The Effort Driven Life
0 comment Tuesday, June 10, 2014 |
Every Friday, my son comes home from school with a blue "Friday Folder." I dread it. Might as well be called the Friday Guilt folder. Always filled with flyers about the school carnival, the wrapping paper sale, whatever is the latest fundraising effort . . . all of them screaming for my time or money, or both.
Forget thin! These days, you can never be too rich or too idle. But there is usually one exception, tucked neatly into the Friday madness, that asks only to be read: a weekly flyer, called "Report to Parents," put out by the National Association of Elementary School Principals ("NAESP").
These NAESP Reports are just teeming with useful suggestions, things you would have never thought of on your own, like: schedule your child's doctor appointments in the afternoon, when school is out. Wowsa. Who knew? Since these Parents Reports are national, I imagine they are distributed to throngs of waiting parents throughout Dallas, the State of Texas, maybe even across the nation.
Last Friday's official Report was called "School Attendance." It included a tip on how to determine whether your child is feigning illness (thanks, NAESP -- because I've only just known him for seven years, whereas you are an omniscient mimeograph) and urges parents to stay in the room the entire time the child's temperature is being taken. Righto. Can do. I guess this is a tip from back in the sixties -- when kids actually understood the laws of thermodynamics and stuck their thermometers in hot chocolate to fake us out. I haven't seen a mercury thermometer in decades.
The warning for family vacations: if you take your kid out of school for a vacation "it gives your children the impression that their schooling is not your top priority." Well . . . maybe it's not. Maybe family time is my top priority. In any event, I did a double-take when I read this particular "tip" because it flies in the face of the new grading policies for the Dallas Independent School District. With these new DISD policies in place, my kid may never leave the nest, much less go on to earn meaningful employment. And that would give me forever family time. So yes, my ears were perked.
We are technically in a "burb" so these new grading policies don't apply to us . . . yet. But hell, maybe we'll move. Get a load of them.
If you fail a test, you get to take it over and only the higher grade is recorded; the two scores are not averaged. Oh, and say you didn't fail the test, but you were hoping for an A instead of a B? No problem, according to Jerome Garza, a member of the DISD Board of Trustees, who appeared on Fox News to defend the new policies. Says Mr. Garza, "the opportunity is there" to take the test again, if the teacher says it's okay. What nimrod said life is not a dress rehearsal?
If you don't turn your homework in on time, no sweat. Just turn it in late without penalty. If you did a half-ass job, better yet. Don't fret. For grades K-5, the teacher can only record a homework grade if it RAISES the kid's average. If it lowers it? Forget about it. It never happened. For grades 6-8, the teacher must give "primary consideration" to whether the grade raises the kid's average before the grade is recorded and actually counts. Moreoever, teachers cannot give a zero unless they have first contacted the parents and "have made efforts to assist students in completing their work." The very lowest score a teacher can assign? A 50.
One stated policy for even bothering to give homework, per the DISD, is that it "can help students develop self-discipline and organizational skills." Oh, come on now, fellows. Isn't that a little bit dated?
The rationale behind these mandatory new grading rules is that they further DISD's new "effort-based" grading policy. If you show some effort, you simply can't fail. Kids who do fail, so goes the logic, will despair and give up. Hence, the no-fail rule.
I like this new do-over approach. I think it should be adopted everywhere, by everyone. Half the job of schools is to teach children how to grow up and integrate into a working society . . . to become law-abiding lemmings, if you will. So if the real world doesn't operate this way, doesn't allow do-overs, well then . . . the real world needs to change.
Let's start with the IRS. Sure, I may not have paid my entire tax bill, but I did send in some money. I did make an effort. No interest penalties, no sanctions, no seizing of assets . . . and no despair. Sounds good to me.
Lawyers would really groove to this. "Judge, I just wasn't on my game today, forgot to object when some bad evidence was offered. The jury convicted my guy and gave him life. When can we schedule a new trial?" Or, "Judge, the jury zeroed out my whiplash lady. I was trying out a new theory on liability -- guess they didn't buy it. Anyway, how's your trial docket looking next week, so I can take another run at it?"
Think of the baseless, frivolous lawsuits that could be avoided by effort-based evaluations. The doctor operates on the wrong knee? Screws up your face lift? Disfigures you for life? That's okay. Let him have another whack at you. You can't blame a guy for trying.
Poor Lehman Brothers. I guess no one at the US Treasury -- which refused to provide Lehman assistance -- got the DISD memo. Heartless bastards. Don't they know it's do-over time? Subprime mortgages? BFD. It's the thought that counts. Hit the rewind button, and we'll just start again. Sorry if I'm late with the mortgage payment, guys. I am trying.
I'm sure Mr. Garza, of the DISD Board of Trustees, will agree. Although he did admit in his Fox interview that the school he attended -- a prestigious private boys' school here in Dallas -- did not allow do-overs. "No," said Mr. Garza, "there were no re-dos at St. Marks -- you had to pass it the first time." Ha! A lot of good that did you, eh, Mr. Garza?