I think we’re on the same page with a lot here actually.
The thing I question is the value of failure. The alternative school I used to teach at was a “dumping ground” for other schools. They sent us the students they’d failed. These were students who had often experienced a lot of trauma and abuse in their lives up to this point. If we failed them out, it’s not going to be “the best lesson they’ve ever had,” it’s going to be jail, welfare, poverty. To me, this is not a healthy idea of “accountability.”
Coddling these students, fudging their grades, rubber stamping them on to the next level— all of this is disrespectful both to them and to society they will enter. To me, this is actually more characteristic of the status quo than of what I’m advocating.
Holding that line, holding that space for them to flourish, to gain the skills, understandings, and dispositions we think they will need — that’s respect.