Former Bellaire High School instructor Mike Hanlen has been hearing allegations of grade inflation and social promotion within Houston ISD and volunteered his three plus decades of experience.
"I'm retired. They can't fire me. They can't touch me," said Hanlen in front of the campus where he taught auto shop for 31 years.
The award winning teacher says the criticism over social promotion is justified and has been for a good while.
"The kids, they are on a free pass. All of them. You don't have to do anything, but pass the final and then you get second chances on it. Yes, we are getting shortchanged as taxpayers. We are getting a lesser product," said Hanlen.
They are students who too often struggle at the college level and require remedial courses. Those headed into the workforce, he says, often flounder as well.
"These kids have no skills when they leave high school and they are not qualified to do the academic work for a company. Any company you go to work for today they all have to retrain you to do what you are supposed to do, what should have been taught to you in high school, to be a marketable product. We don't have it," said Hanlen who taught future doctors, lawyers and engineers along with thousands of practicing mechanics.
Hanlen's words come as Bellaire High School shuts down an automotive training program that was founded a half century ago. It’s just one reason Hanlen believe HISD is headed in the wrong direction.
"God knows we need good plumbers. We need electricians. We need carpenters. We need them all, all the skilled trades. They are closing them down right and left," said Hanlen who advises a strong vocational program to train Houston youth for 21st century jobs.
Hanlen said he decided to speak out after well regarded former Reagan High School teacher Tim Daponte reported witnessing social promotion and grade fixing on that campus.