Sunday, August 05, 2007

No Child Left Behind!

Students at the University of Oklahoma are super stoic. They accept their fate with little whining and soldier on. When I taught at Tulane, it was not so. Many had the "my dad is rich so I'm gonna pass no matter what" attitude. I had a student threaten to accuse me of harassment if I didn't change her failing grade to a pass. I declined to change it, but rather than going after me she had her father get the grade changed administratively somewhere way up above my pay grade as they say.

All this is by way of introduction to the lovely story in the NY times of the girl who couldn't (wouldn't) do algebra.

Indira Fernandez "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" in her intermediate algebra class at the High School of Arts & Technology in Manhattan

She then produced a Doctors note that covered her absences up until March 15 (the final was June 12th), and she and her mother convinced the principal to let her re-take the final. The principal was so moved by the tragic story that she had a different math teacher tutor Indira for two days before the retake. She still failed, and when the original teacher (who had refused to allow the retake and has since quit his job and left the state) re-gave her a failing grade the principal, Ms. Anne Geiger, simply changed it to a passing one.

"Colleagues of his (the original teacher) 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."

Gee I wonder if anyone named Fernandez is remotely embarrassed by this unseemly turn of events?

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

C'mon Karma, do ur stuff!!!

1 comment:

Dirty Davey said...

What this suggests is simple: rewarding or punishing school principals based on graduation rates will produce higher graduation rates. It will not necessarily improve student performance.

The underlying theory is what Joel on Software calls the "Econ 101" Management approach. When you reward or punish based on a measurement, you get results that maximize that measurement--which is not necessarily the behavior you want.