Please read Charlotte Iserbyt's The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America! Author lives in Maine.
I did not read the book, but the title suggests a position I have felt realistically describes what has happened in American education over the past 30 years. Since the 70's, the "feel good" movement which has outlawed anything that might hurt some one's feelings has systematically removed anything that asks us to reward honest effort and achievement and replace it with watered down rewards for participation. You see it in everything from recreation programs to "honors" awards in middle schools. It is not the place of American educators to avoid hurting some one's feelings, but rather to inculcate in American students a sense of achievement from their earnest work and effort. A watered down work ethic results in mediocrity at a societal level, and that is what educators are now seeing in the second and third generation of school children. Kids come to school without a clue about what it means to earn their grades, much less connecting the grades to later choices for success later in life. Continued cuts to education budgets annually denies teachers the ability to address the issue of the American work ethic as a national good, by constantly undermining the security of teaching as a profession. You should be building up education across Maine and the nation, rather than cutting its budget every single year and then grading it with the letter grades we gave up long ago. Letter grades to "assess" school "performance" is like "assessing" doctors on the overall health status of their patients - you cannot directly connect those dots. There are too many cultural and social factors that offset the link between school performance and student achievement. The two are connected, but not as directly as you would paint in the letter grade picture you just published.