Which Is Worse -- Grade Inflation or Clout Admissions? Clout (By Far)

While
the clout story seems to have gone underground during the past few
days, the grade inflation story seems to be on the rise.  Why's that, I
wonder? 

Grade inflation seems like it's probably more widespread, but it also
seems more innocuous to me.  More day to day, more minor-league.  I'm not defending grade inflation, but I'm not so bothered by it.  People pad their resumes, companies hype their earnings. 

Plus, it's not like the vast majority of teachers said that grade inflation was a problem, or that it all resulted from pressures from the outside (from parents or principals).  Teachers inflate grades on their own all the time -- to make themselves seem successful, or to avoid a high fail rate, or just to pass a kid along to the next grade.  Some do it as a well-intended form of social promotion.

Clout admissions seem
like a very big deal, in contrast -- even if the phenomenon turns out not to be illegal or
criminally prosecutable. These are powerful people -- elected officials or rich and connected parents -- essentially jumping the line to get their kids into better schools.  And it's a zero sum game, by and large.  Every kid that gets clouted in means one less deserving kid who gets to go to Whitney Young or Northside.

So far we know that Senator Durbin, Alderman Munoz, and Alderman Beale have done it.  In the end I'm guessing the list is going to be much much longer. The story may not end in resignations or criminal charges -- Arne Duncan seems to be getting a free pass on this one so far -- but the story speaks to Chicago's culture of clout, which remains strong despite so many efforts to eradicate it.

Which bothers you more, as a parent, educator, or taxpayer?  Which do
you think is more widespread or entrenched in the Chicago public
schools?

Filed under: 125 S. Clark Street

Tags: @frontdoor

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  • a friend of the blog points out that the two issues aren't entirely separate:

    "Grades are one of the key factors for getting into selective enrollment schools. By pressuring teachers into giving higher scores to students with borderline grades for SE schools, a student can get in without going through the principal discretion process. Similarly, falsified attendance records can assist a student into getting into SE schools (another metric for acceptance)."

    sounds like another thing to check out -- are more kids getting into schools through falsified records than they are through clout?

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