Home­work grades are a life les­son

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - James L. Dun­bar, Hunt Val­ley The writer is chair­man and founder of Dun­bar Ar­mored, Inc.

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.

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