Education

Barrels of Ink

By Catherine Gewertz — April 19, 2005 1 min read

A story by the Associated Press this month about schools discouraging the use of red pens to mark student papers has generated a wave of scolding newspaper editorials.

Gail Karwoski, the principal at Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Conn., told the wire service she was surprised when parents pushed for a change, saying their children found it too “stressful” to see their papers marked up in red. She told her teachers not to use red ink anymore.

Principals and teachers at other schools told the AP for the April 3 story that they’ve also moved from red to more “soothing” colors—especially purple—to avoid upsetting their students.

Major pen manufacturers even confirmed that schools were indeed driving an upsurge in the sales of purple pens.

The story was picked up by newspapers across the country, and editorial response was swift. Within a few days, writers were weighing in with responses that weren’t exactly sympathetic.

“Seems that red is too shocking to little school-going darlings, whose self-esteem gets all squished when they see red marks coloring their papers,” said the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas.

In California, the Ventura CountyStar suggested that “perhaps the soaring federal deficit wouldn’t be so alarming if we referred to ‘drowning in a sea of purple ink.’ ”

The Chicago Tribune suggested that red be banned from life in general “until it can be rehabilitated to live peacefully.” It noted that the ban could cause problems, including what should be done about strawberries, and how to adjust the palette of the American flag.

The Washington Post ran a Sunday commentary by a New York writer suggesting that all teachers now use a “sensitivity pak” of eight “comfort tones” in grading papers. His large, color-coded chart defined the proper use for each shade, including pink for boosting self-esteem, magenta to show the teacher suspects plagiarism, and brown for suggesting that a student might want to consider work as a day laborer when he or she reaches dropout age.

Ms. Karwoski, for her part, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the national reaction to the color ban at her school.

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: February 3, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read