Monday, May 21, 2012

consequences when "career success" trumps constituent services...,

theholecard | The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that authorities are considering using the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute teachers and administrators implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools test cheating scandal. Conviction under RICO carries penalties of up to twenty years in prison. This is absurd and an outrage and should be opposed by all fair minded people. According to published accounts, 178 educators including 38 principals have been accused of altering student scores on tests mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies. Superintendent Erroll Davis has announced his intention to fire all of the accused and placed them on administrative leave with pay while perfunctory due process procedures ran their course. However, the cost of keeping the accused teachers and administrators on the payroll while they await their pre-firing administrative hearings is said to be in excess of a million dollars monthly. Using RICO would allow authorities to expedite the trial and firing processes.

This is an outrage. Indeed the whole inquisition is an outrage. The Atlanta Public School (APS) system is only one of scores in Georgia and hundreds of systems across the country suspected of doctoring student test scores. In 2009, for example, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement reported that answer sheets from 10 percent of classrooms state-wide showed erasures that justified moderate to severe concern. And the problem is not limited to Georgia. Questionable test scores in states as disparate as Ohio, California, Texas, and New York have been reported. Even schools that have been lauded with high commendations in the Race to the Top sweepstakes have come under suspicion. Clearly Atlanta is not an aberration. The problem is nation-wide. But as far as I have been able to ascertain, Atlanta is the only jurisdiction committed to firing all of those implicated and conducting public hearings to humiliate the accused. As Diane Ravitch, a former Assistant of Education under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton has said about the cheating scandals, “All of this was to be expected”.

Why would she say that? And why have the other jurisdictions refrained from having show trials of those implicated. Ravitch argues, and I concur, that the best predictor of academic achievement is poverty, and I would add poverty compounded by institutional racism. Taking these two critical factors into account, we know beforehand which are likely to be the high and low achieving schools. The tests only confirm what was already widely known or at least widely believed. Nevertheless the tests could be a useful diagnostic tool if they are used to render greater specificity in identifying problematic areas. However under the evolving NCLB regime, the test results have became more than diagnostic tools. They have become punitive yardsticks to rank teachers and schools, and as a result, determine the career fortunes of school personnel.

For school personnel, especially mid to senior level employees, this means that the rules regarding career advancement and indeed job retention have been changed in mid-stream. Student test scores above all else are critical factors in determining career advancement. Obviously this puts school personnel in what they quite rationally believe to be a no-win situation. Given their experiences, they have no reason to assume that student test scores would show significant improvement in such a short period of time. And apparently, the rest of the attentive public shared their misgivings because no one expected the low achieving schools to show dramatic improvement. Indeed, the whole test-cheating scandal evolved because informed observers found the reported improved test scores to be incredible.

Manipulating student test scores is inexcusable, but it is also understandable. The teachers were asked to collect and report data which would undermine any chance they have of career success—despite all their hard work. It’s no wonder that many of them gave in to temptation to submit doctored reports and answer sheets when they felt that there was neither time nor resources to improve student performance in a legitimate way. Fist tap Bro. Makheru.

11 comments:

umbrarchist said...

It's about JOBS.  It gives the prosecutors something to do to justify their existence just like the teachers.

CNu said...

While that's an interesting notion, and I don't discount the over-policing angle that Bro. Makheru's article pointed toward, the fact of the matter is that the state is bringing in a private attorney to work the RICO angle and terrify folks from all across the APS to sing like canaries. Now, unless you're thinking that that outsourcing of expertise is a "job-creation" gambit, the facts on the ground say otherwise.

So also, why APS got caught. I believe the reason APS got caught is because Beverly Hall and her administration were exceptionally arrogant, exceptionally stupid, and exceptionally sloppy - and - they made an enemy of the AJC which put an editorial bounty on collecting her big fat self-serving head.

Ed Dunn said...

The APS cheating scandal was 100% RICO - I cannot think of a better definition and parameters of RICO than what happened in this cheating scandal. 

In fact, the parents who kids were in these systems should definitely push for RICO...

CNu said...

I look at it as pragmatism, the equivalent of bringing a couple paddy wagons to round up a bar full of drunken sailors at 3:00am instead of trying to take them away one or two at a time...,

Uglyblackjohn said...

Dude, we have the same thing going on in my current town; too many Blacks at too many high-paying jobs with little measurable progress.
 Have white people done the same in the same area in the past? Yep.
Did they name every new building after themselves? Nope.
 It's probably has a lot to do with Obama. Many see Black culture having too big an influence and then Blacks begin to run institutions on national and local levels? THAT'S too much for some to handle.

CNu said...

I'ma leave out the "white folks" tit for tat incompetence and just stick with the indisputable fact that some trifling stooge negroes lied, cheated, and disserved children for petty status and unearned and undeserved conspicuous consumption.

To me, they smell like hot garbage on a crowded city bus...,

Tom said...

C,

Is your idea that Black folks can't afford the same level of carelessness and incompetence showcased by my own esteemed isochromes?   Or just to eliminate excuses, of any nature, for incompetence? 

CNu said...

Both.

Uglyblackjohn said...

When I call local politicians on their lack of leadership and their (theft) - most just say, "But white people been doin' it for years'.
"Comparing oneself to the worst does NOT make him the best.", I retort.
Many of these idiots down herr in da' Souf still think things like, "That's good, for a Black person.".

Uglyblackjohn said...

Most Negroes down herr only have two concerns;
1) To be better than the Negroe standing next to him.
2) To be as good as white people.
Most have lost the concept of original thought.

makheru bradley said...

 I cannot think of a better definition and parameters of RICO than what happened in this cheating scandal. --  Ed

I can.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_47/b4109070638235.htm