Forgetting the true victims in the CRCT cheating scandal

crcted.0920 (Medium)Restraint is often the best course of action when the facts are not fully known, as is the case with the APS cheating scandal. Yes, cheating occurred.

But who cheated and how is still unclear, but will likely be detailed in the criminal prosecutions to come. Until then, we ought to be careful before we condemn or defend anyone.

That’s why I think the Concerned Black Clergy protest Monday was premature. The group wants to meet with Fulton County DA Paul Howard to express its concerns that educators may be prosecuted and sent to jail for their roles in the cheating scandal.

But before the women and men of the cloth jump to anyone’s defense, they ought to wait for all the facts.

There may be teachers or administrators whose conduct was so egregious and such a disservice to the children of Atlanta that they deserve rebuke. There may be others whose behaviors fall into a gray area, the “remember what we learned about fractions” sort of comments that register somewhere between prodding and cheating.

I am not sure what is a fair punishment for educators who cheated on the CRCT. The Concerned Black Clergy called for suspensions, which seems rather lenient in view of the seriousness of advancing children who were not ready for the next grade and who never received needed remediation because their answer sheets were doctored.

Concerned Black Clergy President Rev. Richard Cobble told CBS Atlanta that the CRCT investigation smacked of racism, explaining,  “Cheating on tests is one of the means in which the system designed to keep us unfocused, to keep us distracted and keep us at each other throats.”

I am not sure why the clergy members are worried about the adults in this situation, all of whom are old enough to understand the immorality and the illegality of cheating on high-stakes testing. To paraphrase Rev. Cobble a bit, cheating is one of the means in which the system keeps children under educated and unable to compete and ultimately robs them of a quality education.

Lest we forget, the children are the victims here.

By Maureen Downey, for the Get Schooled blog

30 comments Add your comment


December 7th, 2010
1:24 am

“I am not sure why the clergy members are worried about the adults in this situation…”
Maybe because so many of the adults are Black?

David Sims

December 7th, 2010
3:05 am

R.I.P. APS beat me to making that very comment.

drew (former teacher)

December 7th, 2010
5:51 am

“Cheating on tests is one of the means in which the system designed to keep us unfocused, to keep us distracted and keep us at each other throats.”

Grammer aside, what the hell does this comment even MEAN? Is this just another way of saying, “whitey’s keeping the black man down”? Maybe PBM can break it down for me…

And where does the “Concerned White Clergy” stand on this issue?


December 7th, 2010
6:21 am

“the seriousness of advancing children who were not ready for the next grade and who never received needed remediation”

Sorry, I have to laugh. Even if the students fail the CRCT, the AJC’s own data show they will overwhelmingly be passed to the next grade anyway.

And even if they pass the CRCT, the cut scores are set so low that a student could be working as much as 3-4 years below grade level – but if s/he passes, no one will see the “need” for retention or remediation. (i.e., in my opinion, perhaps “cheating” in setting the cut scores is an even bigger scandal.)

Cheating on the tests is wrong, and teaching children to cheat on the tests is wrong, but everyone from the GaDOE on down is forgetting the true victims, and the true victims are statewide, not just in APS.


December 7th, 2010
7:07 am

Amen, ScienceTeacher, amen! Thank you for pointing this out. I have had to LOL at those who have been wringing their hands on this–that the kids have suffered. They lost out on some taxpayer-paid summer school. But let’s not fool ourselves that they would have gotten any significant remediation. If a child can’t pass the CRCT, with its low bar, a few weeks of remediation won’t solve anything. Even manipulating the summer test administration (as I am certain has been done in the past with either easier questions or lower cut scores) does not benefit the child in any meaningful way.How about this: we have certain standards and skills a student MUST master in order to go to the next grade. NO EXCEPTIONS except for self-contained SPED. THEN watch the CBC howl (along with hundreds of thousands of parents, I might add). But you know, in a couple of years we would find that most kids are succeeding because they have mastered the basic skills.


December 7th, 2010
7:20 am

Speaking of the true victums, Maureen, please ask the DeKalb County School System for a list of stolen computer equipment this calendar year, especially the recent thefts at Henderson Middle. It’s the student body who suffers when their is rampant theft. And what’s even worse, it seems like much of the theft at DeKalb schools are “inside jobs”.

Ed Johnson

December 7th, 2010
8:00 am

Again, let us pray. This time, let us pray the Concerned Black Clergy will let go their limited and limiting “race”-based worldview.


December 7th, 2010
8:22 am

The “concerned black clergy” could probably use a few lessons in economics. Why do they not protest the extremely high salaries of these dept head/supers such as Bev “CupCake” Hall. She was paid I belive $344K while a US Senator received I beleive approx $175.

No way these APS failures are worth more than our DC failures.

More money for education is not the answer because the crooks siphon every dime before it ever reaches down to the kids.


December 7th, 2010
8:39 am

I am frankly embarassed by the grandstanding of most of these n’er do well clergy always in search for a camera. I would rather them call for a full and expedious investigation into this system that allows for the miseducation of black youth and the proliferation of black parents who are in need of some extremely parenting skills. Frankly, if they want to denounce or actually be concerned about something. Address the accountablility of the familes in educating their own children and the supplemental responsiblity of the schools themselves.

An American Patriot

December 7th, 2010
8:42 am

Tsk, tsk, tsk, what a sad state of affairs…..these “Concerned Black Clergy” are actually part of the problem in the City of Atlanta, The APS and more. The only thing they’re concerned with is hollering “Racism” whenever the situation becomes such that it is casting a not so favorable eye toward their “Black Brethern”. They need to start directing their criticism to the parents who have children in the APS about their non-involvement with their children’s education. They’re blaming others (which has always been the case) for their own shortcomings.

Doris M

December 7th, 2010
9:04 am

The Concerned Black Clergy is absolutely wrong. Cheating is wrong. The CBC should be supporting the DA in getting to the bottom of this scandal. They should be a staunch supporter for doing the right thing and showing all the students the consequences of actions. The worst victims in this whole cheating debacle are the APS students. No wonder we are so behind.

APS Parent

December 7th, 2010
9:38 am

@Concernedblackman, You mention needed parenting skills. APS has just openned the Parents as Partners Academic Center’s (PAPAC) at the under utilized Kennedy Middle School. APS is now in the parenting business. That may not be a bad thing, but who is paying for this center that is taking up class room space? Are Atlanta tax payers on the hook? Are these federal Title 1 funds that are still tax payer paid?

Here is an APS PR bit on the center.

[...] In a move certain to completely remove* the undercurrent of racial politics that both poisons and drives much of what happens about government education in Georgia, the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta yesterday demanded a meeting with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to …express its concerns that educators may be prosecuted and sent to jail for their roles in the cheati… [...]

APS Parent Too

December 7th, 2010
10:02 am

Please, can someone please make the “Concerned Clergy” stop talking. I hung my head in complete and utter shame as I listened to their comments last night. I’m an African American APS parent and they do not speak for me or any other parent or teacher I know.

While children are being promoted from grade to grade without being able to read or add, while teachers and administrators are knowingly “helping” aka CHEATING with/for students on standardized tests, while parents are still depending on the AJC and bloggers to give us any and all information about this scandal because our principals can’t (left in the dark) or won’t (too afraid to speak)….while all this is happening, they choose to speak out to defend the teachers and use race as their leverage?

Shame. Shame. Shame. Please Concerned Black Clergy, go back to your meeting rooms and church basements and fight another fight. You’re jumping into the deep end and it’s not a good look.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tammy Garnes, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Forgetting the true victims in the CRCT cheating scandal [...]


December 7th, 2010
10:55 am

I wish the clergy would show the same amount of concern in regards to the black illigetimacy rate. These kids have managed to ruin most of the schools in APS, and are forcing us to send our kids to private school to escape them.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

December 7th, 2010
12:03 pm

@concernedblackman: Thank you for the brilliant turn of phrase: “the supplemental responsibility of the schools.” Dead-on correct.

Parents are solely responsible for managing the 15-20 year project that is their child’s education.

You don’t delegate this job to anyone else. You allow the school system to do part of the job for you, under your constant supervision and oversight.

It’s the “oversight” part that drives school administrators (and some teachers) crazy. They think of the school as theirs to manage as they see fit, but the school is not there to exist as a cluster of comfortable middle-class jobs; it’s there to serve children, and since we are our childrens’ proxies, it’s there to serve us.

Oversight of EVERYTHING that goes on in the school is our proper and necessary role.

How you handle that oversight does matter. I feel we owe it to teachers and admins to be as respectful as possible, but we owe it to our children to be as forceful as necessary.

Some might say we elect BOEs to do the oversight for us. To that, I say this: have you MET our APS board?

To get back on the thread topic: CBC, STFU. You’re embarrassing everyone who believes in God.

David Sims

December 7th, 2010
12:08 pm

It sounds as though this Concerned Black Clergy is a gang of trouble-making parasites of the Jesse Jackson – Al Sharpton stripe. They appear to be trying to frame the CRCT cheating investigation as racist persecution. This pattern for crafting a hoax is well-established and easily recognized. It’s the same technique used to make Tawana Brawley seem the victim of racist violence, when, it turned out, the violence was self-inflicted. It’s the same method that Crystal Mangum employed to frame the white lacrosse players from Duke University for rapes that never really happened.

APS Parent

December 7th, 2010
12:24 pm

Fellow APS parents, please see this video

APS employees are in the business of teaching parents how to manage money and get their utilities back on. Does these seem odd?
They even have a career center for parents.


December 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Maureen – I’m a God fearing christian and for the most part, have the utmost respect for preachers. However, the Concerned Black Clergy (CBC) are sadly misinformed and just plain wrong in their stance on the CRCT Cheating Investigation. At yesterday’s press conference, they looked like a bunch of irrelevant, sideshow opportunist with the sole purpose of increasing their church membership. Where was the CBC’s outcry when those thugs shot up a car with an AK47, killing one person and injuring a woman and her small kid?

My message to the CBC:
1. Keep your noses out of this cheating investigation. Most black people ( including me) & white people, wholeheartedly support Governor Perdue and the investigators in their efforts to get to the truth.
2. It’s a FACT that many employees (current & former) and students have suffered emotionally & financially because of Beverly Hall’s mean spirited, corrupt administration at APS.
3. Most of us would like to see Beverly Hall, her top administrators, and the cheaters go to jail, period!
4. If you’re so concerned about APS, come down here to the central office and demand the termination of Beverly Hall, Penn Payne, Chuck Burbridge, Nader Sohrab, Kathy Augustine, Sharon Pitts, Veleter Majek, Millicent Few, and those rogue managers in Finance immediately. Demand that they explain its selection process for the current Deputy CFO, Grants Manager, Accounting Manager, Accounting Supervisors, Treasury Director, and a few other overpaid, worthless managers.
5. Talk to some of the current & former employees and let them tell you how APS has become a living hell under Beverly Hall.
6. Stop holding worthless photo shoots & press conferences. It makes you look bad, you lose all credibility and it will decrease your church’s membership roll.
7. Channel your energies into cleaning up our (Blacks) neighborhoods of these bad talking, bad looking, pants sagging thugs that terrorize our homes & families on a daily basis.
8. Set up a mentoring or tutoring program in your churches for APS students so that they won’t have to cheat in the first place.
9. Declare war on these no good parents who neglect their own kids and do absolutely nothing to help them master basic academic skills.
10. Read all 9 of my suggestions 10 times until you “GET IT”.

APS Parent

December 7th, 2010
12:45 pm

Just checked the GA Sunshine Disclosure website and the Parent Coordinator at this PAPAC center made $72,617.18 in 2009.

@Springdale, where are you? what is your take on this?


Springdale Park Elementary Parent

December 7th, 2010
12:58 pm

@APS Parent: the Parents as Partners thing is definitely needed, only it should be done in church, not in our publicly funded schools, and the CBC should be organizing and running it, instead of running their mouths.

We need better parents in the system, to be sure, but it’s not my job to pay for their remedial training.

APS Parent

December 7th, 2010
1:06 pm

@Springdale, thank you for your perspective. Put that PAPAC center in a CBC and not at Kennedy. Inman Middle is so overcrowded and many of the zoned students can almost walk to Kennedy Middle. Get that Parents Center out of the school and redistrict those kids back to Kennedy, don’t you agree?

An American Patriot

December 7th, 2010
3:54 pm


December 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Good post man… ever thought about teaming up with Bill Cosby….you’d make a great team :)


December 7th, 2010
9:55 pm

This subject is a total embarrassment to all tax paying citizens in the city of Atlanta—APS—Under an umbrella of leadership directed by Superintendent, Beverly Hall- Atlanta Public Schools has more to hide than just cheating on standardized tests. Everything and everyone needs to be scrutinized carefully to make sure these unprofessional leaders are held responsible for their actions. They do not need to leave their posts with dignity. It is impossible to justify any support for their psychopathic, self-righteous administrative attitudes. How many additional corrupt administrators will be left in the upper ranks in decision making positions to “carry on” with business as usual in APS. Beverly Hall’s resignation will not cleanse this den of inequity.


December 7th, 2010
10:06 pm

Amen Ms. Chilly Willy …we must meet a Starbucks for coffee sometime!
You go… take a shoe off and beat them with a stiletto heel !!! You nailed all of their trash.
See all their names listed on YouTube:

Pass it on…

Atlanta mom

December 7th, 2010
11:16 pm

“But before the women and men of the cloth jump to anyone’s defense, they ought to wait for all the facts.”
This is America. We don’t need no facts.


December 8th, 2010
3:32 pm

The internal voice to “do the right thing” has slowly died in our society. When cameras, video-tapes, and tape-recorders are the only means of regulating the illegal vile actions of the human race our society is doomed to fail. We must make sure as parents and teachers the internal voice of honesty and ethics is never erased. It is the “saving grace” of hope for a better future.

Angry Parents

December 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

Chillywilly you said it all. I agree with everything you said.


December 12th, 2010
9:05 am

I worked for a neighboring school system and suspected that cheating had been going on for years. Students would move into our school district from APS, have tremendously high scores, but couldn’t read. I presented the information to our state senator. Here it is 15 years later and something is finally being done about it.