At my own school, for instance, teachers now charge illegal fees a little more surreptitiously than in the past, and our principal seems to make no effort to make it stop--he's certainly not put his foot down, by any stretch, and his boss has fought me every step of the way in my fight against these fees.
That, however, doesn't floor me as much as what I read in the March 2009 issue of the CTA mouthpiece rag. If only part of it is true, this story of administrator chutzpah is still horrifying:
The Education Code plainly states that teachers have the right to determine a student's final grade. And that right was upheld recently when a Superior Court Judge ruled that administrators violated the law by changing the final grades of 89 students attending Central Valley High School in Ceres last year.
The grade changes were made months after teachers had submitted the grades and without the teachers' consent...
Changing grades based on test scores was adopted by the district as an "incentive" for students to try harder on (standardized) tests. Grades were made higher--often increasing by as much as one letter--and never lowered...
Teachers learned that the new grading policy would be initiated when they were informed by their principal that he was sending a proposal to be approved by the superintendent. Teachers were then asked whether they wanted the policy to apply to one semester's grade or to both. They were sent a consent form asking whether they would prefer to have clerical staff make changes to grades or change grades themselves. There was no option on the form to decline.
English teacher Susan Engstrom and social studies teacher Mirilyn Wood refused to vote on whether the policy should be for one or two semesters--and also refused to sign the form--on the basis that the policy was illegal, based on Education Code section 49066...
The two CUTA members were ordered to meet with administrators and accused of insubordination and unprofessional conduct. Letters of reprimand were placed in their personnel files.
So they took the case to court and won. What California Educator doesn't tell us, though, is whether the ruling included an order by the judge to have the letters of reprimand removed, apologies given, etc. You'd think for a union magazine, those would be big parts of the story. Their absence is a beacon to me.
And what does Section 49066, one of my favorite sections of ed code, say?
49066. (a) When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil's grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.
(b) The governing board of the school district and the superintendent of such district shall not order a pupil's grade to be changed unless the teacher who determined such grade is, to the extent practicable, given an opportunity to state orally, in writing, or both, the reasons for which such grade was given and is, to the extent practicable, included in all discussions relating to the changing of such grade.
(c) No grade of a pupil participating in a physical education class, however, may be adversely affected due to the fact that the pupil does not wear standardized physical education apparel where the failure to wear such apparel arises from circumstances beyond the control of the pupil.
How any administrator could think, in light of the law quoted above, that he'd get away with what the Ceres principal tried to do, is far beyond me.