The Detroit Public School system (DPS) is one of the worse in the nation. Its 59 percent graduation rate puts it at the bottom of major school systems in the nation. Unfortunately, that is the good news. The bad news is that because “grade fixing” appears to be uncomfortably common. DPS students are not honestly achieving even their meager accomplishments because of “social promotions.” The problems of “social promotion” – pushing students along so they don’t have to feel the embarrassment of being left back – are coming home to the DPS system.
Recognition of the evils of social promotion is beginning to spread nationwide. Last week, the Oklahoma state senate received a bill to prohibit social promotion.
The bill’s sponsor said, “Social promotion sets a child up for failure. Through the third grade, children are learning to read—after that, they read to learn. If they can’t read, they simply fall further behind. Senate Bill 348 ends social promotion and provides remediation to get those children back on track for success.”
Grades Being Changed
A Detroit fifth grade teacher who taught summer school found that her final grade sheet, which included failing grades for most of her 40 students, was simply reversed. “Kids know when they didn’t earn a grade. And they’ll know they don’t have to do anything the next year because they’re going to get moved along,” she said.
Another teacher reported that students who were absent more than 20 times had their grades changed to Cs; another student who got an F after 37 absences now stands accused of assaulting his teacher.
A Matter of Money over Scholarship
The DPS system seems to be run by the students and unconcerned parents. When asked why the system would engage in social promotion, a teacher explained there is a constant concern that failing students will stop coming to school, and that would cost the DPS $7,660 in federal/state aid per student.
This is a classic civil service mentality where the goal of the organization has become the survival of the agency without concern for its original mission.
A Super Bowl commercial and a television show aside, the truth is if a city’s schools die, it dies. Detroit’s schools are dying; the city itself won’t be far behind.
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