Monday, June 4, 2007

The Difference Between You and I: Academics & Athletics

My friend Amber* came by for lunch this weekend. She teaches in public school and was telling us end-of-the-year stories. She was talking about the politics of the school and the pressure on teachers to pass student athletes regardless of grades.

In my pre-mommy life, I was a teacher. I taught several different grade levels over the years, and I was adamant about students passing on their own merit. I gave students every opportunity to make up work, etc. Come end of term, it was all on them. Amber went on an on about a student of hers who cannot read. How the basketball coach told her that this student must past no matter what. I asked her straight out if the student had the grades at the end of the year to pass. She said no. Did she pass her? Yes she did.

Well, it was only a few points, she justified.

Just a few points. But this teacher even said, she cannot read a lick. I wanted to confront this woman so badly, but it was neither the time nor the place. When she complained that the coaches just use these kids and then pass them on as someone else's problem (making the kids feel used and abandoned), I made a comment, "Yep, just pass the problem on for someone else to deal with." She knew exactly what I was insinuating but pretended not to notice. It just made me sick.

I have quit jobs over morals issues, and I can tell you--I would NOT have passed that student. I know that one has to weigh the importance of their job versus the importance of their students versus their moral compass. I know I am passing judgement, but the thought of this poor girl being passed along makes me ill. Amber does not want to see that she has contributed to the problem. But some day this girl is going to look back at all these teachers and coaches that have done such a disservice to her. It makes me wonder how Amber sleeps at night.