Guest Column: Letter grades not needed for schools

The recent lame duck decision by the Michigan House of Representatives to pass legislation requiring schools to receive A-F letter grades is disheartening.

The constant changes created by an endless stream of politically motivated legislation have caused serious, long term damage to Michigan’s public schools.

In fact, assigning letter grades to schools to get them to improve or to inform parents is short sighted at best, because it does nothing to fix the problem, which is the lack of support for our children, especially those in poverty. All of our children desperately need help if they are truly going to be our future. Flunking 3rd graders if they cannot read without providing the necessary support is disingenuous and dangerous. .

The notion that giving a letter grade is somehow going to incentivize schools to do better, is frankly laughable. When children come to school hungry, with no school supplies, without a good night’s sleep, and are terribly distracted by social media, naturally, many of them are going to do poorly in school.

With poverty in Michigan at near record numbers, the amount of resources it is going to take to help students improve in school is enormous.

In fact, a recent statewide equity and adequacy study showed that Michigan’s system for funding schools is broken, and if we truly want the hard-working women and men who teach and collectively serve our children to make a difference, we should not grade their schools but rather support, honor, and lift them up.

All things considered, neither schools nor parents need a letter grade to help them. They need real support along with the majority in the Michigan Senate during next week’s lame duck session to have the courage to stop constantly changing the rules.

Robert D. Livernois, Superintendent
Warren Consolidated Schools

Originally published in the Detroit News: