Readers comments 5-1-20
It is interesting to observe how some people are spending time and energy now that everything is shut down. Four Claremont senior women formerly spent every morning engaged in a class involving an aggressive form of yoga. Now even that is gone. So they decided to get their exercise in a very different way.
Twice a day they don masks and gloves, and with large plastic bags walk neighborhood streets, alleys and parking lots picking up trash! This involves stooping and stretching to collect all sorts of debris including cigarette butts. They return home with bags filled with what others have recklessly discarded.
They have developed friendships, get regular exercise and do something to beautify the community. Theirs is just one alternative to sitting sadly and saying, “ain’t it awful?” Give you any ideas?
The challenge facing schools
As a parent who has had three children come through the Claremont public schools, one of whom will continue next year, I strongly support the CUSD decision to grade homework and other assignments.
Pomona College, at which I teach, has had similar conversations about how to best handle grading. I know that these are not easy conversations, but finding an effective way to prepare our students for the future will be critically important, particularly if the crisis drags on.
I understand the worry that those who are most affected by the crisis may not convey their concerns to school authorities. One approach that might have merit would be for teachers and school psychologists or counselors to reach out systematically to families, particularly of those students who are struggling, to see if there are particular obstacles blocking their path over which CUSD might have some control. In this context, grading becomes, as it has always been, more a diagnostic tool than a means of oppression.
Perhaps this outreach would be seen by some as an invasion of privacy, but the best teachers my family has known have found ways to communicate effectively with students and their families, after class or in parent-teacher conferences, to help students succeed. The difference here is that the communication would be remote rather than in person.
I know that some college students have been forced to become full-time breadwinners for their families, because, say, their parents have lost their jobs. If there are such students in the Claremont schools, or others whose families are in the midst of serious crises, I would certainly favor providing special dispensations to them, such as allowing additional time beyond the end of the semester to complete schoolwork.
This could inconvenience teachers, but desperate times call for innovative measures and some shared sacrifice; college professors are being similarly inconvenienced.
Otherwise, I agree with the parents who have said to the COURIER that for students to learn to focus on doing what needs to be done, even in the midst of profound distractions, is a valuable life lesson.
As an economist, I believe that people respond to incentives. CUSD needs to keep incentives for strong performance in place.
The community is best served by helping all our students achieve as much as they can in life: as is ever the case, we have to find ways to raise up those students who face the greatest challenges, without holding others back.
Stephen V. Marks
Home sweet home
In last week’s edition, I was enlightened to read the piece by Jan Wheatcroft on her experience during the pandemic.
While she is one of the thousands of people in Claremont who has been isolated in her home for the past few weeks, she is making the best of her situation and being an amazing example for the rest of us.
By giving her own strategies of how to reach out and connect to friends and loved ones during this difficult time, she is doing her part to make everyone’s lives more manageable during this time.
I would like to personally thank her for spreading these positive messages and encouraging me to make the best of my time in isolation.