I Could Get a Spanish Tutor for My Daughter. Why I’m Letting Her Fail Instead
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My daughter, who is 16 years old, successfully completed 10th grade with excellent grades in all her subjects, except for Spanish 2.
This outcome was not surprising considering her experience with Spanish 1 in ninth grade. Throughout the year, she had a total of six teachers (one returned, making it seven transitions). Despite starting the course with no knowledge of Spanish, she finished with no improvement in her language skills. Nonetheless, she was promoted to Spanish 2, where she encountered three different teachers. Each one assumed that the students had mastered Spanish 1, resulting in my daughter and her classmates falling even further behind.
In New York City, students are required to take a state exam in order to obtain a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation. While my daughter is on track to earn this diploma in all her other subjects, she is far from being prepared to take, let alone pass, the Spanish Regents.
Concerned parents often suggest hiring a tutor as a solution, assuring me that it’s not a big deal. I am fortunate enough to have the means to hire a tutor if I wanted to.
However, I refuse to take that route, and here’s why: doing so would absolve her school and the entire public education system of their responsibility.
New York state has set standards for Spanish proficiency through the Regents exam, which is necessary for high school graduation. If that’s the case, then it is the duty of the public education system to ensure that every student reaches that level of proficiency. Otherwise, what is the purpose of graduation requirements?
I have previously written about "high-performing" schools that rely on affluent parents to supplement their children’s education outside of the classroom and then take credit for their successful test scores.
I have also shared my experiences of my engineer husband tutoring our daughter in math when her teacher failed to adequately educate her in the subject.
Additionally, I have discussed how the Specialized High School Admissions Test is not the problem itself, but rather a reflection of the city’s shortcomings in educating Black and Hispanic students.
I cannot continue to contribute to this problem. Hiring a Spanish tutor for my daughter and preparing her outside of class to pass the Spanish Regents would only perpetuate the falsehood that her public school education was satisfactory. This is detrimental to future students who do not have access to tutoring resources and rely solely on their schools to provide them with a quality education.
Some well-meaning parents question whether it is wise to potentially sabotage my daughter’s chances of college admissions. However, I have spoken to her about this and she understands that the issue is much larger than her individual circumstances. It extends beyond our family and includes all the students in her class who have been subjected to a revolving door of Spanish teachers.
These students were promised that they would learn the material, but they were not adequately taught. How is this acceptable?
I understand and sympathize with families who recognize that their children are not receiving proper education in the classroom and decide to hire tutors to bridge the gap. However, doing so allows schools and the entire system to evade their responsibility of providing quality education to our children.
We have all encountered difficulties over the past three years. Teachers struggle to support students who are performing at vastly different academic levels. I acknowledge that it is not an easy task. However, it is a task that must be accomplished by the schools themselves, rather than relying on families to fill the gaps.
Perhaps small-group tutoring can be a solution. In his 2022 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden encouraged schools to utilize federal COVID relief aid for such programs and called on parents to ensure that their schools follow suit.
Related: Over 3,500 local school districts have ambitious plans for post-COVID tutoring.
Meanwhile, the responsibility lies with parents to hold their child’s school accountable for providing the promised education. A method to achieve this is to highlight any instances where the school falls short, even if it means allowing your own child to experience failure.
If a significant number of families take this course of action, schools will no longer be able to hide their negligence. They will be compelled to acknowledge the presence of a problem and ultimately be influenced – or if needed, publicly criticized – into resolving it. This will benefit everyone involved.
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