I began teaching in Southern California 34 years ago and remember quite clearly being told by mentor teachers that I could not give a student the grade of F they had clearly earned, because “You can’t give students a grade lower than a C, because the parents would be upset.”
Now, 34 years later, after teaching 32 years in the Lammersville School District, the sentiment is still the same. I’ve discovered certain students are not held accountable to district standards, either because their speech services trump district retention policies, support staff have more clout than the classroom teacher, or parents feel their child should be promoted to the next grade even though they have not passed any standards throughout the school year.
I’m retiring after 34 years of teaching so that I can take care of my husband, but in reflection I now understand why our school system is failing our students. I’m so glad that I’m retiring, because I always believed that I was in this profession to help children learn, hold them accountable to certain standards, and do what was best for the child and the class as a whole.
There are students and parents who truly put their full efforts into education, while others are just passed along in spite of their inadequacies. I guess this is a statement about the future of our educational system, and makes it clear to me why so many countries don’t even recognize our education as a valid system.