Should Students Still Get Credit for Work They Haven’t Done?

By Zachary Blackwell

Elm Staff Writer

How much discipline is too much discipline in a school system? Should students be rewarded for failing to turn in their work? These are some of the surprising questions raised because of the firing of teacher Diane Tirado from a school in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Tirado, who taught an eighth-grade history class at West Gate K-8 School, was fired after refusing to give her students who didn’t turn in their work a minimum of a 50 percent grade. She assigned an explorer’s notebook for all students in her class to complete and gave them two weeks to complete it. But after some of her students failed to turn in their work, Tirado refused to give them any credit at all for their missing work. Then she was in trouble with school administrators.

Tirado still refused to give partial credit to students who did not turn in their work, and she was eventually fired from her position on Sept. 14.

While Tirado alleges that she was fired because she refused to follow the school’s “no-zero” policy, a letter from the principal about her firing didn’t list a specific reason as to why she was fired. This may be because Tirado was contracted as a teacher on her probationary period, according to the same letter.

Regardless of why she was fired, Tirado has said that the “no-zero” policy sends the wrong message to students.

As a college student who has had to stay on track with a seemingly unending mountain of assignments at times, it has been difficult to keep up with the demands of my classes.

It is hard to keep myself from admitting that having a “no-zero” policy at Washington College would be helpful and convenient, at least for me. It would be nice to just gloss over assignments I felt weren’t worth my time and my effort to complete. It would be nice to turn in something now that I didn’t have nearly as much time to complete two months ago, when it may have been due. It would be nice just to take the easy path, the path of least resistance.

But what may seem nice to me is not so nice to my professors and my peers, who expect better of me. There is no way that my professors and peers could help me get through a semester if I am not willing to put any effort whatsoever into the work that I need to do.

In hindsight, not putting forth the effort to do any work isn’t even nice to me later in life. The education that I have received throughout my entire life would be useless to me if I didn’t know how to be responsible and respectful towards my own time, as well as the time of the people who have decided to help me.

The story of Tirado’s firing has made even basic expectations, not just in education, but in the entirety of life, seem unreasonably controversial.

Tirado has a basic message, a message I’m sure we’ve all heard of in some form: “If you don’t put in the work, don’t expect to receive any award.”

If you’re not even somewhat willing to try to turn assignments in on time, how can you learn how to be responsible later in life, which is when many enter the professional world? It is my firm belief that the job of school systems should prepare students for their futures, whether that be in college, or a job, or both, or maybe something entirely different.

Tirado was right. Why should we be willing to reward students who aren’t turning in their work, or otherwise have no desire to fulfill expectations? By accepting a “no-zero” policy, we are preparing students to be zeroes later in life. We really need to prepare students to be responsible; even if they aren’t perfect, they will at least know how to be responsible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *