Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Credit Corruption

Ok, so I haven't written here in nearly a year, actually since the start of the school year under the new principal. Which is kind of funny, because looking back I can provide some sort of piece on how things went under the reign of this new principal, who in some ways isn't so new anymore and yet, I still feel like I barely know her.

But first, I write this now on the Board of Ed's dime, babysitting...errrr facilitating a group of "unsuccessful" students in credit recovery. This is something I am sure all of you are familiar with. I will be honest, in the four years I have been here, I haven't had much exposure to it. Perhaps it is because I have always been someone who was away from all of this. And so, now during Regents week, my AP assigned me to oversee this, or basically, add the kids to the program so they could do the work.

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but to me, this whole system is something more along the lines of corruption. Within the class right now is one kid who the other teacher told me is a good kid who just wasn't successful and then two not so good kids who did the wrong thing for four years here and are basically being rewarded for their bad behavior for getting a second...scratch fifth? sixth? chance? Et cetera, the list goes on. For whatever reason, the idea of this credit recovery thing goes against all my moral beliefs about education. Is it wrong for me to all of a sudden feel devalued as an educator (notwithstanding all the previous b.s. the mayor and his minions have done to demonize the people in our profession)?

But think of this. In the minds of these kids, who in their minds think all they need to get a H.S. diploma is a 65 (and for the most part, how can we really dissuade them from thinking this), they can goof off all year, fail their classes and no matter how much of a jerk they are, just say "Oh I will take credit recovery" come in for an hour or so, do the minimal work possible for an online course and graduate on stage with their friends a week later. And because the school is so intent on pushing kids through, because the mayor wants us all to pass students, not for their own benefit, but because it makes him look good, then schools do this. The principal forces the teachers to do this, because if they don't they will be fired, and as much as tenure is supposed to mean something, if you consistently get U ratings, you won't be teaching very long, or get sent somewhere you really don't want to be teaching.

What is my moral dilemma here? Why do I feel so devalued? Besides the fact that regents exams are more a joke that they used to, where I am told to give 3 and 4 ratings to essays that are barely a 1. To allow essays in World History that talk about Thomas Edison, even though the rubric says otherwise. Why am I bothering? If a student knows they can screw around/cut class all year, then come in the last week of June and pass the course, why are we here? There is no point for us really, we may as well just do what everyone else tells us to do and get a "real" job.

I love teaching. I love teaching engaged students and helping students who struggle but honestly want to do well. I feel good when students become engaged in a subject or activity, and show that they thought deeply about something. I love when I read a good essay on a subject that shows transitions, interpretation and analysis of a question. Yeah there are some problem instances during the year, but for the most part, the student equation isn't all that bad. It's all the other things that drive me nuts.

In my day (wow I feel old), if you failed something, you went to summer school to make up what you didn't learn (I went twice, guess I enjoyed summer school XD). Yeah, they still have summer school, but with credit recovery, there is no need for it now. You can just fail the class and take it later on. Sure some might argue with regents classes that students need summer school and sure they all do, but with the rampant corruption that goes on regarding regents grading, that argument might not be as strong as before.

What the real problem is this. We are handing diplomas out to students who are going to be shoved into a world they are not ready for. They will think they are ready for college, get there and face a hard truth, that they aren't ready for college, that the skills they failed to learn in high school are actually useful and they will face a serious issue in their life. Instead of us taking a reasonable approach to the education of these students, we show them through all so His Excellency at Tweed can talk about how many kids are passing. But if they are passing without having learned anything, what do they gain? A false hope and a brutal slap in the face. So when these kids realize the best job they can get is a job they could have had in high school, where are they going to turn? Their parents won't be around forever, some of which come from one parent households anyways. Drugs and crime are always around them, and the sad reality is that the school, the place where they are supposed to get a proper education is the place that is denying that education.

Who's to blame? I mean yeah, the mayor is mostly at fault, but if we are complicit in this, even under the guise of, well it will save our jobs (which is debatable), then we are at fault as well. And to be honest, if this is how it will be, I'm seriously considering other career options.

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