Letter: Charlie Brown at heart
Next week is Thanksgiving and one of my fondest memories as a child would be the airing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The episode begins with Lucy trying to convince Charlie Brown to kick the football she is holding. Any true Peanuts fan knows that Lucy is going to pull the football away at the last moment, but Charlie Brown in the end is ever optimistic that this will be the time he gets to kick the football.
I just got home from attending a meeting at Booth Hill School to discuss the new grading rubric being piloted in grades 3-5. I should note that my son is a first grader in the school and my daughter will start kindergarten next year.
Most of us grew up with either a percentage grading system or the more common A, B, C, D, and F. The new system is 1, 2, 3 and sometimes 4. At first glance, that is easy to understand. Straight A's meant a 4.0 and anything below C meant a chat with Dad after dinner. The system being piloted in Trumbull, however, has 3 as the highest level and reserves the 4 to either the discretion of the teacher or worse yet the Charlie Brown football.
I am frustrated with "Everyone gets a trophy," creeping into every facet of my children's life. I want my children to be exceptional and reach their fullest potential in life. There are important lessons to be learned from success, as well as from failure.
My view of this pilot program is that it is designed to have children strive towards mediocrity. I was appalled at the response a parent received tonight when she asked what number her child should receive if they got 10 out of 10 correct on a math test. Dr. Paslov explained that it would be a 3 and that a 4 could possibly be achieved if the student was able to express verbally to the teacher how they got all the answers.
She went on to describe this hypothetical child could get a 4 by expressing their understanding of the math concepts in a different way. I attempted to get clarification on this point, but I was rebuffed. The irony that 100% on a mathematics test would be 3 out of 4 was lost on the group. I would, however, like to achieve the elusive 4. If I accept that 3 out of 4 in this system is a perfect score, how else can this grade be expressed? .75, 75%, and 3⁄4. Can I still express Pi as 3.14159 or should we just round down to three?
As a parent, the education of my children is my responsibility. I chose to purchase a home in Trumbull and Nichols specifically, based on what I heard about Booth Hill. If you have been to Booth Hill recently, you will understand that I am referring to the excellent teachers and not the dilapidated structure they report to every day.
Alas, I am still Charlie Brown at heart. I hope the conversation tonight was fruitful and that changes will be made to the current grading system. As I reflect though on the conversations and the responses from Mr. Pierce and Dr. Paslov, I can't shake the feeling that they are Lucy and I will once again land flat on my back.