I came across this letter in The Hamilton Spectator yesterday. I consider the topic of feckless school administrators, operating without integrity, to be quite appropriate for this blog, given how it is yet another example of corruption and decay that undermines all institutions, perhaps most egregiously our political ones. But just as the latter's landscape is littered with those who crave power and influence to the detriment of the collective good, so too, far too often, is education, again to the ultimate detriment of everyone.
The issue revolves around a disciplinary hearing involving Matthew John Chiarot, a science teacher at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School. You can read the details of the allegations against Chiarot here, but the most salient aspect is the assertion that the teacher inaccurately recorded grades following a final exam in January 2007. Hermon Mayers, the school principal, is reported to have earlier said, “It’s just fundamentally wrong to give a mark that’s not correct to a student.”
Given my own personal experience, before I retired, of young teachers being increasingly pressured by administration to raise students' marks so as not to have a high failure rate, I found this letter of particular note:
Artificially high marks are nothing new
Accused teacher’s performance ‘good’ (March 21) The statement, “It’s just fundamentally wrong to give a mark that’s not correct to a student,” caught my attention. The school administrator is admonishing the teacher for this. We don’t know what this teacher is accused of doing with the marks, but in my high school teaching career, teachers were routinely ordered, by school administrators or their board bosses’ directives, to artificially change students marks.
This practice has steadily increased since the 1990s. I can only speak to a public board’s practice. In the race to lower the bar to feed the positive PR machine, we were told we weren’t to fail more than 20 per cent of a class, even deservedly. Marks would have to be artificially raised. Students achieving a failing mark of 46 to 49 per cent would have marks raised to 50 per cent.
Now teachers face disciplinary action and potential loss of career for something previously accepted by principals and boards. Teachers face further castigation by the more recently created, already bloated and blinkered bureaucratic organization, the College of Teachers. For this principal to come out with such a statement without looking in the mirror first is hypocrisy of the highest order, if the Catholic boards follow similar practices to the public.
Don Harrington, Smithville Cross Posted at Politics and its Discontents