The young elementary school teacher was sad. In an interview with this writer, she recounted her teaching experiences at a Fulton County public school located in the city of Sandy Springs where she felt, during her first year, that she was making a positive contribution. As the only teacher fluent in Spanish (having been born in Puerto Rico) she was often called upon by other teachers to translate and assist the immigrant kids struggling to learn English. But the promising young educator didn’t return to teach this past fall. She quit the profession.

Why? Her answer was as simple as it was disturbing: “My principal demanded that I pass some students on to the next grade who didn’t deserve to pass. I resisted. He insisted. And of course I had to comply in the end.” “Those kids,” she said, “are being cheated. The parents are being cheated. The taxpayers are being cheated.”

Social promotions — promoting students to the next grade regardless of low test scores or poor academic skills— continues apace. Florida, Texas a number of other states are trying to curtail this practice by holding public school students back a grade until they improve academic performance on a standardized test. The sad former teacher wishes this was the case in Fulton County.

New Georgia school superintendent Richard Woods and the state School Board have a lot on their plate when it comes to reform. And yes, there is some good news about education, especially with the expanded parental choice that comes with the growth of charter schools. But the bad news of continuing social promotions still trumps the good news.  

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