Perdue has made it clear: He’s not playing in this CRCT probe and he’s not leaving office without resolution

Gov. Perdue has been very concerned with the quality of the APS probe into CRCT cheating, now adding the GBI to the case.

Gov. Perdue has been very concerned with the quality of the APS probe into CRCT cheating, now adding the GBI to the case.

It has to shake Atlanta teachers and administrators up to see GBI agents arriving on their campuses to question them on the CRCT cheating allegations.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has signaled from the very start of this probe that he was not playing and that he would not tolerate whitewashes or half efforts by systems with unusual erasure rates.

He has surprised me with his tenacity. I figured with his tenure winding down, this issue might lose momentum.

Not so. He’s assigned two noted prosecutors to the case, Bob Wilson and Mike Bowers, and now the GBI. He apparently does not want to leave office with this unresolved.

According to the AJC:

Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents began questioning Atlanta public school teachers Monday afternoon, part of an ongoing investigation into possible test tampering.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead declined to say how many schools the agents were targeting, but school system spokesman  Keith Bromery said agents had arrived at at least “three so far” Monday afternoon.

Bankhead stressed that teachers are not targets for criminal charges as long as they are truthful with agents. It is a felony to lie to a law enforcement officer.

Less than a week after Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order directing the GBI to join the probe, 50 agents gathered at a hotel south of Atlanta for a briefing and their assignments. Those agents, pulled from all over the state, account for over one-fifth of the GBI’s investigators.

The GBI is only focusing on Atlanta schools for now, Bankhead said.

The executive order, signed last Wednesday, is the latest step in a criminal investigation of Atlanta Public Schools’ handling of Criterion-Referenced Competency Test results last year.

37 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

October 18th, 2010
4:27 pm

Watch folks suddenly “remember” things. Nothing jogs the memory like a GBI agent.

aqua budah

October 18th, 2010
4:34 pm

MikeyD

October 18th, 2010
4:39 pm

Interesting that you say that it has to shake up Atlanta teachers, instead of opining on how it might shake up Atlanta administrators… As usual, teachers will take the fall and the real crooks will skate.

As far as sonny’s righteous indignation… How pathetically transparent. He has spent 8 years gutting education spending down to crisis levels, and will certainly go down in history as the very worst education governor in our state’s history. All he wants is something besides “austerity cuts” to tie his legacy to. What a disgusting human.

Maureen Downey

October 18th, 2010
4:43 pm

@MikeyD, Good point. Thanks. See change

Teacher AND Taxpayer

October 18th, 2010
5:04 pm

@MikeyD—amen. If it had been important to him, he would have had the GBI involved a year ago.

curious

October 18th, 2010
5:15 pm

What about sonny requesting FED investigation of other Ga school systems where our tax dollars are being wasted by incompetent boards and administrators? He could start in the metro area. Where are the reports from other systems that had recent questionable scores? It is interesting that Atlanta was singled out. Who is investigating the highway that will take away some south Georgians’ homes so that reportedly his honor will benefit?

td

October 18th, 2010
5:19 pm

I hate to get on here and defend Sonny but I think this is a good idea. He needs to root out the cheating and if it takes the GBI then so be it (he really should have done this to begin with).

jm

October 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

MikeyD – you’re wrong. APS and the education systems around the state aren’t having poor results because of lack of spending. It is due to lack of good educators, principles, and flexibility and poor administration. But the poor administration results in bad teachers. So while the administrations have to be held to account, the core problem is the teachers.

jm

October 18th, 2010
5:33 pm

November

October 18th, 2010
5:34 pm

You know, having to bring in the GBI says it all…….where there’s smoke there’s fire. This is an indictment of the whole administration of the APS…..Sonny, bless his heart, has definitely done the right thing. I just hope all the parents who have children in this cesspool will not stand for a whitewash. Remember to vote on November 2nd :)

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Mikey D

October 18th, 2010
5:45 pm

@jm…
Allow your partisanship to take a breather and you’ll see what a worthless governor your hero has been. I focus on education because that’s how I make my living, but he has been a disaster on everything from transportation to water and everything in between. But go on telling yourself it’s all the teachers if that makes you feel better.

catlady

October 18th, 2010
5:59 pm

Pretty silly to put the foxes in charge of the hen house (the foxes in this case being the APS and other school administrators.) in the first place. Better late than never, I guess, for Sonny to get busy.

Of course, Sonny was NOT late in getting legislation to retroactively give himself a $100,000 tax break. He was NOT late in enacting “austerity cuts” while the state was flush, years before there were any austere conditions evident or even predicted.

I guess you could call it “selective”.

I welcome the involvement of anyone who can get to the actual bottom (or, should we say, top) of this. Perhaps they can break the stonewall of silence.

APS Teacher

October 18th, 2010
6:15 pm

APS is like the mafia. Getting to the bottom (or as catlady more accurately put it- the top) of this is not going to be an easy feat. Anyone who talks will, without a doubt, not have their contract renewed.

bootney farnsworth

October 18th, 2010
6:55 pm

I suppose better late than never.
pity he didn’t get motivated 2 years ago when it
might have helped.

bootney farnsworth

October 18th, 2010
6:59 pm

ugh catlady,,,,,

problem with your comment is we didn’t have any flush
years under Sonny. Roy did a mini Obama and spent us
beyond broke.

Lee

October 18th, 2010
7:35 pm

“… I figured with his tenure winding down, this issue might lose momentum.”

I’m sure that’s what the APS administration and BOE thought as well. Good for Sonny.

td

October 18th, 2010
7:46 pm

jm

October 18th, 2010
5:33 pm
MikeyD – you’re wrong. APS and the education systems around the state aren’t having poor results because of lack of spending. It is due to lack of good educators, principles, and flexibility and poor administration. But the poor administration results in bad teachers. So while the administrations have to be held to account, the core problem is the teachers.

Jim, there probably is a few bad teachers and some bad administrators and they need to be weeded out and sent out of the education system. There are also a great deal of very good teachers and administrators in the APS and other systems throughout the state that work very hard and teach their butts off. Teachers or administrators are not the problem in education.

I went to a forum with all the candidates for Superintendent a couple weeks ago and really heard the reason for bad schools. There was a question asked by a member of the audience asking how the candidates would get the achievement gap narrowed if elected. Ms. Willis answered the question by stating there were no programs or policies and money was not the answer. Her answer was there has to be a cultural change of the importance of education in the community. I am pretty sure Mr. Martin agreed and Dr. Barge did not get to answer the question but I asked him afterwards and he said it was true not only in the achievement gap but true for all education.

My interpretation of what all three candidates were saying is that until our society puts the right priority about education then it is not going to matter how great the teacher is, the administrator is or how much money we pump into the educational system, education will not improve significantly. Has anyone ever wondered why the Asian culture, as a whole, does so much better then whites, blacks and Hispanics? Could it be that education is classified as the most important thing for the kids to accomplish? Is it because that the parents place an expectation on the children that you will go to school, make straight A’s and get a good degree? I am married to a Asian woman and have seen this in her family. Until the rest of us are ready to make the same dedication then we will not succeed.

Ed Johnson

October 18th, 2010
7:47 pm

“It is interesting that Atlanta was singled out.”

@curious, Only Atlanta stands out on the CRCT cheating like a Christmas Tree ablaze with 1,000 — no, make that 10,000, better yet, make it 1,000,000 — lights in the dead of night. E-mail me at AfQPE@aol.com if you (or anyone else on here) want to see the picture.

David Sims

October 18th, 2010
9:09 pm

@MikeyD. “Interesting that you say that it has to shake up Atlanta teachers, instead of opining on how it might shake up Atlanta administrators… As usual, teachers will take the fall and the real crooks will skate.”

Nope. There will undoubtedly be teachers arrested, particularly since some of them are bound to be guilty. But I think the Principals and higher administrators have a certain priority with law-enforcement. Beverly Hall might have a reason to shield APS administrators from close investigation, but she doesn’t have any leverage on the GBI, and the GBI has no reason to spare the rascals in APS, whoever they are.

“As far as sonny’s righteous indignation… How pathetically transparent. He has spent 8 years gutting education spending down to crisis levels, and will certainly go down in history as the very worst education governor in our state’s history.”

No, indeed. You can check out the funding levels for any public school in the United States by going to GreatSchools.org. Click on the “Test Scores & Stats” tab. Then click on the “Teachers & Students” sub-tab. Then click on the “Spending per Pupil” link.

The average funding per pupil in Georgia is $9089. The Atlanta Public Schools, which is the district with the most CRCT cheating and which has had, when the effects of cheating are removed, some of the worst educational outcomes in the state, are funded at $13150 per pupil. More money. More fraud. Less honest results. I wonder why that is.

“All he wants is something besides ‘austerity cuts’ to tie his legacy to. What a disgusting human.”

Money is getting scarce everywhere. The major reasons for that are the Federal Reserve System (usury plus mass coercion), various free-trade treaties, the outflux of jobs, and the influx of illegal immigrants. Some states are strapped far more than Georgia is, but no state has not felt the effects of a tightening economy. No matter who is governor of your state, money will continue to be in short supply and important things will suffer as the result.

However, in the case of education, you can clearly see that the problem isn’t money. Apparently, kids getting a good education has more to do with the intelligence of the kids than with the budgets of their schools. That is why school districts that are black-heavy (or Hispanic-heavy) have poorer educational outcomes, in general, than school districts with high percentages of white and Asian students. Although it is possible that a school having mostly black or Hispanic students might do as well as a school having mostly white or Asian students, it isn’t at all likely, and whenever a school district appears to have significantly narrowed the “racial gap,” cheating is the first thing that should be suspected.

David Sims

October 18th, 2010
9:20 pm

@Teacher AND Taxpayer. “If it had been important to him, he would have had the GBI involved a year ago.”

A year ago the CRCT cheating scandal was just breaking. A year ago, there were no 2010 CRCT scores to show that many APS middle and elementary schools had a large drop in test scores when state monitors were around to check on things. Beverly Hall’s “Blue Ribbon Commission” was hastily introduced as a team able and willing to conduct a thorough investigation and get to the bottom of things. It left unexamined most of the schools that needed investigating. The schools it did investigate were checked only superficially. Its report was an obvious whitewash. But as a stall-and-delay tactic, it worked just fine. Beverly Hall is smart enough to know when Georgia elects its governors, and she probably hoped that the BRC could drag things out even longer than it did, perhaps until a wink-and-nod Democratic governor could take Perdue’s place.

David Sims

October 18th, 2010
9:56 pm

@td. “MikeyD – you’re wrong.”

Correct. He is wrong. The funding available to Georgia’s schools is adequate to the educational task, if you judge by the funding given to some of the state’s high-performing schools. One of the very best high schools, Walton High, resides in a school district that receives less than the Georgia state average funding per pupil.

“It is due to lack of good educators, principles, and flexibility and poor administration. But the poor administration results in bad teachers. So while the administrations have to be held to account, the core problem is the teachers.”

No. The main problem in many of Georgia’s schools isn’t bad teachers, either. I daresay you could probably pick the best teachers in Georgia, and ship them to Atlanta to teach Crim High School (APS, all black) and Grove Park Elementary (APS, all black), and the students there still wouldn’t learn as well as the students at Walton High School (Cobb, 90% white/Asian) and Jackson Elementary (APS, 80% white/Asian) would do given textbooks and incentive only: NO TEACHERS AT ALL.

David Sims

October 18th, 2010
10:09 pm

@td. A suitable incentive for the white/Asian students at Walton High?

Principal: Students, we are trying an experiment this semester. You won’t be getting a teacher for your calculus class. You’ll get the textbook, but you’re on your own in learning math from it. However, since there isn’t to be a teacher for this class, the school system will pay you to learn the material in accordance with your grades. Since there are 15 of you in the class, you will be paid for your final grade an amount equal to your grade in the form of a percent multiplied by $500, up to a maximum of $500. Grades will result entirely from test scores, with the tests being issued from my office, as well as being graded there. You will have daily homework assignments, which will not be graded, but which you will do if you know what is good for you. You will have midterm and final exams which will be graded, with the final being given twice the weight of the midterm. Get busy reading those books. Good luck. [Principal exits room.]

David Sims

October 18th, 2010
10:21 pm

@td. Ah, that’s not quite right. The principal would have to require a passing grade before a student was eligible to receive any money at all. So the payouts would be nothing from 0% to 60%, then $12.50 per percentage point above a grade of 60%.

Sonny Days Are Over

October 18th, 2010
10:54 pm

An investigation might be a good idea; but, I tend to believe this is last minute grandstanding from a Governor with no positive legacy in education. Hope voters reflect on all Sonny and the Republican General Assembly have done to set education even further back in this state.

Stressed Educator

October 18th, 2010
11:48 pm

The million dollar question—What date are they going to hand down the indictments for Beverly Hall and her Executive Directors? By Thanksgiving? Christmas?

Dr. John Trotter

October 19th, 2010
12:36 am

Bully for the Governor! I haven’t been on the blogs in a while. Just too busy dealing with abusive administrators here in Georgia. I personally appreciate the way that Governor Perdue is handling the investigation in Atlanta so far. People are scared…as always in APS. Retribution can be heavy, and people like to be able to buy groceries. APS stands for Always Pushing Sh……well, you get my point.

Same mess is going on in Clayton County. Teachers were pulling their hair out dealing with the Heatley-driven system…no discipline and no support for the teachers. The admininstration egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia statutes dealing with the State-mandated Student Code of Conduct. It also rapes the Georgia Grievance Law for teachers. I could go on and on about Clayton County. But, Edmond Heatley is from the Broad Institute (same institute which Diane Ravitch discusses in her recent book), and Glenn Brock brought this new pseudo-messiah to Clayton County. So, Mark Elgart and his phony SACS organization will leave him alone. They’re all in it together.

Clayton County teachers, I think now that you realize that MACE was right all along about Edmond Heatley. He is pitiful…a reject from Chino Valley, California. Alieka Anderson just sits there looking silly. She led the charge in bringing in this educational loser. Alieka, are you stupid?

Dr. John Trotter

October 19th, 2010
12:43 am

Bully for the Governor! I haven’t been on the blogs in a while. Just too busy dealing with abusive administrators here in Georgia. I personally appreciate the way that Governor Perdue is handling the investigation in Atlanta so far. People are scared…as always in APS. Retribution can be heavy, and people like to be able to buy groceries. APS stands for Always Pushing Sh……well, you get my point.

Same mess is going on in Clayton County. Teachers are pulling their hair out dealing with the Heatley-driven system…no discipline and no support for the teachers. The administration egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia statutes dealing with the State-mandated Student Code of Conduct. It also rapes the Georgia Grievance Law for teachers. I could go on and on about Clayton County. But, Edmond Heatley is from the Broad Institute (same institute which Diane Ravitch discusses in her recent book), and Glenn Brock brought this new pseudo-messiah to Clayton County. So, Mark Elgart and his phony SACS organization will leave him alone. They’re all in it together.

Clayton County teachers, I think now that you realize that MACE was right all along about Edmond Heatley. He is pitiful…a reject from Chino Valley, California. Alieka Anderson just sits there looking silly. She led the charge in bringing in this educational loser. Alieka, you should know better. You are a school teacher in DeKalb…where your son attends school. Maybe if he attended school in Clayton County, you would worry about Heatley being in charge. Just a thought. If Heatley is so good, why isn’t your child attending school in Clayton County?

David Sims

October 19th, 2010
4:56 am

You probably will appreciate the usefulness of the EDIT button too, John. If and when it appears.

David Sims

October 19th, 2010
5:25 am

@APS Teacher. “APS is like the mafia. Getting to the bottom (or as catlady more accurately put it- the top) of this is not going to be an easy feat. Anyone who talks will, without a doubt, not have their contract renewed.”

The fear of losing a job can lead to an institution full of people who don’t deserve their jobs, and in the long run that’s worse for everybody than a few people getting fired. I admire the soldier’s attitude toward getting the job done. Go for it: we all die sometime. Never let the political requirements for keeping your job control your life. You aren’t really living if you do.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Friedrich Nietzsche.

Dr. John Trotter

October 19th, 2010
8:25 am

David: You are right about an edit button. I think that the now-defunct blog with the Clayton News/Daily had an edit button. I am certainly no fan of Nietzsche but I agree with his sentiments quoted above. It is indeed enjoyable being a free man. Had I been willing to sell out teachers and step on subordinates, I would have probably been a superintendent by my late 30s. I had been an assistant principal of a large high school by the time I was 27 and finished my first doctorate (with nearly a 300 page disseration — no personal computer, mind you! LOL) at UGA in Administration by age 30. I was on a fast track in administration, but I refused to let them have my soul. I have to look at myself in the mirror each day when I shave…and I don’t like looking at myself sideways. I jokingly tell my friends that I refused to eat “do do” (even in capsule form). Hence, the emergence of the MACE! I am living the life and thankink God each day for it!

I also urge the employees of APS to be truthful with the GBI and other investigators. This is the only way to eradicate the systematic cheating and fraudulent culture which has become endemic to the Atlanta Public Schools.

Dr. John Trotter

October 19th, 2010
8:38 am

That would be “thanking,” not “thankink.” Wow…we do indeed need that edit button! Or, I just need to proof read, right? And just think…I could be posting anonymously (even hiding my real I P address like some do) and no one would know who had just committed a typo blunder! Ha! I even purchased the program for two years but I don’t use it. I can change my fake I P address whenever, choosing from different locations like Denmark, Brazil, or, hey, why not Spokane, Washington?! But, it’s more fun being up-front and free! I only thought about using this program because some blogs (like Kimberly Allen’s on the AJC’s Clayton.Net) automatically “moderate” my comments. Can you imagine?! Now why would anyone want to “moderate” me or any of my cousins like the Rev. Jimmy Jack Bourbon (of French descent) or Earl of Ft. Liqourdale (of Cabbagetown descent)? But, I do note that the Clayton.Net blog once got upward toward 300 posts each week in the older, open days but now is lucky to have 20 to 30 posts for the entire week.

As Rev. Bourbon is wont to intone, “My fellow Reprobates, have a good day!”

Shocked but not surprised

October 19th, 2010
11:04 am

Has anyone looked at the fact that the middle school principal with the highest number of erasures who was one of the principals removed from their schools is now in charge of middle school transformation in the central office. Are you kidding me?

Mad Russian

October 19th, 2010
1:36 pm

I guess my fellow educators are going to come to their senses suddenly now that the GBI is involved. Should have just confessed at the beginning to save the students and taxpayers a lot of trouble. Was your teaching certification really worth the bonus? Let’s see, $2000 vs. 20 years of potential salary and increases? Disappointing.

Wondering

October 19th, 2010
3:13 pm

People should now realize how serious this issue is being viewed. Over 20% of the state’s GBI are involved in the investigation, putting homicide, rape, child abuse, armed robbery, other felonies on the back burner (the manipulation of test data to achieve bonus pay is fraud).

It is hard to see how the central office could have been involved, since that wide a conspiracy would break easily, but that doesn’t mean their pushing for better scores might not lead to cheating at the local level. It is also hard to see how a teacher could cheat without involvement from the local school’s administration.

If you have ever been questioned by GBI officers, you know they are pretty good at seeing through lies and finding the truth. They also take it personally when someone steals from children, which was the net affect of the cheating. My advice is to tell them the truth, as the coverup is generally worse than the crime.

David Sims

October 19th, 2010
4:14 pm

Re: the missing EDIT button. Yes, I’ll make use of it too. I just noticed that I addressed a string of comments to td when they should have been aimed at jm.

Joy in Teaching

October 20th, 2010
7:18 am

@ David Sims

It is very easy to become outraged by the sheer amount of money being spent per pupil in school systems. What most taxpayers don’t realize is that that spending includes money spent providing special services to DEES students. We have one student in our system, for instance, who requires both a teacher AND a parapro just for that one student, not to mention the other services that student gets. What does that come to: around $100,000 for that one student alone?

If a system has a large number of Special Ed students, then the price per pupil is definately skewed.