A retired APS teacher sent me this note in response to my entry a few ago on Michelle Rhee’s state report cards. I thought it was worth sharing as it addresses a problem that I hear about all the time — the promotion of kids who are not ready or prepared for the next grade:
I am a retired teacher from an APS middle school. I have tried to get someone to listen to what I consider a big problem in APS schools.
The article “Students first? really touched me. So many students in APS will never graduate from high school because they can’t read, write, or pass the CRT. It’s not their fault or their parents’ fault.
In the last 10 years of my teaching career, I saw so many students struggle because they were always put up to the next grade level even when they could not pass the grade they were in.
My last two years of teaching were in the sixth grade, and I had students who read on the third, fourth and fifth grade level but were “passed on.”
What does that mean? They did not pass their classes or the CRT but went on into the next grade. We are not putting these students first but putting the numbers that look great for passing first.
Of course, this keeps parents happy to see that their child went into the next grade. This makes the dropout rate in the ninth grade rise higher and higher because now students can be put out of school.
Two years ago, I emailed the state superintendent, the APS superintendent, the governor, the mayor and board members. I never heard from any of them. I told them that I wanted to talk to them about our students and reading.
I am white and my school was about 99.8 percent African American. I loved my students and still do even though I’m retired. I still hear from some of them, and they are doing great.
I won’t take up anymore of your time and I thank you for reading this e-mail.
I wish that someone would just listen to a teacher who echoes what many teachers want to say also. I know that in my heart we “must” change education in our country and it won’t be done by people who have not been in a school in 20 or 30 years.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog