Monday, April 28, 2014

"How's that workin' out for you?"

One of my chronic-skipper students once again earned the lowest score on an hourly exam. I don't really look forward to seeing (or not seeing, as the case may be) this person in class again next semester.

I also have one person who always has excuses, problems, whatever, and "has" to take the exam a day or two late. They have also failed to hand in most labs and any of the papers in the class. They seem to be that kind of person who just has trouble making it through life.

And I don't know about that. There seem to be some people who just can't get, or keep, their stuff together adequately to succeed. And I wonder how they will make it in the working world - if you can't meet a single deadline for a class, including deadlines you knew about on DAY 1 of the class, how do you meet deadlines in "real life." (I hate the "real life" vs. "college" dichotomy, as it implies that college is NOT real life, and therefore is either not to be taken seriously, or things like rules and deadlines are illusory in college and you don't need to worry about them.)

I mean, I get having a bad semester or having problems in your life - but from talking with this person, this seems to be an ongoing issue. I'm just hoping I don't get a call from an administrator like I did a few years back, telling me to accept the late paper without penalty. Though this time I'm prepared - I had a chat with our ADA compliance officer.

Apparently this is a minor issue, and one he was not aware of - there is a particular admin on this campus who, when a student comes with a sad story, takes it upon themselves to pressure the faculty into granting accommodations the student isn't entitled to. And because it's an upper administrator, and even tenured profs like me are faintly afraid of what an upper admin could do, we comply.

Well, the ADA guy has told us not to do that any more. He thinks that the administrator is not TELLING us but ASKING us, but I will tell you that it sounded damnsure like "telling" when I had that conversation.

And a colleague of mine got called up by this admin, and he has said he is "just going to give a C" to the student in question that he got called about, which makes me all kinds of crazy, and I've tried to argue with him how it sets an ugly, ugly precedent, but he just wants to go along to get along ("My goal now is to get to retirement without being sued." Yeah, great).

Well, if the admin calls me up again about a student, I'm simply going to say, "I need that in writing and from the ADA guy." And then do my best not to budge. Because this is ridiculous - just as I feel a right chump when I follow the rules and am responsible and then find someone else got all kinds of rules bent for them, and they actually got a better outcome than I did, it's unfair to the majority of students who DO work hard to keep bending the rules BEYOND the baseline accommodations. Accommodations are to give everyone equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. The problem is, there are apparently some folks who can't deal with the fact that some of their "favorite" students (or maybe students with aggressive parents, I don't know) can't make it through college even with the playing field being leveled.

It's not fair, though, to a professor near the end of exam week to tell them, "This late paper that you hadn't heard any thing from the student about? You need to accept it and grade it."And it's not fair to the other students who worked hard and got their papers in on time.

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