Those who are criticizing Los Angeles school board member Jackie Goldberg's plan to abolish the "F" grade for youngsters through the second grade (Letters, March 23) are demonstrating the very reasons it is essential to do it. They are assuming, as far too many parents and teachers assume, that the "F" is a motivator for improved performance. At the kindergarten or primary level? Never!
My wife motivates her kindergarten children with happy faces, facial expressions, a barrage of encouraging remarks, and a great deal of communication with parents--which is also encouraging but tempered with helpful suggestions.
Former school board president Howard Miller implied in his letter that children now would not develop the skills that would bring them success. Does he not know that success breeds success and failure breeds failure? Good teachers everywhere gear assignments to the children's abilities. Surely he doesn't expect an "F" to be given to the slow maturing child who cannot, because of delayed development, compete with the other children at this time.
Some of the writers insinuated that Goldberg's plan would virtually eliminate evaluation. Again, good teachers leave their desks and oversee a great deal of the work while it is in the process of being done. If it is done poorly (for that particular child) he may have to stay in to do it, it may become homework, he may have to start over, but it's because he needs help, not because it's "F" work. "F" work, you see, is eventually internalized and the child believes he is an "F" child. His self-concept receives another blow, and his future work will reflect it.