First, a professional in a Manhattan high school wrote to say that teachers in her school are "encouraged" to pass 80 percent of students, no matter their grades or attendance. She offered student writing samples filled with glaring errors of spelling and grammar to prove that "social promotion is alive and well"...
"Our mandated passing rate is 60 percent," one wrote. "We need to explain in detail why this student failed, what methods were used to get him to pass, how much home contact was made.
"The one group that is not called in for interrogation is the students themselves. No blame falls on them . . . The students know what is going on. It has empowered them to feel that they can work less or not at all and still pass the class."
These teachers, and others mentioned in the linked article, must feel helpless in such a perverted system.
Update, 5/31/11: Even the New York Times has noticed:
Teachers are fed up with being blamed for the failures of American education, and legislators are starting to hear them. A spate of bills introduced in various states now takes aim squarely at the parents. If you think you can legislate teaching, the notion goes, why not try legislating parenting?
It is a complicated idea, taking on the controversial question of whether parents, teachers or children are most to blame when a child fails to learn.