Wednesday, August 1

Low expectations strike again

The Times today published a story on teacher Austin Lampros, who resigned from his post teaching math at Manhattan's High School for Arts and Technology after the school's principal overruled his decision to fail a student. The Times's Samuel Freedman writes:

Mr. Lampros’s introduction to the high school’s academic standards proved a fitting preamble to a disastrous year. It reached its low point in late June, when Arts and Technology’s principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.

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.
The full article is well worth a read.


Philissa said...

I think attributing this to "low expectations" is a mistake -- it seems to me that this kind of issue will come up when expectations are actually too high.

Here, it looks like principals are being asked to graduate more and more students, even when they might have some kids who are just not going to make it on time (or a year late). Schools should make themselves a place that kids want to come, and they should also make clear that there are consequences if kids don't attend and complete their assignments. To do this successfully, teachers and principals have to be free not to pass kids who don't deserve to pass. It makes sense that if principals will lose money or even their jobs if kids fail, they will try to find ways to pass kids who might not have earned it. We shouldn't accept low expectations for schools and their kids, but we also have to be realistic about what's possible to accomplish and how quickly it can be accomplished.

So I think we are going to see more instances like this as the stakes get higher and higher for principals, teachers, and kids and as principals become more and more autonomous.

It doesn't help that there aren't clear citywide guidelines as to how much teachers can use attendance and class participation to figure into kids' grades.

vivek said...

Stand Up, Principal and Stand Up, Mr. Policy-maker. Between two of you, do decide who will take the lashings for this egregious act.

I was sickened by this. A school just failed its students.

I have blogged about this over at my blog The Red Pencil

Kvetch Me Not said...

Doesn't surprise me at all: the principal of this school has been doing these kinds of things for many, many years. I should know: I worked for her at the Salk School of Science back in the 1990's!