“Scarred for life”


Go here if you’re feeling a little tired and need to get your blood pressure up. Here’s a taste:

One of the students in Elizabeth Joice’s senior English class at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz., was flirting with failure. In fact, it was much more than a dalliance — she was flunking. The student, whose name Joice wishes to keep private, had plagiarized a test, skipped classes, failed assignments and even missed a make-up session that might have allowed her to raise her grade. Joice had been sending notices to the girl’s parents since April, warning them about the failing grade; and both the girl and her parents had met with assorted district administrators, counselors and Joice herself. But it was all to no avail: It was almost graduation, the girl had blown too many tests, and she wasn’t going to walk.

Imagine Joice’s surprise then, when on May 22, just one day before senior graduation, she received a letter from a lawyer representing the girl’s family. The family felt that the teacher had graded unfairly, the letter said; they believed that their daughter hadn’t been given enough of a chance, and unless Joice took “whatever action is necessary to correct this situation” they were going to file a lawsuit. […]

The letter that [the girl’s lawyer] sent Joice represented the nadir in her long history of parent-teacher relations. The girl had been “scarred for life” by the flunking grade, the letter claimed. “Since hearing this devastating news, the student has been very sick, unable to sleep or eat and she has been forced to seek medical attention.” The letter went on to threaten Joice with a lawsuit and its attendant personal discomforts: “Of course, all information regarding your background, your employment records, all of your class records, past and present, dealings with this and other students become relevant, should litigation be necessary,” it said.

Thankfully, I’ve been spared much of the current spate of helicopter parent nonsense. But I have definitely been seeing more and more college students coming out of this kind of grades-as-entitlements culture who are “scarred” when bad grades happen (hint for the student: they don’t just “happen”), taking offense when their “efforts” are graded badly but putting little effort into doing well.

[h/t A Shrewdness of Apes via Coach Brown]

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Filed under Education, High school, Student culture, Teaching

2 responses to ““Scarred for life”

  1. diacritic

    Did you notice the Salon piece is from 2002? Not that it matters, really. But I do miss that Mothers Who Think column..

  2. mrc

    The fact that the principal / district didn’t support Joice is the worst part.