40% does not equal zero in life

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If school is to be preparation for real life, then the school experience has to mimic real life experiences and responsibilities to some degree. Sending the message that it's okay to not study, to not hand in assignments, and that it's okay to put forth absolutely no effort when taking tests can only lead our children to believe that they will be treated to the same get-of-jail-free cards when they enter working society. Better they learn now that shirking responsibility has a price tag. They will find this to be a much crueler revelation once they are adults.

I taught elementary school for 30 years before retiring in 2001. Over the years, various administrators and board members tried to implement many senseless educational schemes, but this one tops them all.

Second chances should be given, like handing in missing homework late or retaking a test (with reduced grades), but no one deserves a free lunch (changing a zero to a 40) after demonstrating no effort at all. In reality, isn't that what a zero is, a total lack of any effort and caring? Why should this be an occasion for a reward ?

One zero will not destroy an child's chances for success. If you add the following numbers (let's pretend they are homework scores) and average them, look what the result is: 0, 50,75, 85, 90, 95, 100: an average of 70. Now let's change the zero to a 40. The resulting averages are: 70 (with the zero) and 76 (with the zero changed to 40). Is this small change worth the message that is sent?

And if there are multiple zeroes, then a much more complex solution is needed than just inflating scores.

David Haney, Spring Hill

Zero really 40? A terrible life lesson

Your fourth-grader learns long division. It takes the teacher all class to get it through to the class, maybe a second day. They work on it in class. It's a big unit. The teacher gives homework, think of it as pushing the bird out of the nest, see if it can fly. She assigns 35 problems from two pages of the textbook. Your child decides to play Wii. Turns in a piece of paper with his name on it and nothing else. He or she gets a 40 percent.

Your high school junior learns how to do an term paper in her English III class. The teacher spends three class periods going over this, gives them two days in the media center working with students on thesis statements and research. They have three weeks to do a five-page typed paper. Your college-bound procrastinating junior went out with her friends to a party one night and had to work late the next night before it was due. In short, she turned her paper in with one handwritten paragraph, which was unacceptable. She still gets 40 percent.

Those are both big units and big grades. And they will both be expected to know those when they get to the next grade level. Oops.

Other students go on to the next grade fully prepared and understand the work, but your student received 40 percent. You will have no real way to gauge their actual understanding or their comprehension of every single benchmark and skill that teachers teach in school.

The 40 percent rule is the something-for-nothing rule. This is not what we want our children to learn. In education and in school, we teach by modeling good behavior as parents themselves do. This 40 percent idea is not a fix. It is a recipe for disaster.

Clarity Bates, Spring Hill

Editors' note: The 40 percent rule is proposed for elementary schools only in Hernando County.

Hillsborough sets dress rules, too

Brooksville should lighten up over the dress code ridicule as they sure can't hold a candle to Hillsborough County.

Brooksville set some standards for their employees who come into contact with the public. Hillsborough also sets dress code standards not for employees but, private individuals whose taxicab or limousine job places them in contact with the public.

The big difference? Violation of Hillsborough's rules is a second-degree misdemeanor. That's right! Off to jail for the cabbie or limo driver who fails to wear a collared shirt, a tie, trousers (no shorts), no socks, or dress shoes.

In addition, the wearing of the following is a criminal offense: T-shirts, tank tops, body shirts, swimwear, jogging suits, sandals or any open-toed footwear.

That scruffy facial hair or failure to get a haircut, trim the moustache or just a plain old bad hair day can also land a driver in the slammer.

So cheer up public servants of Brooksville. Rules applied to private-sector citizens are just as tough with much harsher penalties.

Walter Kozak, Spring Hill

Don't penalize library for grant

We have a question for our free-market-supporting Republican county commissioners in Brooksville. Why would you even consider penalizing the library, by taking away their fair share of the budget, just because they have been astute enough to secure other funding?

If the library has been able to get themselves a grant for \$4 million, they should be able to keep that and not surrender their funding to the county organizations that were not working as smart.

This sounds rather like you are having a double standard for them over other county businesses. The other county departments need to get going and pull themselves up by their bootstraps to find their extra money (if needed) now that taxes are lowered.

Can we ever get consistent values and follow-through from our elected officials?

Jennifer Sullivan, Spring Hill

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