"The pressure to pass students - even those who rarely go to class or can't read - is pervasive in the Philadelphia School District, teachers around the city say. The push comes in memos, in meetings, and in talks about failure rates that are too high, the teachers say. It comes through mountains of paperwork and justification for failing any student. It comes in ways subtle and overt, according to more than a dozen teachers from nine of the city's 62 high schools."
'We have to give fake grades," said a teacher at Mastbaum High in Kensington. "The pressure is very real..."' The thing is, we're not asked to educate our kids. We're asked to pass them," the Gratz teacher said. At Olney West, a teacher said she had received warning calls after failing students.'I'll get a phone call saying, 'Are you sure he earned a 58? Are you sure it wasn't a 65?' the teacher said. 'To me, if a student has 80 absences, the question should be, 'Why did they pass? and not, What are you doing so they don't fail?' "
I don't know about the rest of you, but I am totally against social promotions. I think it is one of the things destroying many of our inner city schools. Teachers have a hard job, and if anyone says that they aren't, for the most part, underpaid, that person must be living on the planet Dreamland. Read the quotes from some of our teachers under siege (and not from students per se. But from administrators and bureaucrats) here in Philly again. Is it any wonder that our murder rate is where it is?
The quotes in the first rwo paragraphs were taken from a Philadelphia Inquirer article which dealt with the subject. Clearly there is a problem in our schools with social promotions, and teachers and other educational professionals are finally speaking out about it.
Of course, as with most of these types of issues, there are two different points of views. There are some people who take the opposite view and who actually argue that social promotions are good. How else, they argue, would these students be able to graduate from their respective schools? Not socially promoting them could devastate them psychologically and do more harm than good in the long run. The dropout rates would be huge, and the end result would be children with no shot at getting even what would be considered a low paying job.
Well, I am not buying it. The kids who are socially promoted do no better in the long run than if they had been held back. Of course the social promotion advocates disagree:"They never really catch up.... They are stigmatized, and that makes it worse." So says one Ivy League expert on the subject. And my question to that would be how and when are they going to catch up if we just give them a degree and send them off into the world? Sorry, I am not buying it.
Of course the real problem is that many of these kids are coming from homes which makes it so much worse for them from the jump. Their backgrounds are so messed up and full of obstacles that by the time they get to school learning plays second fiddle to just surviving. But I am sorry, these kids usually hold back the kids who really want to learn, and they can be disruptive to a good classroom environment when they do decide to come to school.
So in the end, my position on this issue might seem harsh, because it would seem as if I am not considering these other variables, but I am. It's exactly why I would would hold these children back and work harder to educate them and prepare them for a future in the work place. Hey, I know that when it comes to this issue I come down on the same side with the folks from The Manhattan Institute , for crying out loud, but sometimes good ideas makes strange bedfellows.
Before I go, this is a good time to segue into the next subject; a tribute to my father.
He was the smartest man I ever knew, but he never acted like it. He knew famous and powerful people, but he was most comfortable with the people you and I would pass on the street everyday and not even know they were there. He was loved and respected by more people than I will ever know in my life, and to this day, because of the legacy he left me, I am treated by the people who knew him with the kind of respect that I could never earn for myself.
He believed in education, family, and hard work. And he believed in treating others like he would want them to treat him.
Finally, he taught me to respect people for who they were and not for what they had.
Thanks Dad. You raised me in the house, but you gave me a value system straight from the fields.
Happy Father's Day!