Drift Through High School Now; Pay Later

As a former high school teacher and current graduate student with teaching duties, the article "Math Teacher Says She Was Fired for Failing Students," Aug. 12, caught my attention. I agree with many of the points raised by the teacher and her supporters but wish to expand upon some of the key issues.

The case in Georgetown, Del., is but one instance of a problem that plagues our entire education system. As much of American society has de-emphasized the importance of education, good grades have become highly coveted regardless of whether they reflect real knowledge and skills.

At the same time that learning is losing its importance, the social emphasis on attending college has increased. In some socioeconomic groups in this country, to not have attended college is to be marked by a social stigma. Consequently, most students are expected to go to college; high school is simply "going through the motions" of learning. High schools' fundamental concern has become doing everything to ensure that students go to college, not to ensure that students are really learning.

Not only does grade inflation result in students who know less than what is needed, but it ultimately is harmful to their job prospects and self-esteem.

Not every job requires a firm knowledge of all the subjects taught at the high school level; however, every job does require attributes or skills such as concentration, organization, self-discipline, problem-solving techniques, and perseverance.

While students who receive D's or F's will not feel very good about themselves, that disappointment pales in comparison with the disappointment they will feel when they are unable to find or keep a job because they failed to learn critical "life skills" in high school. Mark C. Jones, Oxford, Ohio

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