Regarding the Feb. 4 Metro article “Dance for those who get top grades raises concern”:
As a parent and an educator, I am appalled by the dance policy at Silver Spring’s Eastern Middle School. It publicly shames students who do not get straight A’s, and it reinforces the message — already too prevalent in our culture — that grades themselves are what matter most, rather than students’ engagement in the work needed to achieve them. Think of how this could discourage a student who worked hard and learned a lot but earned a C, or even a B. Shaming some students is no way to reward others.
Anne Rush, Kensington
Those wringing their hands over rewarding straight-A students at Eastern Middle School with a dance and pizza need to ask themselves if they really want the equal-in-the-extreme world of the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. story “Harrison Bergeron.”
Should the school district seek to keep athletes from wearing letter jackets or other team clothing? After all, doesn’t this just rub salt in the wounds of all those who didn’t make the team? Would it require everyone to wear shapeless clothing so no one will know who is fat and who is thin?
Each person has his or her own complement of strengths and weaknesses. We should be raising our children to have the character to recognize and celebrate the success of others without feeling themselves diminished. Shielding our children from excellence gives them nothing to shoot for but mediocrity.
Denise J. Hunnell, Fairfax Station
At 67, I still feel the humiliation of being a poor reader in school. As a child, I was denied the experience of feeling the pride of wearing the school patrol guard’s bright white canvas strap with a badge across my chest. My best friend could, and I was envious. But, worse, I felt stupid. In junior high, I wasn’t allowed to be a cheerleader because of poor grades. By the time I was in high school, I pretty much had given up any hope of doing well in school and being one of the “smart” kids. I hated all of it.
Then, when I was 29, an eye doctor discovered, accidentally, that I needed prismatic corrective glasses. For the very first time, print on a page stopped jumping around, disappearing and making me anxious and embarrassed if I had to read aloud. This correct prescription changed the way I read and think.
Educational institutions still, to this day, know very little about how children learn, or why some have difficulties. It is cruel to reward some kids and not others.
Elizabeth Richter, Alexandria
Does Eastern Middle School Principal Casey Crouse really think that students who can’t go to a school dance, because they didn’t get good enough grades, don’t feel badly as they slink out of school on dance day? Or that wristbands given only to the “smart” students don’t make it clear to everyone who doesn’t belong? And does she really think that the overachievers who get the honors classes, the best teachers, the honor roll and other awards, parental praise and a sense of personal achievement aren’t rewarded enough?
Middle school hurts last a lifetime. If Ms. Crouse doesn’t understand that, she should choose a different career or take a course in empathy.
Edith Holleman, Silver Spring
In the new “tiger mom” world, high achievers will always earn the top rewards and recognition, and their parents will make sure we know about it. The larger group of those who will learn to see themselves as perpetually second-best — or worse — could be motivated to do less as rewards and recognition never seems within reach. The latter group will never be invited to the dance and, as such, will not bother to contribute.
Is this the system we want? As the mother of a tireless worker with a learning disability, I warn that you can harm a child forever by raising the goal posts so high that there is no hope of attaining recognition. Fairness, humility in effort and pride in a job well done will reap rewards in good citizens. This is a reward system we should all desire.
Nancy G. Czujko, Silver Spring