Wednesday, August 01, 2007

‘Fail’ Becomes a ‘Pass’

Published: August 1, 2007 NY TIMES:

Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy of the school’s grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

Austin Lampros quit after a student he had failed was passed.

Mr. Lampros’s introduction to the high school’s academic standards proved a fitting preamble to a disastrous year. It reached its low point in late June, when Arts and Technology’s principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.

That student, Indira Fernandez, had missed dozens of class sessions and failed to turn in numerous homework assignments, according to Mr. Lampros’s meticulous records, which he provided to The New York Times. She had not even shown up to take the final exam. She did, however, attend the senior prom.

Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was permitted to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left her with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros’s calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which allowed her to graduate.

Ms. Geiger declined to be interviewed for this column and said that federal law forbade her to speak about a specific student’s performance. But in a written reply to questions, she characterized her actions as part of a “standard procedure” of “encouraging teachers to support students’ efforts to achieve academic success.”

The issue here is not a violation of rules or regulations. Ms. Geiger acted within the bounds of the teachers’ union’s contract with the city, by providing written notice to Mr. Lampros of her decision.

No, the issue is more what this episode may say about the Department of Education’s vaunted increase in graduation rates. It is possible, of course, that the confrontation over Miss Fernandez was an aberration. It is possible, too, that Mr. Lampros is the rare teacher willing to speak on the record about the pressures from administrators to pass marginal students, pressures that countless colleagues throughout the city privately grumble about but ultimately cave in to, fearful of losing their jobs if they object.

Mr. Lampros has resigned and returned to his home state, Michigan. The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that he missed 24 school days during the last year for illness and personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher conferences. He also had conflicts with an assistant principal, Antonio Arocho, over teaching styles. Mr. Lampros said all of this was true.

Still, Mr. Lampros received a satisfactory rating five of the six times administrators formally observed him. He has master’s degrees in both statistics and math education and has won awards for his teaching at the college level.

“It’s almost as if you stick to your morals and your ethics, you’ll end up without a job,” Mr. Lampros said in an interview. “I don’t think every school is like that. But in my case, it was.”

The written record, in the form of the minutely detailed charts Mr. Lampros maintained to determine student grades, supports his account. Colleagues of his from the school — a counselor, a programmer, several fellow teachers — corroborated key elements of his version of events. They also describe a principal worried that the 2006 graduation rate of 72.5 percent would fall closer to 50 or 60 percent unless teachers came up with ways to pass more students.

After having failed to graduate with her class in June 2006, Miss Fernandez, who, through her mother, declined to be interviewed, returned to Arts and Technology last September for a fifth year. She was enrolled in Mr. Lampros’s class in intermediate algebra. Absent for more than two-thirds of the days, she failed, and that grade was left intact by administrators.

When second semester began, Miss Fernandez again took the intermediate algebra class, which fulfilled one of her graduation requirements. According to Mr. Lampros’s records, she missed one-third of the classes, arrived late for 20 sessions, turned in half the required homework assignments, failed 11 of 14 tests and quizzes, and never took the final exam.

Two days after the June 12 final, Miss Fernandez told Mr. Lampros that she had a doctor’s note excusing her from school on the day of the exam, he said. On June 18, she asked him if she had failed the class, and he told her she had. The next day, the principal summoned Mr. Lampros to a meeting with Miss Fernandez and her mother. He was ordered, he said, to let her retake the final.

Mr. Arocho, the assistant principal, wrote in a letter to Mr. Lampros that Miss Fernandez had a doctor’s note, issued March 15, permitting her to miss school whenever necessary in the spring. Mr. Arocho did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

There is such a note, issued by Dr. Jason Faller, but it excused absences “over the last three months” — that is, the period between mid-December and mid-March. In a recent interview, Dr. Faller said he saw Miss Fernandez only once, in March, and confirmed that his excuse note covered absences only before March 15.

For whatever reason, school administrators misinterpreted the note and told Mr. Lampros that Miss Fernandez would be allowed to retake the final — and to retake it after having two days of one-on-one tutoring by another math teacher, an advantage none of Mr. Lampros’s other students had, he said.

Mr. Lampros, disgusted, did not come to school the next two days. Miss Fernandez meanwhile took the test and scored a 66, which still left her far short of a 65 average for the semester. Nonetheless, Mr. Arocho tried to enter a passing mark for her. When he had to relent after objections by the teachers’ union representative, Mr. Lampros was allowed to put in the failing grade. Ms. Geiger promptly reversed it.

Samantha Fernandez, Indira’s mother, spoke on her behalf. “My daughter earned everything she got,” she said. Of Mr. Lampros, she said, “He needs to grow up and be a man.”

From Michigan, Mr. Lampros recalled one comment that Mrs. Fernandez made during their meeting about why it was important for Indira to graduate. She couldn’t afford to pay for her to attend another senior prom in another senior year.

22 comments:

teacher qhst said...

Why does this sound like a teacher determined to fail a student? I mean, not coming to school? quitting over one student?

What about all the other students who are now missing out on the exciting lesson this organized guy had?

Although it is possible that this teacher is just all messed up priority wise.

Anonymous said...

The teacher obviously has issues (24 absences and missed PT conferences?!?), however, it is all too common that teachers feel pressured to pass students who have not earned it either academically or due to lack of seat time (yes, seat time, some teachers still believe that students actually have to ATTEND classes to pass).
While this particular teacher may not have done all he could to help this student make up missed work and time, at what point does the responsibility of passing fall on the student (and the parents)?
It's unfortunate this student didn't attend QHST she would have graduated last year... having been able to make up four credits in two weeks!

teacher qhst said...

She passed the state required Regents Exam? Isn't that all we need to asses students now?

Is the last comment aimed at the summer school?

LOL

Rebecca said...

From stories I've heard, this happens all too often, though maybe not with grades that create as much noise.

I don't really know how important it is that teachers do this, as I'm not sure how important grades really are. This failing student, she had no desire to learn. Even if the teacher had given her an A, I don' think the student would use the grade to any advantage in her life.

It is always upon the student to pass, because the student must have the desire to. This desire; however, must come from somewhere, and this is the role that teachers and parents must play. They must find a way to instill this belief into these children before they've given up hope.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone check on this students attendance in other classes or did other teachers "push" her along as well? I don't know of many kids who would want to attend a class that had a teacher who didn't care about coming to class! This looks like a quite a combination. Now in response to the question: the responsibility is shared among the three - but the parent should not have made the comment about having to pay for another prom. I'm wondering what example she set for her daughter.

Ms. Barrett said...

This year I was faced with the difficult decision of failing two seniors due to excessive/unexcused absences and failure to complete required work. I was shocked to find out that I was the only teacher who made the decision not to pass these students, even though they failed to do work and cut other classes.

I cannot speak for other teachers in my community, but I feel that students need to meet certain standards in order to pass an academic class. Missing over 40 classes and failing to turn in required projects cannot be made up simply by having the student write a paper. No teacher should ever be forced to have to give "extra credit" assignments.

Sticking to your convictions is not easy. The parents of one of the less-than-stellar students did everything they could to drag my name through the mud. Nasty letters were written about me to the principal and even the local senator asking for assistance in "forcing" me to pass their child. Some of these letters were even threatening to the point that I felt that I needed to seek the assistance from the UFT.

It sure was an emotional battle, but I am more than happy to say that my decision not to grant passing grades to these two students was fully supported by the administration. Both students were given the opportunity to receive their high school diploma upon completion of the two-week summer program. One student took advantage of the opportunity, the other did not as the two-week program conflicted with a family vacation.

Unlike what "Teacher QHST" may think, I was NOT hell-bent on failing these two students. I am a professional who truly believes that grades are earned and not freely given away. What kind of example would I be setting if other students who work their butts off all year sat back and watched me pass a fellow classmate who basically did nothing all year???

Teacher NYC said...

Greetings,
I am just back from a Constructivist Design Conference held every year upstate NY. This week long conference gives teams of teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the educational process the opportunity to work together to create curriculum, design strategies and share knowledge in advancing excellence in the classroom. I will be sending more information about the next conference next year that will be at St. Lawrence University in Canton NY. Hold this date open because the NYC teachers really need to be present at these workshops. They are doing some fantastic things upstate. Reinventing the wheel is not necessary.

So the question: At what point does the responsibility of passing fall on the student (and the parents)?"

As far as I am concerned the moment the student walks into my classroom the onus is on him (I work in an all male high school) to succeed. My task is to make the educational outcomes clear and the goals attainable. I provide benchmarks for success. By the end of the day....end of the week...end of the month...end of the marking period...end of the semester...end of the year... Scholars should be able to do the following: blah, blah, blah.
My job is to plan and present. Scholars know that they have to follow certain protocols if they are to be successful. This means he must show up everyday ready to learn, ready to participate, ready to ask questions, ready to investigate answers.

Once the student leaves my classroom, the onus is on the parent. I make sure the parents know exactly what it is I am doing in the classroom. I invite them to drop in whenever they feel like it. I create an e-mail list of each class' parents. Whenever I give an assignment or a project, I send the parents an e-mail. They get an update each week because it only takes 20 minutes to set up the list in September and 2 minutes to send off an e-mail at the end of the week. I can call those other parents not on my list. Many of my assignments require my students to interview and engage their families, therefore, I gain parent interest in what is going on. It is really about how much power you want to give to the student and his parent. Just like they have a right to be educated...they have a right to not be educated. I just make sure that I point out what happens to folks who have the opportunity to be educated and choose not to be. I want to make sure that clear positive choices are being made by my students. They usually step up. had 90% pass rate on the regents. To me, this is not good enough. I want 100% pass rate. I tell this to my students. I tell them everyday, that one of them might be teaching, coaching or mentoring my son and therefore, they have to step up their games to pass it on.

Peace & Blessings!!

NYC Shool Teacher said...

I believe the onus to pass is on the student from the moment s/he enters a classroom. Yes, teaching and learning is an interchangeable experience and teachers have a responsibility to engage their students in the learning process. But, students must realize that they are the essential element in determining their ultimate academic success. Parents have to step up to the plate and take responsibility for doing their part. Parents are their child's first and foremost teachers, so they have to have a stake in making sure their child is being fulfilled academically, as well as rising to his or her fullest potential. Lastly, the educators, parents and student make up a partnership that can only be as strong as each member decides they can be.

Educating a child is the whole villages responsibility (including the child)

Yours in Education,

Peace

Anonymous said...

This is an issue larger than one student being failed by a teacher. This situation is a case of the creation of a nation of people who do not value the true purpose of education. What happened to "educating" our youth? When will everyone recognize that educators who cave into passing failing students for false statistical reporting are doing to our country a disservice. Such repeated benign neglect, sends out into America’s workforce floods of uneducated youth who are ill prepared to take charge of the global economy that is leaving our culture behind in the technology dust.

I say to you, “Who are we failing when a failing student is passed? As adults and keepers of our nation's future, we are failing our nation, and ourselves.”

Anonymous said...

We were all told by our principal to "look into our hearts" and give passing grades to students, especially seniors, who were failing. Many teachers, including myself, were angered over this policy. I can see why a teacher would quit over something like this.

Teacher Bronx said...

If all the decisions in my class now were based upon what I believed during my first year my kids would receive the worst education possible.

Is there anyone out there who can honestly say they knew what they were doing in their first year of teaching?

New teachers need to do shut up and learn before they pipe up about what is wrong with their schools. This learning takes longer than a year.

Anonymous said...

Having been a NYC teacher and now teaching in the NY suburbs... I know exactly where Mr. Lampros is coming from as I myself have been there. Sadly, graduation statistics and keeping schools off of the SURR lists have become the priority of many schools, instead of as others here have mentioned "educating our youth".

By passing students simply because the showed up to class a few times or because their parent screams loud enough is an injustice. It is an injustice to our society as well and more importantly it is an injustice to the student.

Much like the HS of Arts and Technology my school has a similar minimum grade requirement... only worse-- the student does not even need to ever show up to class during the quarter and lowest grade possible is a 55!! Yes folks that is right 10 points below passing for NEVER even setting foot in the room. Do the math they can skip class for three quarters, fail the mid-term and final but do really well in one quarter and pass for the year!!

Many people who posted comments assigned blame to Mr. Lampros-- for his extensive absences. (True he did have MANY absences however if he was dealing with a work environment like the one I experienced in the NYC school system then I completely understand.) Not knowing his circumstances we should not assign blame. We should however assign blame on his administrators and the NYC Dept of Ed who enable this kind of behavior.

It is just another example of the sad state of our educational system.

Anonymous said...

At my school teachers who pass low percentages of kids are admonished and teachers who have high passing rates of kids are praised whether or not the students understood anything in their classes.

Teachers who don't pass students are prevented from teaching PM school which is a pretty plush job overseeing students who have not achieved during regular day school and passing them if they show up to most of their PM school classes whether they do work or not. Most students know that if they fail classes during the year PM school or summer school are almost automatic passing grades.

We have students who have 24-26 absences in one marking period, usually seniors, and they are passed by teachers who are afraid to fail them. Fear rules many of our teachers' final grades for seniors and our guidance department puts pressure on teachers to pass seniors. It is a common sight to see students coming around to teachers at the end of the year asking to change failing grades from the past few years to passing grades and many teachers comply.

Teachers who have integrity and don't pass enough students are often given U ratings by the principal and many flee our school rather than fight the adminstration. Our principal works in concert with the local instructional supervisor to attack these teachers and make sure they leave our school. As far as the DOE is concerned we are having some success because our graduation rate is improving.

In a poorly administered school proctoring of tests is as you may expect pretty poor so a passing grade is often not that hard to come by if the students copy all their multiple choice answers from another student. I have seen proctors reading magazines while proctoring Regents tests and much evidence of students blatantly cheating, such as exactly the same right and wrong answers on written and multiple choice questions. I have questioned the proctoring and been told "you have to have seen the student cheat to substantiate your claim" so to say "She passed the state required Regents Exam?" as teacher qhst said may be a bit beyond the point. Teachers know who should pass and who shouldn't the Regents is often just another test with more advanced cheating.

Anonymous said...

Here's the big question. With all these new "rules" and "strategies" to have students graduate how come in the old days 50's, 60's and 70's we had all great NYC schools and a couple of bad ones. NOW..we have a couple of good ones and the rest are bad.Why?? Because the students DON'T TAQKE RESPONSIBILITY for their own education. How DARE this mother say to the teacher that sticks to his convictions "be a man" HE IS BEING A MAN!!!! And a hell of a good one lady!!!

Ms. Mayo said...

it's interesting to see the emotions that a conversation around grades provokes.

What is a pass? If you give a student a 55, is that student sneaking into Harvard because you passed him? Or is he getting out of high school and getting a job which is what he needs to do? Compulsory education creates this kind of situation, and the idea that high school is about college prep, perpetuates the problem for kids that don't fit in that category. And it's so false. And often set up to be a biased gatekeeping institution just because of the nature of society. No child left behind. Except that the priveleged are tutored and coddled, and teachers are expected to bridge the achievement gap. If everyone goes to college, who's going to take orders at Burger King or pump your gas? And I know he needs to show up at Burger King everyday to keep the job, but maybe he will when the motivation (choice, money (regardless of how little), responsibility, etc.) is there.

If you fail him, is it because you feel offended or take it personally that he skipped YOUR class or didn't do YOUR work? Do you feel that YOUR curriculum is so earth shatteringly important that all people need it to survive? Do you want him to repeat the class to gain knowledge or to be punished? Is repeating a class that you already failed a worthwhile experience?

The argument about it being "fair" to kids who show up and work doesn't do it for me. Those kids are going to do it anyway. My children are not going to slack off because the teacher passed the kid next to them who did less work.

As for the regents, if we're going to hold them back if they don't pass, why not pass them if they do? Why should the regents be used as a high stakes tool, the ultimate assessment, only to punish? Why should principals feel so much pressure that changing grades comes up?

You know how they say a doctor from the 1800s would walk into an operating room today and be lost due to all the changes since then, but a teacher would pick up the chalk and be right at home? Maybe some of the problems that lead up to the fact that we're even having this discussion, go deeper than grades. Maybe it speaks to the fact that schools still operate, for the most part, as they always did. I saw that clearly as math teachers came around and deleted information from calculators before the regents. Why? Our kids are growing up with information at their fingertips. This is the age of information, right? And there is so much of it. And with all of the electronics (that we forbid them to have), you don't need to keep it all in your head (which is good because there is so much more of it).

Also, we teach them to collaborate all year, and then test them on their own. We say they all learn at their own pace, and provide differentiated instruction, then give them the same exam. We teach writing process (and learning as a process), then ask them to sit down and write an essay in a one shot, timed situation.

Okay, I realize this strayed from the topic and became a disorganized rant, but I do think that it's a big picture kind of thing. There is a need to look at cause, and think about why we do what we do.

Lori

W Brown said...

Mayo

As always I'm in awe. Well said.


Brown

Ms. Barrett said...

Yes Lori, I failed these two students because I was personally offended that they had the nerve to skip MY class and not complete MY earth shattering curriculum... HOW DARE THEY!!

Here's a thought: Instead of hiring teachers, schools should hire nannies to babysit the students and give them all passing grades regardless of whether or not they show up, drink their milk and eat their cookies. Better yet, trained monkeys should be hired; I'm sure they will provide hours of entertainment for those who are going to flip burgers for a living anyway.

I'm glad to hear that you are in awe, Brown. I couldn't disagree with the two of you more. Then again, maybe the pregnancy hormones are clouding my better judgement.

Ms. Mayo said...

Christine,

I was questioning the ideas in all of the posts, not pointing a finger at you; I'm sorry if it felt that way. I failed students that didn't come to my class or hand in major assignments also, so I'm certainly not advocating passing everyone on your roster. There's nothing for you to agree with or disagree with as I am merely raising questions. I'm only playing devil's advocate to advance the discussion about teaching and learning and education in our country. It's too easy to place blame (and that is to place blame on students, parents, teachers, admin., etc.) without examining what factors are at play in both failing students and the pressure to change grades.

Lori

W Brown said...

Excellent point the idea that we are placing blame on a blog is silly. I know we all realize that there are many parties involved. Where do we draw the lines? The idea of the dichotomy set up when we expect compulsory education intrigues me.

d. o'neill said...

As I read the article last week I had very mixed emotions about what was done and maybe because I had many questions. What steps were taken by the school in conjuction with the student's parents and the student herself in developing an action plan so that sucess would be the outcome? What alternative steps were offered and taken up by this student? I found the story incomplete but iwll comment anyway.
Let me first say good riddence to Mr. Lampros from the system. if the passing of a troubled student going through her 5th year of high school becasue she did not live up to his standards without ever questioning his part in his students failure then he does not belong here.
Next what should be put on a report card for students not showing up? A 20%, 10%??? Isn't a failure a failure? Does a 45% get you any further than a 10%? Let's be real about this. Poor poor Mr Lampros. Imagine not being able to differentiate between a student performing at a 40% level and a 48% level!
Next the final was given on June 12th so why not have a makeup date for students on the 15th which was before the end of the marking period and so fair to give??? Why shouldn't he be fair? OH right the student who is always absent might get one up on the teacher.
Now while I may think this situation with this very inexperienced teacher quiting a bit over the top I would like to raise another point. What does a high school diploma actually represent? Does it only reflect grades achieved in the various subjects required to take? Or does it/should it reflect something more? Such sticking to a given task, completing a job or arriving on time? Of course now we have to evaluate what we want our students to come out with at the end of their four year journey in our mist. And it is a journey where student should be growing and becoming more responsible and a diploma should represent this whether a student is college bound or not.

JDogg said...

This is totally common. If you don't like it you shouldn't teach in the NYC Public Schools (unless...and I teach HS...you're talking about Styvesant or Bronx Sci.) My principal basically went around to all the departments and told us our passing rate was too low and we needed to fix it. If we fail kids then the administrators lose control of the schools, the schools get broken up into small "school-within" schools and it is the same chaos with a different name.

The bottom line is that the parents by and large are not doing their jobs when kids don't show up to school, don't do homework, don't do their job basically. They get shoes and clotes and cell phones and don't have to do a thing for them. Their parents don't pick up books so why should they?

We were never supposed to teach kids from the lower class to rise above. If they did then who would work in the customer service sector?

Why are we there then? To teach to who we can...even if it's four or five kids in a class of 34...and to do some social work where and when we can. Call me jaded and cynical but that's the reality of the situation. You don't like reality? You're in the wrong job. Get out of the hood and go teach on LI.

The teacher who quit had a lousy AP who undermined him. He should've gone head-to-head with the AP and grieved through the UFT. Even if it amounted to nothing it would've shown the AP that the teacher was not willing to go down without a fight. In the end, the teacher who quit was just a crybaby. Sorry...that's the way it is. Can't take the heat? Get out of the kitchen...and he couldn't and did.

I hate NCLB. said...

There are two very distinct, and yet not so different issues in the case of Mr. Lampros.
The first issue most posters seem to be making is that Mr. Lampros himself did not have a stellar attendance record (for whatever the reason). Perhaps had Mr. Lampros himself showed up to work with consistency, the students would have. Perhaps not. He missed 24 teaching days. We do not know the reasons. Still that is over a month of classes in a ten month school year. In fact, with 180 teaching days, he missed 13% of his teaching days. Should we dock him 13% of his pay? At a minimum wage job such as at Burger King, he would lose that 13%. Hourly pay is hourly pay. That is part of the reason it is so important in this country to get the college education – so that you can get a “good” job that has a contract salary and benefits. I am a realist, and recognize that not all of our students are going to college. Especially, if you consider college admission rates compared with the number of high school graduates (this year will be the largest graduating class in US history). Even so, we have to have our children strive for college or some sort of post secondary. After all, even McDonalds now requires a high-school education to work there full time. Why? There is a certain amount of responsibility and maturity that is gained with earning a high school diploma. I specifically say earning, not being given a high school diploma. The fact is employers are interested in the work ethic, the ability to independently evaluate a situation and change to what is needed at the moment, and an individual’s ability to work both alone and with others, and the ability for a worker to be on time, every time. These – perhaps more than Math, Science, or English – are the fundamental skills learned in high school. These are the skills that will ensure success in whatever the line of work chosen, whether it be a janitor or a lawyer. Mr. Lampros himself might seemingly be missing some of these essential skills with his 24 absences. Still, perhaps he had a serious medical emergency, and I am harping on him for no reason. Because is not another part of the “hidden” curriculum compassion? I digress. We can agree that Mr. Lampros may not have done all he could have done to keep in contact with parents but he himself admitted this, so the question arises (as it always does) how much responsibility must a teacher take for the students (often times upwards of 150 a semester) (s)he teaches? Where does the responsibility of the child’s parents, and in the case of a young adult in the 12th grade the student herself, take over? Our country does not value education the same way other countries do. Parents will fight to have students bring cell-phones into the building, but are not there to ensure their children make it to school every day (and what job, realistically, is a child who cannot make it to school each day going to be able to keep? Probably not the legal kind.
This of course leads us to the other issue being raised. What is passing? How important is attendance in passing? What do we do for the children who are not succeeding? As one person pointed out not all of our students are going to college. It is unfortunate that the school systems have forced out a lot of the training type programs that were once available to students. But that is not all the school system’s fault. I have a friend who is a mechanic. The complexity of modern vehicles and the computer integration into all modern vehicles means that a high-school educated (or even worse drop-out) “grease monkey” is a think of the past. It is a technical job that requires technical skills. Yes my friend went to a “tech” school, but even with my university degree I cannot understand half the math in the manuals he studies at night. I have a friend who is a licensed beautician. In getting her certificate to become a hairdresser, she had to learn anatomy and chemistry. Obviously this is not an unskilled job. So two of the most common high-school based job training courses now require a higher level of education. Yes, we need people to flip burgers at Burger King and to clean up the trash, but this should be a choice not the only place a student can go. So, even if not all our students are going to college, we must prepare them for the reality that there are very few jobs (especially in our failing economy, constant outsourcing, and our need to buy cheaply made imported goods) that can be kept and maintained over a life-time with just a high-school diploma. Moreover a student like Ms. Fernadez will not even be able to keep a minimum wage job. She has already proved unwilling to work, to the point of being unwilling to even attend. The Principal and the other teachers who passed Ms. Fernandez are not doing her any favors. They are teaching her – that it is okay to slack off, do what you want, and still expect your paycheck at the end of the week. They are teaching her that society will give in to all of her whims. They are, in essence, creating a welfare case, a criminal, or at the very least a narcissistic person who will spend a life time going from dead end job to dead end job. Ms. Fernandez’ mother has already shown Ms. Fernandez that she is too important for the rules and now the system is teaching her the same thing (what kind of crazy woman would send her daughter to a second prom – my parents would go all Dr. Phil on me and kick my ass out of school if I was failing, again, after I had already failed high school once – and they would charge me rent – which if I didn’t pay, I’d be booted out of the house – I am 100% sure of this, as this is what they did to my sister – and guess what, she now owns her own company and is going to college. I wonder what her motivation was?). Ms. Fernandez, though, did not start failing overnight. She probably has been pushed along since the very beginning, despite all the wonderful wording in NCLB. She was probably at risk when she entered 9th grade, and then when she discovered she was unable to do the work stopped caring, then stopped coming. She was let down by the system as so many children are. Still, she was failing. How would you like it if you found out your doctor had failed all of his classes in medical school, but was pushed through because of a need to have high graduation rates? Fact is, we have standards for a reason. We have to admit that every child is not going to succeed in every class, but still, in order to advance to the next level certain standards need to be met. If we hold true to these standards, instead of creating indistinguishable and wavering lines of what is expected, then perhaps our children will start to succeed on their own, despite the system.
I apologize for the length, but this is one topic that once I get going on I have trouble stopping. You found my soapbox.