Student to Student
May 7, 2008
Throughout this year at Park City High School many students have found that anyone who plays a sport, plans on visiting colleges, expects to get sick at least once this year, has ailing grandparents, or has a cousin contemplating marriage should steer clear of Foods Class at Park City High School. In this class, no matter the nature of the absence, excused, unexcused, school-related etc. one will receive a 0 out of 25 for participation for that day. The majority of teachers excuse participation points for legitimate absences, which means they don’t help you or hurt you. This perverse unwritten absence policy appears to be in violation of the Park City High School handbook, which states:
"Students will be permitted the equivalent of 3 block periods of absence in each class for each quarter of the year. A block period is a single class of approximately 90 minutes. It is the student’s responsibility to make up work missed for an excused absence as per individual teacher or policy. After the third absence, no credit for work will be given for absences whether excused or unexcused. "
The mystery policy being used in this class also appears to be in violation of the disclosure statement that all the students signed before beginning the Foods class, which states:
"As per school policy, students are allowed three absences. Upon the 4th absence, students will not be allowed to make up work. Proper steps must be taken to excuse the absence in the attendance office. No credit will be given for unexcused absences. It is the student’s responsibility to make up work for an excused absence."
Many students and parents have deemed this "zeroes no matter the nature of the absence" policy "unfair." However, according to Park City School District Superintendent, Ray Timothy, this violation of policy is not a problem and is not unfair because it treats all students the same. Timothy said "the authority to establish individual classroom grading procedures in determining a student’s grade rests squarely upon the teacher, not school administrators."
In response to this statement one student said, "Then what is the purpose of having the school administration make rules if they seem to be optional?"
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Timothy also said "it is [his] opinion that Ms. Wright (the Foods teacher) has clearly established the expectation in her class that participation points are only earned when a student attends class. It is part of her grading practices that she adheres to consistently regardless of who the student is or whatever the circumstances of the absence may be." Therefore, if a policy is equally unfair and unjustified, it is supported by the school district. So, Park City High School’s equality standards justly bring the truant, the athlete, and the deathly ill to the same level.
One frustrated sophomore said, "What is the point of getting my absences excused if me and the kid who decided ditch and go skiing get treated the same?" In response to the equality argument presented by Superintendent Timothy the student fired back with a somewhat over-the-top analogy stating, "So if a teacher is sexually molesting one student it’s wrong but if he is sexually molesting all of his students it’s cool? I don’t see how treating everyone equally wrong makes it right." This student ultimately dropped the class because he was an athlete and didn’t think getting a B in a cooking class was acceptable.
Many may see this odd absence policy as a problem with a simple solution: don’t take Foods if you think you will ever be absent for any reason. However, the bigger problem here is that the district is supporting this teacher. So, attention teachers and students, the policy in the PCHS handbook is optional as long as you violate it in respect to all students.
One worried mother stated this was "a big concern for her." If this trend catches on her daughter, an athlete is going to have serious problems maintaining satisfactory grades. Last quarter, her daughter got an A on every single assignment in Foods but missed four days of class, all of which were excused, and ended up dropping an entire letter grade from the previous quarter in foods class.
The daughter said "it makes me so mad. Who gets a B in an intro Foods class? Please."
After talking to many frustrated students including those who had dropped the class and this year’s Valedictorian who also received zeroes for participation when he missed class for Cross Country and Band concerts, I fear this school will stop being about the hard working, well rounded, involved, students. The top positions in the class will be reserved for the robotic children that never get sick, don’t play sports, don’t go on college visits, don’t have family emergencies, and don’t take vacations.