Massive teacher/administrator cheating scandal in Georgia

http://www.ajc.com/news/investigation-into-aps-cheating-1001375.html

This is what I would consider to be “the tip of the iceberg”.

Administrators and teachers in Atlanta are being investigated for what looks to be a systemic and massive instance of cheating on NCLB tests, including:  passing students who never took the tests, making sure poor scoring students sat near better scoring students so that cheating was possible, and having gatherings for the express purpose of changing answers.

The superintendent’s office in particular is being singled out for ignoring repeated calls to look into this, and threatening those who did … accusing those who questioned in the increase in student test scores of not having faith in the kids.

One point even noted the possibility of out-and-out fraud, as bonus money may have been involved.  This part I can’t see being directed toward teachers, unless merit pay is already operating in Georgia, though bonuses for administrators for this is fairly common.

The report named over 170 teachers, and 38 principals across 44 of the 56 schools that the governor’s office investigated.  The interim superintendent has already said that any teacher caught cheating will lose their job.

On the one had, said one teacher:

APS is run like the mob,” one teacher told investigators, saying she cheated because she feared retaliation if she didn’t.

For a moment, let’s accept that.  If this is true, and it very well could have been, that still does not excuse teachers, IMO, especially teachers who have union protection.

This is the critical part folks:  for all of the pro-union people, THIS should have been a landmark opportunity to demonstrate who important unions are:  this is when any unionized teacher should have stood up and said “no”, and immediately reported all of this activity … because they were protected.  Alas, it looks like this went on too long for that to have been an effective tool.

Having said that, a lack of unions would certainly have allowed this to go on much longer.

My personal favorite:

At Venetian Hills, a group of teachers and administrators who dubbed themselves “the chosen ones” convened to change answers in the afternoons or during makeup testing days, investigators found. Principal Clarietta Davis, a testing coordinator told investigators, wore gloves while erasing to avoid leaving fingerprints on answer sheets.

Let it never be said that they weren’t at least partially good at covering up evidence.

Here’s another great line:

District employees suffered intense stress — enough to send at least one to the hospital — in a workplace where threats from supervisors kept them from reporting wrongdoing for fear of losing their jobs.

Area superintendents, who oversee clusters of schools, enforced a code of silence. One made a whistle-blower alter his reports of cheating and placed a reprimand in his file — and not the cheater’s. Another told a teacher who saw tampering that if she did not “keep her mouth shut,” she would “be gone.”

“In sum, a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation permeated the APS system from the highest ranks down,” the investigators wrote. “Cheating was allowed to proliferate until, in the words of one former APS principal, ‘it became intertwined in Atlanta Public Schools … a part of what the culture is all about.’ ”

Are the administrators involved at fault?  There’s no question.  Are the teachers involved at fault?  Any adult who is able to serve in such a capacity as a teacher, MUST have the proper cognitive reasoning to find a way out of this.  I am sorry to say that just like the soldier who commits a crime because they were “following orders” don’t get let off, I really don’t think a teacher has that right to use that as a defense as well.  You leak info to the press, you talk to the DA and cut a deal …. you do something!  Staying involved and silent and then later saying “we were being threatened” is not an acceptable stance.

As teachers’ salaries get tied to test performance, you should expect more and more of this to happen.  As unions are eroded, I suspect this will also become more commonplace … and you are hearing this from a non-union teacher!

 

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