The story at Inside Higher Ed is of the professor at Norfolk State who was denied tenure for failing too many of his students. Now, there may be issues here that aren't covered in the article--issues about expectations, for example--but this part is especially pertinent: Although school policy is that students must attend 80% of class sessions, many do not and receive passing grades anyway, since "there is a clear expectation from administrators — in particular from Dean Sandra J. DeLoatch, the dean whose recommendation turned the tide against Aird’s tenure bid — that 70 percent of students should pass."
The Atlantic story, "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower," is Professor X's meditation on the spot--between his shoulder blades, to be exact--where the good ideal that everyone deserves a college education meets his underprepared student, Ms. L:
By passing Ms. L., I would be eroding the standards of the school for which I worked. Besides, I nurse a healthy ration of paranoia. What if she were a plant from The New York Times doing a story on the declining standards of the nation’s colleges? In my mind’s eye, the front page of a newspaper spun madly, as in old movies, coming to rest to reveal a damning headline:
THIS IS A C?
Illiterate Mess Garners ‘Average’ Grade
Adjunct Says Student ‘Needed’ to Pass, ‘Tried Hard’
No, I would adhere to academic standards, and keep myself off the front page.
I'm troubled by both of these articles, so let's apply a little Lenin to the subject: what is to be done?
What are your thoughts?