To end systemic racism, Minnesota school removes F grade and allows retests
From affinity housing programs to Critical Race Theory (CRT) education, educational institutions across the US are adopting ways to tackle "systemic racism" in schools. A school in Minnesota has come up with a different solution -- to end F grades. The Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake believes that ending the grade, along with allowing retests, will somehow end racism.
Western Washington University made headlines in late September for becoming the latest institution to adopt affinity housing, a separate floor for Black students. In February, a New York school went viral for asking parents to reflect on their whiteness in pamphlets. We also reported in April on the worries a Portland school was having on picking a mascot because it could be perceived as racist.
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These are just some of the many examples of how the debate over racism has washed over American education, much to the fury of conservatives. That brings us to the Sunrise Park School. The plan to remove F grades isn't the first time the school has made the news. Back in March, the school ran an activity where it asked students to "assess their own level of privilege." As he did then, the district's superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak has been forced to defend the move.
Can grades really end racism?
Kazmierczak certainly believes so, even though there doesn't appear to be much proof of the idea. "Grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequities are perpetuated," the school district's website said. He added that "grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home," but rather be "a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in."
But it's not just the F grade getting the boot. The school will also be ending grading for things like behaviors, attitude, tardiness to class, whether the assignment was turned in late or on time. "There's other ways that we can communicate those things to parents," said Principal Christina Pierre. She added that "not every kid gets things right the first time." Interestingly, students can still receive below 49% for their work, it just won't be marked with a letter.
Instead of the F grade, students will receive a percentage and be given an opportunity to retake the test. Students will now have a 10-day window for the revised test/quiz or assignment if they receive 49% or below. The upgraded system is only being implemented at Sunrise Park, and not other schools in the district as of now. It appears that it will make its way to other White Bear Lake Area Schools at some point though, as the website indicates. "Under Dr. Kazmierczak’s leadership and in line with the district’s strategic plan and commitment to eliminating systemic racism, the district began tackling grading disparities a year ago when they dramatically changed their grading practices," the website notes.
'Does that mean only Blacks can get Fs?'
The news quickly made its way to social media, where users had a bit to say. "If an F reinforces racism, does that mean only Blacks can get Fs?" one user asked. Another slammed, "Good luck finding anyone capable of working in 15 years when these kids graduate. Instead of DUMBING DOWN the grading system, why DON'T YOU DO YOUR JOBS AND BE BETTER TEACHERS."
Minnesota middle school removes F from its grading system https://t.co/kaXYgsUPGe via @MailOnline— Ginny Fidler 💋 (@KathyMschotschi) October 1, 2021
If an F reinforces racism, does that mean only Blacks can get Fs?
Good luck finding anyone capable of working in 15 years when these kids graduate. Instead of DUMBING DOWN the grading system, why DON'T YOU DO YOUR JOBS AND BE BETTER TEACHERS— gamblin rebel (@dunkin1008) October 1, 2021
Minnesota middle school will eliminate 'F's to combat 'systemic racism'https://t.co/ARlY0Sk7Tf
"I thought this was @TheBabylonBee or @TheOnion joke! “Grading can be one of largest areas in which systemic racism & inequities are perpetuated.” This racist policy sends a message that SoC are incapable of equal learning," one user noted, adding there was "zero upside" to the policy.
I thought this was @TheBabylonBee or @TheOnion joke! “Grading can be one of largest areas in which systemic racism & inequities are perpetuated.”— Kendall G Pace (@KendallGPace) October 1, 2021
This racist policy sends a message that SoC are incapable of equal learning.
Zero upside. https://t.co/gYCIxlxSgQ
There have been research studies conducted in the past that link racism to grading, but it is unclear if removing the letter F will positively impact students in any way. The Sunrise Park Middle School students appear to be test subjects in that regard, and how they perform could be carefully watched by other school districts.