The San Diego Unified District School Board voted to change the district grading system to ‘combat racism’ and students will be allowed to turn in assignments without any penalties for late submissions.
SDUSD Vice President Richard Berrera said, “It’s not fair. It should never have been that way, but it persists. I think this reflects, you know, a reality that our students have described to us, and it’s a change that’s a long time coming.”
Zachary Patterson who is a student board member said, “I know a lot of my friends and students all across our district are excited about this. And especially in the time of COVID right now, we’re seeing that the inequities in our communities are so strong and it is not fair of us to put forth policies that only cater to the students that are able to meet these requirements.”
Patterson also said, “I know my friends are excited about the idea that, hey, maybe if I’m, if I have something going on in my life at that moment and maybe I just can’t turn in the assignment on time that singular day. Well, next morning it’s going to be OK.”
The student board member argued that students caught cheating should not get disciplined for academic dishonesty.
Zachary Patterson said, “When students do something wrong, we are, instead of looking to punish them harshly, we’re looking to evaluate why this happened and then seek a way to move forward effectively. I think the word ‘disciplinary’ solely really fails to emphasize what we’re trying to do in a restorative practice. And the idea that a student cheating, for example, gets them a zero, ruins their grade for the semester and really does, um, makes them unfocused on the ability to be successful in that class anymore. That’s not productive and that’s not what we want to do.”
Patterson continued, “These ideas of zero-tolerance policies are not restorative practices. And I would suggest that we look to find something else, either adding restorative-. Either replacing disciplinary to restorative action or putting restorative action and disciplinary action. One of those two, I think that would be a more effective way to move forward. As I said, in order to create the idea that we’re going to work with this student to see why this happened and possibly even make a change so we can do better next time, because we all need to be working as partners to help that student. We shouldn’t just be focusing on the discipline.”
SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera expanded on his reasoning for changing the school district’s grading system.
Bererra said, “Often the students who struggle the most during parts of the semester for a lot of different reasons are students of color. And so if we have a disproportionate number of students who are failing classes, and that’s because, you know, for a variety of circumstances, often out of the students control, I know we end up failing that student when instead we should be encouraging that student, supporting them and getting them to the point that they master the material that has disproportionate effects on students of color.”
Bererra continued, “And so part of our effort to combat racism is to recognize that this practice of holding it against somebody, if they struggle for a part of the semester, rather than giving them a second chance to show that they can master the material, is part of combating racism.”
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