I just finished reading letters responding to Jackie Goldberg's efforts to eliminate "Fs" from class grades. I understand, in part, the writers' attitude. If we eliminate "F" grades for those students who are capable of doing better but fail because they skip school or are too lazy to do the work, we are doing those students a disservice.
However, there is a bigger, more complicated problem that exists in our schools. As one letter points out, some kids don't have families that encourage good performance in school, and that task is left to the teachers. We now have a shortage of good teachers because teachers are woefully underpaid and are forced to teach with outdated materials, overcrowded classes, and a lack of funds for supplies.
Another factor is children with learning disabilities. Because of a variety of mental processing problems, they may not be able to read; they may have memory problems; or they may not be able to hear and/or comprehend information that is given to them.
For these kids, it is devastating to pass through elementary school to high school without assistance for their difficulties and receive years of "F" grades. Usually, by the time they are in ninth or tenth grade, they become dropouts and/or juvenile delinquents because of their lack of self-esteem.
Again, because of under-funding, there is not much money available in order to identify these learning-disabled children and to provide adequate special education programs for them.
My point is this. Good or bad, the elimination of "F" grades does nothing to address the real problems in our schools. We must make education our No. 1 priority financially, either through taxation or government subsidy.