Yesterday, the Daily News revealed that an East Harlem high school principal told teachers to effectively pass more students. Principal Bennett Lieberman's report card stated: "If you are not passing more than 65% of your students in a class, then you are not designing your expectations to meet their abilities. You are setting your students up for failure, which in turn, limits your success as a professional...most of our students ... have difficult home lives, and struggle with life in general. They DO NOT have a similar upbringing nor a similar school experience to our experiences growing up."
Teachers at Central Park East High School were offended, as were students. An 11th grader said, "Why are they going to let some pass who don't deserve it? It's not fair to those who want to work." But Lieberman said, "I pretty confidently stand by my words and don't expect my teachers to dumb things down at all. The goal is to find where a student is at and work with them from that point forward."
Today, the Daily News reports that superintendent Francesca Pena and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein voiced their concerns about Lieberman's memo and criticized, in a letter, how the "the impression, perhaps unintended, [was] that your staff should have diminished expectations for the students in your school and should ensure a 65% pass rate, whether warranted or not."
The News says it received the memo from a person who wanted to "expose that social promotion is very much a part of what teachers have to deal with, even though our mayor has said he's against it." Inside Schools' blog suspects that with the "pressure to improve performance," more incidents like this one and another in Staten Island where a teacher tried to artificially raise Regents exam scores will be seen.