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article imageOp-Ed: Atlanta public school cheating scandal indictments

By Jacki Viles     Mar 31, 2013 in Crime
Atlanta - No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is aimed at improving the quality of education for public school students. All public schools receiving federal funding must administer standardized tests to students.
The passing rates offer various incentives to schools and educators to do well. Among the numerous issues that incentive driven systems create, such as ‘teachers teaching to the test’ there is also greed and corruption.
Here in Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools have brought greed and corruption to a new level. An ongoing investigation has led to the indictments of dozens of teachers, principals, school administrators and the retired Superintendent of Schools, Beverly Hall.
Hall has been honored as one of the most decorated professionals in her field. As a matter of fact, this long time educator was named National Superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009. Ironically, they gave her credit for significantly raising student achievements in those past 10 years.
Through Hall’s tenure, she has received over $500K in bonuses for her effort.
Reading through the various reports on Hall’s administration it is clear that people feared her. She did not make herself available to staff or parents. In Q& A sessions she required questions for her to be prescreened. The school system also paid for a security detail to drive her around the city on a full time basis. Evidently she’d rather play ball with business and city politics that touted her successful reign to draw new business to the area.
Hall has consistently denied any charges of wrong doing through out each and every investigation over the past 12 years. But this is only the beginning. The upcoming defense of those indicted will play through the courts and the press for years to come. Hall herself, if found guilty faces up to 45 years in prison.
For as long as I can remember parents have questioned these test results. It’s hard to understand how an elementary school child who could barely read and did poorly throughout the school year would do so well on a standardized test. How can you answer a majority of questions when you cannot read or struggle to comprehend within a timed format? The Atlanta Journal Constitution did their own investigation back in 2008. This prompted an internal investigation by Atlanta Public Schools who, not surprisingly, found that no corruption existed.
Although cheating on standardized testing is not new, the depth and the sheer magnitude of this scandal has now made it the largest cheating scandal in the nation. Cheating has been found in 44 of the 56 schools investigated.
As a result of this current investigation by Governor Nathan Deal, 35 people were indicted on Friday afternoon and given until Tuesday to turn themselves into the Fulton County Jail.
The list of offenses from the grand jury is shocking. The obvious victims are young children who were passed and sent to the next grade. It became a policy that set children up for failure for the rest of their lives. If you have children it will leave you cold. But there are many people who don’t have children in the school system in the city. You should be mad too. At a glance your first thought may be ‘not my problem’. But it is. And I’ll tell you why.
An enormous portion of your property tax goes toward the school system. Whether you have kids or not don’t matter. You are paying for it. And you will keep paying. The quality of your local school system is a huge factor in the value of your home. What global business thinks of this city affect your property value and the economic profitability of the state.
Good news doesn’t travel nearly as fast as bad. And now everyone knows we’re bad.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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