Open letter from DHS student expressing support for credit, no credit policy

The+board+discusses+adopting+a+credit%2C+no-credit+policy+during+a+live-streamed+board+meeting.+The+motion+failed+3-2.

Screenshot, DUSD livestream

The board discusses adopting a credit, no-credit policy during a live-streamed board meeting. The motion failed 3-2.

Dear trustees,

For years, I’ve pushed myself academically and through community involvement to reach my dream school of Harvard. This is why hearing the concerns about not allowing us to opt-in to letter grades from board members and parents decreasing our competitiveness for elite colleges made me so upset—but not for the reasons you would assume.

My mom is an essential employee who goes into work every day. Recently she received an email that one of her co-workers tested positive for COVID-19. As members of my household are immunocompromised, she’s considering staying away from home to protect me, my dad, and my siblings from being at a higher risk. I’m glad this is even an option for us and I know it’s for the best but it’s made this time even more stressful. Furthermore, my dad is working from home, so in addition to completing my own coursework, I feel responsible for my younger siblings. I help them complete assignments and keep them entertained despite the tense situation. Even when I make time to work, I’m unable to really focus because of how uncertain everything is.

Therefore, when I hear that the district would like to allow students to opt-in to grades to ensure they are competitive applicants to elite colleges, it feels as though my hopes are being crushed. I know that I can’t perform at my best right now and it feels like I’m being forced to make an unfair choice. Do I opt-in and force myself to try so I can compete with my peers, knowing that I won’t be able to keep up? Or do I prioritize my mental health and family at the risk of looking like a less qualified or academically driven applicant?

If we adopt a pass or fail policy, college admissions counselors will be made aware of this by our counselors. It won’t be an individual choice that I’ll have to explain. However, if we allow students to opt-in to grades, the students that choose not to will be compared negatively to the ones that will. As every admissions website reassures, even when talking about class ranks and AP classes in normal circumstances, the strength of my application is based on the options I have available and I won’t be punished for a district decision.

It feels silly for me to be saying this because as stressed as I am I’m lucky compared to several of my friends. I can only imagine what it’s like for students that don’t have the privacy of their own rooms, their own devices, or reliable internet. My friend was telling me she couldn’t sleep because her parents were arguing about whether they’d have to move because her dad had lost his job. When people are living day to day, I know I’m lucky to be worried about my college application. Still, I know that it’s students like me that are at a disadvantage, no matter how big or small, and need you to think of us.

Allowing students to opt-in to letter grades measures the privileges and ability to focus each student has, not their academic capabilities. Ultimately, I understand why some students want letter grades, but it feels unfair that their ability to prioritize academics is more important than the circumstances that make it impossible for me to perform at my best. Isn’t this against our core values, words I kept hearing during the board meeting, that make Dublin equitable and inclusive? I really hope you’ll vote with these values in mind and support students like me that need you in our corner.

 

Thank you,

A DHS Student

 

The following open letter submitted by a DHS sophomore does not reflect the perspective of the Dublin Shield. Though it’s unorthodox, the letter was kept anonymous at the request of the writer, due to concerns about a parent’s employment, as a co-worker may have been fired due to comments to a news organization. We request that you respect the privacy of this student and refrain from speculating as to their identity. 

The current editor-in-chief of the Shield, Kaushikee Nayudu, and a member of the editorial board, worked closely with the student to craft this piece but it’s the student’s unique perspective; any concerns about the content can be expressed in an email to [email protected] The Shield is committed to publishing a diversity of op-eds and letters to the editor and we’d love to hear more perspectives from students. Email submissions to [email protected]