Graduation ceremonies are an important rite of passage because they symbolize academic achievement. Years of hard work — usually four if you’re in high school or college, maybe a few more if you spent more time drinking beer and eating pizza than at the library — are celebrated for a job well done.
Not so much in Marin, Texas, however. In the small town of 5,400, which is southeast of Waco, the traditional May graduation ceremony is being pushed to June. It’s not because of bad weather, say, or the need to extend the school year.
Rather, it’s because only 15 percent of the senior class was eligible to graduate.
According to a Thursday report KWTX-TV, an audit found 28 out of 33 seniors at Marlin High School don’t meet the requirements necessary to get their diploma. While several more students have qualified since the audit was initially conducted, the Marlin Independent School District is giving the rest of the senior class an extra month to do what they already had four years to accomplish.
“We hold firm to our belief that every student in Marlin ISD can and will achieve their potential,” said superintendent Darryl Henson.
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“Students will be held to the same high standard as any other student in Texas.”
Except, you know, they’ll be given more time to get their act together, like the other five students in the class were able to do without having to move the graduation.
I’ve heard about getting an extension on a term paper, but this is ridiculous.
Do you think the school should take responsibility for this?
Why aren’t the 28 students eligible to walk with the class of 2023? Attendance and grades are two of the major factors, although other issues seem to be in play.
Take Salvador Guerrero, who isn’t eligible. He told KWTX that he needed to complete a state-administered assessment test for an online class in U.S. history — but the test won’t be available until the summer.
“It’s a bag of emotions, anxiety, and a bit of disappointment,” Guerrero said.
If he thinks that’s a disappointment, consider Alondra Alvarado — one of the original five who actually met the requirements to get a diploma. She was told graduation had to be pushed back because — get this — it would be unacceptable to reward her and four others for doing what they were supposed to do.
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“They told us that because of the students that didn’t meet the requirements it wouldn’t be fair for only five students to walk the stage,” Alvarado said.
Yes, that’s right: It’s unfair to be rewarded for … well, not even academic excellence, but just basic academic proficiency. Apparently, educators employed by the Marlin ISD are just as good at teaching life lessons as they are at teaching lessons from the curriculum.
Now, the school is scrambling to get its educational ducks in a row. NPR reported that “[s]chool officials worked with students over the weekend and this week to help an additional 12 students resolve missing credits and other issues as of Wednesday evening, Henson said. But the district opted to call off the ceremony until more than those 17 students can graduate.”
The end result, one fears, will be something akin to that “Oprah” episode where the entire audience received cars they didn’t pay for: You get a diploma! And you get a diploma! And you get a diploma!
And, just in case you needed more evidence that Marlin ISD is failing its students by refusing to admit they failed, Superintendent Henson took to Twitter to provide it:
“Our district will grow from this setback. Let this be a lesson learned for all. As we continue to go through our annual graduation audit, it’s our obligation to ensure that all students have met all requirements. Support, accountability, & integrity will remain at the forefront,” he wrote in a Thursday tweet.
If Henson cared at all about accountability, he’d let the five students that met the requirements walk at graduation and then made sure the educators responsible for this massive failure walked away from their jobs, either of their own accord or through the termination process.
But let’s not just blame the teachers and counselors at Marlin High School for failing their students. Where were the parents? If these kids have lousy grades and spotty attendance, there’s supposed to be a support structure outside of school that remedies the problem. It’s called mom and dad. Apparently, too many parents didn’t care if their kids were going to graduate. So, they won’t. It should be that simple.
And, just to make things worse, Marlin ISD’s solution to failing its students is to lower the bar even further, according to NPR.
“The school and others in the Marlin district will convert to a four-day school schedule next year, under a plan adopted last month. Nikisha Edwards, the district’s chief academic officer, said the change should reduce absentee rates,” the outlet reported.
“The district also hopes the four-day week will make it easier to attract and retain high-quality teachers. Under the plan, students will attend class Monday through Thursday of most weeks. But they’ll also go to school on the first Friday of every month, and every Friday in three months: August, January and May.”
So, in other words: reduce absenteeism by having less days for students to be absent on. Fantastic. What’s next? Reducing the number of students who fail by dropping D and F grades so everyone gets an A, B or C?
Yes, this is just one school district — one highly, highly dysfunctional school district.
However, if you needed a metaphor for the failings of American education in the 21st century, I doubt you could do any better than a school that has to postpone graduation so that its inadequately educated students can graduate — and then has the gall to insist it’s being done out of “fairness.”
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