Part 2: Graduate High School Without Coming to Class
Last time we met Jennifer, a student who deserved to graduate. Unfortunately, that good feeling side of things is not the only side there is. Let me introduce you to Andy. In fact, maybe we both could get to know Andy together, because you already know him about as well as I do. Yes, Andy was one of my students (in theory). He was on my roll list, but I probably only met him about three of four times during the whole semester of classes (perhaps I exaggerate, but I promise you, it isn’t by much).
So when Andy’s name was called to stroll across the stage and pick up a high school diploma, I couldn’t help but reflect on the situation: Here is a young man who graduated from high school but who hardly ever came to class. How did he qualify to graduate? For the life of me I can’t figure it out. I know that I am not the only teacher whose class he never came to.
I say that I can’t figure it out, but to some extent I can give you an explanation. Our educational system has regressed so badly that it is often times no longer about education. Rather than a high school, I sometimes felt that I was at a graduation factory, a diploma mill. The goal was not first and foremost to educate young men and women. No, sir. The priority numero uno was to make graduates. Turn out as many of them as we can from those we have to work with. Find a way to justify giving them a diploma at all costs. That is the primary objective.
I felt that at different times during the year as I taught and discussed things with the administration, but never was it so starkly present to my mind as when I saw Andy receiving his diploma. He showed up to class ten times (being quite generous in my estimations now), and that is enough! He qualifies! High school graduate material!
What has our school system come to? I have heard many stories about people who worked hard to become the first high school graduate of their family history. The stories are told as if that was an accomplishment worth achieving. I think it must have been back then, but I can hardly think about such a picture in our society today. The question now is not so much whether you are going to be able to graduate, but rather, does a high school diploma even mean anything today?