With the recent teacher’s scandal going on in Atlanta, I was reminded of one of my experiences in the Atlanta school system. The current scandal involves Atlanta teachers fudging grades so that students were able to pass or move on. In my case, I had a science teacher in high school who would move test and quiz scores up a whole letter grade on a whim and during class time. It was 9th grade at Chattahoochee High School and I credit my lack of science skills to this one teacher. Since sciences skills build upon each other year after year, one bad teacher can have a detrimental result for all subsequent sciences classes.
I know I am to blame as well. Science did not come easy to me. I could have put in the extra effort to really learn the material and make sure I understood it. But in addition to fudging grades, this lady was just an overall bad science teacher. So, even if I would have put in the time to understand the material, I’m not sure she could have answered my questions. And plus, I lost incentive because I knew that if I got a C on a quiz, it would likely be bumped up to an A or a B. So why put in the effort?
And what really irked me was that I once saw this science teacher at a gas station driving a Mercedes.
I’ve rarely been given breaks in the working world or told that my C quality work was actually B or A quality work. Teaching students that lesser work can be counted as greater does not prepare them for what they will experience in life.
Luckily, I did have some great teachers and professors along the way. At Chattahoochee, one of my English teachers was named Mr. McDaniel. He was a practicing lawyer who took off two years to teach high school English. He was passionate. He loved novels and plays and made them come alive in class. I attribute his skill to having been in the working world and not having been a burned-out full time teacher. I also had an incredible chorus director in Rhonda Fossum.
So, as we continue to learn more about the Atlanta school system scandal, the effects of these actions will be disciplinary measures for the teachers, but a lifelong learning disadvantage for the students. The real tragedy is not that students have had poor role models, but rather that these students will always be at a learning disadvantage just so the teachers would look good. The problem seems to be endemic within the Atlanta school system, like this is a normal occurrence rather than the result of a few bad apples.
Hopefully these students have the initiative to learn on their own in order to compensate for the failings of the teachers.