Have you ever passed a kid because you didn't feel like doing the paperwork? Has a coach or administrator ever come to you and asked you to bump up a kid so they could play? Have you ever given a student that tries really hard that passing grade even though they did their best but got a 50? If you answered YES to these questions or any of the others running through your head, then ask yourself this, "Are more kids graduating or are we just giving more diplomas?"
The value of a high school diploma 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago, meant much more than it does today. Kids graduating from today's inner city schools aren't ready for college, they aren't ready for the workforce, and, quite frankly, some aren't even ready to write their own names. We have kids walking across the stage, smiling and waving, that can't even SPELL graduation. Does everyone deserve to be happy and to feel proud of themselves? Absolutely, but that cap and that gown are a privileged. You have to earn that...or you did.
We've "upped the rigor" in our classes while lowering the grading standards and our integrity as teachers. The result is a diploma that isn't even worth the paper it's printed on. We need more teachers willing to hold kids to a high standard and administrations willing to support those teachers vs. districts that set arbitrary maximum failure rates. Let's make our students BE proud instead of just FEELING proud. Greatness is still possible in the inner city, but not if we don't force greatness upon it.
Letting things continue the way they are could very well make college the new high school, graduate school the new college, and so on.