Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jude's Story: Threats and Cover-up

In order to tell you about the cover-up and threats made against Jude, I am going to go back to the first moment that Jude realized that something was wrong with the tests.

Each teacher got a list of the children in their class, and the score of each child.  The first anomaly that leapt off the page was the “2” (below average) next to Little Johnny’s name.  Jude was sure that he had gotten a perfect score, which would have given him a “4”. During the test, she had walked around the classroom and had noticed how well he had been doing.

The next thing she did was to go talk to one of the other teachers who had scored the 4th grade test with her.

How did the other teacher respond?  Did he say something like:  “You’re sure he was doing that well, and he only got a “2”?  Well, you’re his teacher, and you would know.  I can understand your concern.  Let’s go ask for his test and check it together.”

Uh. No.  This is what the teacher really said.

 “Little Johnny?   A “4” ?  Don’t be silly. He and his family are white trash.  How would he ever get a “4”?  And he turned his back and walked away.

Jude then went to talk to the Reading Specialist.

Without any sign of surprise, the Reading Specialist replied, “Oh, you figured it out!  It SHOULD bother you that they lowered your kids test scores.”

Kids.  Scores. Plural.

Jude went back and  looked at the scores again.  So many “1’s” and “2’s”.  Surely Little Sally and Little Brady had done better than that.  How many other children had been given grades lower than they deserved?  These grades would help determine the fifth grade class placement of each child.  Children could be held back because of these scores.

Finally, Jude decided to tell the principal.   It was Jane Brush’s first year as a principal.  A former gym teacher, she had just graduated from the Leadership Academy.  It was up to her to take the next step in what could be a serious case of test tampering.  True to her training, she delegated, or passed the hot potato, to her Assistant Principal, Page Letterman.  A.P. Letterman sat in the principal's office and carefully checked the tests from Jude’s class.  Then she asked for all the 4th grade tests.

While this process was going on, one of the 4th grade teachers, Doreen Grady, knocked on Jude’s classroom door while class was in progress.  When Jude opened the door, Doreen hissed, “We’re going to get you, Jude.  We’re going to get the parents after you.” As soon as she was free, Jude went to the classroom of her UFT Union Representative,  Katy McMillan, and told her what Doreen had said.  Katy simply replied, “Teachers don’t stick together.”  Then she locked the door and slammed it in Jude’s face.

After carefully reviewing all the tests, Assistant Principal Letterman called all the fourth grade teachers down to the principal’s office. “What’s going on?”  she asked.  I’ve reviewed all the tests.  Numbers 2 and 4 which were graded by Jude are all done according to the rubric.  The rest of you have given much lower grades than you should have.”  When she didn’t get a satisfactory answer from them, she asked Jude to leave, and kept the others in the office.

Now we can stop right here, and try to give the other teachers the benefit of the doubt.  It was a new rubric.  They weren’t used to grading tests that way.  They possibly misinterpreted the rubric...  Perhaps they were simply careless.  Remember they had made fun of Jude for being so slow and meticulous.  There was an easy way to find out if the teachers had lowered the scores accidentally or maliciously.  Each teacher had corrected the same questions.  Let’s say Doreen Grady, the teacher who threatened Jude, had been assigned problems 5 and 6.  If she had made the same mistakes on 5& 6 for all the tests, then she had simply misinterpreted the scoring guide.  If she had not been consistent, and had graded her students and those of friends with a different criteria than she had used on Jude’s class, then she had maliciously tampered with the test.

The next day Leadership Academy Principal Brush called all the 4th grade teachers into her office.  She looked at Jude and told her to apologize to the other 4th grade teachers.

“For what?” gasped Jude.

The principal repeated the order.  Apologize to the other teachers for suggesting that they had graded the tests incorrectly.  Jude replied that she had nothing to apologize for, and that they were the ones who should be apologizing because THEY HAD graded the tests incorrectly—Page Letterman had said so. Apologize?  They could “Kiss My Fat Ass”!!!!!

Leadership Academy Principal Brush then told her that the matter had been resolved and then ordered her not to discuss it with anyone.  Jude was told to leave the office, but  the other 4th grade teachers were asked to remain.

The “matter” was never resolved, because it was covered up.   The cover-up allowed the other 4th grade teachers to carry out Doreen’s threat, and to begin a three-year course of harassment aided and abetted by Leadership Academy Principal Brush.


Pissedoffteacher said...

If I wasn't part of the system, I would not believe this. I have tears in my eyes just picturing htis poor teacher and the kids that were messed around with.

Moriah Untamed said...

And that was before merit pay. Now a teacher's rating is dependent on the scores. I hate to think what teachers might be reduced to as they battle for their professional lives.