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