State senator: Not so sure about criminalizing teacher/school cheating

A high profile state senator wants to put the brakes on Gov. Perdue’s plan to criminally punish teachers and administrators who tamper with student tests.

According to my colleague Jim Gallow over at Political Insider:

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) this morning expressed doubts about two bills backed by Gov. Sonny Perdue that would make it a crime for teachers and administrators to fudge school test scores.

HB 1111 and HB 1121 introduced last month by state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), would make test-tampering a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to 30 days in jail, and loss of pension.

The bills have yet to pass a House committee, so there’s been very little talk about the issue on the Senate side of the state Capitol. That said, Rogers – the leader of the Senate GOP caucus — urged Republicans to take care.

“I’m very hesitant to create any more crimes,” he said. “I think we need to solve this problem. This cheating scandal is damaging to the confidence of everyone in Georgia, on how our education system is performing. But most importantly it hurts students.

“But to criminalize it, I think, is something we must be very careful about doing. I haven’t read the legislation, but at this point I’d be very cautious,” Rogers said.

The Senate majority leader is the first Republican of rank to raise concerns about legislative reaction to the testing scandal. Educators suspected of cheating are already subject to sanctions from the state Office of Professional Standards. Penalties can include the loss of teaching certificate.

41 comments Add your comment

scrappy

February 15th, 2010
3:49 pm

Finally, some rational thought! Criminalizing this isn’t going to teach our students better, nor will it probably solve the problem. But apparently politicians are always too worried about appearing not tough on crime, to stop ridiculous bills like this from going through.

The Problem

February 15th, 2010
3:51 pm

Don’t criminalize – just FIRE those who are caught cheating. Much better than dealing with the legal process.

furst

February 15th, 2010
3:53 pm

Wut do I wen?

Robert M

February 15th, 2010
3:54 pm

How about simply fire them and then (essentially) black list them. IMO, that should be enough accountability. No need to send someone to prison for this ‘crime.’ The prison population has enough issues.

Brian E. Payne

February 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

It is pathetic that there will be a dark stain lingering over the state of GA for a long time over this. It appears the cheating was signed off and sealed by the administrators. Instead of the ADULTS cheating, perhaps the schools could have sent a message by allowing the negative results/wrong answers to be revealed. Maybe then the state would address the massive failure in the standardized test. It is basic to me: Allow what will happen (test failure) to bring attention to the ‘higher-ups’. The answer changers failed the students in SO MANY WAYS…considering the test could be proven to be the problem. Not now. As it stands with the GA officials the test and implementation of the test is up-to-par. Well…

Criminalize…Tough on for me to say: yes or no.

Jaye

February 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

Teachers who are guility of this are not criminals, but they are unfit as teachers and as role models for children. They should lose their jobs and be assigned to community service to teach Georgia’s 1.5 million illiterates.

David S

February 15th, 2010
4:04 pm

If we had a free market in education, rather than a government monopoly, the market would already have taken care of the cheating by penalizing the schools that engaged in it. There are already laws on the books against fraud, but if government ever had to stand accountable for the frauds it commits against the taxpaying public, everyone “working” for it would be in jail.

As always a private competitive market in education would have already prevented this problem from occuring or would already have begun the process of eliminating the problem from the market.

Every government failure is tied to the existence of this monopoly. When are you all finally going to stop begging government for solutions to the problems it has created. They are just not interested in punishing themselves for that which they cannot change.

Steve

February 15th, 2010
4:08 pm

I’m not sure they need to have criminal charges levied at them. Fire them from their current position and suspend their teaching/adminstration certification for 1-2 years.

It's time

February 15th, 2010
4:15 pm

Are we getting to the point where teachers are going to have to insist on videotaping themselves from the moment then receive the tests to the moment they turn them in?

hssped

February 15th, 2010
4:16 pm

Make it a crime.

resno2

February 15th, 2010
4:17 pm

Yeah, that’s right criminalize it instead of trying to find out WHY this happened. This problem has been a long time coming, and more than likely started because of problems from state administrators.

Nona

February 15th, 2010
4:17 pm

Thank heavens Rep. Rogers is showing some common sense. The real crime is that these tests are taken seriously in the first place. Research repeatedly shows that high stakes tests such as the CRCT do NOT improve student learning. They simply provide an illusion of “proof” that politicians can point to when they claim that they’re holding schools accountable. Meanwhile, these tests are costing taxpayers zillions of dollars and unnecessarily stressing students, teachers and administrators to the brink of desperation. Why doesn’t somebody insist that Gov. Purdue produce evidence that shows these tests result in actual student learning? Answer: because that evidence does not exist — research proves quite the opposite. So what the governor is actually proposing is to make it a crime for teachers and administrators to tamper with the smoke and mirrors so crucial to the politician’s bully pulpit. These tests serve nobody but the politicians. Trash them!

I am not saying cheating doesn’t matter — no teacher or administrator (or student) should cheat. But to criminalize teachers and administrators for cheating on a meaningless test whose only value is political capital leaps squarely into the realm of the ridiculous.

David S

February 15th, 2010
4:19 pm

Of course taking billions if not trillions from taxpayers and delivering substandard education is never considered a crime when committed by the state. Only getting caught “cheating” is now a crime.

What messed up priorities.

DeKalb Conservative

February 15th, 2010
4:19 pm

I’ve seen Mr. Scott speak, even shook his hand, and I’m not very impressed. It was initially his focus on leveraging funding via speeding tickets for rural trauma centers that triggered red flags for me (if the new Super Speeder law is whipped cream on a Sunday, Mr. Scott’s plan is the cherry on top).

This submission and the very loose affiliation its content to current education principles have my head spinning. Outside of having a mother and a sister in teaching, I don’t think he has even the remote grasp of education that the average reader of this blog has. While that is not necessarily a bad thing in some cases, in this case where he is putting some much emphasis on ‘social justice’ robin hood tactics, I think he poses a danger to people in Georgia finding more friendly states such a FL, TN, even TX.

Brian E. Payne

February 15th, 2010
4:20 pm

Keith

February 15th, 2010
4:24 pm

Pretty funny how almost all of the schools that cheated were mostly black, city of Atlanta schools. Anyone surprised?

DeKalb Conservative

February 15th, 2010
4:26 pm

oops, wrong posting

DeKalb Conservative

February 15th, 2010
4:29 pm

How about kicking it old school? Teachers that get caught can spend 30 minutes before and after school hours sitting outside the school in street view with a dunce cap and a sign that says “I will not cheat”

Perhaps an overly simplistic solution to a serious problem?

Nona

February 15th, 2010
4:38 pm

RE: Brian E. Payne — a big thank you for that link! MUST READING for anybody genuinely concerned about education and its current state …

Concerned Citizen

February 15th, 2010
4:39 pm

Apparently, a rumor is circulating in Gwinnett County that all Gwinnett teachers newly hired since May 2009 will be laid off after the current school year. Does anyone have any factual information to dispute or support this claim? Thank you.

Uncomfortable thoughts

February 15th, 2010
4:41 pm

Are the two largest educational organizations in the state afraid to stand up for teachers on this issue because if they prevent teachers from being scapegoated during this investigation it’s going to point a finger directly at many of the administrators they also represent?

Can’t be a comfortable thought if you are a teacher.

Legend of Len Barker

February 15th, 2010
4:45 pm

Outside of those admitting it, the state cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these school systems cheated.

You have a lot of erasures as evidence. But can you prove who did them? No, you can’t. You can only have strong suspicions. Likely correct suspicions at least a portion of the time. But there is not substantial evidence outside of a confession.

Why isn’t the state looking at itself? This is far from being only a problem with the schools. The tests are very, very flawed and expect all children who take them be on the same academic level, no matter their home life, genetic learning capabilities, or even when they moved into the school.

Little Sammy who has spent all eight grades at Gough Elementary counts just the same as little Enrique who moved in from una escuela de Reynosa last week without ever having lived in America.

catlady

February 15th, 2010
5:25 pm

I am surprised that there is ANYTHING Mr. Rogers doesn’t want to criminalize.

On preventing the erasure explosion this year: I suggest having Brinks pick up the tests at noon each day and deliver them again the next morning (sort of like what teachers have to go through now.) Give NO ONE time to change the answers–no one time alone with the answer sheets for anyone. Or else, give the students pencils with no erasers, and make it take an act of God to change an answer. Or tell the kids they only have one chance to get it right–that’ll put the FOG in them! TIC

Or maybe we should just rethink this whole test-to-death thing entirely. You know, use tests to evaluate what students HAVEN”T LEARNED,so we can IMPROVE INSTRUCTION.

Ray

February 15th, 2010
5:32 pm

The schools in ‘Buffalo’ Chip Rogers’ district are in terrible shape as a result of his having dropped taxes to nothing. AND he’s that same joke who introduced the bill to make it illegal to forcibly implant microchips in Georgians.

Time for us to vote him out. Time for him to buy his weed elsewhere.

Tom

February 15th, 2010
5:43 pm

Wow, statistical evidence should not count??? One in a billion is not proof enough? (BTW… much better odds than the lottery, and enough to be convicted via DNA!!) If not proof, how ’bout adding the statements from former educators? A number of them have spoken out… that ought to be enough to fire some of those that take our tax money, waste it, and falsify the record. If the schools suck, then let the public know, and replace those that turn a blind eye to such obvious irregularities. Only then will real change happen.

In any other business… one in a billion is more than justification for being replaced.

ga

February 15th, 2010
6:05 pm

I would like to know Chip’s rationale for NOT making it a crime.

Wounded Warrior

February 15th, 2010
6:42 pm

Fire the administrators, supers, and teachers that cheat. Take their pensions, and make them pay a handsome fine equal to any bonus they had received after cheating.

Kathy Cox is qualified to work at the DOT, since they do not know how to count to zero. Maybe some of this messed up math could actually help them. Wait, they were educated in APS. There is no hope for change until November.

angela

February 15th, 2010
7:18 pm

What a witch hunt. If the problem is this widespread, doesn’t this tell you something about the CRCT?

Jo Jo Wallace

February 15th, 2010
7:36 pm

These parents can be sitting on a lawsuit waiting to happen if these schools are found guilty. After all, they’re being deceived and may get the impression that their child may not need any extra tutoring.

cricket

February 15th, 2010
9:20 pm

There going to have to find somebody else to give these H__S__ tests because I for one refuse to ever touch one again.

What a bunch of hooey!

February 16th, 2010
6:04 am

If the teacher is truly guilty, then don’t renew his/her contract and pull his/her Georgia teaching certificate. But before you do, you (the law) better make sure that in fact it was the teacher that is at fault for changing answers. Tests and answer documents are turned into counselors and a testing administrator who then accounts for each test and checks to make sure that everything has been bubbled correctly. How can you prove that a teacher changed an answer and not some other adult? In addition, were the schools where the severe cheating is alleged to have occurred on the dreaded AYP Needs Improvement list? Could those answers have been changed by an administrator or principal who was desperate to get their school off the dreaded Needs Improvement list? One last thought: If all of this rampant answer changing and cheating occurred to remove a school from the dreaded AYP Needs Improvement list, just think how much cheating will take place if a single test score will represent 50% of a teacher’s salary with the new Pay for Performance if it passes!

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V for Vendetta

February 16th, 2010
7:51 am

Haha, “witch hunt.”

Didn’t Arthur Miller write a play about a similar situation . . . ?

Nature Dude

February 16th, 2010
9:06 am

Currently the PSC does not have to prove guilt, they can punish as they see fit, and often their punishments can range from 10 days to over a semester for similar offenses. If you make this a crime then you must prove guilt for it to stick, often because the districts and the psc do a poor job of investigating this would never happen. The only thing that comes from this is more wasted tax dollars.

dbow

February 16th, 2010
9:40 am

How about holding the politicians to the same standard. How many of them have avoiding paying taxes again? What happened to them? Answer: NOTHING! These stupid politicians can’t even clean up their own messes and they want to start putting teachers in jail. Ridiculous!

jim d

February 16th, 2010
10:45 am

I have absolutely no compassion for teachers on this one.

Many of you had an opportunity years ago to stop this nonsense when it was dumped on kids in the way of HIGH STAKES TESTING and most of you did nothing. Did you really expect it to stop with the kids? You can’t be that dumb.

I honestly feel that what you have sowed yea shall reap. Personally I find this not only amusing but extremely ironic.

HAVE A GOOD DAY WALLOWING IN YOUR SELF-PITTY.

Larry

February 16th, 2010
11:11 am

THANK YOU jim d.

For those who choose not to remember, it was 10 years ago when little kids were told it didn’t matter how hard they worked all year, they would flunk if they didn’t pass ONE Gateway test.

It was 10 years ago, young children endured a lot more pressure than any adult does now.

When James Hope stood up for the kids, we DID stand by his side. Where were you?

It *could* have been stopped back then.

You now lie in a bed constructed of your own silence and complain that it’s uncomfortable. Forgive my lack of compassion.

dbow

February 16th, 2010
1:03 pm

Jim d and Larry, how exactly did you expect the teachers to stop high stakes testing/ Do you really think teachers have that kind of political clout? You are both living in a fantasy world where teacher’s opinions matter. Most teachers were never even asked for their input. High stakes testing is a political tool, not one born out of any sound educational research. get real you two!

jim d

February 16th, 2010
1:13 pm

half a dozen teachers at a BOE meeting consisting of over 6 hundred parents in protest?

Gee, I don’t know—how about if they had just shown up instead of wringing their hands and saying “oh it’s just the latest fad–it too will be gone in less than 5 years.”

Such apathy from teachers towards their students sucks.

Larry

February 16th, 2010
2:22 pm

Voting comes to mind.

Asking is nice, but we tried that and it didn’t work.

We also ran (notice upcoming plural) candidates in school board elections. When contacting teachers, who after all are a large voting block, about half didn’t know who their own board member was, let alone the issues in the campaign. I expected a little more awareness from the people who saw first hand how this affected kids than the general public, but I was wrong.

There’s a LOT more, if you really want to hear it.

Perfesser Wha?

February 17th, 2010
10:39 am

No need to criminalize it, but do you really want to encourage it by pegging the salary of teachers to test scores?

If that’s such a good idea, why not base journalists’ salary on circulation?