New Year’s Day will mark a decade since Mayor Bloomberg’s first day on the job. The city’s schools have changed in big ways since then — but some things, it seems, have stayed the same.
While reading up earlier this week on Washington Irving High School before attending a protest against its planned closure, I came across a news report that could have been ripped from today’s headlines: Students risked not graduating because a review found that they had been given credit even though they had failed required courses.
From the New York Times’ report about the scandal:
O’Neill Ellis, 17, learned Tuesday that he would not receive a diploma. He had failed an economics class, but [the principal] allowed him to make up the credits by reading 15 chapters of an economic textbook and writing an 11-page report. When Mr. Ellis heard that [the principal] had been removed, he suspected his diploma would be revoked, he said in an interview last night.
“I understand we might have messed up,” he said. “But I don’t see why they should have taken back our diplomas. It’s not like I did a little two-page project. It took 11 pages, it required thinking.” …
An English teacher, Linda Winkler, described a case involving a student in her class. She said the principal gave a passing grade to a student who had been absent from her class at least 50 times since February.
She said the student, whom she did not identify, did little homework and refused to take the final exam. She said she gave the student a 45, out of 100, which is a failing grade. She later found out, she said, that the principal had assigned the student an independent project that involved writing a book report on the novel “To Sir With Love.” The principal gave the student a 65 in the class. Ms. Winkler said this angered her because she had assigned four book reports to students during the term.
“I think it’s wrong to reward a student in that position,” she said. “In the past few years it has reached the point where the standards are so low that if things are barely legible, they are passable.”
In the comments, leave your guess for what year this story took place. Read the full report for the answer and more details about the episode, which predated recent allegations about improper use of “credit recovery,” including at Washington Irving.