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Sharon school officials take gutsy position on grades



Published: Sun, July 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



If the Sharon school board votes to accept the policy recommended by Superintendent Richard Rossi, members will be making the definitive statement that education is the most important reason for children to be in school. Under the proposal, kids who are failing a class would have to attend study sessions to bring up their grade to at least a D or forego the pleasures of school activities. Other school districts should pay attention to Sharon's endeavor.

Every child has a right to an education. It's a necessity not only for the student but for a nation that must have educated workers and educated voters. But attending dances or playing on teams is a privilege, and earning privileges first demands fulfilling responsibilities.

In the case of schoolchildren, those responsibilities are to themselves, to their families, to their nation -- and to the taxpayers who are providing the education.

Job one: Like that other auto maker which avowed that "quality is job one," for every American child, education must be "job one."

We know that the Sharon board and administration will be under the gun. The first time a child with vocal parents brings home an "F" -- in the last grading period, 293 pupils received at least one F -- the howls will be heard across the state line. And a mighty "it's not fair" chorus will probably drown out the high school choir.

But school officials -- and complaining parents -- will be doing the children of the district no favors by giving in to the forces of mediocrity.

What makes the Sharon plan a particularly good one is that no kids having trouble in their classes will be hung out to dry. After the fifth week of each nine-week grading period, children failing would be required to bring the grade up to at least a D or face being barred from all activities. Required study sessions would also be implemented for children to get needed tutoring.

But the responsibility for a student's grades will be placed where it belongs -- on the student him- or herself.

School first: So often, a failing grade is the result of not attending class or not turning in homework. Time spent griping about the new policy would be much more effectively used in a student's completing a math assignment or writing a book report.

As long as the school is doing its part to help every child learn, there should be no justification for blaming a teacher, a homework-eating dog or an outside job for that child's failure to achieve even the barest minimum of a D.

Learning how to take responsibility is an important lesson whether a child is just entering kindergarten or about to graduate. In implementing this policy, the Sharon schools will be helping the children they serve understand that.

Failure should never be an acceptable option.




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