The recent story of a student who was given an “award” for having the most homework excuses has generated a great debate across the social media world.

Cassandra Garcia, an Arizona third grader, received the “Catastrophe” award for having the most excuses for not turning in her homework during a classroom awards ceremony. According the Garcia’s teacher, the award was a joke – but it has raised the ire of both the student’s mother as well as a huge number of internet users who are watching the scenario unfold.

This raises a series of questions:

  • Who is at fault? Did the teacher exercise questionable judgment, or was this an attempt at motivating a child who regularly failed to hand in assignments?
  • Does this constitute bullying by the teacher? Was this an attempt to humiliate the student or to create a change in a negative behavior pattern?
  • What is the role of the parent? Should this story have even made it to the media? Does the parent have any responsibility for the student’s lack of homework performance?

I’m not ready to completely absolve the teacher because I don’t know that publicly discussing the issue was the best approach. However, I do know that if I was that third grade student, embarrassment at school would be nothing compared to what I would have to deal with when I got home.

If I was ever recognized for my lack of work, my parents and I–not my parents and the newspaper– would be exchanging some words.

I think, ultimately, this leads us to a larger issue, which is the increased need for teachers to not only instruct, but also take responsibility for lessons that should most likely be taught at home. Every year, we hear more and more stories of parents who aren’t taking an active role in their child’s education. In this scenario, this mother contacted the media regarding this ‘award’ instead of focusing on the real problem: that her child simply wasn’t doing her home work.

California Casualty

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