How Public Education Continues To Fail

posted by Claudia Mendoza - 

The latest example of how public education continues to fail the next generation

  • Teacher says she was fired after refusing to abide by 'no zero' policy – Palm Beach Post 

Excerpt: A South Florida teacher said she was fired after she refused to give a student a 50 percent grade on homework that was not turned in. 

Port St. Lucie teacher Diane Tirado said students should not get credit for work that was never handed in, according to CNN. 

Tirado said she strives to provide motivation and inspiration to her students. Tirado has been a teacher for years, but she started at West Gate K-8 School in August as an eighth-grade history teacher. 

"Teaching is a calling for me," she said. 

Tirado said she assigned an explorer notebook project that she gave the students two weeks to complete. 

When several students did not turn in their assignments, Tirado said she found out about a “no zeros” policy, in which the lowest possible grade allowed to be given is 50 percent. She said the policy is in the student and parent handbook. 

Tirado said she asked administrators, “What if they don't turn it in?” 

She said the reply she received was, “We'll give them a 50.” 

Tirado was terminated Sept. 14, but there’s no cause mentioned in the letter from the principal, since she was still in her probationary period. 

On her last day of school, Tirado wrote a message on a whiteboard that read, “Bye, kids. Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best in life! I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50% for not handing anything in.”

Bottom Line: We’re all aware that not all A’s are created equal. The quality of the education between schools in the same district can be vastly different. We’re likely never going to be able to truly bridge that gap to have equitable education at a high level at every public school. At a minimum however, we should be setting children up for life success. As I’ve documented US grade school education outcomes have fallen from 2nd in the world to 17th since the Department of Education’s creation in 1980. A significant part of the failure comes within this very example. In life, if you don’t show up to work do you get paid half of what you would have earned? If you don’t pay any of your bills do you get credit for paying half of them?  

For the record the PIO for the school district denies any formal policy prohibiting zeros. That being said they also didn’t refute Mrs. Tirado’s claim. I also received this note from a former Palm Beach County Public school teacher: If any student fails for the marking period, we must send home a packet of work, a packet we must create, to give the student an opportunity to change his/her F. If the child and parent don’t respond to the sent home paperwork, the teacher must start calling home to try to reach them. Many times I was told to give a particular student packet(s) in May so the student doesn’t fail the year or not graduate.

Once again, what message does that send? Will your employer come chasing you down to come back to work and not fail to do your job? Will your creditors not impose any penalties for not paying your bills while asking that you eventually do pay them? While everyone in South Florida is excited about improved public school performance, it begs the question. What does that really mean? Does graduating with an A GPA from an A school-district in South Florida mean you had an A education? Hopefully so, but I’m as skeptical as ever.  

Photo by: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

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