"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Is the Massive Atlanta Teacher Cheating Scandal a Harbinger of Education Practices?

Here's a glimpse into the possible future for public education.

Massive cheating and test scores changing by teachers and administrators apparently are common in the Atlanta school district. Investigators identified 178 principal and teachers who they say were involved in cheating. The cheating included teachers having parties on the weekends in teachers' homes to change test answers so students would score more favorably and the school's results would improve. If the Atlanta public education system is indicative of how teachers and administrators respond to bad test scores from their students, will this become an accepted practice as Race to the Top mandates are enforced?

Arne Duncan, President Obama and Bill Gates believe more federal control and money are the answers to the failing public education system. Common core standards and federal mandates strangle and eradicate any semblance of local control. Parents and districts have no input in the education of students in public school even as they are forced to pay for this educational delivery.

Teachers and administrators are held accountable for their students to achieve certain benchmarks thanks to No Child Left Behind, otherwise, their schools may be considered failing and their jobs may be in jeopardy. Most educators and writers believe NCLB was a good idea, but has failed in its mission of raising national test scores, and has become a bureaucratic nightmare.

Duncan, Obama and Gates extol Race to the Top and Common Core standards as the tickets to ensure our students are "globally competitive". More and more mandates and more and more testing will make our kids smarter. Can you foresee ultimate disaster? Many schools can't "make the grade" now, what's going to happen when the controls are turned even tighter?

The administrators and teachers performed illegal activities and should be prosecuted. but here is a questions: do you think the test results are going to be any different when RTTT and backdoor RTTT mandates are implemented ? Is implementing even more standardized testing based on common core standards and assessments the answer to reduce current poor test scores? Could the problems of education be more involved than not having the same standards nationwide?

Heck, you could have the same standards and still have people clueless on why we celebrate the Fourth of July. If you have kids who don't care about school, no amount of mandates or teachers changing scores will change the knowledge that student possesses.

What's happened in education? We have students who can't/won't learn, teachers and administrators who change tests to save their jobs, and politicians who demand even more mandates and controls. Will other districts fudge results so funding can keep coming in and all students will be deemed "college ready"?

“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.’ ”

From this piece "The George Bush-Ted Kennedy Chickens Come Home to Roost in Atlanta":

Why did this happen? Well it seems it all started out for fame and glory. Then No Child Left Behind came in with its adequate yearly progress goals. Teachers were more and more forced to give up teaching subject matter and start teaching tests. If students did badly, teachers were punished. If whole classes did badly, schools were punished. If whole schools did badly, districts were punished.

George Bush and Ted Kennedy, along with school officials at the state and local level, had decided to give financial incentive to success in public education. For many schools dealing with kids whose fathers are in jail and mothers are addicted to drugs, the kids are coming to school hungry and unable to read or concentrate. The only way to get ahead was to cheat.

And cheat they did. And cheat they do. Atlanta just got caught. But the odds that Atlanta is the only system involved are slim to none.

Perversely, instead of using the standardized tests to measure a student’s progress and place the child with similar performing students in the next year’s grade to help the student, the tests track the teachers’ progress and punishes or rewards the teacher based on how well the student does on the test.

We are no longer teaching a nation of children how to think. We are no longer teaching a nation of children how to read and write and add and subtract and understand American history and balance chemical equations. We are teaching our children how to take a standardized test. And then, when they fail, we use the result to punish the teacher, not help the child.

Can we now have a serious discussion in the state and national legislatures about stopping this educational plan that is nothing short of a disaster?


  1. The fact that 178 educators from ONE district, comprised of teachers AND administrators, were exposed cheating, it makes you wonder--who else?

    Who else has cheated, but hadn't been caught?

    How many educators in other schools? Districts? Regions? States?

    And if some educators are feeling so compelled to cheat on student assessment scores in fear of federal legislative mandates...

    ...can you only imagine the pressure imposed on state and district education leaders looking to gain federal funding from sources like Race to the Top, i3, Turnaround grants, and others???

  2. Consider the content of what is being taught; do you engage or repel children who are taught the Howard Zinn version of United States History from grade school? As one son asked me, "Mom, if all [American] men grow up to be like this, will I be this way too?" He was 7!!!

    How do you motivate children to excellence? You revise content to instill national pride in our system of governance and our economic system. This does not mean you ignore our historic mistakes, but you emphasize how Americans have acknowledged those errors, and acted to ensure liberty and justice for all. You revise a system designed to suppress healthy competition and masculine success, and provide our male children with role models and appropriate opportunities to validate their natural aggression in ways that benefit society.

    We've dumbed down curriculum, turned lessons into self-flagellation for liberal guilt, and emasculated our sons on the playground and in the classroom -- to produce a system that has alienated our children from participating in democracy and captialism. This needs to change, education must serve the needs of the nation in a constructive, not de-constructive way.


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