Every story I read about APS and the CRCT scandal depresses me as this mess steals time, money and attention away from the biggest challenge in Atlanta and other urban systems — getting children born with few advantages on a strong enough educational footing to live fulfilling lives. The continual battling also affects the many teachers and principals in APS striving each day to do their best for the students.
All the time devoted to who cheated on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test takes away from how Atlanta children are doing now. For the sake of the system and the sake of the students, I hope the investigation wraps up soon and that anyone who deliberately falsified test results to protect their own skins is exposed. (I remain concerned over whether there will be any clear findings as I think the investigators are discovering more suspicions of cheating rather than confirmation or evidence.)
I am not saying that the investigation is unnecessary. The state cannot tolerate cheating. I just regret the impact on the honest teachers and on all the students.
Here is the latest in a saga in a drama that has no winners. Today, a Fulton judge ordered Atlanta schools, which maintained that they had a legal right to question witnesses, to halt its own internal probe of a Nov. 17 meeting at which Tamara Cotman, an area superintendent, reportedly urge principals to snub state investigation into cheating.
According to the story:
In court documents, the investigators said the school district has been “withholding evidence and intimidating witnesses whose unvarnished testimony could lead to the discovery of how much upper-level APS administrators know about the widespread cheating.”
Cotman demoted one witness to the Nov. 17 meeting who later spoke to a lawyer investigating the episode for the district. The witness, a principal who since has been reinstated, told investigators Cotman said Superintendent Beverly Hall and Deputy Superintendent Kathy Augustine had “approved of this demotion.”
“APS has shown its willingness to ‘investigate’ and then discipline witnesses who report crimes by APS personnel to law enforcement and the special investigators,” the investigators wrote to the judge. Consequently, they said, other district employees are in danger of additional harassment.
In a statement Monday, Hall said the district “will honor the court’s order, as well as continue to cooperate with the investigation.”
She said the district “temporarily suspended” its investigation of Cotman last Wednesday, “pending resolution of who should investigate with the special investigators, and have not been resumed to date.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog.