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donaldgallinger

Dallas Public Schools: New Leaders in Entertainment

Recently, the Dallas Public School system implemented a new grading
policy intended to ensure “fair and credible evaluation of
learning—from grade to grade and school to school.” Here are the key
points in this plan:

  1. Homework grades should be given only when the grades will “raise a student’s average, not lower it.”
  2.  

  3. Teachers
    must accept overdue assignments, and their principal will decide
    whether students are to be penalized for missing deadlines.
  4.  

  5. Students who flunk tests can retake the exam and keep the higher grade.
  6.  

  7. Teachers
    cannot give a zero on an assignment unless they call parents and make
    “efforts to assist students in completing the work.”

I don’t teach in Dallas, but I am a public high school teacher of
nearly twenty-five years, and I can tell you that similar policies are
creeping into school systems across the country. Soon, I believe, these
blueprints for teaching students to ignore—or even celebrate—mediocrity
and failure will become commonplace practices in our nation’s public
schools.
For the politically naïve (and yes, the shaping of school policy is ultimately political), here is why every student must be forced to “succeed” on paper:

It’s because public schools can’t tell the truth. And the truth is that
as a society, we are becoming incapable of raising children to be
responsible adults. The reasons are deep, systemic, and will probably
not change for at least a few generations. In the meantime, schools
must continue to lie to the public as long as the public keeps lying to
itself, because the alternative would be political suicide. We have
educated our children to be excellent consumers—and not much else.
Soon, we will see the full fruition of these, our true values, as a
society. Not only will our kids have neither the skills nor the
patience required to run the infrastructure of our country, they will
also lack the emotional maturity to understand or learn from their
failures.

So I offer this piece of advice to the Dallas Public School system—and
any other school facing similar problems with student failure rates:
You’re off to a good start, but keep up the momentum. Inevitably,
students who flunk tests will want not just a second chance, but a
third and a fourth. Give it to them. Eliminate the grade of “zero” on any
assignment.  Award academic points on tests for simply showing up at
school. Create an “action plan” for each individual student depending
solely on his tastes and interests. For example, if a student cannot
master simple addition and subtraction, then allow him to draw an
impressionistic picture of mathematical operations. If a student
doesn’t like reading, let him watch television and then perform an
interpretive dance of what he’s seen.

Lastly (and most importantly), MAKE SURE THAT EVERY STUDENT GRADUATES.
Put on a lavish show for the graduation ceremony, the gaudier the
better. Parents and kids love graduation. They like to scream and
holler and take pictures and videos of the grand event. It means
absolutely nothing—or soon will—but that’s not important. What’s
important is...

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