I waited a day or two until I calmed down a little before writing this post after I spend a great deal of time answering phone calls and emails from parents who wanted to know why I failed their children. They want to know why I didn't call them when their grades started to fall, why they failed and if I had any suggestions to help their child find more motivation in school. They don't understand how to motivate a child who doesn't want to do anything but skateboard, snowboard, bike or play video games. My suggestions included have them get a job (now I realize that they are freshmen and 14/15 years old, but they can still mow lawns, babysit, rake leaves, dig holes, whatever) but the parents all say, "Oh no, I couldn't do that, he/she would be devastated!!
While I was feeling a bit downtrodden and depressed, I came across teachers of these lovely freshmen who were in the other core subjects, and a veteran teacher who almost quit his job when he had this class last year as 8th graders. It's not just me, my classes, my high levels of failures. It is this whole class, but in all reality, I don't blame the kids too much. They have parents who just don't care. They don't check for homework each night, they don't access the powerschool that always has the most up-to-date grades, they don't send the students in to talk to me when the mid-term grades show up at their houses with the students failing. They just want to know the day before the quarter ends what their child can do in the next 24 hrs to raise their grade 20-30%. And they are genuinely upset with me when I tell them nothing.
I don't feel like it is my responsibility to bail out a student who doesn't do anything in class all quarter long. I don't feel like I need to find tons of work for death bed repentance from parents who couldn't discipline their children well enough during the quarter to keep from failing. And I have very little patience for parents who want to know why I wouldn't pass their child when they only missed a few assignments (generally to the tune of 12+).
I want to know what happened between my parents generation and mine that parents are so apathetic and don't feel the necessity to encourage success in school. I want to know what parents are telling their students at home that makes it okay to not pass school. I want to know what the parents' five year plan is when their student hasn't passed high school, can't get a decent job, and wants to keep mooching off of their parents. And the sad thing is this isn't just a select few. The sad thing is this isn't the first quarter most of these students failed my English class. The sad thing is that one failed quarter of English can keep a student from graduation. The sad thing is of the 102 freshmen students that I teach, 37 of them failed. (the other English teacher has just about as many this quarter too) And the truly sad thing is, considering 30 have most likely failed at least one other quarter of English this year, I have had 5 who are willing to accept the consequences and take the steps to make things up. They haven't even finished their first year of high school and are already not on track to graduate.
But how do you get rid of something someone doesn't care that they have?