Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

This a good one (or why teachers quit)

Expand Messages
  • Bob Rosebrough
    From NY Times August 1, 2007 On Education A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a `Fail Becomes a `Pass By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN Several weeks into his first year
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      From NY Times
      August 1, 2007
      On Education
      A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a `Fail' Becomes a `Pass'
      By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
      Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School
      of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy
      of the school's grading policy. He took particular note of the
      stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a
      semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points
      on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

      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.

      Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was permitted
      to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring
      from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left her
      with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros's
      calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which
      allowed her to graduate.

      Ms. Geiger declined to be interviewed for this column and said that
      federal law forbade her to speak about a specific student's
      performance. But in a written reply to questions, she characterized
      her actions as part of a "standard procedure" of "encouraging
      teachers to support students' efforts to achieve academic success."

      The issue here is not a violation of rules or regulations. Ms. Geiger
      acted within the bounds of the teachers' union's contract with the
      city, by providing written notice to Mr. Lampros of her decision.

      No, the issue is more what this episode may say about the Department
      of Education's vaunted increase in graduation rates. It is possible,
      of course, that the confrontation over Miss Fernandez was an
      aberration. It is possible, too, that Mr. Lampros is the rare teacher
      willing to speak on the record about the pressures from
      administrators to pass marginal students, pressures that countless
      colleagues throughout the city privately grumble about but ultimately
      cave in to, fearful of losing their jobs if they object.

      Mr. Lampros has resigned and returned to his home state, Michigan.
      The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that
      he missed 24 school days during the last year for illness and
      personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher
      conferences. He also had conflicts with an assistant principal,
      Antonio Arocho, over teaching styles. Mr. Lampros said all of this
      was true.

      Still, Mr. Lampros received a satisfactory rating five of the six
      times administrators formally observed him. He has master's degrees
      in both statistics and math education and has won awards for his
      teaching at the college level.

      "It's almost as if you stick to your morals and your ethics, you'll
      end up without a job," Mr. Lampros said in an interview. "I don't
      think every school is like that. But in my case, it was."

      The written record, in the form of the minutely detailed charts Mr.
      Lampros maintained to determine student grades, supports his account.
      Colleagues of his from the school — a counselor, a programmer,
      several fellow teachers — corroborated key elements of his version of
      events. They also describe a principal worried that the 2006
      graduation rate of 72.5 percent would fall closer to 50 or 60 percent
      unless teachers came up with ways to pass more students.

      After having failed to graduate with her class in June 2006, Miss
      Fernandez, who, through her mother, declined to be interviewed,
      returned to Arts and Technology last September for a fifth year. She
      was enrolled in Mr. Lampros's class in intermediate algebra. Absent
      for more than two-thirds of the days, she failed, and that grade was
      left intact by administrators.

      When second semester began, Miss Fernandez again took the
      intermediate algebra class, which fulfilled one of her graduation
      requirements. 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,
      and never took the final exam.

      Two days after the June 12 final, Miss Fernandez told Mr. Lampros
      that she had a doctor's note excusing her from school on the day of
      the exam, he said. On June 18, she asked him if she had failed the
      class, and he told her she had. The next day, the principal summoned
      Mr. Lampros to a meeting with Miss Fernandez and her mother. He was
      ordered, he said, to let her retake the final.

      Mr. Arocho, the assistant principal, wrote in a letter to Mr. Lampros
      that Miss Fernandez had a doctor's note, issued March 15, permitting
      her to miss school whenever necessary in the spring. Mr. Arocho did
      not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

      There is such a note, issued by Dr. Jason Faller, but it excused
      absences "over the last three months" — that is, the period between
      mid-December and mid-March. In a recent interview, Dr. Faller said he
      saw Miss Fernandez only once, in March, and confirmed that his excuse
      note covered absences only before March 15.

      For whatever reason, school administrators misinterpreted the note
      and told Mr. Lampros that Miss Fernandez would be allowed to retake
      the final — and to retake it after having two days of one-on-one
      tutoring by another math teacher, an advantage none of Mr. Lampros's
      other students had, he said.

      Mr. Lampros, disgusted, did not come to school the next two days.
      Miss Fernandez meanwhile took the test and scored a 66, which still
      left her far short of a 65 average for the semester. Nonetheless, Mr.
      Arocho tried to enter a passing mark for her. When he had to relent
      after objections by the teachers' union representative, Mr. Lampros
      was allowed to put in the failing grade. Ms. Geiger promptly reversed
      it.

      Samantha Fernandez, Indira's mother, spoke on her behalf. "My
      daughter earned everything she got," she said. Of Mr. Lampros, she
      said, "He needs to grow up and be a man."

      From Michigan, Mr. Lampros recalled one comment that Mrs. Fernandez
      made during their meeting about why it was important for Indira to
      graduate. She couldn't afford to pay for her to attend another senior
      prom in another senior year.

      E-mail: sgfreedman@...
    • Candace Dodson Reed
      My mother is an educator and for every one horror story like the one below, there are 1000 success stories that do not make it into the NY Times or even the
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        My mother is an educator and for every one horror story like the one below, there are 1000 success stories that do not make it into the NY Times or even the Columbia Flier. 
        Hopefully good teachers do not quit because of a few bad apples...

        Bob Rosebrough <bobrosebrough21045@...> wrote:
        From NY Times
        August 1, 2007
        On Education
        A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a `Fail' Becomes a `Pass'
        By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
        Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School
        of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy
        of the school's grading policy. He took particular note of the
        stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a
        semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points
        on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

        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.

        Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was permitted
        to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring
        from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left her
        with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros's
        calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which
        allowed her to graduate.

        Ms. Geiger declined to be interviewed for this column and said that
        federal law forbade her to speak about a specific student's
        performance. But in a written reply to questions, she characterized
        her actions as part of a "standard procedure" of "encouraging
        teachers to support students' efforts to achieve academic success."

        The issue here is not a violation of rules or regulations. Ms. Geiger
        acted within the bounds of the teachers' union's contract with the
        city, by providing written notice to Mr. Lampros of her decision.

        No, the issue is more what this episode may say about the Department
        of Education's vaunted increase in graduation rates. It is possible,
        of course, that the confrontation over Miss Fernandez was an
        aberration. It is possible, too, that Mr. Lampros is the rare teacher
        willing to speak on the record about the pressures from
        administrators to pass marginal students, pressures that countless
        colleagues throughout the city privately grumble about but ultimately
        cave in to, fearful of losing their jobs if they object.

        Mr. Lampros has resigned and returned to his home state, Michigan.
        The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that
        he missed 24 school days during the last year for illness and
        personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher
        conferences. He also had conflicts with an assistant principal,
        Antonio Arocho, over teaching styles. Mr. Lampros said all of this
        was true.

        Still, Mr. Lampros received a satisfactory rating five of the six
        times administrators formally observed him. He has master's degrees
        in both statistics and math education and has won awards for his
        teaching at the college level.

        "It's almost as if you stick to your morals and your ethics, you'll
        end up without a job," Mr. Lampros said in an interview. "I don't
        think every school is like that. But in my case, it was."

        The written record, in the form of the minutely detailed charts Mr.
        Lampros maintained to determine student grades, supports his account.
        Colleagues of his from the school — a counselor, a programmer,
        several fellow teachers — corroborated key elements of his version of
        events. They also describe a principal worried that the 2006
        graduation rate of 72.5 percent would fall closer to 50 or 60 percent
        unless teachers came up with ways to pass more students.

        After having failed to graduate with her class in June 2006, Miss
        Fernandez, who, through her mother, declined to be interviewed,
        returned to Arts and Technology last September for a fifth year. She
        was enrolled in Mr. Lampros's class in intermediate algebra. Absent
        for more than two-thirds of the days, she failed, and that grade was
        left intact by administrators.

        When second semester began, Miss Fernandez again took the
        intermediate algebra class, which fulfilled one of her graduation
        requirements. 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,
        and never took the final exam.

        Two days after the June 12 final, Miss Fernandez told Mr. Lampros
        that she had a doctor's note excusing her from school on the day of
        the exam, he said. On June 18, she asked him if she had failed the
        class, and he told her she had. The next day, the principal summoned
        Mr. Lampros to a meeting with Miss Fernandez and her mother. He was
        ordered, he said, to let her retake the final.

        Mr. Arocho, the assistant principal, wrote in a letter to Mr. Lampros
        that Miss Fernandez had a doctor's note, issued March 15, permitting
        her to miss school whenever necessary in the spring. Mr. Arocho did
        not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

        There is such a note, issued by Dr. Jason Faller, but it excused
        absences "over the last three months" — that is, the period between
        mid-December and mid-March. In a recent interview, Dr. Faller said he
        saw Miss Fernandez only once, in March, and confirmed that his excuse
        note covered absences only before March 15.

        For whatever reason, school administrators misinterpreted the note
        and told Mr. Lampros that Miss Fernandez would be allowed to retake
        the final — and to retake it after having two days of one-on-one
        tutoring by another math teacher, an advantage none of Mr. Lampros's
        other students had, he said.

        Mr. Lampros, disgusted, did not come to school the next two days.
        Miss Fernandez meanwhile took the test and scored a 66, which still
        left her far short of a 65 average for the semester. Nonetheless, Mr.
        Arocho tried to enter a passing mark for her. When he had to relent
        after objections by the teachers' union representative, Mr. Lampros
        was allowed to put in the failing grade. Ms. Geiger promptly reversed
        it.

        Samantha Fernandez, Indira's mother, spoke on her behalf. "My
        daughter earned everything she got," she said. Of Mr. Lampros, she
        said, "He needs to grow up and be a man."

        From Michigan, Mr. Lampros recalled one comment that Mrs. Fernandez
        made during their meeting about why it was important for Indira to
        graduate. She couldn't afford to pay for her to attend another senior
        prom in another senior year.

        E-mail: sgfreedman@nytimes. com


      • kbrad1969
        Here s some feedback from a former teacher. Problem is it s not just a few bad apples anymore. That grade change kind of thing happens more often than you
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 23, 2007
        • 0 Attachment
          Here's some feedback from a former teacher.

          Problem is it's not just a few bad apples anymore. That grade change
          kind of thing happens more often than you know. But that's just one
          example of a much bigger pie of trouble in our schools - even in the
          best ones.

          I used to teach - but quit for a plethora of reasons. To be fair,
          some of my reasons were personal and had to do with my health (but
          it's all connected) - however many of my reasons had to do with this
          kind of thing coupled with the blatant lack of respect that teachers
          get from both students AND parents. Parents undermining teachers and
          sabatoging their own kids' education(sometimes with a smile and
          disguised as other things; and lots of denial) is a big reason I left
          the profession. I have too many stories to prove this than we have
          time or space for here. I simply couldn't stomache it anymore.
          No matter how many good, nice, sane, involved parents there are ....
          there are too many that are not, and it wears you down - it eats your
          soul and breaks your heart. This is also becoming more common than
          people realize.

          I've had several jobs in my life and teaching was the absolute
          HARDEST JOB I'VE EVER HAD. Even though there was more good than bad -
          the bad was bad enough and caused me enough stress to make me choose
          between my career and my mental and physical health. To say that
          teachers are "overworked" is the understatement of the century. I
          wasn't sleeping and worked from dawn to about 10 pm most of the time,
          in addition to almost every Sunday night in prep for the coming week.
          And this doesn't count commuting time which was significant because I
          couldn't live near where I worked due to housing prices and my LOW
          SALARY. I had no personal/social life at all - not time and no money.
          I was tired all the time. I became depressed. It made me sad to go -
          I love kids and I love teaching and learning - but I couldn't keep up
          and the stress was causing me great pain. I wasn't doing the students
          any good and felt they deserved better.
          I wasn't sleeping enough and wasn't sleeping soundly. Worst physical
          condition of my life. Some people handle it well and stay but I also
          couldn't continue at that salary as a single person with no financial
          backup and a mountain of college debt.

          Summers off? Yea right - HA! Excuse me - most teachers DO WORK over
          the summer because they are POOR...or are attending college classes
          to earn the REQUIRED MASTERS DEGREE you have to get in this state
          and/or to MAINTAIN your teacher certification. Classes, mind you,
          that YOU have to pay for UP FRONT and MIGHT get PARTIAL reimbursement
          for IF you get an A or B - but that could change at any given moment
          so there is no guarantee.
          This was another reason I quit. I had no financial source to pay for
          my continuing education courses - I was having a hard enough time
          making my rent, car payment, buying food, ans was already maxed out
          in loan debt from earning my B.A. and teacher certification. The well
          was dry and I was in debt over $60 K.

          There isn't enough support for new teachers and what they do
          call "support" is a joke. I was dealing with some serious challenges
          in one of my classes (major behavior issues with no help from
          parents) and the only advice I got from the board rep was to change
          the seating arrangement. I wanted to punch him in the face.
          Every time I turned around I was getting criticized by someone - but
          I know I was not a bad teacher. Perfect? Hell no. Crappy? Hell no on
          that too. I did some pretty damn good work and I don't care what
          anyone says - when you are able to get kids/teens to read who
          normally don't - you are doing something right, so some of the
          criticism I got was BS. Some was good productive stuff and I tried
          hard to improve and I really did care and was raised with a good work
          ethic. Now, I'm normally a pretty tough cookie and can take some
          criticism and debate - but eventually it just got to be too much. My
          self esteem plummeted and I questioned my whole being.

          When you pair all that up with that grade-change story and parents,
          kids, and administration basically spitting in your face - kinda hard
          to stay focused on the higher and long term goals. Beat down a good
          person long enough, and you will beat them to death regardless of how
          strong they might be.

          I'm now a much happier and healthy person and I'm damn good at my new
          career. I feel great about who I am and I have a realistic view of my
          strengths and weaknesses now. I am able to enjoy my time off. No more
          taking work home and it's a HUGE relief and made a DRASTIC change in
          my quality of life. My family says I'm new person.

          What does that say about the teaching profession?

          K

          --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, Candace Dodson Reed
          <canreed1@...> wrote:
          >
          > My mother is an educator and for every one horror story like the
          one below, there are 1000 success stories that do not make it into
          the NY Times or even the Columbia Flier.
          > Hopefully good teachers do not quit because of a few bad apples...
          >
          > Bob Rosebrough <bobrosebrough21045@...> wrote:
          > From NY Times
          > August 1, 2007
          > On Education
          > A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a `Fail' Becomes a `Pass'
          > By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
          > Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High
          School
          > of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy
          > of the school's grading policy. He took particular note of the
          > stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a
          > semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45
          points
          > on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.
          >
          > 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.
          >
          > Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was
          permitted
          > to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring
          > from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left
          her
          > with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros's
          > calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which
          > allowed her to graduate.
          >
          > Ms. Geiger declined to be interviewed for this column and said that
          > federal law forbade her to speak about a specific student's
          > performance. But in a written reply to questions, she characterized
          > her actions as part of a "standard procedure" of "encouraging
          > teachers to support students' efforts to achieve academic success."
          >
          > The issue here is not a violation of rules or regulations. Ms.
          Geiger
          > acted within the bounds of the teachers' union's contract with the
          > city, by providing written notice to Mr. Lampros of her decision.
          >
          > No, the issue is more what this episode may say about the
          Department
          > of Education's vaunted increase in graduation rates. It is
          possible,
          > of course, that the confrontation over Miss Fernandez was an
          > aberration. It is possible, too, that Mr. Lampros is the rare
          teacher
          > willing to speak on the record about the pressures from
          > administrators to pass marginal students, pressures that countless
          > colleagues throughout the city privately grumble about but
          ultimately
          > cave in to, fearful of losing their jobs if they object.
          >
          > Mr. Lampros has resigned and returned to his home state, Michigan.
          > The principal and officials in the Department of Education say that
          > he missed 24 school days during the last year for illness and
          > personal reasons. He missed two of the three sets of parent-teacher
          > conferences. He also had conflicts with an assistant principal,
          > Antonio Arocho, over teaching styles. Mr. Lampros said all of this
          > was true.
          >
          > Still, Mr. Lampros received a satisfactory rating five of the six
          > times administrators formally observed him. He has master's degrees
          > in both statistics and math education and has won awards for his
          > teaching at the college level.
          >
          > "It's almost as if you stick to your morals and your ethics, you'll
          > end up without a job," Mr. Lampros said in an interview. "I don't
          > think every school is like that. But in my case, it was."
          >
          > The written record, in the form of the minutely detailed charts Mr.
          > Lampros maintained to determine student grades, supports his
          account.
          > Colleagues of his from the school — a counselor, a programmer,
          > several fellow teachers — corroborated key elements of his version
          of
          > events. They also describe a principal worried that the 2006
          > graduation rate of 72.5 percent would fall closer to 50 or 60
          percent
          > unless teachers came up with ways to pass more students.
          >
          > After having failed to graduate with her class in June 2006, Miss
          > Fernandez, who, through her mother, declined to be interviewed,
          > returned to Arts and Technology last September for a fifth year.
          She
          > was enrolled in Mr. Lampros's class in intermediate algebra. Absent
          > for more than two-thirds of the days, she failed, and that grade
          was
          > left intact by administrators.
          >
          > When second semester began, Miss Fernandez again took the
          > intermediate algebra class, which fulfilled one of her graduation
          > requirements. 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,
          > and never took the final exam.
          >
          > Two days after the June 12 final, Miss Fernandez told Mr. Lampros
          > that she had a doctor's note excusing her from school on the day of
          > the exam, he said. On June 18, she asked him if she had failed the
          > class, and he told her she had. The next day, the principal
          summoned
          > Mr. Lampros to a meeting with Miss Fernandez and her mother. He was
          > ordered, he said, to let her retake the final.
          >
          > Mr. Arocho, the assistant principal, wrote in a letter to Mr.
          Lampros
          > that Miss Fernandez had a doctor's note, issued March 15,
          permitting
          > her to miss school whenever necessary in the spring. Mr. Arocho did
          > not respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
          >
          > There is such a note, issued by Dr. Jason Faller, but it excused
          > absences "over the last three months" — that is, the period between
          > mid-December and mid-March. In a recent interview, Dr. Faller said
          he
          > saw Miss Fernandez only once, in March, and confirmed that his
          excuse
          > note covered absences only before March 15.
          >
          > For whatever reason, school administrators misinterpreted the note
          > and told Mr. Lampros that Miss Fernandez would be allowed to retake
          > the final — and to retake it after having two days of one-on-one
          > tutoring by another math teacher, an advantage none of Mr.
          Lampros's
          > other students had, he said.
          >
          > Mr. Lampros, disgusted, did not come to school the next two days.
          > Miss Fernandez meanwhile took the test and scored a 66, which still
          > left her far short of a 65 average for the semester. Nonetheless,
          Mr.
          > Arocho tried to enter a passing mark for her. When he had to relent
          > after objections by the teachers' union representative, Mr. Lampros
          > was allowed to put in the failing grade. Ms. Geiger promptly
          reversed
          > it.
          >
          > Samantha Fernandez, Indira's mother, spoke on her behalf. "My
          > daughter earned everything she got," she said. Of Mr. Lampros, she
          > said, "He needs to grow up and be a man."
          >
          > From Michigan, Mr. Lampros recalled one comment that Mrs. Fernandez
          > made during their meeting about why it was important for Indira to
          > graduate. She couldn't afford to pay for her to attend another
          senior
          > prom in another senior year.
          >
          > E-mail: sgfreedman@...
          >
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.