ADMINISTRATION DOESN'T SUPPORT ME! Please HELP!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by snowboarder77, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. snowboarder77

    snowboarder77 New Member

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    Jan 12, 2009

    I just recently had my principal ask me to change a student's grade. This student has a parent who is crazy and threatens to sue people left and right if they don't do what she asks. Our school district does WHATEVER they can to avoid lawsuits, so my principal asked me to change this kid's grade. I did not change his grade and WOULD NOT change his grade if ever put in a situation like this again. This is something I will fight to the bitter end and alone if I have to. The thing I have to know is - - Is it like this at most schools/districts? This is the only one I've taught at, this is my 3rd year and I feel completely burned to a crisp. I have so little faith in my administrators, but don't know what else to do to try and change things (if I can even do anything). Any advice from anyone would please help. The best solution might be to go to a different school/district - but again, is it like this everywhere?
     
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  3. SreevesTX

    SreevesTX Guest

    Jan 12, 2009

    No it is not like that everywhere. Personally I would document all suggestions to do such and leave when appropriate - good luck!
     
  4. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jan 12, 2009

    Where I am in CA, I am lucky to have a supportive administration. They would never ask this.
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jan 12, 2009

    I agree to document the times asked to change the students grade, but I wouldn't change the grade.That is the grade the child EARNED
     
  6. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jan 12, 2009

    snowboarder - I was in the same same situation. I asked to have the request emailed to me; admin refused. I asked for it to be put in writing; admin refused. I told admin I could not change the grade without a written directive; I was told that I was not going to make it through my probationary period if I didn't change the grade. I prayed a lot for guidance - and what I saw was an already corrupt district believing a corrupt admin. over me. Since I had no "proof" - everything was verbal - I really had no platform to even allege that the request and threat were made.

    It is a crappy situation - I spent the remainder of the year knowing I had no control in my room because the kids knew that the admin would "make" me do what they wanted. If I refused to tear up a referral, I wouldn't have my contract renewed. And on and on, ad nauseum.

    It's really a crap shoot with schools - when I interviewed at this school, I thought it was a perfect fit for me. Now I wonder how to ask an admin if they are corrupt or not when I interview.
     
  7. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2009

    I had a similar situation in my old school. A student was failing and I was told that he would pass, no matter what. After a few hints from the principal I calmly told him that I didn't give grades. If he wanted a certain grade given he would have to do do it himself and I would file an official report that it wasn't done by me. (To be honest, this only came after a few years of serious frustration. Several years ago I would have let him change it and not said a word.) My new school is night and day different. First of all my principal scans our online grades about once a week. She knows what's going on, there are no surprises. She's already come around to ask us who we are concerned about not passing. She's active and really listens to you.
    Was the request to change the grade made in writing? I would really document everything. Can you talk to the principal and explain why you really felt like the grade shouldn't have changed. (I mean, I realize it's obvious that the grade shouldn't change, but maybe sitting down having a conversation with her might make her realize what she was asking you to do.) Also, do they ever audit grades at your school? We are required to keep their signed papers and if they choose to, they will take our gradebook and papers, and if they don't match up, there are SERIOUS issues. So, like I said, I would document everything, and talk to the principal. Good luck!!!
     
  8. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jan 12, 2009

    See, that's the thing - a lot of the time I wonder just how often this happens to teachers who are not in a financial position to uphold their morals. I would have loved to say "Fire me. I'm not changing a grade." But then there's rent, car insurance, student loans, etc... plus the black mark of having been fired. I know this happens. I just think it sucks. So that's why my new motto in life is, "I'll need that in writing."

    Wonder what DF would say if I made him write out his vows and then sign them? :lol:
     
  9. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Jan 13, 2009

    If this was happening to me I would start caring around a digital audio recorder and every time I had a conversation with admin I would record it and save it on my home computer.
     
  10. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jan 13, 2009

    So here's the thing: your administration has asked you to do something (change a grade) and you don't want to. Like it or not, that's the direct authority over you and personally, I'd just do it. Can you make a notation in the permanent record to the effect what the "earned" grade was?
    As the teachers in my former school would say, "Is this the hill you want to die on?" Keep asking yourself that when things come up that you'd rather not compromise about. Just my :2cents:
     
  11. MizDubya

    MizDubya Rookie

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    Jan 13, 2009

    I'm very lucky--the school where I teach is incredibly supportive of its faculty, or at least that's what I've experienced so far this first year of teaching there.

    I think it's actually quite admirable, Snowboarder, that you've stuck to your guns. It's atrocious that an administrator would ask you to change a grade--if a student can pass without earning the grade, then what is the student learning about responsibility and consequences?

    I've had to deal with plagiarism issues this past year, and it amazed me to see how very little concern the parents had over the fact that their children cheated. All they cared about was how their children's overall grade would be affected, because wittle preshus needed to get into a good college. I understand the anxiety over college admissions, but at the same time, parents don't seem to understand that their children need to also be prepared to do the work, and accept consequences for their actions, when they are in college and beyond. Mommy and Daddy can't always be there to clean up the messes.

    For me, personally, it's an issue of ethics. I can't live with myself if I don't uphold the standards of academic integrity, whether it is over plagiarism or grade-changing. Kudos to all those who are willing to fight for what's right, rather than what's easy. (Of course, this is not to say that sometimes it has more to do with what will pay the rent, which unfortunately sometimes forces such ethical compromises...)

    Whew. Obviously a real hot-button issue for me. Sorry to rant. Snowboarder, good luck with the situation, and keep us posted!
     
  12. snowboarder77

    snowboarder77 New Member

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    Jan 13, 2009

    Thank you to everyone!

    You all helped me tremendously. On one hand, it's comforting to know that this isn't only going on at my school/in my district, on the other, it's really great to know that there are schools/districts that will uphold academic standards and the integrity of the education being offered and the standard of working to earn a grade, rather than just being "given" a grade to avoid crazy parents and/or admin.

    I did definitely document the issue, and there were actually two other teachers in the room when my principal asked me to do this - so I have witnesses. I've spoken with the union about it and if I need to, I'll file a grievance and possibly a law suit (depending on how far this is taken)...not sure if that's possible, but I'll try.

    The thing that's so disheartening about this is that I feel like I have to fight for what should be common sense and fight for what we ALL know is morally right. My principal didn't say my job was on the line (and I really feel for you chebrutta that your principal actually did threaten you with your job), but legally, are they even able to fire you over something like that? It's stated in Ed Code that legally a teacher is the only one who has the right to change a grade and that no one can order a student's grade to be changed. Although I guess if there's no proof, crappy principals could pink slip you saying you were a bad teacher or something instead of the real, immoral reason.

    I'm in my 3rd year and definitely have a more realistic view of the public education system, it's just never gotten this bad before. Any tips on coping with how messed up the public education system is?

    Thanks again everyone... I sincerely appreciate all of your advice and comments. :)
     
  13. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Jan 14, 2009

    If you are in an at-will state, they can fire you for any reason or none at all.
     
  14. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2009

    Snowboarder,

    Why did they ask you to change the grade? I know you said the parent was difficult but do they have a different perspective from you?

    My P can change my grades if she wants to (legally). So although this has never happened if I felt confidant that I was following our A & E policy and she asked me to change a grade I would tell her that if she wanted the grade changed she would have to change it herself :)
     
  15. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Jan 22, 2009

    That's pretty sad that someone that wasn't in the classroom can override the grade given by the actual teacher.
     
  16. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2009

    I actually don't think it is sad at all. While I have never had a grade changed I think that having an administrator pressue me to change a grade would be far worse than having them change the grade. If they want they grade changed, they should have to take responsibility for it. I will say that working with students in small groups from various classes that I have seen examples where I question if the failure is based on legitimate grounds. So I actually think that used with discretion this is a good rule.
     
  17. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Jan 29, 2009

    At least you don't know that this has happened. We've looked back in the records a few times for various reasons and have found grade changes.

    The seniors are the toughest to catch since they graduate and you never see them again.

    We've caught the changes when a next years teacher wonders how a student ever makes it to the next class. Then we've checked grades just to find out that the student didn't pass my class, but somehow has a D as their final grade....suspicious...

    On a side note...I've been in the unfortunate situation to be "let go." I had 10 special ed students with a special ed teacher assigned. He never showed up most days. I made the mistake of documenting this in an email to someone I thought I could trust. When my tenure came up...I was denied. At the time it was a good thing. More money, better schedule, closer to home. But admin changes and we're back to no leadership. Very picky about lesson plans and we have more initiatives than I can count(and I'm a Math Teacher!).

    Good luck fighting the good fight, but I wouldn't until I had tenure.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 10, 2009

    Here's the thing, and I'm sorry if this seems unethical to some of you....

    When it comes to administrators giving directives, it's usually best to smile and say 'okay!' even if you don't agree with it. Admins have a lot of power over your school and whatever happens in it...including whether you come back next year.

    I'm not advocating doing anything illegal, of course. I just think it's best to do what your boss says. Smile, walk away, and document what you need to in order to CYA.
     
  19. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Feb 11, 2009

    Hi Atomic,

    In addition to teaching I am actually one of 2 teachers responsible for tracking students progress (all 500 of them) so I would know if my P had changed a grade because I talk to all the teachers and know when students fail, etc. I agree it could happen, but like I said I'm okay with it. I think the alternative is that teachers get pressured into changing grades. If the P wants the grade changed, the P should have to change the grade him/herself. Obviously its best when grades don't get changed, but if it has to happen I prefer it this way.
     
  20. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Feb 14, 2009


    I'm not sure about the laws of other states, but this is certainly NOT true in the State of Tennessee. Assignment of the grade is strictly the teacher's perogative and administration does not have the authority to change a grade or order a teacher to do so.
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 25, 2009


    IF, and I repeat IF, I decided to change the grade, which I would find very difficult, I would NOT do it with a smile. I puke a little in my mouth thinking of smiling in this situation...
     

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