Tonight on WAFF, a former first grade teacher at University Place in Huntsville City Schools leveled accusations against someone with administrative privileges (the principal, assistant principal or TOSA, Reading Coaches, or anyone who has the teacher’s passwords in the school or downtown at Merts) of changing a student’s grades in the spring of 2013.
Additionally, after the grade had been submitted, the assistant principal sent out an email to teachers ordering teachers to raise any grade to at least a 50.
This is not what education is all about, and those committed to education know this. Sadly, that number doesn’t include our superintendent, our board members, or many who are running for school board next month.
Throwing Teachers Under the Bus for Public Relations Stunt
Yesterday, I wrote about the farce that the district put on yesterday afternoon in accusing a teacher of cheating while administering the ACT Aspire exam at the end of the year in May. Ms. Burks has been suspended for 15 days for allegedly suggesting to a student that the student might wish to reconsider an answer on the test.
After taking this public action, Dr. Robinson, the district three board member who is now running for the district three city council seat said, “I think we’re sending an important message to the public today that we will not let any testing irregularities go.”
The message that she, McCaulley and Birney actually sent was that they would happily throw a teacher under the bus as a public relations stunt.
And the report today demonstrates that clearly.
“Data-Driven” Leads to Cheating
Our district under Robinson’s, McCaulley’s, Blair’s, Culbreath’s, Birney’s and particularly Wardynski’s leadership have claimed to have taken a “data-driven” approach to education.
As I have written many times before, this sounds great until you realize that they are in fact altering the data to suit their purposes whenever they wish. They’ve spun the financial recovery data. They’ve manipulated graduation rates by making it ridiculously difficult for teachers to actually fail a student who deserves to fail. They’ve given principals and teachers step-by-step instructions on how to alter SchoolNet benchmark data.
If all of that wasn’t enough to give Wardynski and the board the numbers that they want, they simply go in and change the grades without the teacher’s consent or knowledge.
What Message Does This Send to the Public, Dr. Robinson?
Well, it sends the message that it doesn’t matter how one performs on a test or for a 9 weeks grading period, the district will be happy to alter your grades so that even students who need to be held back for another year of growth and development cannot be.
Even if teachers, parents, and student performance in the classroom warrant holding that child back for a year, the district prefers to alter the student’s record to advance the student to the next grade. The district is more concerned about graduation rates than education.
Education Is Not A Competition
It’s time for us to remember that education is not a competition. It isn’t about numbers, data points, pass rates, student growth percentages, or test scores. Education is about doing what is right for the student. And sometimes the right thing for a student is to repeat a grade. (It was the right thing for my son, and we had to fight hard for that to happen even though he had met nearly none of his IEP goals for the year.)
Education isn’t a competition. Despite what Elisa Ferrell, a candidate for the district three school board seat, thinks when she told me that “everything is a competition.” (Honestly, that statement alone is sufficient reason not to vote for her for the school board. She doesn’t understand education.)
Viewing everything as a competition leads to this kind of action on the part of administrators. Viewing everything as a competition leads to cheating.
No, everything is not a competition. And education is one of the things that isn’t. It isn’t a zero-sum game with winners and losers. In education, everyone who participates, wins. Even the child who needs to be held back a year to master reading a bit more.
Wardynski has turned education, even at the pre-school level, into a competition. That’s wrong. It is, in fact, child abuse.
Tonight a teacher stood up for her student, her integrity, and for the future of education in this town. She is a hero for standing up for what is right, and she deserves our thanks.