Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The School Report Card Twilight Zone

There is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between superstition and politics, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of Mayor Bloomberg's imagination. It is an area which we call the NYCDOE Twilight Zone...


I'm doing my semester grades right now, and unfortunately, I have to fail some of my best students.* I know, it seems really unfair. Some of them have 80s and 90s in my class, and they worked really hard to improve their grades that were in the 60s and 70s. But that's the way it goes, you know?

They're pretty upset, as you can imagine. They don't get it. "But Miss Eyre," they're saying, "I did everything you told me to do. In fact, the last time you talked to me, you said I was doing so much better and that I was getting an A in your class. So why am I failing now?"

"You don't know how this is going to mess me up!" some of them are protesting. "I'm going to be off track for graduation! I thought I was doing okay! I mean, come on, look at my average! You told me this was going to be more than enough to pass!"

But that's the way it is. Why should they work with one set of predictable, consistent, fair standards? Better that they learn that the goalposts are constantly shifting in life, and that people in responsibility don't have to keep their promises. After all, that's real life, right?

*obvious hyperbole, I hope


Sounds crazy, right? Except that's exactly what's happening at schools across the city that earned As and Bs on their report cards but are nevertheless facing closure. If these report cards are supposed to be our gauges of school quality, how can anyone trust them when schools that allegedly make great progress and are rated so well are threatened with closure?

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