At Clark College, Tenure Means Never Being Held Accountable for Mistakes

by lewwaters

Unless you seek a fair grade in certain classes

As teachers at Vancouver’s Clark College seek public sympathy in their quest for yet another pay raise, it is hard to believe that one tenured teacher appears to be handing out grades based upon a faulty syllabus that even the teacher admits was faulty, but allegedly gave the class the choice of being graded under a percentage or a point system, but still under a faulty syllabus.

This teacher claims that the class, after being given the choice on the first day of class last semester, agreed to be graded under her admitted erroneous grade system, which resulted in sub-standard grading for several students, some filing appeals to no avail, coming up against the hierarchy of Clark College that supports a tenured teacher over students.

This same teacher was a central figure in a racial issue on campus that made news last fall, failed to hold classes at least 4 times during the semester for various reasons and according to a few students in the class, promotes one race over another.

Faulty in the syllabus is that out of a possible top point of 442, 419.31 to 433.79 would equal a B+. 433.80 to 441.99 would earn an A-. And, 442 and up would earn an A. But, 442 was the absolute top students could possibly earn.

A corrected syllabus for the new semester shows the same 442 points remains the most a student may earn, but now breaks down to 397.80 to 419.89 earns a B+. 419.90 to 424.43 earns an A- and 424.44 to 442 earns an A.

The question that comes to mind is if this teacher knew beforehand that the first grading system was faulty, why even give students a choice and not just correct it and hand out grades fairly?

And, what is the claim of the class elected to accept the faulty grading system that has not been shown by anything but the teachers’ word? I know of a few students who said they don’t actually recall hearing any such offer made to them.

Where is the teachers’ documentation of the class electing to accept the faulty system? Was it a vote by hand? What was the vote count? If a vote, what of those students who didn’t wish to be graded under such an unfair and erroneous system?

How was the mistaken grading system explained to get the students to elect to accept a faulty grading system?

And, why does every piece of documentation denying student appeals contain the claim, “according to what Teacher X says?” Students presented actual documents that were also given to teacher X. Where is Teacher X’s documents given to students?

Students showed their claims, why is Teacher X allowed to fall back on tenure and present no documentation?

And, since Teacher X has admitted the syllabus was faulty and corrected it for the new semester, why fight so hard opposing students given a B+ to be upgraded to an A as they would have received under a fair grading system?

Teacher X claims many students did receive an A, but based upon what? Where is the breakdown of students points earned and how points were handed out? Where is Teacher X’s record of how grades were arrived at and handed out? Why are students appealing their grade not shown such a record but are instead told “Teacher X says it was fair?”

Students are permitted only 2 levels of appeal after speaking with the teacher, both within the Clark College hierarchy with no independent scrutiny of the appeal.

After the second level is denied, students receive a notice from the Dean, Miles Jackson in this case stating, “I also need to remind you that, in accordance with Clark College Administrative Procedures 730.0, this decision is final and cannot be appealed further.”

A 1969 US Supreme Court decision (Tinker v. Des Moines) reiterated, “Students do not shed their constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.”

Equally of concern to Clark College, or should be, is students saying they felt targeted during class due to their race and being made to feel uncomfortable since they were of a different race than Teacher X. These same students are the ones who feel they were given an unfair grade and cannot get it upgraded to a fair grade.

Reaching tenure is supposed to be a mark of achievement, but is it also a brick wall students run up against when mistakes are admitted to, but not fairly corrected?

Such a system shortchanges students trying to better themselves and does not provide the level of instruction they pay for.

As long as this lack of fairness remains and standards of education are second to tenure, there should be no pay raises given for any reason.

If anything, pay cuts would be more in order.

Tenure should not take precedence over proper education and fair treatment of students.

9 Comments to “At Clark College, Tenure Means Never Being Held Accountable for Mistakes”

  1. I need to figure out who to approach next. This incident is beginning to take it’s toll on my health, because I am not a child.

    What I have learned;

    all of the Math classes I have taken truthfully do NOT work in the real world. Standards are set aside for tenured teachers. I am expendable, there are more students to take my place. There is no student advocacy at Clark. There is only procedures paperwork, and protection for teachers that make mistakes. The burden of proof was on me and not on the teacher, even when it was acknowledged that a mistake was made. This appeal was taken care of very quickly. I also learned that the adjunct teachers and tutors, are more than awesome, and have helped me more times than I can count, and, they are unsung heroes at Clark.

    The fault is mine, I did not critique this teachers syllabus to see if it was fair, therefore I fully accepted to be graded by a substandard system, and that is acceptable to both Deans, and to the VP of the school. By the way, I do not take drugs, nor smoke pot.

    I can not, I will not, I refuse to push one race over another. I would never in good conscience attend any of these controversial rallies, even though they were worth 10 bonus credits apiece, by this teacher. Thus
    the reason I did so poorly?

    For the record, the days missed by this teacher totaled, yes, I did the math on that too, was 2 weeks, dispersed throughout the semester. It’s okay though, it is all on me, how, I am not sure. Oh wait, apparently I agreed on the first day to a substandard grading system.

    Yup I was told from day one, that I am not telling the truth. I was accused of being absent, when I wasn’t. I even tried to the best of my ability to guess at answers from a study guide, that we never reviewed. Oh wait, that was a day I was not in class? No, that is wrong.

    Apparently I have missed the scholastic memo stating the new standard of excellence being set to -32 points. It creates an empty vacuum with no points from 442 and up, for a true grade of excellence. Maybe I should run this by the tutoring center, perhaps they can figure out this dumbed down system.

    All I wanted was to better myself, nothing more. You know the American dream. Think again, it is for others, but not for me.

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  2. There should be no such thing as tenure.

    Oh I am sure there was a reason for tenure at one point in time but as all things become corrupt so too has tenure.

    Why is there tenure? Being a working stiff like myself there is no such thing as tenure for me. I am always subject to my superiors and their rulings over me? Why should a professor be any different?

    Sure they want to have autonomy of ideas and not feel the pain of retribution.

    But you can only have real autonomy when your ideas and yourself are held up to scrutiny. When you have a shield about you protecting you from being held responsible then that is not freedom it is tyranny.

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  3. This really is no big deal, it is just a grade. In the end it is just my career.

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  4. ‘Teacher X,’ makes claims of much of the teachings in the class have to do with “social justice.”

    Looking up social justice I find, “Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution. These policies aim to achieve what developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity than may currently exist in some societies, and to manufacture equality of outcome in cases where incidental inequalities appear in a procedurally just system.”

    Given that some students of a different race than Teacher X said they were made to feel uncomfortable in the class, were grades pre-determined to fit Teacher X’s idea of what equal outcome should look like?

    After all, Teacher X also claims enjoyment at seeing the sudden realization in students of the “social injustice” unseen before.

    Just how does “Social Justice” fit in with “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character?”

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  5. I would like to address a question asked of me by the VP. It is amazing what you can discover when you are not looking for it. Question was, did I approach the teacher and talk to her first when I realized that there was an issue.
    I knew exactly where this came from and what the question’s intent was meant to focus on.
    First, the teacher said she was not going to answer emails until after January 3, 2011, okay, I can and did work with that request. Second her syllabus does say email is the way to catch her as she is always available. Third, when I contacted the Dean’s assistant to this department, to find out how to get the ball rolling on this whole grade appeal she let me know that email would be better, because it would provide me with vital documentation needed, instead word of mouth. So, the answer is yes, I did follow protocol. Did my documentation help? Not even one nanometer.

    So I knew, that he was informed by the teacher, that a meeting with her never occurred, which again was an attempt to put all of this off on me.

    This class was a complete waste of my time and money for it to end up like this. Instead, I should be thankful that so many took time out to explain how wrong I really am.

    Tell ya what, out of all this, something funny came of it. I looked at the VP as though he had lost his mind. I made mention that I had been searching for a student advocacy group on campus. He said, “Ms ______ we are all student advocates here at Clark College”. Ha ha, now that was rich.

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  6. I can now clearly identify after reading my own thoughts, that my “tenured” English teacher knew what they were talking about when they clearly took time out for me, (as well as feedback for everyone else, by appointments and dates for each and every student, so we could know where our grades stood and how to proceed with our final drafts) and said my writing is good, but not organized by subject matter, or thought, and thus hard to follow.

    Does anyone know where the syllabi for all Clark professors is posted?

    I didn’t know that a syllabus was a legal document, a contract, I always thought it was an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum. Who knew?

    This will make selecting a professor a real task.

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  7. Just to reiterate, I want to be sure I understand this. 475/442 = 100/100 These are both fractions, not percentages. They both show a whole number and both of these numbers represent the number of 1 whole class. Correct? This is what was explained to me. They are equal, right?

    By the way, even the newest syllabus is wrong and is still set up by a percentage system. Here is why. Example,

    * 424.44 – 442 = A

    * 419.90 – 424.43 = A-

    Now this is just an example, but remember, this is a point system, and the points should not be broken down by a percent system. When you take percentages and write them in with whole numbers, it has to be done with a decimal. This is too precise to be a point system.

    Anyway I hope this is clear now.

    Now do you understand? Me too neither.

    It is as clear as mud to me.

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  8. This story is written to delicately to make any sense. Pleaes answer the following questions:

    1. What was the course subject matter?
    2. What race was the professor?
    3. What race was the student making the compliant?
    4. What race was the supervisor hearing the appeal?
    5. What were the “social justice” rallies that you were supposed to go to.

    Next step might be a civil rights lawsuit. There are public groups (American Center for Law and Justice) that take on schools over really horrible policies like this.

    I would supect that giving people credit for attending politically correct demonstrations, particularly if they were of a racial variety, violates equal protection clauses.

    It also might be worth it to file EEOC or similar agencies that have Federal oversite of civil rights, education, housing (if you live on campus), and essentially make the case that were subjected to a “racist environment”.

    This may not result in anything, but will at the very least piss off the offending school authorities, and probably scare them a bit too.

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  9. Jackson, such relevant information will be revealed only to the president of the college, should he request it.

    My guess is, he already knows, as do those whose names are listed.

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