A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, May 23, 2008

Now THAT'S Good Teachin'!

Wow. Teachers at this school are SO good that they can get a kid to pass even when he's not there:
A public school student in St. Louis got mixed marks in a third-quarter progress report recently, receiving credit for being in class 58 times and getting two B’s and one C to go along with four F’s.

There was just one problem: The entire time, the unidentified student was enrolled in a school in Oklahoma, attending classes hundreds of miles from St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday that teachers at Gateway High School never noticed the student wasn’t in class during the first two months of this year. One teacher marked the student tardy for class on a day the student wasn’t there.

Senior district officials were unaware of the phantom student until the Post-Dispatch provided a copy of an e-mail the school’s vice principal sent to Gateway staff chastising them for failing to notice the student’s absence.

The student withdrew from the St. Louis Public Schools on Dec. 19, 2007. After confirming the authenticity of the e-mail, officials sought to downplay the incident.

"We’re not happy about this, but it’s fixed," district spokeswoman Deborah Sistrunk said.

Sistrunk said she could not explain how a student no longer enrolled at the school could earn grades and be counted as present in classes. "We don’t know how it happened," she said.

The St. Louis public school system has been in disarray in recent years, struggling amid constant turnover in senior leadership. The State Board of Education stripped the district of accreditation in March, citing a long history of poor academic performance, low graduation rates and financial problems.

A special advisory board took control in June. Board President Rick Sullivan said he wants to learn more about the student getting grades when he or she was not at school.

"While I’m confident this is an isolated incident, we are going to look into it with the goal of eliminating something like this happening in the future," Sullivan said.

Former elected School Board President Veronica O’Brien said the Gateway lapse was another example of a city school inflating attendance in a quiet effort to increase state funding. State education allocations are tied to attendance.

"This kind of stuff goes on all the time," O’Brien said.

Attendance at Gateway and other city middle and high schools is recorded on a computer program at the beginning of each class period. Teachers note if a student is present, absent, tardy or absent for a specific reason.

The former board president saying that "this kind of stuff happens all the time," is really rich. This didn't happen just since the state took over. I know there are many dedicated professionals in that school district. But someone has got to get control of that place-- preferably, someone who knows something about education. The district is currently searching for yet another superintendent, and I wonder if they've had any offers-- given that the special advisory board has let it be known that the new superintendent will be a mere cog in their dream machine, which is interesting in that none of the people on the special advisory board seem to have any experience with public education, much less urban public education.

Sad. Oh, and it's fraudulent too.

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At 5/23/08, 5:27 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Uh....OOPS! How embarrassed are THEY?!

NOW I understand how some of my college students graduated high school!

At 5/23/08, 8:39 PM, Blogger Mike in Texas said...

Still around Mrs. C, long story

At 5/24/08, 4:36 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Happens all the time? How the heck is that possible?

At 5/25/08, 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did my practicum in a SLPS and while my cooperating teacher would never have let attendance and grades slide (in fact, he was constantly on the kids about turning in work and being there,) I can see where the crap that goes on while you're taking attendance would lead you to just let it go. And if the school office doesn't care and doesn't buzz you about getting it in, well...There's another link in the apathy chain that has a stranglehold on urban schools.

The grades? Another story. Those had to be simply made up.

It might indeed happen all the time. But let us not forget that O'Brien is a lunatic who needed bodyguards and didn't send her kids to city schools.

At 5/25/08, 2:16 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

I couldn't help but notice that a student of mine, who cuts all the time, failed almost every class, and every class indicated over 20 absences. Yet the student managed to pass art with a 75. Doubtless she's faxing in those projects. Or sending them telepathically.

It's amazing what some teachers will do.

At 5/25/08, 2:19 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I think I would change the word "amazing" to "disgusting."

I know of a "student" who has miraculously seen 37% averages be raised to passing levels in a week! Miraculous! It's amazing what pressure from above can do!

I also know some brave souls who are refusing to budge in raising this person's grade. Who wants to bet that they will be hammered into submission? Anyone?

At 5/27/08, 7:20 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

First of all, having done my pre-service teaching in the SLPS, I don't find this in the least bit surprising, shocking, or amazing. If this were the worst that goes on in those buildings, it would be a miracle.

'Tis the season for graduation grade pressure. Although I teach seniors, I don't fall victim to this since my kids are basically well ahead of the game in credits and motivation.


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