Monday, January 16, 2012

The Bronx High-School Teacher Who Says It’s Not Just the Students Who Cheat

A provocative story from the trenches in this week's NY Magazine:

Cheating is so widespread among teachers and students it's almost laughable. I call it the Mississippi River of cheating: A kid in the front-right corner of the classroom will have a wildly wrong answer to a test, and a kid in the back-right corner of the room will have the same exact wrong answer. With teachers, the cheating is more of a massaging of the numbers on the ­Regents. The Regents are damn near everything. As teachers, we massage the tests to make sure if a kid is close to passing, he or she does. We don't take a 30 and make it a 65, but we do our best to make that 62 a 65.

Now, I understand that people might look down on this—how could teachers do this, blah blah blah, and it's true. But we are cogs in the breakdown of accountability. This test is a requirement to pass high school and graduate. If the student doesn't pass, the parent comes in screaming that he was a mere three points from passing. The principal hears it. Then we hear it. Then he ends up passing anyway. This is the norm. Seniors are the worst, because they feel so entitled that we have to cover our asses nineteen different ways to fail them. There have been stories of guidance counselors' flat-out changing grades and passing ­seniors who should have failed but miraculously walked on graduation day.

Out of 3,000 kids at my school, seventeen are white. If you look at the statistics in NYC, I think about 15 percent of the students are white. It's a weird thing. It's kind of segregated. And the racism among students is horrible. Upstate, a kid would be expelled for saying the kinds of stuff my kids say. Here's an example of a typical conversation: One kid was African, one was Jamaican. The Jamaican kid was insulting him for being from Africa, calling him "spearchucker." I told him he was being ridiculous. "Guys, I hate to say this, but to white people, you are both the same. They don't give a crap if you're Jamaican or African. The police pull you over, what are they putting on that form? Black." If you were to say that to a very liberal-minded white person, they'd probably be horrified. But the kids weren't offended. They understood.

The Bronx High-School Teacher Who Says It's Not Just the Students Who Cheat

Note: Individuals pictured are not the sources of these stories.  

(Photo: Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos/New York Magazine)

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