Monthly Archives: February 2013

To Promote or Demote – a Teacher’s Dilemma

It’s 18E time again…for nonteachers like some of you, you assume that this is one form we teachers fill up at this time of the year…Yes, this is a form where we write down the names of our pupils who are to be promoted or retained.

For the past three school year, I have and still am faced with questions and more questions, whenever I work on my 18E. I have pondered long and hard on who will be promoted or retained, and the names, faces, and circumstances involving them (my pupils) kept popping back in my mind. And it applies to pupils whose academic performance for the  school year are somewhat anemic and uninspiring to me. What I do is to exchange notes with my fellow teachers, but at the end of the day, it’s still up to me to decide whether to write “PROMOTED” or “RETAINED”. Hah! Tough decision…

This comes to mind an essay I read (actually, a reading assigned to my co-teacher in her graduate study weekly reaction paper) about issues confronting teachers… teaching issues that must be handled professionally and ethically.

Article VIII: The Teachers and Learners

Section 1. A teacher has a right and duty to determine the academic marks and the promotions of learners in the subject or grades he handles, provided that such determination shall be in accordance with generally accepted procedures of evaluation and measurement. In case of any complaint, teachers concerned shall immediately take appropriate actions, observing due process.  (Code of Ethics for Teachers)

 We face many ethical issues in our daily lives. However, our understanding of ethical issues is complicated. The following explanations of Strike help us to understand the nature of ethical issues.

    • First, ethical issues concern questions of right and wrong, our duties, obligations, rights, and responsibilities. Ethical discourse is characterized by a unique vocabulary that commonly includes such words as ought and should, fair and unfair.
    • Second, ethical questions may not be settled by an appeal to facts alone. In other words, ethical claims cannot be true or false in the same way that facts are. We do not decide whether ethical claims are true or false.
    • Third, ethical claims should be distinguished from values, especially appraisals or preferences. Values concern what we like or what we believe to be good and since values are a matter of our free choice there is nothing right, wrong or obligatory about them. (Strike)

Back to my consultation with my co-teachers. “How about N? Must I retain him? I’m thinking on enroling him at ALS.” (ALS-Alternative Learning System) “Nakakabasa na ba si N?” “Syllable reader pa rin. Absenero kasi e.” (Can N read better?” “He’s still a syllable reader. He’s an habitual absentee.” “Not in ALS. Di siya pwede.” (He doesn’t fit there.) “Ipromote mo na lang. Matanda na siya…” (Promote him. He’s old enough…) “Kaya nga gusto ko siyang ipa-ALS. He’s turning twelve.” (That’s why I want him to be in ALS) “Syllable reader siya. Dapat marunong nang magbasa talaga.” (He’s a syllable reader. He should have been a good reader) The exchange of comments continue… Hay!

If I promote him, his grade four teachers would get back at me and chide me for promoting him. If I retain him, he might lose interest in schooling and give it up altogether. See the picture?

The problem with these kids nowadays is that even they lack guidance and supervision from their parents or relatives. Like N. He’s the youngest of ten children, his mother a street sweeper, his father at sick bed. He prefers staying out late at night, nangangalakal (scavenging) and playing computer with his friends. So when he’s at school, he sleeps in class. There are times I lose temper when he starts dozing off to La-la land. As I mentioned earlier, he’s an habitual absentee. With the situation like that, do you expect him to do well academically?

There are times I would deliver a sermon to my students about the importance of getting an education. While it is true, poverty stares at them everyday, pangangalakal is not an option. They just have to be more focused in their studies – reading, writing, and more reading.

I also blame their parents for not being able to guide them, follow up on their school work. But they are out there – eking out a living to feed their children. And that’s what makes me sadder.

As the deadline for submission of our 18E draws nearer, I’m still deliberating whether I write “PROMOTE” or “RETAINED” on the column opposite their names…

Section 2. A teacher shall recognize that the interest and welfare of learners are of first and foremost concern, and shall deal justifiably and impartially with each of them.Section 3. Under no circumstance shall a teacher be prejudiced or discriminate against a learner.

Well, I have to do what I have to do. Bahala na si Batman.