Skip navigation

Daily Archives: May 14th, 2008

The administration of my school district has been stressing to the teachers this year that our failure rates are too high .  Now, we can talk about failure rates and the reasons thereof at another time, I just started out with that statement as background for what occurred today.

Today was finals day for my seniors.  I pass out the finals and the scantrons to my students and returned to my desk.  Before I can reclaim my chair the kids are passing their tests papers to the front of each row.  WTF?  When they get all them gathered in the front they pass them all to the right.  That student (who will be referred to as Ringleader) makes a nice neat pile and brings them to my desk.

“Okay, what’s going on here?”  I ask.

The reply from Ringleader?  We know you can’t fail all of us, so we aren’t taking the test.

 I’ll have to admit, I was speechless for a moment.

When I had gathered my wits I decided to talk about the responsibilities that come with being an adult, and how there are consequences to any action, and ask them if they were willing to pay the price for their stand.  But before I started I asked them why they thought I wouldn’t fail all of them.

Ringleader: My mom’s a teacher (I knew that) and she says the principal told her she might get fired if she failed too many kids.

Oh, so you decided I can’t fail you all?

Ringleader: Not unless you want to get fired.

I know I’m a math teacher, but at that point we had a lesson on vocabulary.  I explained to them what tenure was and pointed out that I did indeed possess this attribute.  I let them know plainly that not only could I fail them all, but that I would indeed do so.  I told them that anyone who wanted to go ahead and take the final could pick one up from my desk, and that they had already wasted 15 minutes of class time and would not be given an extension but that it was entirely their decision.

At least they were smart enough to know I was serious.  They all came and got a copy of the test and got to work. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more pissed off in class in my entire career.