college diploma, but I don't think that's the issue. I want my kids to stay in school. I want them to go for an advanced degree or even two, if that's what they want. But most of all, I want them to find balance in their lives, to be happy and healthy, and to take their eyes off the destination long enough to enjoy the journey along the way.

Takeaway: D's don't get degrees in parts of the dirty jers. if your kids are dumb, don't move there.

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