Friday, March 30, 2007

Grade Inflation

A topic like this seems to be one teachers deal with more often than not. I can remember sitting down during a parent teacher conference and the mother of one of my student’s was scratching her head wondering how her daughter could have a 3.0 GPA for the quarter and have three C’s. I asked to look at the report card and did a GPA scale from college. Showing the mother what the real number looked like, the long, slow nod she gave and the expression her face said that it was clear something was not right with the grading system.

Sure enough, colleges and universities have been finding themselves with this problem too. It almost begs the question of what is wrong with our education system, but the answer, half the time, is right in front of us. Students don’t want to learn and teachers don’t want to teach. Keep in mind, this is NOT an ironclad rule, but it is one that is popping up more and more often.

As schools across the country enter into the fourth quarter, the amount of tension and frustration that both students and teachers are facing are beginning to boil over and both sides do not plan on giving up any ground in the classroom. An example comes from my own classes. It is now becoming almost a daily struggle of having to listen to my own students say to me, “It’s the fourth quarter! We don’t need notes anymore. Let’s just coast into summer.”

Students seem to forget that in a few years, coasting into summer will no longer be an option. The workforce has no summer vacation. If they do, it tends to be referred to as unemployment. While I digress from the original point, in some ways, the two connect. I remind my students that they cannot slack off in the final quarter and if they do, their grades will suffer. Their response falls along the lines of “Well, then you will be seen as a bad teacher because all of us failed.”

My logic is that if you don’t do the work, you get a zero. Would any parent complain about that? You better believe it. There is always one who will complain, which no brings me back to grade inflation. Schools are finding themselves being placed under increasing pressure to either get good marks for federal funding, show students with high marks to get them into college, or school want to protect the self esteem of the students by not giving them low marks.

There is the famous “Gentleman’s C,” where if a student has a hard time in the class, but tries and is not a problem student, the teacher will give that person a C. Is it fair?

Some school districts are eliminating certain grades because the value of it has no meaning. For instance, if a student gets a D in my class, they know they came pretty close to failing. In addition to that, parents will see that and want to know what is going on. However, in a number of schools, students will shrug their shoulders and not care. Simply getting by is not the answer for our education system.

Instead, we need to make sure students are challenged and made to push themselves to the limits. If a teacher is tough, but fair, then they should be that way. If the student doesn’t like having to do work in the class, then tough. The students need to get over it, plain and simple. In reading two articles on the subject, it is clear something needs to be done. The first talks about grade inflation in general and is quite informative on the subject. The second discusses a teacher who was told to change her grades and get into trouble.

So how do we fix this problem? If it were up to me, I would use the model my parents used on me: Get home, change, homework till 7, dinner, if homework hasn’t been finished yet, then finish it. If the work was done, then I could enjoy the rest of the night until 10 when it was time to go to bed.

Was it tough? A little, but I am better for it. A system like that creates more self discipline and makes you understand that if you don’t get your work done, there will be consequences.

As for teachers, there shouldn’t be a fear of hurting anyone’s feelings in the classroom. If a student fails, they fail. There are no two ways about it. If the teacher can hold the line in the classroom, then the students will learn to follow those rules and perform better for their classes. While education is a two way street, there still needs to be an understanding that when you are in the classroom, the teacher is in charge and what they say goes.

Your Portal To The Commonwealth's Past, Present, and Future

For Time Travel 21, one of the biggest goals of the company is to present history in a light which is both informative and entertaining. In order to achieve this goal, Time Travel 21 created a television program entitled “Virginia Time Travel.” This program looks at different aspects of Virginia’s history and also looks into where the Commonwealth is going with different programs surrounding technology and the environment.

At the moment, over a dozen episodes of the show have been taped. Slowly, but surely, more information about both the company and show is being spread across Northern Virginia. Recently, an interview was conducted with the Mount Vernon Gazette regarding the show.

As the second season of tapings moves forward, Time Travel 21 is working to branch out into more avenues of interest to people throughout Northern Virginia. For those who are interested in getting Virginia Time Travel to air in their local community, email and let us know. We can work towards making sure everyone in your part of the state can be part of what is most likely the first and only state history program ever in Virginia.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


You know, I remember when this add originally came on television. I wonder if FedEx is going to get ticked off at this ad?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why Would You Want to Send an E-Card after an Abortion?

I think that is the only question that can be asked right now. An article that can found through Fox News shows us that an organization called Exhale is producing E-CARDS that can be sent to women after an abortion.

Now that I have your attention, let me continue. When we think of getting an e-card, it is usually on a happy note, but there are occasions where it might be sympathy and the only way we can actually let the person know we are sorry for something is to send the e-card. However, do we really need to send an e-card for abortions?

Already, the greeting card industry has created cards for different events such as potty training, half birthdays, and divorce. Must we add abortions to the list? I, for one, say no. As you can see here, there are six e-cards to choose from. The themes are designed to speak to different perspectives depending on how you feel.

What I find truly disturbing and also disgusting is that one card says you “did the right thing.” So killing a life is a good thing? It is not only killing a life, it is killing a life whose only crime was being created. Do we really want a card that acknowledges this?

Exhale claims to be open to all views, but one does have to wonder how serious they are in that statement. Considering that the majority of the women who founded the organization are both pro choice and had abortions, their mission statement says abortion CAN be a natural part of a woman or girl’s life, and the majority of contributors to the organization are pro choice as well, I cannot help but feel that their slant is directed towards saying abortion is the best option out there.

The fact of the matter is that abortion, in my opinion, is nothing more than a social irresponsibility. The reason why I say that is because let us think about what this says to people. For women, they are about to enter into a new stage of their life. But wait! Abortion means she can go ahead and put off having the family so she can go out partying or what ever. For men, the responsibility of being a father is no longer there. Why should they take responsibility and be a parent when they can simply say, “Hey babe, get an abortion. I will stay with you then.”

I can already sense and hear what is coming up from the reader: what about cases of rape and incest? Certainly circumstances like that are tough and a difficult choice must be made. However, is it the child’s fault for being created? No. So why then must the child’s life end? Why not put the baby up for adoption? Why not give the child a chance for life?

Well, certainly there are economic concerns to worry about. Pregnancy can cost a lot of money. But so does a lot of other things in life. While this might not be the best comparison out there, consider this question: does the amount of money it costs to have a baby exceed the amount of money you waste in the same span of nine months on frivolous expenses which you do not really need? To answer a question like that, you really need to think long and hard about everything you buy and where some things could be cut out of your life. In effect, that is what is being done with an abortion: a life is being cut out of your body.

Back to my words on irresponsibility, it seems that a lot of times people only want to think of themselves. When there is a baby in the middle, your concerns are no longer important. The only concern which is important is that of the child. It is rather interesting to note that a lot of parents talk about how they want to give every possible chance to their children when it comes to schools, resources, everything you can think of. So why is it then there are parents who will not give their children the most basic chance of all to their unborn children: life.