Teacher fired because of kids’ failures: FW Star-Telegram

No Child Left Behind-Leaves Many Children Behind has now come down to this: teachers being asked to leave because students are making the grade on these exams.

See this story from yesterday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A sixth grade middle school math teacher was shown the door after many parents complained to school administrators about grades students were receiving. The teacher defended her decisions, saying that she would not compromise on standards. But administrators felt too many students failing were being “left behind” according to No Child Left Behind.

An excerpt:

Problems for sixth-grade math teacher Michelle Kevil began last fall when parents complained to school authorities at Bear Creek Intermediate School in the Keller district.

One set of parents wrote Principal Tedna Taylor asking that their child be transferred from Kevil’s class. The parents hired a math tutor, they wrote, who couldn’t understand the child’s poor math grades.

A second mother, whose child was an A student, also complained to the teacher. She disputed a half-point reduction on a math test on a question about a mixed number and a fraction. She asked that her child’s score “be adjusted accordingly.”

The mother added in an e-mail to Kevil, “We have been frustrated with this math class. It is hard for me to not view this [test] problem as trying to ‘trick’ the students.”

The teacher wrote back, explaining how she graded the problem and adding: “These issues have manifested themselves into an obvious personality conflict. We both only want what is best for your child. If your perception is that I am perpetually trying to ‘trick’ the students, perhaps this is the time to pursue changing” teachers.

Those complaints and others led to increased attention by Taylor, a 13-year principal at Bear Creek, on Kevil, a first-year teacher in Keller who previously worked four years in another area district.

Taylor wrote the teacher, employed on a one-year probationary contract, a lengthy letter summarizing parents’ complaints. The letter ended with this paragraph:

“Michelle, I checked the grade averages across the campus and your failing rate is above the sixth grade average. I believe you have as many as 24 percent failing in one class and around 17 percent in the other classes. In the educational climate we are in at the federal, state and campus level, this is not acceptable. NCLB [No Child Left Behind] is clear, no child will be left behind and at BCI we embrace that philosophy. You should have 100 percent passing. We will discuss a plan of action when we return from the holidays.”

E.C. 🙂

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8 Responses

  1. Mr. Huey,

    You’ve got an excellent site. I appreciate open, honest communication between public officials (or, in your case, potential public officials) and the community that they serve. There should be few questions about why our Board members make their decisions and supporting evidence should be made available to the public – this is exactly what you’re doing and I applaud it.

    As for this particular situation, it troubles me to see students pushed through classes to satisfy parents or the misapplication of standards – it happens too frequently in the name of NCLB. We can categorize the principal’s attitude as “Raising the bar by lowering the floor.” It is shameful.

    I wish you well in your campaign. I have subscribed to your site via RSS and look forward to keeping tabs on North Carolina’s public schools.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew K. Tabor
    http://www.matthewktabor.com
    Cooperstown, New York

  2. Matthew, thank you, from the top, middle and bottom of my heart for the kind words. I must ask, and just out of curiosity, how did you find my site & blog? It doesn’t really matter, just curious though. Anyway, you’re in for a treat, because if you haven’t figured out by now, NC public schools are some of the crummiest in the nation and I want to help do something about it instead of whining and bellyaching about it. So welcome, I hope you enjoy learning about our schools here in central North Carolina…it’s fodder for good comedy!

  3. WOW EC, you’ve gone Nation-wide! I’m proud that you want to serve “our” kids here in Guilford county.

  4. That’s a testament, WGO. It’s a testament to technology and the electronic mouthpiece we have here and obviously, it works well.

    Matthew, you will find out that the same thing is happening right here in Guilford Co., NC, where grade inflation and bumping and social promotion is part of daily life here. The government talks a good game abouit accountability, but there is none when it comes to how our children are REALLY being educated. It is sad!

  5. I check every few days to see how people get to my site via Google searches. If one is a surprise, I Google it myself to see where my site comes up and take a look at what’s around it. I forget which term I searched, but we share a results page for something. I saw this entry and started reading your site (It’s especially relevant/interesting to me because I’m a candidate for the Cooperstown Central School Board of Education).

    I’ve written often in the last month on the theme of the need for strong will in education. Grade inflation, bumping and promotion can be countered by simply doing our jobs. Almost every behavioral problem I’ve seen in schools can be eliminated not with new, more effective policies, but with administrators and teachers just implementing fully the policies they already have. I believe this starts with strong leadership on the Board of Education and tuning administrators to follow suit.

    I feel very badly for this teacher – I hope she knows how many educators across the country support her methods in full. I also hope that she won’t turn the other cheek on this issue.

  6. I’ve written a long treatment of this case on my website:

    http://matthewktabor.com/2007/04/24/texas-teacher-fired-for-maintaining-grading-standards/

    Many thanks for bringing this issue to light.

  7. She has my unending support, because I know what she’s going through. Matthew, I wish you the best of luck, when is your election?

  8. I will share a little history on Michelle Kevil. Ms. Kevil taught two years at Dove Elementary in the Grapevine/Colleyville ISD. My children attended Dove Elementary, but fortunately did not have her for a teacher on the elementary level. There were numerous complaints on her the two years she was at Dove Elementary. GCISD got her out of the elementary school, but moved her to Grapevine Middle School. When my daughter was in 6th grade at GMS, Michelle Kevil taught 8th grade math. Again, there were numerous complaints about her teaching ability. The next year when my daughter was in 7th grade, GCISD moved her again from 8th grade math to 7th grade math. Yes, my daughter got her during her 7th grade year. We had a horrible year and again numerous parents complained. She didn’t return the next year because she moved on to the Keller district. I’m glad to hear that your district didn’t put up with this lack of teaching for as long as our district did. This is one of the things Michelle Kevil liked to say, I’m available for tutoring Mon. – Fri. after school until ??. Let me know what else I can do. Well…she failed to mention that it wasn’t tutoring time… it was glorified homework time. My daughter was going everyday to what she called tutoring and she was still failing. I want to know what else I could do. My daughter said that a lot of the time she wasn’t even in the room for them to ask her questions. She would be conferencing with parents or other teachers. Michelle Kevil made it look real good on paper that she was doing every thing possible, but she wasn’t.

    Glad to hear the Keller District didn’t put up with it. Hooray to ya’ll!!!

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