Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Teachers Still Swimming In Red Ink

Way back in October of last year, we wrote about the controversy surrounding teachers' use of red ink for the purpose of correcting student work. As then reported by The San Diego Union Tribune, we noted that the new politically correct color of choice was to be purple. The reasoning behind the switch from traditional red to new purple was to avoid causing damage to students' self-esteem.

Almost exactly 6 months later, The Salt Lake Tribune is offering us the
latest installment of the "red ink story:"

Of all the things that can make a person see red, school principal Gail Karwoski was not expecting parents to get huffy about, well, seeing red.

At Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Conn., Karwoski's teachers grade papers by giving examples of better answers for those students who make mistakes. But that approach meant the kids often found their work covered in red, the color that teachers long have used to grade work.

Parents objected. Red writing, they said, was ''stressful.'' The principal said teachers were just giving constructive advice and the color of ink used to convey that message should not matter. But some parents could not let it go.

So the school put red on the blacklist. Blue and other colors are in.

''It's not an argument we want to have at this point because what we need is the parents' understanding,'' Karwoski said. ''The color of the message should not be the issue.''

In many other schools, it's black and white when it comes to red. The color has become so symbolic of negativity that some principals and teachers will not touch it.

As a classroom teacher, this is the type of news that just leaves me scratching my head about the priorities of some parents. It's amazing to me that parents are actually upset over the color of ink that is being used by many teachers to grade student work.

It makes me wonder if the "ink police" will get around to me next.

As a parent of a school-age child myself, I can understand that parents are concerned about the self-esteem of their kids. We all want students to have a positive outlook when it comes to school. But perhaps in this case the parents' concern is misplaced. Shouldn't they be more concerned about the poor performance of their child rather than wasting their energies on such nonsense as criticizing some teacher's choice of ink color?
An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the ninth edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. We should receive your contributions no later than 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tonight, April 5, 2005. The Carnival midway will open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning. Get the easy-to-follow entry guidelines here. View the latest edition of the Carnival there.

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