If you want to win favorite teacher of the year award, you probably don’t want to assign a final exam while a terror threat is imminent. That’s what Los Angeles teacher Cassandra McGrath did when she asked her senior English class to submit their final essay from home yesterday after a bomb threat was emailed to the Los Angeles Board of Education.
Being a former high school English teacher myself, I’m not surprised to learn this created an uproar with her students, who went to social media to air their disdain. Of course, teaching is not about being liked, it’s about having students learn in a safe and effective way, and learning isn’t always fun or easy. One student tweeting this:
“When you have a savage teacher and she still wants you to complete her final even though there’s no school.”
While the student apparently deleted the post, it has already been re-tweeted and responded to by friends and classmates who agreed. So, why did McGrath, an eight year teaching veteran, choose this untimely due date?
Her intentions were inspired by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai who continued to fight for girls’ education even after she was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012. She told TIME:
“I was thinking about it like Malala. No one is going to deny your right to get an education. I don’t want some terrible person to deny you that. It’s your right. No one is going to silence your ability to write an essay for me.”
Initially, the students were supposed to write the essay in class on Tuesday. Since class was canceled because of the threat, McGrath felt like they should utilize their time, even if they weren’t physically in school, stating:
“I just said, ‘Do it while you can, and you can come redo it in class…You might as well do it at home if you’re already sitting at home,” she added. “I don’t like the idea that some terrorist is stopping them from their education. I just wanted them to be productive.
Colleges have to get their grades. I wanted to make sure they had time to write it. I just wanted to make sure they had all the opportunities possible.”
It sounds like McGrath definitely had her students’ futures in mind when she assigned the due date, which is exactly what a good teacher does, but perhaps she should have extended the deadline because of the special circumstances.
What do you think? Do you feel the teacher was being unfair or unrealistic, or that she was only just doing her job?