Monday, May 21, 2012

turrible and typical..., REDUX (originally posted 7/9/11)

AJC | Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.

Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.

The report accuses top district officials of wrongdoing that could lead to criminal charges in some cases.

The decision whether to prosecute lies with three district attorneys — in Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas counties — who will consider potential offenses in their jurisdictions.

For teachers, a culture of fear ensured the deception would continue.

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

The voluminous report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.

The investigators conducted more than 2,100 interviews and examined more than 800,000 documents in what is likely the most wide-ranging investigation into test-cheating in a public school district ever conducted in United States history.

The findings fly in the face of years of denials from Atlanta administrators. The investigators re-examined the state’s erasure analysis — which they said proved to be valid and reliable — and sought to lay to rest district leaders’ numerous excuses for the suspicious scores.

Deal warned Tuesday “there will be consequences” for educators who cheated. “The report’s findings are troubling,” he said, “but I am encouraged this investigation will bring closure to problems that existed.”

Interim Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis promised that the educators found to have cheated “are not going to be put in front of children again.”

Through her lawyer, Hall issued a statement denying that she, her staff or the “vast majority” of Atlanta educators knew or should have known of “allegedly widespread” cheating. “She further denies any other allegations of knowing and deliberate wrongdoing on her part or on the part of her senior staff,” the statement said, “whether during the course of the investigation or before.” Fist tap Big Don.


CNu said...

Bro. Makheru..., I expect so much more from you than apologetics and equivocation on behalf of these oxygen-thieving parasites. The administrators and teachers are abject failures and lack the combined creativity and administrative courage to make the wholesale institutional changes required to do better with the ignants and ni nis that have been left in their charge....,

Makheru Bradley said...

I'm not making excuses.  I'm simply indicating how some people are responding to tyranny. The institutional change required is rebellion against the tyranny of the regulations put in place by George Bush, and continued by Barack Obama. Teachers are not alone when it comes to lacking the courage to challenge the oligarchic psychopathocracy.

CNu said...

Urban public schools were failing badly before NCLB. Matter fact, I'd trace the genesis of it back to when schools and administrators stopped whooping behinds ruthlessly, publicly, and daily. At the very least, when the adults asserted their physical control over the school buildings, there was comparatively safe and orderly conduct within the schools themselves, whether there was much in the way of active learning and engagement, or not.

As for when the constituents ceased valuing education as a primary means of escaping poverty...., well - that's a whole other very involved discussion unto itself.

Finally, there is the challenging issue of digital colonists struggling and failing to keep up with and effectively address the content and media needs of digital natives, that's a whole other ball of wax, as well - and one likely so deep into the conflict of interest space of administrators and teachers who are themselves not digital natives but have many years to go before they reach their pensions, and no intention of moving out of the way prior to that time.

Makheru Bradley said...

I agree with everything you've stated. I would add to the very top of your list the disintegration of families--particularly the Black family. In 2008 there were 625,314 live Afrikan American births--72.3 percent of those births were to unmarried Afrikan American women.  As regards the digital disconnect--massive funding is required to upgrade physical plants and personnel, while just the opposite is happening. Funding for education is being cut at the state level across America.

However, the issues you are raising were not the subject of the post. These cheating scandals are directly related to NCLB. What creativity teachers might be able to bring to the table are held captive to the tyranny of standardized testing. Teachers teach to the test, using pacing guides which leave minimal room for such worthy attributes as critical thinking skills.