Failing the honesty test

Teachers admittedly cheated; their students got cheated

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It’s the Enron of education.

The biggest scandal in American public education in our lifetimes – perhaps ever – continues this week with the jail processing of nearly three dozen Atlanta educators charged in a 65-count indictment over systematic score-rigging on standardized tests.

The shocking saga of brazen academic corruption represents a low point in already-beleaguered American education, and a dizzying fall from grace for former Superintendent Beverly Hall – once heralded as national superintendent of the year.

“Nearly 200 educators admitted to taking part in the massive scandal,” reported CBS, which led its national 9 a.m. radio broadcast with the scandal story Tuesday. “They tampered with students’ standardized tests and corrected answers to inflate scores. Some teachers had pizza parties to erase wrong answers and circle in the right ones. One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.”

“Former Atlanta schools Superintendent Beverly Hall,” as another news report summarizes the indictment, “was the leader of a corrupt organization that used students’ test scores to earn bonuses if they rose, or intimidation and termination if they fell ...”

Thank goodness someone in Atlanta was looking at other people’s work: Our friends at
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as they tell it, “detected statistically improbable increases in test scores at one Atlanta school in 2008. The following year, the AJC published another analysis that found suspicious score changes on the 2009 mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests at a dozen Atlanta schools.”

The cheating by some of Hall’s top deputies, principals, teachers and a secretary, the newspaper says, ultimately occurred across dozens of schools in Atlanta.

One email to us this week suggested the Atlanta schools scandal is a sign that “too much emphasis is put upon meeting goals with standardized testing.”

What claptrap. We’ll grant you that the obsession with standardized tests is a problem. But the result of that preoccupation with test scores is frustrated teachers and poorly educated students – not cheating.

The Atlanta scandal is a sign of nothing more than the fact that the district was led and populated by unscrupulous, self-serving and perhaps even crooked educators more worried about their own advancement than their students’.

Don’t fall for the canard that “too much emphasis” on anything is an excuse for, or leads inexorably to, criminality or a lack of ethics. There’s only one thing that went wrong in the Atlanta cheating scandal: The perpetrators were cheats.

What kind of mirror-gazing degenerate tries to fool schoolchildren and their families into thinking the students know more than they actually do – in order to gain financially and professionally himself or herself?

Isn’t that cynically setting children up for failure later in life?

Here’s hoping the students are smarter than before, simply for having seen what happens to impenitent, self-serving cheaters.

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ymnbde 04/03/13 - 06:05 am
school choice is the only solution

because student achievement should be measured by how well the person does in college, not a number in a box on a test.
The government is incapable of educating kids. Government schools are controlled by unions creating paychecks for adults at the expense of kids. It's part of the war on children.

rmwhitley 04/03/13 - 07:13 am
beverly hall

will take up new residence in a country with no extradition laws with America.

carcraft 04/03/13 - 07:36 am
The question is, are the kids

The question is, are the kids being taught what they need to know to succeed in college? One kid, a very motivated fellow, in a Washington DC school graduated with honors and got selected to go to a top school. When the honor student took the admissions exam he was at about an 8th grade level. The University gave him the remedial courses needed to catch up.

deestafford 04/03/13 - 10:00 am
Vouchers are the answer

Indiana just passed and the governor signed a law a which allows parents to take vouchers and send their children to any school they wanted--public, private, or religionous. That's the way it should be because it forces competition and free market into the most important aspect of this country' future. We shop at only those places where we can get the best value for our dollar so why should our children's education be any different. When this issue was at the top of discussion in Florida a school teacher/administrator was asked about it and her response was, "Oh, competition is good for everything but education. Education is too important to be out for competiton."
I would not be opposed for "for profit" schools to be in the mix. As long as they were producing quality results why not get paid for it?
As far as "honor graduates" going into "elite" schools and failing, Doctors Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams have written extensively about how harmful that is to the black students. Many are award academic scholarships to these schools so they can tout their "diversity" of admissions and the "diversitee" end up flunking out when they could have done well at a lower tier school. Ahhh, the liberal mind at work.

bubbasauce 04/03/13 - 11:58 am
Dichotomy, you said exactly

Dichotomy, you said exactly what I would have said. That's what people need to hear, honest , cold hard facts!

Darby 04/03/13 - 05:25 pm
"nearly three dozen Atlanta....

educators charged in a 65-count indictment"
Shouldn't have the word educators in that context have been in quotes, or parentheses or italics or something??

Just musing.....

KSL 04/03/13 - 05:43 pm
Great comments, all.

Great comments, all.

nocnoc 04/03/13 - 06:28 pm
Teach those that can be and want to be taught

and if they don't want to be taught drop them.

Remember we also need hamburger flippers and Fry cooks in America.

Young Fred
Young Fred 04/03/13 - 10:44 pm
“But the result of that

“But the result of that preoccupation with test scores is frustrated teachers and poorly educated students”

Hmmm, I'd suggest that maybe poorly educated teachers begets frustrated students. Not all teachers, but a goodly amount for sure!

What's amazing to me is the AJC actually pursued this issue. I believe this to be a nationwide problem. How many left leaning papers have ignored the writing on the wall to the detriment of the children in order to “protect” their worldview? Atlanta is just the tip of the iceberg!

To be a member of the current public education system, is in many cases, to be part of the problem (relatives of local celebrities notwithstanding). You're either part of the problem, harming our children or you're a “stealth fighter”, a lover of kids doing everything you can within guidelines, and without being caught, to actually help educate our kids, while teaching them to be productive members of society.

I echo the posters before me. Vouchers seem to be the only answer. Our society seems to elevate “choice” as a sacred right in so many areas, why not with the education of our youth?

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