New York City high school issues useless diplomas for all

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

At first glance, Maspeth High School in Queens, New York, looked to be one of those rare examples of a success story in the New York City public school system. Graduation rates were well above those of other schools in the district, as were grade point averages. Attendance was high and test scores exceeded those of many other public schools. In fact, at least on paper, you would have to call Maspeth a huge success. But the key phrase there is “on paper” because that’s all there was to show to the public. The principal of the school drove the teachers to assign credits for students who were failing or not even showing up. Other bogus activities were recorded to fluff up the school’s numbers. An investigation into the allegations concluded that the diplomas that Maspeth was handing out were “not worth the paper on which it was printed.” (New York Post)

Maspeth High School created fake classes, awarded bogus credits, and fixed grades to push students to graduate — “even if the diploma was not worth the paper on which it was printed,” an explosive investigative report charges.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir demanded that teachers pass students no matter how little they learned, says the 32-page report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, Anastasia Coleman.

“I don’t care if a kid shows up at 7:44 and you dismiss at 7:45 — it’s your job to give that kid credit,” the principal is quoted as telling a teacher.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir appears to be at the bottom of this barrel of rotten apples. He demanded that students be given credit for an entire day of attendance even if they only showed up for one class, or even one minute. Fake classes were created that nobody attended, but they were added into the students’ records. Teachers were ordered to give students passing grades no matter how little they had learned and threatened with repercussions if they failed to do so. Most of them complied.

During Regents exams, the teachers serving as proctors gave out answers to students so they would produce high scores. The students even came up with their own nickname for the zero-failure policy, calling it “the Maspeth Minimum.”

The principal was removed from school and suspended without pay in July, but somehow still hasn’t been fired. There is a hearing scheduled for him in October. But even after he was gone, his primary “henchmen” on the faculty were left in place and they reportedly continued to enforce the same policies. Making matters worse, it turns out that the city Department of Education had been conducting an investigation into what was going on for two years and had already prepared a report, but they refused to release it to the public.

Principal Abdul-Mutakabbir wasn’t doing these children any favors. In fact, he was doing them harm. What is a student with a high school diploma supposed to do when they show up at college and are totally unprepared for the work ahead? For that matter, what will happen to them if they apply for an entry-level job and their supervisor discovers they don’t even know how to read? They were being set up for failure.

None of these disgusting acts were being done to benefit the children. It was happening so the school could continue to look like a success on paper and continue receiving all of the available grant money and funding being supplied by the taxpayers. The faculty were protecting their own jobs and that’s about it. And now that the word is out, even the students who did manage to put the work in and excel will be out of luck. Any college or employer looking at their application and seeing that their high school degree was given by Maspeth will quickly move it to the circular file. This shouldn’t be a disciplinary matter. Someone should be going to jail over this. But you can rest assured that the teacher’s union will find a way to defend these people.