Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Passing Lie

I had a conference with one of my students today. We’ll call him Nathan. Our conversation went something like this:

MS UNTAMED: Nathan, you’ve been acting out in class lately and doing no work at all. You did some good work at the beginning of the marking period, and then you started slacking off. What’s going on?

Nathan: I dunno.

MS UNTAMED: You’re falling right back into the same old pattern you had last year. And what happened? You failed science and math. Do you want to spend next summer in summer school like you did last summer?

Nathan: I didn’t go to summer school last summer.

MS UNTAMED: What? How could you be in eighth grade if you failed two major classes and didn’t go to summer school?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: What did you do last summer, if you weren’t in summer school?

Nathan: I went to D.R. with my parents.

MS UNTAMED: Well, if I failed you last year and your math teacher failed you too, and nothing happened, then why should you do any work this year?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: That’s the message you’re being sent. Play all day, you’ll pass anyway. Well, let me tell you something. Last year the whole class learned science while you played, and this year won’t be any different. Even though it looks to you like you’re getting away with something, you’re not. You snooze, you lose. You’re not learning anything. Principal S.T. might give you the diploma, but she can’t give you the knowledge. Only you can do that.
What do you say?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: Ok, Nathan, think about it. I’ll see you tomorrow.

OK, OK. I probably could have been a little nicer to the poor misunderstood child—but I went into shock when I realized that the principal had changed my grades. I don’t fail many students. Last year I failed four out of 150. They did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING all- year- long--180 days---No work-- At all--NADA.

Yes, I called parents. Yes, I talked to guidance. Yes I wrote referrals. Yes, I “differentiated”. Yes, I gave them positive reinforcement.

Nathan passed. MS UNTAMED failed. MS UNTAMED got an UNsatisfactory rating. And so did the math teacher, who is no longer in the school. She made some kind of deal—if she agreed to move on to another school, the principal would give her a Satisfactory. Maybe the math teacher also agreed to change Nathan's 55 to a 65.

At Bloomberg and Company, it’s the teacher’s fault if a student fails.

I am really shaken by this, and I am trying to figure out why. This is nothing new. It happens all the time. It happened before Bloomberg. They just passed kids on without justification. Diplomas meant nothing.

But“NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” was supposed to fix that, wasn’t it? We have STANDARDS now, don’t we?







Pissedoffteacher said...

They play the same games at my school. Kids go to "afternoon school" and pass if they breathe. Everyone has to graduate so Principal gets his bonus.

As for the ratings game, a teacher in my school was promised an S if he left--he didn't get it.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

I don't bother anymore with these one to one conferences with students. Hell, they can accuse you of saying and doing inappriopate things so do be careful. I hate to say it but you have to lie like every one else!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever consider filing a joint complaint with the New York City Department of Investigation and the New York State Commission of Investigation?

catt55 said...

please visit my blog http://femalefaculty.blogspot.com/
and please contact me as part of TAGNYC
or email me - there are so many stories like this one - I believe that more can be done if a small group strategizes - right now I feel as if we are all deer in the headlight and being shocked into submission - and the UFT either does not have the capacity or the will to really fight what is going on (yes I've heard Randy and her 10-point programs etc etc...) oh and NOW they call for a "candlelight vigil" when the proposed rally was conveniently "put on the back burner" last spring? REALLY.

Anonymous said...

I was placed in the rubber room based on false allegation of corporal punishment and verbal abuse, then placed back to the school without charge for any offense. All I did was something in jest. Anyhow, principal trumped up charge against me because I threatened to file a grievance for a cluster position. The very position was closed out when I returned.
I am in a civil proceedings against DoE and the principal. It seems that they all backed away now. We will see.