Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Truth and Consequences

How does Mr. Bloomberg do it? Sure, a lot of people doubt his statistics, since he doesn't count dropouts as not having graduated, but he does seem to shuffle a lot of kids through somehow. Are they ready for college? What's the dif, as long as they make Tweed look good?

In today's Times, Sam Freeman follows a particularly egregious example of statistics run amuck. Austin Lampros, a math teacher at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, failed a student. Among other things, she didn't bother showing up for the final exam. Mr. Lampros was ordered to allow her to take it two days after his other students had done so.

I'd be very uncomfortable with such a directive, as I do not wish my students to have the benefit of discussing what's on the test with their friends. But that's not the only reason he failed the student:

According to Mr. Lampros’s records, she missed one-third of the classes, arrived late for 20 sessions, turned in half the required homework assignments, failed 11 of 14 tests and quizzes...

Frankly, that's not my idea of a good student.

What lesson do principals teach when they overrule classroom instructors to pass kids like that?

It appears to me the lesson is there are no consequences for your actions, or your negligence. That's precisely the opposite of what I want my child to learn in school, and it's certainly not what she learns from me.

Mr. Lampros has resigned and returned to his native Michigan. It's very sad that his integrity will keep him from giving city kids the help they sorely need with math.

And it's pathetic, almost criminal, the things that must be done to buttress this mayor's wholly unmerited reputation as an educational reformer.
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