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Should Paper Report Cards be Part of Budget Cuts?

Printed report cards hold more value than the budget dollars saved in paper and printing costs.

Do you remember the emotion of bringing home your report card?

Whether good or bad, there were tangible results that parents and children could sit and discuss on "Report Card Day."

It didn't require a computer, Internet, or a log-in user name and password.

Oh the memories...

I’m specifically writing about changes made in this year. It’s my point of reference, since it’s where I went to school and it’s where my son (soon to be sons) is enrolled. This year, as part of a district-wide “going green” initiative, paper report cards have gone the way of the 8-track tape.

In my opinion (yes, this is an opinion column), the transition was made too quickly in East Penn.

Since it’s an issue that’s been bothering me, I decided to check around to see how many nearby school districts are handling report cards this way. In my quick round of telephone calls, I didn’t find another district that had entirely eliminated paper report cards.

Parkland School District (PSD) has not yet made this transition. The old-fashioned report cards are still going home with the kids. Middle school students actually get six report cards per school year -- five carried home by the students, one mailed home at the end of the year.

In East Penn, I’ve heard countless parents saying, "I haven't even SEEN Joey's report card yet! I liked when he could walk in the door and hand it to me."

Going online and printing off a two-page compilation of grades and progress reports just isn't the same. As far as I could see, there isn't even a printer-friendly format.

I miss that little folded paper in the envelope. I miss the acknowledgement that I saw it, signed it, and sent it back to the teacher. Now teachers don't even know if parents are looking.

I understand it’s a time of intense budget cuts. School boards must focus on trimming the fat from unnecessary budget items. But printed report cards? Aren't those just a little bit important?

Some local businesses surely think so, since a good report card "in-hand" can bring rewards.

In fact, after some quick research, I uncovered the following incentive programs for good grades. But to take advantage of them, the student must present a paper report card.

  • Blockbuster rewards "A" students with a free .99 family rental.
  • offers a free child-sized cone for straight "A's."
  • Like to bowl? Every “A” on your report card earns you a free game at the Playdrome Rose Bowl in Allentown.
  • Chuck E. Cheese gives 15 tokens for those who can show the good grades they’ve earned.
  • Top Star Exxon offers free slushes for good grades.

Sure, I could call and request a hard copy. I know that's an option. Yes, I can print it at home on my own paper with my own ink. And that's what I have done. I’m just not happy about it.

Jenae Holtzhafer February 14, 2012 at 07:52 PM
And for the record, he doesn't teach in EPSD.
careless fills February 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
If obesity notifications are a state mandate today, perhaps it was because of EPSD's leadership! I remember this as being a push by EPSD's Dr. Z a few years back that led to some infamous attention from Diane Sawyer and the GMA crew.
DOROTHY HETHERINGTON February 14, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Not everyone has a computer or access to one why not go back to when they used one report card for the whole year and teachers wrote in the grades and comments. You want to complain about going green but how much do the schools send home now that is a waste of paper.
careless fills February 14, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Good points. Follow-up paper RC's should be sent to those who don't acknowledge with an electronic signature within a week. Especially for those who don't have computer or internet access.
Dan Williams February 15, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Thanks for the useful info. Its off to The Creamery after school, well worth my cost of printing his report card.

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