Thursday, August 02, 2007

Fuzzy Math

In the NYTimes, an article about a math teacher who quit after a year in a Manhattan public High School.

"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."

(Apparently, the principal subsequently changed one of his grades, passing a student who didn't come close to passing.)

"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."

(I'm not sure that snarky little factoid really helps the article, since it's essentially a critique of the school, not of the kid.)

"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."

Like I always say, some children should be left behind.

The real point here is that there is often a knee-jerk tendency to blame teachers for how badly their students are doing. But I feel for them because they get stuck with a handful of these dead weight students and it brings the whole class down. And, to be honest, because the schools and the parents have worked so hard to remove any authority that teachers might have once had, they really don't have any right to complain when the teachers can't make any headway with the students. Students aren't dumb (well, most of them aren't) and they eventually realize that American education is little more than the enactment of a pretense at this point.


Jen P. said...

The kid almost certainly has issues---personal, family, whatever---that got in the way of school. Rather than deal with those issues, the school (and society at large) prefers to pass her through and let someone else deal with things later on. But I suppose it depends on the particular facts of the situation. Sigh.

Rufus said...

I was thinking about it last night while falling asleep and I started wondering whatever happened to the truant officers or the special classes for troubled students?

Holly said...

Let's start the pioneering "Some Children Left Behind" program, which improves overall education levels, literacy rates, and the general intellect of the population at large, by focusing on making sure that some students who don't make the cut, actually don't make the cut. We can pitch it with a football metaphor... "You wouldn't want LOSERS on YOUR team, would you?"

Rufus said...

Supposedly, the idea with No Child Left Behind is to privatize the 'underperforming' schools- have corporations take them over, who will apparently be more willing to kick out the 'underperforming' students. As well as find more ways to make high schools profitable no doubt.

I'd actually like to see more use of alternative schools for the kids who are troubled. The problem is that the schools are pushing the kids through to keep their rates up. The whole situation is a mess from top to bottom.