Across the United States, school districts are reporting an alarming number of students who are receiving at least one failing grade, which has educators and administrators asking: Are the students really failing — or are the schools failing the students?
The “Great Experiment” in “virtual” classrooms is turning out to be a catastrophic failure.
The question is what to do about it. Here, wokeness meets reality in an unambiguous way. If teachers were to give these failing grades, a disproportionate number would be in black and brown communities. But school officials are extremely reluctant to fail so many minority children lest it makes them feel bad.
But failing any kid when the fault is not entirely their own seems unfair. Would they have failed if they had been allowed to attend in-person classroom instruction? The answer to that is almost certainly no.
In the first quarter of 2020, one school district in Charles County, Maryland, saw a 72.7% increase in failing grades for students enrolled in high school, WTOP reported. Forty-two percent of students in Houston received at least one failing grade in this school year’s first grading period, The Associated Press reported. This past year, secondary schools in Salt Lake City saw a 600% increase in the number of failing students, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Obviously we’re concerned,” James Tobler, the president of the Salt Lake City teachers’ union, told Insider, adding that teachers are trying to do their best “under the circumstances we are dealt with.”
Those “circumstances” have been almost entirely created by teachers’ unions and the politicians who coddle them. They are circumstances that teachers dealt with themselves. They can’t push the blame onto anyone else.
Some educators and administrators think they should just cancel grades for this year or even eliminate the entire idea of letter grades. At one time, getting good grades was necessary to get into a good college. But colleges today don’t really care how you performed in class previously. If you’re the right color, you’re virtually in.
Still, grades are a yardstick that parents (remember them?) can use to judge their child’s progress — or lack of it.
In an interview with Insider, Michael Gottfried, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, suggested that during the pandemic schools may potentially explore other options like a pass-fail system over letter grades used in the traditional grading system.
Madhabi Chatterji, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University, told Insider that grades should not be taken away completely. During the pandemic, teachers need to use grades “to gauge how effective their instruction has been” through online courses, she said.
A disproportionate number of minority children are failing, with one big reason being lack of access to the internet in the home. That might be one reason why 40 percent of Los Angeles school kids are absent on any given day. The school district also decided to defer any “F” grades until January. That’s not a solution, but at least they’re not ignoring the problem.
The obvious solution is to get kids back in class immediately and have school districts offer tutoring and remedial instruction for kids who are far behind. But that’s extra work for everyone and besides, it’s not in the contract the teachers signed. Worse, it’s not in the budget.
It’s a distinct possibility that this generation of children will become known later on as a “lost generation” when it comes to education.