More evidence that American public education is virtually worthless:
Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy of the school's grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.
Mr. Lampros's introduction to the high school's academic standards proved a fitting preamble to a disastrous year. It reached its low point in late June, when Arts and Technology's principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.
The diploma the student, Indira Fernandez, received does not so much as meet the requirements of a 'participation' award:
After having failed to graduate with her class in June 2006, Miss Fernandez, who, through her mother, declined to be interviewed, returned to Arts and Technology last September for a fifth year. She was enrolled in Mr. Lampros's class in intermediate algebra. Absent for more than two-thirds of the days, she failed, and that grade was left intact by administrators.
When second semester began, Miss Fernandez again took the intermediate algebra class, which fulfilled one of her graduation requirements. According to Mr. Lampros's records, she missed one-third of the classes, arrived late for 20 sessions, turned in half the required homework assignments, failed 11 of 14 tests and quizzes, and never took the final exam.
Miss Fernandez was allowed to take the final exam and scored a 66, which did not bring her semester average even close to passing. Yet, Principal Geiger inserted a passing mark — over teachers' unions' objections! — anyway.
It is one thing, however ridiculous and self-defeating, to water down curricula to the lowest common denominator to increase graduation rates. It is even more preposterous to throw the most basic requirements out the window for the same purpose.
This isn't education — this is adolescent day care.