Student Accountability

Alternate title for this post: How I Can Link NCLB to Pretty Much Anything.

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I learned of Brandon Davies’ dismissal from BYU Men’s Basketball team for an Honor Code violation. And in the past 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to several pundits weigh in on the situation. While some of the punditry praises BYU for not worshipping winning, an equal–if not larger–amount criticizes BYU for its Puritan ideal that can’t be realistic in a 21st century, media-saturated society.

But none of the pundits so far have criticized Brandon Davies.

I don’t intend for this post to turn into a complete blame-fest on Davies, but a couple of key details seem to be regularly omitted from the reporting of this situation.

1. Davies grew up in Provo. It is impossible to grow up in Provo, be recruited by BYU, play there for a year, and not know the importance of the Honor Code–or the consequences of violating it.

2. Davies made a choice. Choices have consequences. I tell my students this all the time, when they ask if they HAVE to do an assignment.

“No,” I tell them. “You can choose not to do the assignment, but you cannot choose your consequences.”

3. Davies knew about his violation long before it was reported. I’m willing to bet Davies has played at least the past three or four weeks, this choice possibly gnawing on his conscience (or not, true). He let his team down the second he made whatever choice he made (I’m not going to speculate, despite the scant details that continue to emerge).

We seem to be in a habit of blaming the school when our students make mistakes or fail outright. It’s BYU’s fault for having such a strict honor code. It’s the teacher’s fault that the kids didn’t pass the state test. Where is the student accountability?

Without looking at my attendance reports, I know 10% of my students have 10 or more absences (some just passed 20 this week). I have students who sit in my room every day and refuse to do any work. I provide pen, pencil, paper, books, articles, time in the lab, heck, I do everything short of placing my hand on top of theirs and moving the writing utensil for them. But whose fault is it, according to politicians and pundits? It’s the school’s. It’s mine.

For 48 short hours, BYU sat at #3 in both polls. They were a projected #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. And then Davies was dismissed. Last night’s game against New Mexico should have been an auto-pilot kind of game. At home, unranked team, only down one guy. I’m positive if Davies had torn his ACL, BYU would have won. Instead, every player seemed zombie-like, unable to shoot, unable to defend, and the crash of BYU’s dream season was spectacular.

Standards are not bad. But when students don’t meet the standard, it’s not always the standard’s fault. The student shoulders part of the blame as well.

So what’s next? Well, just like in my classroom, provide extra support. Help the student turn around; show him how growth can occur in adversity. All choices have consequences, including the choice to change.

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