GOP leaders, teachers: Do not treat CRCT cheating as crime

My colleague Jim Galloway is reporting in his Political Insider blog that there is more resistance from Republican leaders to the governor’s proposal to criminally go after cheating teachers and administrators.

The growing sentiment seems to be that enough sanctions are in place for cheating, from suspensions to firings to loss of licenses.

In addition, teachers have come out in opposition, according a new AJC story.

Teacher groups also said the addition of criminal penalties amounts to overkill. Educators caught cheating face sanction by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, a state agency that polices teaching credentials. Sanctions can range from a reprimand to loss of license.

“While we do not condone cheating in any manner, current sanctions, in our view, are sufficient,” said Tim Callahan, spokesman for the 78,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators. “Educators found guilty of cheating on [state tests] stand to lose their jobs and their certificates, which means they, in effect, lose their careers.”

The smaller Georgia Association of Educators also condemned the proposal. That group and lawmakers seemed especially troubled by the proposal to strip an educator’s pension. “Legally, I don’t know if you can actually go after someone’s pension if they are vested,” Rep. Millar said.

But the bills’ supporters say harsher penalties will deter cheating. While educators already face sanctions, “it doesn’t seem to be deterring anybody,” Ramsey said.

Galloway reported Monday that state Sen. Chip Rogers was leery of treating cheating as a crime. Now, two more big names are hesitant.

According to Galloway:

This morning, the two leading members of the House Education Committee, Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) and Vice-Chairman Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), expressed doubts about the legislation – Millar more so than Coleman.

Coleman said he was ready to approach his Senate counterpart, Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody), about holding a House-Senate hearing on the test scandal, with testimony from the state Office of Professional Standards, the governor’s office, and state School Superintendent Kathy Cox.

“I’m very concerned about the cheating. I’m not sure what the punishment should be. They already lose their job,” Coleman said. The bills, HB 1111 and HB1121, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), the governor’s floor leader, would make altering test scores a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine – and loss of any pension.

“That’s getting pretty severe,” Coleman said, though he emphasized that he hadn’t yet read the legislation and hadn’t made up his mind.

Millar was more adamant. “To me, firing the people involved is enough. I think that it’s tragic that this happened, but I don’t think it worth getting deeper into legalities,” he said. “Some of these people might have been ordered to do certain things.”

It might also be worth noting that many legislators routinely boast of having spouses, children or parents who are public school teachers. That matters.

30 comments Add your comment

jim d

February 16th, 2010
1:28 pm

Sounds like a crime of child abuse to me and thats already against the law!! So just enforce current law.

ga

February 16th, 2010
2:07 pm

Why don’t the constituents decide and not relatives of those in the education system. I am sick and tired of legislators – who may have relatives in the system – having bias in the policy making process. Why should educators be protected?? If this was the business world, what do you think would happen? I say vote these people out of office, because they are OUT OF TOUCH.

ga

February 16th, 2010
2:10 pm

Oh my goodness – the GA legislature is so out of touch!!

All I'm Saying Is...

February 16th, 2010
2:11 pm

What’s the punishment for financial fraud? Because that’s basically what’s going on if someone falsely files test scores. And its mail fraud (a felony) if those test scores are then delivered via the postal service.

Tell me that at least they not only get fired but that this information comes up on a background check if they try to get another teaching job?

don'tunderstand

February 16th, 2010
2:28 pm

FIRE them ALL to protect those of us who teach and follow the rules!

not so fast

February 16th, 2010
2:33 pm

Keep in mind that a flagged class does NOT mean that anyone actually cheated on anything. Kids had erasers on the end of their pencils last time I checked. This situation is ripe for a defamation suit from a teacher or administrator if people don’t stop jumping to conclusions on blogs and in newspapers.

catlady

February 16th, 2010
2:52 pm

I am always interested in the motivation (or lack of) by lawmakers, especially when it is one party more than the other. Any ideas on this?

Shar

February 16th, 2010
3:01 pm

These are guys who were in positions of power in the State House last year, who knew about Glenn Richardson’s bullying and armtwisting to ransack the tax base of $300 million to please his hooker/lobbyist, and who chose to allow this fraud and extortion to go on unchecked rather than stand up for their constituents and the law. No wonder they are a bit squeamish about setting serious penalties for teachers and administrators who have essentially done the same thing.

Larry

February 16th, 2010
3:07 pm

Maybe we should have 15 year olds run things.

My daughter just said she had to retake a test because some kids cheated. They weren’t caught by the teacher; they were turned in by their classmates, who evidently have a lot more in the ethics department than some adults.

The kids’ attitude on academic performance/competition is quite healthy and they didn’t want any of their peers to get a grade they didn’t deserve.

Refreshing.

high school teacher

February 16th, 2010
3:33 pm

Larry, I have been teaching for 16 years and have never had students turned in for cheating by other students; your daughter’s situation is rare.

On the subject of cheating being a criminal offense, why don’t we ask Martha Stewart what she thinks? :)

EchoToo

February 16th, 2010
3:47 pm

@ga: If this was the business world, what do you think would happen?

Laughable question since we all know that the answer would be “NOTHING.”

don'tunderstand

February 16th, 2010
3:54 pm

Come on! We are not idiots! Some teachers followed the protocol and others “CHEATED”!

Wounded Warrior

February 16th, 2010
4:00 pm

making cheating a crime=more revenue for the state. selling beer on Sunday is not a crime.

EchoToo

February 16th, 2010
4:02 pm

@high school teacher:
I did a 31 year teaching career in APS, high school and middle school, and time and time again, I could COUNT ON some little soul doubling back to tell me of someone who cheated. If it has changed that much, it must be the new no ratting trend. Even as a sub, it’s my experience that kids will report a cheater. After all, even kids don’t want a cheater to make more than they do and they are being honest.

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JacketFan

February 16th, 2010
5:27 pm

As educators, we need to unite under a common banner: No more NCLB! We don’t have unions, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t organize. This madness has to STOP! It is killing our kids, our teachers and our state’s future. This whole got started because the Bush family wanted to line the pockets of their friends – investors in the companies behind the NCLB standardized tests. Read this article:

http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/12-bush-profiteers-collect-billions-from-no-child-left-behind/

This has got to STOP!

Legend of Len Barker

February 16th, 2010
6:10 pm

Education has changed that much. I can never remember as a student anyone ever pointing another out for cheating. Nor did it ever happen when I was in a classroom. I did, though, know every single way of trying to cheat on the online practice CRCT tests. Some of those kids were quite creative, I’ll give them credit.

Except for the people who have admitted it, the state does not have enough evidence to prove that any of the erasures were cheating. Plus, I’d like to know who had the time to do all the work to change the answers.Most teachers are pretty strapped for time and I’ve never known many administrators that were too eager to do that type of work.

Besides, I’d like to think that most educators are smart enough to not leave a trace. Such as telling the kids the answers as they took the test.

Come to think of it, maybe the state would like to investigate that, too. There are a few counties that weren’t flagged that I’m quite suspicious of. Let’s make it even more ridiculous instead of addressing the real problems, which are the unreal expectations of the DOE.

Though it doesn’t count (yet), how many of you have ever looked at the Georgia History section? C’mon adults, let’s see how much of this stuff you know. Particularly when it has nothing to do with Georgia History.

ga

February 16th, 2010
8:05 pm

falsifying state documents should be criminally prosecuted… end of story. It’s bad enough that lousy educators get enormous latitude and get shuffled from school to school. Getting canned is not enough, this needs to be a misdemeanor and a fine. Somebody must be held to account. Sorry but the Georgia GOP is truly misguided, if they think they can continue to protect their friends and relatives.

not so fast and lawsuits

February 16th, 2010
8:50 pm

Kids have erasers on the end of pencils not so fast? Guess they must have supersized ones at those schools on the severe list.

The only lawsuit that should come out of this is that if someone is hiring not so farce to be a spin doctor, not so farce should be sued for malpractice.

Judas Consultant

February 16th, 2010
10:43 pm

My name is Judas Consultant, and I verify that I looked at images of all 58 schools on Google Earth, and I saw no evidence of cheating.

The Legend of Geter in the Gym

February 17th, 2010
1:22 am

Cheat. Cheating. Who’s listening to the bull sh_t?

Theresa Edwards

February 17th, 2010
1:27 pm

I’ve got several opinions on this issue, FRAUD is at the top of the list. THEFT of my tax dollars to pay for the test, to pay for the school employees, to pay for the supposed white washed investigation that we all know will show NO WRONG doing. MORAL TURPITUDE, ETHICS violations, come on it’s not like we trust the school’s or the State to do anything about this. And, what I really find ludicrous is these are the very same people who run our children through a lop-sided tribunal for the most ridiculous reasons and yet they can get away with this. No Wonder Georgia has the worst educational ranking going.

Sherry

February 18th, 2010
7:46 am

1st I don’t like teachers forced to TEACH TO A TEST!!! I do not believe this is an improvement on education. Second, it is cheating and ends up costing the taxpayers mega dollars, so I would like to see enforcement in place that would get their attention, doesn’t seem that the threat of losing their. I was a proctor at a local HS during one of these tests. A jock sat next to another student and the teacher passed out color coded tests – these two young men got the same color which was supposed to have been different. I watched the jock blatently copy from his neighbor, brought it to the teachers attention and the teacher just watched them and did nothing. Same results, different method. Cheating is cheating.

Corey

February 18th, 2010
7:57 am

What will the penalty be? Should we have the teachers and principals who are caught cheating write on the blackboard “I will not cheat” one million times? Our criminal justice system is already clogged and detainees are being shuttled to and fro to satisfy decrees from the federal courts.

chuck allison

February 18th, 2010
7:57 am

I despise cheating on exams. When someone does not want to criminalize cheating, then maybe that tells us something about their own morals.

curious

February 18th, 2010
7:58 am

The solution: Ban standardized testing. How much money has the legislature authorized for this fiasco? Let teachers teach and create their own tests.
And does anyone wonder what kind of machine is able to scan thousands of test forms and look for erasures? How much did the state pay for this?
Perhaps, someone should investigate the academic empire at UGA that uses testing as a way to scam millions of dollars each year.

A Realist

February 18th, 2010
8:17 am

If a child is caught cheating on a standardized test, this should be grounds for expulsion. The teacher and/or administrator involved should face immediate termination and surrender their teacher certificate. Why are we using paper anyway? We are trying to become a green state, right? These test should be administered electronically. The answers are captured and scored on the computer and reported immediately to the school system.

Price

February 18th, 2010
8:33 am

Isn’t it sad that we have to come up with a law against cheating at school..How far will our character fall.

pwe

February 18th, 2010
8:54 am

I am shocked. Sonny was behind this push. I thought they would go with him. Oh, and cheaters ‘already get sanctioned…they lose their carers’ ?? That’s not true! Look at the cheaters who admitted guilt in Dekalb – they’ll be back in a couple of years. How is that losing a career?

The *one* and only problem with this is the erasures — teachers run the tests and return them when the bell rings at the end of testing. Administrators then spend hours with the tests and – poof – cheating has occurred. The one and only problem with this is that a teacher might be charged. Once this issue is fixed, they need to move full force ahead with making this a crime.

Why? I can tell you:

CHEATING IS CHILD ABUSE. This is emotional abuse. Do you know what it does to an under-performing child, to get a letter in the mail saying he/she did GREAT on the test and passed? Did the cheating administrators ever wonder what might become of that child?

I can tell you again:

The child shows up at school, often heading off to middle school where his/her elementary administrators will never think of him/her again. He/she then is in an inappropriate grade so that retention numbers were down, or is in the correct grade but has an inflated sense of self esteem. The child thinks, “I DO understand this math! I CAN read!” and goes through severe emotional distress when he/she immediately is behind the peers and immediately receives failing grades. But how can this be?, the child wonders, because the tests proved that he/she understood fully the subject matter.

The cheating administrators never think of the kids again. They never wonder what kind of h*ll the kids are going through – emotional problems caused by inflated test scores. Make the administrators pay for counselors to console and guide the kids who were told they were on grade level, and then were essentially slapped in the face the first week of returning to school.

The kids spend all summer (or the remaining of summer after summer school) thinking they are on the right path. That is emotional abuse.

JustPlainTired

February 18th, 2010
9:04 am

Everything is a crime in Georgia. Soon everyone will be in jail except the legislators.