I'm sure if you think back to your days in eighth grade you can clearly recall that it was a very different experience than kindergarten. The expectations were simple: do your work, turn it in, show up, and participate. If you didn't show up to class you could lose points, if you didn't do your work in class you could lose points, if you didn't turn in your homework then you got a zero.
It all sounds like it makes a lot of sense but things in our modern day and age have changed a lot since we were kids. Today's kids are experiencing the education system in an entirely new light and when situations like what has transpired between eighth grade history teacher Diane Tirado and West Gate K-8 come to light it begs some major questions. Especially ones to the tune of: are we helping today's youth or hindering them?
Merely one semester into her new teaching position at West Gate K-8, Diane Tirado found herself at odds with the school's administration board and every moment since has baffled her and readers everywhere to no end.
Tirado was not fresh out of college. In fact, she had 17 years of experience in the educational field so she had a firm grasp of what it meant to educate children. But only a quarter into her new job as the eighth grade history teacher, things got out of control and it was all over one of the craziest grading policies we've ever seen.
West Gate K-8 has a firm NO ZERO policy. That means that there are no circumstances under which the administration finds it acceptable to ever give one of their students a grade of ZERO. Furthermore, they don't even allow a score below 50%!
Diane gave her students an assignment with two weeks to complete. As the two weeks came and went and not all of her students turned in their assignment, Diane tried to be lenient and allow those students a little extra time to get things turned in. Still, several students did not turn in their assignment. Diane felt strongly that there was no excuse to give these students a partial grade, they did not do the work and they deserved a zero for it.
When Diane turned in the final grades, the administration insisted she issue the kids who didn't turn in their work a 50% instead of a zero. Diane felt this was so wrong that she turned to her union and went head to head with the administration's principals.
Diane had a massive mountain to overcome because the students who didn't do their work had the support of their parents, who were not okay with their children receiving zero grades.
It was for Diane's refusal to issue the 50% grades that she says she was fired.
In an interview with Newsweek, Diane said:
If we are creating people of entitlement to the point where they’re expecting something for nothing what kind of world do you have? Why should they work hard when they know they’re going to pass? A kid looks me in the eye and says, 'I don’t have to do anything and you have to give me a 50.'
Despite Diane holding out, she told the NY Post that the situation was 'ruining her life for weeks,' and:
I got called down to the principal’s office because parents were not happy with me!
From the school's perspective, Diane was still in a probationary period at her new job. So, they didn't have to issue any official reasons as to why Tirado was fired. However, they issued a statement to NY Post anyway, insisting that her grading policy had nothing to do with their decision:
...her performance was deemed substandard and her interactions with students, staff and parents lacked professionalism and created a toxic culture on the school's campus.
Further more, the St. Lucie Public School District that West Gate K-8 is apart of insists there is no such "no zero" policy in effect. They also said that the zero doesin fact apply to work that has not been attempted... even though we can all clearly see their chart that says in big, red letters, "NO ZERO's."
Diane's assignment for her eighth graders called for the students to keep an “explorer’s notebook” for two weeks in the same way a 15th-century explorer might have kept a journal in their time. Diane said that's when the parents began complaining and when several students didn't turn anything in, she was not surprised:
I’m used to kids not handing in work… but then chasing them until the report cards are in to make sure they make it up with extra credit... But I don’t give a grade for nothing.
The idea that today's students are over-burdened is not new news, but the question is: does that justify everything that went down here between Tirado, her students, and the administration? If the assignment was too difficult, the could have turned in something, anything, and recieved a grade, right? Do they not deserve a zero for turning in nothing? Did Tirado deserve to be fired for standing her ground?