Warning: Rant and venting in this post, along with tears of utter frustration.
I received a disappointing e-mail today from the mother of one of my favorite Advanced Writing students at our ISP's Class Day program. She has decided to pull N., an A- student, out of the course with only four class periods left. Her mother was quite willing for N. to receive a 73% (mid-C)score rather than complete one more assignment (given, it is an eight-week assignment on the MLA research paper). I understand being busy as a senior, but no way would a regular high school student be able to just drop a class mid-semester without receiving a corresponding grade. Not that the grade I'm giving really counts anyway, according to our principal.
When I called the principal to see how binding my class grades are, I was extremely disappointed at the lack of academic integrity in our school. I understand that our ISP is made up of HOME schooling families, but when a student takes classes given through the school, it apparently doesn't count at all in their GPA, on their transcripts, etc. The parent can just ignore the grades given by the Class Day techers and award whatever grade they desire to give to their student. I feel like with all of the work I'm doing, totally unpaid, -- especially when teaching two classes when only one would fulfill my commitment to Class Day so my kids could continue taking their classes as well -- doesn't really matter in the long run. This year I've had many students turning in late work, and they don't seem to care that they're losing an entire grade each Class Day (every two weeks) an assignment is late. One student, a graduating senior, has been failing my class, but his mom has apparently given him a passing grade in English despite his lack of work -- he (as well as a few other students) hasn't even been using Spell Check before turning in what is supposed to be a final draft -- his best work.
Next year I am refusing to accept any late work -- it will receive a ZERO in the gradebook and I will not take my time to grade it. I am going to drop any student receiving less than a 75% at the end of the first quarter. I am going to highly recommend to the parents that the grades I give should be weighted as half of their English grade (but of course I have no way to enforce that recommendation although I believe strongly that the school should if they wish to maintain a reputation for academic excellence). Next fall I am going to have the parents sign a contract assenting to these terms before I'll allow their child to take my class. I've spent countless (truly, COUNTLESS!!!!) hours preparing lessons and grading essays that have not been taken past the rough draft form, even in my Honors Class. I have spent an hour grading several essays, each of which probably took less time than that to write. I have even tracked down students who missed a particularly important class and drove all the way into the city to their homes so I could teach them one-on-one so they could start their research project on time. I feel as though I have wasted so many hours this year for little reason since none of it counts academically.
This is the first and only year I have EVER had students who have not given me their best effort. I'd say that nearly half of my students have turned in late work at least once; several of them have been doing so repeatedly. And it's also nearly half of my Intermediate Class as well as several students in my Advanced (Honors) Class who are not showing adequate effort. I would FAR, FAR rather be teaching at Point Loma where the students complained somewhat but at least I had the support of the Dean behind me. In the past, I have said that I love teaching the home schooled kids because they are so conscientious and work so hard -- and are so much more mature than the university students I have taught. Well, after this year I can no longer make that statement truthfully. It's depressing to me. Very depressing.
So my classes don't count on transcripts or in the computation of student G.P.A.'s, and the parents can simply override my grades at will, unless the principal convinces them otherwise. I've never seen such lazy students in our homeschool group, and it simply doesn't seem to be worth my time to teach a bunch of kids who do not want to learn and then discover that they have absolutely NO consequences for NOT fulfilling the requirements of their courses. I would like to teach them the consequences in academics for not following through BEFORE they get to college and end up making major mistakes than can affect their futures (and give home schoolers a bad name). But it really doesn't matter, I guess. I just regret even teaching this year. It really doesn't feel like it was worth it.
Perhaps I'll just be a lunchlady next year or scrub toilets -- something easy that doesn't take ten to twenty hours a week of my time for almost no reward and certainly no consequences for dropping out mid-semester or for turning in substandard work.
If I wanted this type of frustration, I could work as a public school teacher....
Rant over. (I think.)