Report Cards Meet the Electronic Age in a Most Unsettling Way

Report cards are about to become electronic to the extent that parents will be receiving them on their cell phones. A man in Africa of all places, Boniface Githinji, has created a service there (Kenya) to help schools send report cards directly to the parents on their phones.

It’s just a matter of time before the idea gets picked up here. In fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened. Gone will be the days of dogs eating report cards, the things being dropped in mud puddles, trash cans, garbage disposals, toilets. Gone will be the days of kids checking their mailboxes, trying to get there and pull out the report card before anyone else gets a chance to see that ‘D’ or ‘F.’

When I was in elementary school our report cardsgrade school report card looked much like this. Our grades ranged from a high of ‘VG’ Very Good to a low of ‘U’ Unsatisfactory. In between were ‘G’ Good, ‘S’ Satisfactory, and ‘P’ Poor. Of course, you didn’t want a P or U, just like kids today don’t want a D or F.

Our report cards were given to us and we were expected to return them within five days signed by one of our parents. Not getting it back signed and in time resulted in a call by the Principal to the parents.

Now, you might be thinking that means the easiest way to get by with a bad report card would be to forge a parent’s signature. That’s what I would have thought until I found out in a painful way that it could be very dangerous to try. My report cards were almost always good and I always got one of my parents to sign without much trouble. However, I was in fifth grade when I found that the teachers made spot checks.

It was one of those Winter days when the sun sets around four o’clock. That meant there were no sandlot baseball, football or basketball games after school. Because of that my best friend and I often spent twenty minutes or so talking about ‘stuff.’ That day the call was interrupted on his end by his mom. He said, “I’ll call you right back.”

So, I stood by the phone waiting. About five minutes later the phone rang. I picked it up and said, “Hello asshole!”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “Is this Robert?” I recognized it immediately, my teacher.

“Yes,” I said tentatively said, wanting to say no because I knew I was in big trouble.

“May I speak to your mother or father, please?”

My mother hardly had time to say more than, that was your teacher making sure I was the one who signed your report card, when the phone rang again. She answered it and said, “I’m sorry, Jack, Robbie’s been grounded.”

Needless to say, my mother couldn’t understand how, under any circumstances, I would have answered the phone like that.

If report cards then had been sent directly to my mom’s cell phone (of course, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet), it would have made my young life so much more pleasant and I wouldn’t have been grounded for a month.


Okay kids lookout, you know those report cards you’ve lost, destroyed, or damaged by attempting to change them? Well, the day is coming when there will be no way for you to keep your parents from seeing the things the day their sent out. Most likely one or both of your parents has a cell phone. That’s how they’re going to be getting your report cards.

You see, a guy in Africa of all places, created a service that gives schools a way to send your grades right to your parents. Now what? Well, perhaps the day before report cards are due you could try sneaking the battery our of those cell phones in question. Perhaps you could try sneaking an App onto those phones that would delete the offending message the moment it arrived. Good luck with that.

You could simply borrow the phone “for a second,” and accidentally drop it into the fish tank or toilet. Will cell phones flush down the drain?


It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it, until schools and parents found a way to cut out the middle man where report cards are concerned. For ages and ages, probably since the first stone age kid sat in the first school-cave, report cards have been delivered to parents by the students or by the post office. Either way, it was possible for the child to get hold of a reprobate report card and hide it.

Now that’s all changing. A guy in Africa, of all places, has made it possible for report cards to be delivered directly to a parent’s phone. What is a child to do?

When I was in grade school our report cards were handed to us. The report cards had to be back in the teacher’s hand within five days after having been signed by a parent (or in one case in my class, a guardian). If our grades were all VG’s (Very Good), And G’s (Good), for most of us it was usually a simple process to get the card signed and returned. If, however, we had some S’s (Satisfactory) or, heaven forbid, some P’s (Poor) or U’s (Unsatisfactory), then getting that card signed was a torturous process.

An S, P, or U meant days of working on stories, excuses, sometimes lies to explain those grades. I remember once studying a teacher’s “P,” trying to figure out if there was a possible way to turn it into a “G” or at least an “S.” It was much easier to come up with excuses and promises for improvement for an S than it was for a P.

I remember seeing a kid drop his card into a mud puddle, but to his chagrin even though the thing got a little muddy, none of the ink ran. Each irritating little P and U stayed right there, looking exactly like the P’s and U’s they were intended to look like.


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