Cortney O'Brien

A seventh grade teacher’s candid email to The Washington Post has shed some light on our country’s tragic education system, in which schools are refusing to punish students for bad behavior.

When WaPo’s Valerie Strauss asked readers the question, “How hard is teaching?,” a veteran seventh-grade language arts teacher in Frederick, Maryland responded with a lengthy note explaining her school’s frustrating policies that ultimately led her to quit her job.

The educator shared why she first decided to pursue a teaching career: she wanted to show young people that education meant “exploring new things, experimenting, and broadening horizons.” But, her dream quickly met reality:

Forced to abandon my hopes of imparting the same wisdom I had gained through my experiences and education, I resigned myself to the superficial curriculum that encouraged mindless conformity. I decided that if I was going to teach this nonsense, I was at least going to teach it well.

This reluctant, yet effective strategy left ten of her students with ‘Fs.’ The grades did not go unnoticed by the school’s principal. She called her into her office and told her the following:

They are not allowed to fail.

“If they have D’s or F’s, there is something that you are not doing for them.”

Taken aback, the language arts teacher realized just how poor the school’s standards had become:

What am I not doing for them? I suppose I was not giving them the answers, I was not physically picking up their hands to write for them, I was not following them home each night to make sure they did their work on time, I was not excusing their lack of discipline, I was not going back in time and raising them from birth, but I could do none of these things.

Nor should she have to. Because of the school’s ridiculous policy of passing students who clearly did not put forward the effort, she decided to quit.

Students need to learn responsibility for their actions. If they refuse to do the homework yet still manage to pass the class, what have they learned? That won’t fly in the real world. If you skip work a couple days out of the week or slack off on the job, would you really still expect to get a paycheck?

Not everyone is going to be picked for the starting lineup in kickball. Not everyone is going to be on the honor roll. Nor should they. Having to earn one’s grades promotes a certain drive and discipline.

Bravo to this (former) seventh grade teacher for exposing her school’s low standards and refusing to be a part of it one day more.


Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is a Townhall web editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography