This one is a rant.
If you had a student who 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, what would you do?
I would have probably:
a) Checked with the administrative department on news from home the first time she skipped class.
b) The second time it happened, I would call home.
c) The third time, I would write and inform the Principal.
I wonder if any of these steps were taken by Austin Lampros, Mathematics Teacher in Manhattan when his student Indira Fernandez careened of-course at the Arts & Technology High School.
If he did, what did the school authorities do about it?
Whatever the case may be, I was shocked to read in the New York Times article this morning that the student in question, who had been failed by Mr. Lampros was given perimission to take the exam separately after being coached by another maths teacher for 2 days. After her aggregate score still fell below the pass mark, Mr. Lampros decision was over-ruled and the student promoted by the Principal. Apparently the school has a poliy that all students who turn up for even one class in the term get a minimum of 45 marks (of 100) when 65 are needed to pass.
Mr. Lampros quit.
What it worth it?
I don’t know. The student still graduated. The school still goes on unaffected. Hopefully he will find employment in native Michigan, but knowing the rather conservative administration of schools, I don’t see many jumping enthusiastically to have him working on their team.
Was it the appropriate thing to do?
Maybe. If he had indeed done Steps 1, 2 and 3 I mention above and has reason to believe that Ms. Fernandez’s absences were better categorized under truancy than illness, I can see why he was disillusioned.
Would I do it?
I would have probably brought the walls down if someone skipped 11 of the 14 tests I gave. Matters probably would not have come to head. But assuming Mr. Lampros did create his share of noise and the student was passed only to keep graduation rates soaring, I’d have to side with him. It would probably be the honourable and loyal thing to stick with the school and try and change things from the inside but lets be realists. As rookie teachers, none of us would have had the clout that early in our careers.
Frankly, I could not have worked under a head who I felt had compromised on the reasons for which we become teachers.
If change is what was important, I’d say Mr. Lampros has made a useful first step by talking to the press.
What’s my view on the action taken by the Principal?
This one action has probably seriously jeopardized the culture of the school, plunged the respects students had for her, made the other teachers feel a little distanced from their jobs and seriously undermined the confidence and the will-power of Ms. Fernandez who may never learn to take responsibility for her actions.
If the Principal may be in duress (low graduation rates may mean less money or no job) – the policy makers and boards deserve a swift kick in the pants.
If the Principal did this to cover her own inadequacies in not having discovered Miss Fernansez’s prolonged absences earlier, she is the one who should have quit.
Chivalry notwithstanding, maybe even received the aforementioned kick in the pants.
This is the kind of thing that gets my goat. What do you think? Let me know by writing in the comments section. Thanks.
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