54 Years Later and Still Annoyed

It’s that time of year when kids head back to school. In some places, like Tucson, schools have been in full swing for a couple of weeks. In other places, the traditional opening is still Tuesday after Labor Day.

Overall, I absolutely loved school, but I still have a beef to pick with my 4th grade teacher, Miss Guttman. I was a pretty good student all the way through, but by the looks of the grades on this report card, I was only average-good.


I think I might even have cried when I brought this home to my parents after the first grading period. #10 school used letters only for work habits and numbers for letter grades, with 1=A, 2=B  and so on.

I had all A’s on the left for doing what was expected of me, but take a look at the number grades on the right. I never, ever got a single B in spelling during my entire 4th grade year and, most of the time, I had 100% on our weekly tests. Yet, I only had a 2 as my grade.

My parents generally believed that the school was right, but my mom contacted Miss Guttman early in the year to find out why I only had 2s and 3s in spite of the grades on papers I faithfully carried home. I was even reading a grade above my level by the second marking period, but still no “1” in anything but Foreign Language. And the reason for that is that Foreign Language – Spanish – was taught by Miss Meyers and she is the one who wrote in those grades. If you look closely, you can tell that Miss Meyers used a pen with slightly different ink color and she also wrote a little smaller than Miss Guttman.

And the outcome of the parent-teacher conference? Miss Guttman would never get away with this nowadays. Heck, it wouldn’t even have happened during my teaching career beginning in the mid-1970s.

My mother was quite peeved, but I felt better when she explained Miss Guttman’s grading system. You see, Miss Guttman told her that she believed that a 1  meant perfection and, since no one is perfect, she didn’t believe in giving anyone a 1 for anything!!! Can you just imagine the uproar over that if it happened today?

Therefore, all her grades were deflated, so to speak. In anyone else’s world, my 2s were actually 1s and my 3s were equivalent to 2s.

At the end of the year, Miss Guttman even sent home this cheery message:


Although I loved school, I have to admit that Miss Guttman was a bit scary with her temper and she is definitely the least favorite teacher I ever had.

And I still haven’t gotten over all those 2s!!!

2 thoughts on “54 Years Later and Still Annoyed”

  1. I had to smile readying your post. I am from France and this is the way our teachers did it too! I was appalled when I came to the States and went back to University here. My accounting teacher still “owes” me many points…He graded on the curve (I had NEVER heard of that before!!), but since I almost always scored a 100 on his tests, I lost all those points which I could have used to get an A in ….. Phys Ed!!! I was a teacher too before leaving France, but subbing in the system here disgusted me to continue in that line of work. So I became an accountant! I do understand your frustration.

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