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Not funny today…

I’ve got a kid, a senior, in my algebra 2 class, JV.

JV came to me at the beginning of the second semester because last year he passed the first semester of algebra 2 but failed the second.  He is extremely intelligent, when he wants to be.

JV has:

missed class 21 times
been tardy 17 times
pulled a gun on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend (not at school) and was in jail over a weekend
was beaten severly (at school) by the guy he pulled the gun on
has never once came to class with pencil or paper
has not taken a single note all semester
was caught cheating on two separate tests

I make myself available every morning 45 minutes before the first bell and an hour after school each day.
JV has not once came for extra help.

I’ve talked to his mother on the phone on 9 occasions.  She always says she’ll talk to him, but if she does, it doesn’t do any good.

JV failed my class.

Now, of course, he’s all about, “What I can do to pass your class?”  “I can’t graduate if I don’t pass this class.” His mom has sent me 13 emails in the last two days, “What can he do to pass your class?”  “He’s can’t do summer school because he has financial obligations to the court.”  “He’s already been accepted to NSU, he won’t be able to go if he doesn’t pass your class.”

He’s spent 17 weeks indifferent about his education.  He deserves the failing grade.  I’m not going to pass him just because he’s a senior.

This should be a no-brainer.

Why do I feel so damn guilty?  This sucks.




  1. The parents/school system like to play the “blame the teacher” game. Something about this system needs to change.

    the mom is blaming me big time, but, much to my suprise, the district is backing me up.

  2. M — you gotta do what you feel is the right thing to do. stand your ground. proud of you, beany

    beany, i know the thing to do is to fail him. intellectually i know there isn’t anything more i could have done. i still feel like crap about it though.

  3. It does suck… it sucks that you are put in that position. It sounds like all those stress nightmares I used to have … finals in a class I’ve never been to. Can’t imagine what it would be like in reality.

    no child left behind… only the ones who choose to be… it still makes me wonder what i could have done to reach this kid. i’ve heard teachers say, if i can reach one kid a year it makes it worthwhile. but sometimes you look at that one kid you didn’t reach and wonder…

    • Half-Past Kissin' Ti
    • Posted May 17, 2008 at 12:27 am
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    • Reply

    You can’t take credit for his school failure any more than you can own his personal failures at home or on the street. I know it still feels unnatural to not help further; it’s just in your blood.

  4. Look at it this way: it is just possible that having to take the consequences of his behaviour might shake him up enough to make a difference. Failing him might be the best thing you could possibly do. It would certainly be the worst thing you could do if you let him learn the lesson that he can behave how he likes and as long as he whines enough, other people will solve his problems for him. You are absolutely doing the right thing.

  5. Tough spot..I would say fail em but there is one thing that there is no getting around. High school yearsare supposed to be not only education but growing up. If this kid has grown up enough to take on what needs to come next then pass em
    Zman sends

  6. I’m sure he could work with this probation officer about the education thing over the summer. I hate to admit this, but my daughter’s dad graduated on probation, and they DO work to help a child get both to fulfill their educational needs as well as their court obligations.

    I know you feel like crap, but if we don’t hold this kid accountable for his actions now, then who will? Will he think he can just slide through life? I know I sound harsh. I don’t want to sound harsh. Like I said, he could probably work with whoever he deals with in the court to get this taken care of before the fall. I just don’t get how he doesn’t feel the need to take his education seriously, but he wants YOU to take his education seriously.

  7. I deal with this issue constantly in the argumentation classes I teach at Sac State. It’s so frustrating because the students absolutely MUST learn the consequences for their actions, and last-minute freakouts about failing are not an indications of the level of responsibility they need to be developing.
    I say give the student the grade he deserves. Perhaps it will be a much-need wake-up call. If not, at least you know that you’re not contributing to the devolution of the system by giving a pat grade to an undeserving student.

  8. Sorry about the type-o above; I was getting really fired up and added an unnecessary “s.” Oops!

  9. I would say you did the fair thing. You may also have helped him in the long run. I know that high school is very important if you go the straight route to college. When I was in high school, I wasn’t aware there were other option too, until I was in my second year of uni already. I think JV will have to take that option here.

    It’s nice to do well in secondary school and just continue on, but some people need to mature before taking the step to another academic area, where more responsibility is needed to succeed. Right now, he will stay behind but when he gets his act together, he will graduate. His immediate option afterwards will be less prestigious than if he’d done well the first time, but there are a variety of ways to succeed in life.

    Our consistent successes might demonstrate our drive, but when people stand up and soar after falling, it expresses a character growth and a strength that is much more important in life.

  10. He needs to hear the Dr. Phil quote: “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”

    Welcome to summer school, amigo.

    it turns out he was so sure that he would either pass or could sweet talk me that he didn’t enroll for summer school in time. it’s full up. oops.

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