Atlanta schools cheating scandal-Where are the DC and Wall Street perp walks?
Full story and video here. I’m a former prosecutor. I’m no weak-kneed bleeding heart. And I’m a firm believer that prison cells should be occupied. But do the Atlanta teachers who had “eraser parties” to change the answers on their students’ standardized tests deserve to be locked up with $1,000,000 bail bonds? Hell, no. There’s plenty of blame to go around, as follows: -The Bush adminstration for enacting No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which set high-stakes standardized test performance scores as the litmus test with regard to whether kids are learning in American schools; -The Obama administration, for cautiously tinkering around the edges of NCLB, then doubling down on use of standardized testing as the determinant of academic success; -The Georgia General Assembly which, as reported by MSNBC and citing the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “…has cut education spending per student by 14.8% since 2008. The Chatatanooga Times Free Press, a local paper from the neighboring state of Tennessee, reports “public education in Georgia has missed out on $5.5 billion in funding since 2003 because of the General Assembly’s austerity cuts.”’ -The Atlanta Board of Education, for failing in its fidciary responsibilities to students by failing to have proper oversight over their top management. They should quit. -Superintendent Beverly Hall. If she know about the cheating, she’s complicit. If she didn’t know, she’s incompetent. She should quit, not just because of the scandal, but because she’s defending herself from the criminal charges will be a full-time job. -Individual teachers who openly and notoriously cheated. They obviously left their integrity and personal ethics outside the schoolhouse door. Didn’t they expect to get caught? Conservative pundits are talking about how Atlanta’s student’s were “robbed” of financial resources and robbed of the opportunities to get decent educations. The real ‘robbery’ really occurred years ago when the Bush administration decided to spend trillions fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – war money which should have gone to education and other ‘human infrastructure’ in America.Said MLK in 1968: “…Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.” Iraq and Afghanistan were & are no different. Then, Wall Street ‘robbers’ struck again a few years later when Atlanta became one of the “ground zero” locations for foreclosures as a consequence of the housing crash. Millions in property tax dollars that would have gone to public education evaporated almost overnight. Should anybody do prison time? Sure. Indictments and arrests should occur in Washington, DC and on Wall Street first. Then, prosecutors should work their way down to Atlanta to get after the small fry. Will anything like that happen? In old-school Japan, leadership would be committing hara-kiri, i.e. ritual suicide, for committing such selfish, immoral, disgraceful actions that shame the educational profession and victimize innocent students. But this is America. Accountability is only for the young-ironically like kids in schools taking high-stakes tests; for the rank-and file, i.e. the teachers; and for people who can’t buy high-priced legal talent, crisis management firms, or K Street lobbyists. Somebody’s got to talk to students and parents about the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed academically. That’s why I republished EXCELLENCE WITHOUT EXCUSE and why I’m hitting the road again to teach the skills.From USA Today: ATLANTA — Educators accused in a massive cheating scandal at the city’s public schools began turning themselves in Tuesday, some facing bonds of $1 million or more. The 35 defendants were indicted Friday on 65 counts, including racketeering, making false statements and improperly influencing witnesses. The investigation was sparked by reports of widespread erasures on student 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The center of the storm is former superintendent Beverly Hall, who was named national superintendent of the year in 2009 by the American Association of School Administrators — in large part because of students’ improvement on standardized tests. Hall, superintendent from 1999 to 2011, and many of the other defendants have maintained their innocence. The grand jury hearing the case suggested bond of $7.5 million for Hall. If convicted, she faces up to 45 years in prison.