Friday, September 19, 2008

An Nation of Underachievers

The school Distict in Dallas, TX has changed its grading policy and it is a sad day for education in America if the rest of the nation follows. (see article) Now, let me tell you why this is a bad idea.

When I was in school, I was a lousy student. I couldn't sit still - rarely stopped talking - and was nothing but a headache for my teachers. On the flipside of this, I was a nice kid who didn't get into any real trouble, but I did spend my fair share of time in the Principal's office. Flash forward thirty years and it turns out I'm ADHD, but that's no excuse for my poor performance. Yet, I was never held back. I didn't flunk classes and I was always passed along -- to be the next teacher's problem. This went on for all of grade school and junior high.

Then, I reached high school. For a reason I don't understand, I decided I wanted to take Russian History my freshman year with Miss Willis. Wow, that was a huge slap in the face. I didn't do my homework, I scored poorly on my exams and guess what -- I flunked.

Flunked! Who dare flunk me?

A teacher and a very good teacher. Miss Willis taught me a lesson I haven't forgotten in the twenty plus years since I sat my butt in her class. If you don't try, you won't pass. If you don't pass, you don't learn. If you don't learn, you won't get ahead.

Now, I'm not going to lie and say that I've been the world's greatest student since then. I do all right. I graduated in the top half of my high school class and I've gone on to obtain a college degree. And, I've failed or succeeded because of choices I made. If I studied hard enough, I passed. (Even in Math, which is my worse subject. I worked my butt off to get that C+!)

In Dallas, they always want the student to have a second chance. That isn't teaching their students the life lesson they're going to need in life. It certainly wouldn't have flown in Miss Willis' Russian History class.

So, Miss Willis, who taught history at Waukegan East High School between 1981 and 1985, I don't know where you are, but thanks for flunking me. It's served me well in the 27 years I've lived since then.

God Bless

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