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More 2020 Insanity

Below is a letter to WTOP radio. (Every cent that Karol and I spent to keep our son out of Fairfax County’s government schools by sending him to a private school was worth it.)

Sir or Madam:

With its teachers resisting the in-person reopening of schools, the Fairfax County Public School system – unsurprisingly – discovered, as described by the FCPS’s chief academic officer, “really, really large increases in [the] percent of students earning ‘F’ grades.”

Springing into action, the school board is addressing this problem!

Is the board speeding-up school reopenings? No. Are new teaching methods or materials being introduced in the hope of improving student instruction? Uh-uh. Will teachers be held more strictly accountable for failing to teach their students? Not on your life.

The school board instead, among other steps, is boldly putting a floor on the numerical grades that teachers are allowed to mark on student assignments. Specifically, as you report:

A 50 out of 100 will become the lowest score a student can get on an assignment, turning in work for major assignments late will only come with minimum penalties and no single assignment can be worth more than 20% of a student’s final grade.

The school system will also reduce the minimum number of assignments per quarter from nine to six.

In other words, the school board, rather than aiming to improve student instruction, is reducing the demands on students (and, hence, on teachers) as it rigs the grading system to mask the results of any failure by teachers to adequately do their job.

Student learning will further deteriorate as it is falsely made to appear to improve. How appalling.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030