Monday, February 05, 2007

Worth Another Look

One of the most remarkable education stories I've ever heard happened a few years back in Kansas City. I wasn't blogging at the time, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again today, so I hope you won't mind my dredging it up.

A young science teacher named Christine Pelton assigned a class project. Parents and students signed an agreement that the project would be worth half the class grade.

Unfortunately for the kids in question, Ms. Pelton went and read the projects. Perhaps the kids had not anticipated this occurrence because it turned out that many of the papers were identical. Using software that identified it, Ms. Pelton determined that 28 of the kids had committed plagiarism. Under the terms of the signed agreement, she proceeded to fail the plagiarists.

But the kids were not happy. And their parents, who'd signed the agreements, had second thoughts. The local board determined the project was weighted too heavily and instructed Ms. Pelton to reduce its value from 50 to 30%.

When Ms. Pelton arrived the next day, the kids let her know who was boss.

"The students no longer listened to what I had to say," she said. "They knew if they didn't like anything in my classroom from here on out, they can just go to the school board and complain."

Ms. Pelton resigned. At the end of the semester, her principal resigned too.
Ms. Pelton
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