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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.

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9 Comments

  1. *gasp*

    NO way! Wow. The nerve. That’s awful.

  2. Good for you. Vocabulary lesson! I’d have not held my cool, I am afraid, and would have whipped out my big can o’ whoop ass! You’re resolution was much more mature. Guess it’s why you have tenure 😉

    Nola… I was too flabbergasted (sp?) to lose my cool at first. The more I sat there the more I had to restrain myself from going postal. I’m still so pissed my blood pressure must be going through the roof.

  3. of them… not you

    Sue… yeah, I knew what you meant. 🙂

  4. wow, but they also acted like a united team. wow. and great come back that you had for them. beany

    beany… yeah, united. i still wanted to smack each of them. another teacher in my building was being pressured to pass a kid last week and, being the v.p. of the union, i advised her to hold her ground since she had tenure… so it was on my mind at the right time. but really, i still want to smack ’em.

  5. Wow… just wow! That they would screw with your job like that… little shits.

  6. Man that makes me mad, too– there’s enough problems in American schools these days without stuff like this. I’ll have to tell my wife this story (and about your blog), since she teaches junior high and could appreciate it even more.

  7. The GOOD news is that you’re already on senior finals. Our contract runs until June 16. Don’t worry–things will look up after a little R&R!

  8. M — but you handled it very well and very cool calm headed. impressed, beany 🙂

  9. I can totally appreciate how pissed off you were…I’ve been there with my seniors recently as well. 🙂

    I’m LOVING the irony that they thought they were going to be all brave and take this big stand….and got SHOT DOWN by someone who was also willing to be brave and take a big stand. Punkasskids.

    Don’t they know who they’re messing with? We wrote the book on Being a Brat in Class. (Why do they think we’re teachers? We gotta pay our debt to society somehow.)

    Good job, you!

    yes, we did write the book. i tell my kids all the time that they’ll never be as good at being an ass as I was in school. been there, done that.


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