Grade the Homework

After attending Back to School Night at our local elementary school, I am at a loss for words to describe my shock and disappointment in learning that homework will not be graded for Montgomery County elementary students this year.

Under the new grading guidelines, the school system sees fit to grade students on learning skills (whether they turn in homework on time) but fails to grade the content of the work. How convoluted! My son's fifth-grade teacher was asked by a concerned parent why homework was not being graded, and she said she viewed homework as busywork. She described the problem by using an analogy of a baseball team that practiced all week but didn't play games, so their practice (homework) shouldn't count. I was stunned at this myopic view of the value of work, not to mention a complete misunderstanding of the concept of practice.

Work gives us a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and valuable feedback when we are trying to accomplish a goal. Apparently, the school board believes that learning should be fun and painless at all times. Let's be honest: Some work is stressful and hard by nature, but when goals are met and obstacles are overcome through hard work, the feeling is exhilarating. In fact, work is one of the finest endeavors known to mankind. By refusing to grade homework, the school system is ignoring the inherent value in work and is doing the students a major disservice by introducing a negative character trait (lack of accountability), and we parents will be forced to correct this at home.

This foolish assault on our value system and our children's characters should be rescinded.

Brian Penn


A Fan of the Ban

As a Kensington resident, I was delighted to read the item in the Montgomery Notebook [Extra, Aug. 26] that our town will abide by the county ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Although a few local restaurants continue to forecast doom and gloom, restaurant revenues in the county actually increased by $40 million during the first six months after the smoking ban took effect, according to the County Council. Even predictions of alcohol sales plummeting have not happened, and these receipts remain constant. The facts prove that clean indoor air policies like that of the Town of Kensington benefit the public health for customers, waitstaff, bartenders and other employees as well as the overall economic health of restaurants. The 7 percent increase in restaurant industry tax revenues in Montgomery County is identical to increases in other parts of the country, including Florida, which is ahead of Maryland in adopting a statewide smoke-free restaurant law.

Wendy Lesko