Friday, August 17, 2007

Pass or Fail?

Apparently, it's not up to the teachers anymore....

This article in the NY Times about a teacher who was forced to pass a student exemplifies one of the reasons I think the public school system as it stands is a lost cause. Now, the guy in the article sounds like a bit of a slacker teacher (missing 24 days his first year! missing parent-teacher conferences!) but I still respect him for sticking to his guns and not giving a passing grade to someone who deserves to fail. Believe me, there is a lot of pressure from administration to do so. There are unofficial quotas...if you fail too many students, someone from the state might come investigate your class. And the teacher is the one in the dock, not the students!

In 2006, a friend of mine (who teaches at another school in the district where I once taught) was also pressured to pass a senior her first year of teaching--the appeals went all the way to the District Superintendent. Thankfully, he realized it would be illegal to pass the kid because he had missed so many days that semester (the principal had somehow overlooked that little piece of information). Reason prevailed, and the kid went to summer school and had to watch his friends graduate. I was so proud of my teacher-friend for not letting anyone walk over her or force her to do something unethical, especially with all the pressure from her superiors to pass him.

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