The cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools is ugly — 178 administrators, principals and teachers were caught changing answers on standardized tests. Nearly 80 percent of the schools investigated were found to be guilty.
One school held weekend pizza parties to organize the fraud. Former Superintendent Beverly Hall — named the National Superintendent of Year in 2009 — “is accused of encouraging the cheating.” Hall made hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for the fraudulent test scores.
Meanwhile, one teacher fearing retaliation if she blew the whistle, declared, “APS is run like the mob.”
Yet much of the media spin is excuse-making:
- On NBC’s Nightly News, Brian Williams called it “the risk of high-stakes testing.”
- CBS Evening News informed us that, “Educator Diane Ravitch blames it on a federal law that links funding with test performance.”
- ABC News reported that, “Many in the community are pointing the finger at No Child Left Behind, the federal policy that made test scores king.”
- One expert said, “[S]ome educators feel pressured to get the scores they need by hook or by crook.”
I’ve been a consistent critic of No Child Left Behind and deplore the federal micro-managing of schools. But cheating is wrong. And the fault lies with the cheaters — not with those demanding better performance.
Paul Landerman, a former Atlanta teacher fired for reporting the cheating, told NBC, “The greatest value inside that system is loyalty to the system.”
System first. Your kids? Somewhere after that.
That’s the opposite of Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.