Teacher claims she was fired for failing kids who didn't turn in their homework
A teacher in Florida has claimed this week that she was terminated from her position at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie because she gave kids a zero per cent grade when they failed to turn in any work. Diane Tirado, a 52-year-old social studies teacher, has said that the school has a policy of giving a 50 per cent grade minimum to all students - even those who do not do their work.
Speaking to the New York Post, Tirado explained that parents had complained about her giving their kids "too much" homework, and that her subsequent refusal to pass students that hadn't done the assignments landed her in serious trouble with the principal.
The assignment in question was a two-week project in which students would keep an "explorer's notebook" - essentially, a journal.
"I got called down to the principal’s office because parents were not happy with me," Tirado said.
During one visit, the principal explained that they have a policy at the school in which no child should be given less than 50 per cent for a piece of work. But Tirado refused to comply. When one group of children in her class did not submit a single journal entry for the assignment, she gave them a zero.
"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]," she said. "But I don’t give a grade for nothing."
Shortly after, on September 14th, she was fired. Because she had only been there for two months, the principal did not have to give an official cause for terminating Tirado - but the teacher of 17 years is pretty certain of why she was let go.
"I loudly bucked the system," she said. "I refused to do their policy. I guess you would call that defiance."
After sharing her story on Facebook, thousands of people sent her messages of support. Most agreed that Tirado was right to defy school policy and teach kids the real value of work - but some thought she should have just put her head down and got on with it.
The teacher later posted an update to Facebook explaining exactly why she made her experience public:
"The reason I took on this fight was because it was ridiculous. Teaching should not be this hard. Teachers teach content, children do the assignments to the best of their ability and teachers grade that work based on a grading scale that has been around a very long time. Teachers also provide numerous attempts to get the work collected so they can give a child a grade. By nature, most teachers are loving souls who want to see students succeed.
"We do above and beyond actual teaching to give them the support they need. Are we perfect? NO. We make mistakes like all other human beings, but I know teachers work their butts off to help children to be the best people they can be!!!"
The school, meanwhile, denies that Tirado was fired because of her grading methods, and has insisted that it had no problem with the teacher failing students.
"There is no district or individual school policy prohibiting teachers from recording a grade of zero for work not turned in," a spokesman said.
This is completely contradictory to the school's handbook, which Tirado has a copy of.
Clearly, there is still much to be unpacked here. Not only has a teacher been fired for trying to teach students a sense of responsibility, but a much wider discussion has opened up: are children being held to high enough standards at school? No doubt Tirado will continue to fight her corner on this issue, and hopefully others will join her.