Sunday, October 1, 2000

Richard Grayson letter in The New York Times: "California's Freeway to Learning"

Richard Grayson has a letter in the New York Times today (October 1, 2000), "California's Freeway to Learning":

To the Editor:

Re "California Makes College an Entitlement," by Abigail Thernstrom (Op-Ed, Sept. 26):

If Ms. Thernstrom wishes to raise academic standards, she is not helping with her comment that ''a B is hardly a bang-up grade.''

When I was an undergraduate in the 1970's, I was quite happy with a B, which I felt reflected solid achievement if not excellence. But as a college instructor, I have found that students have come to see the once-honorable B as a badge of shame. Just today, a composition student came up to me after class to complain that the B-plus I'd given her on a competent but not outstanding essay was the lowest grade she'd ever received. Ms. Thernstrom's comments only contribute to the mind-set that good, solid work always merits an A.

Mesa, Ariz., Sept. 26, 2000

The writer teaches English at Arizona State University.