Education Letter to the Editor

Social Stigma Gives Kids Disincentive to Achieve

September 19, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

In response to “‘Social Norms’ Seen to Keep Students on Right Track” (Sept. 6, 2006):

The altering of students’ attitudes about learning is, in my view, one of the most crucial areas of opportunity in closing achievement gaps. In urban (and even suburban) schools, students often pick on the smart kids, and the perception is that being smart is very “uncool.” It is this attitude that keeps many bright kids from doing their best in school, since to do well is to invite ridicule.

Many would rather do poorly in school and avoid the bullying—it’s just safer. The more we can do to prevent this, the better our other efforts to improve schools will fare. Social stigma is a powerful disincentive for kids to study hard and achieve. If we can remove that stigma, we have a fighting chance at helping them succeed.

Jennifer Weinberg

Vernon Hills, Ill.