Homework grades are a life lesson
My name is James L. Dunbar, and I am widely known in the business community as a successful entrepreneur who founded one of Maryland’s largest privately owned companies right here in Baltimore — Dunbar Armored. My family-owned armored car, cash management and fullservice security company is one of the larger employers in the region and provides a multitude of security services to banks, retailers, commercial businesses and government entities.
But I am not so widely known as a former young man who was, and remains, a dyslexic. I was a boy who once struggled very hard in his youth to learn in school and adjust to compensate for his disability. I was a grade-school student who had to regain a sense of self-worth at a private school named Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H., after nearly being lost in a public school system that did not at the time understand the disability. I was someone who had to work extra hard as a student to make something of himself.
Because of my life experience, I believe I know a little something about the challenges of learning and the critical importance of keeping children (especially the more challenged ones) engaged in productive activities that will lead to their success in life.
I make no pretense to be a professional educator. However, I want to tell you that I believe the new Baltimore County public schools’ policy to eliminate grades for homework is a big mistake which, in the long run, will be counterproductive to the very students it aims to serve (“What’s in a grade?” Sept. 3).
Because my homework was graded, I knew where I stood and when I needed to improve. When I needed help, I knew to ask for it, and I got it. Grades on homework are an essential part of knowing that one’s work in achieving progress is both reviewed and recognized. Eliminating that grading is not the solution to deeper-rooted issues that affect a child’s performance.
In order for children to accomplish things in life and know that they can achieve their goals, they need to be able to see the results of their accomplishments along the way. I encourage BCPS to rethink their new policy on their failing to grade homework and instead focus their efforts on doing the things that really matter in terms of developing our children to enjoy a real sense of self-esteem and future success.