Departing words for APS: “A deal with the Devil that sold out a generation of children for the sake of image.”

Here is the letter that APS board member Khaatim S. El wrote resigning  his seat on the Atlanta school board to take a job in New Jersey.

The theme of this note — that the board was muted and restrained and ultimately sidelined — is interesting, although I don’t think APS board members loosed in schools would have prevented cheating. Teams of education experts visiting these schools did not suspect the cheating that was occurring.

I do think that El raises good questions. (And as he has demonstrated in earlier notes that I have published, he is an eloquent writer.)

Here is his letter:

Dear neighbor and friend,

I struggled tonight at the Board meeting to find the words to express how I feel. I take no solace in knowing that my beliefs have been confirmed by the recent report issues by the State of Georgia. But in the end, whether right or wrong, the conclusion is the same – I failed to protect thousands of children (children who mostly come from homes similar to mine).

I for one don’t want to see this Board go back to the so-called 2009 “Board of Excellence” because that Board failed to protect children who were cheated by this school district. That Board was told to stop asking questions and to stop visiting schools. In the end, that Board fell for a “micromanaging” ruse perpetrated upon it. Ultimately, it took civil disobedience to challenge the status quo and to get to this very uncomfortable, but necessary, day. With that said, I’m confident that this Board under Brenda Muhammad’s leadership and its new Superintendent Erroll Davis will coalesce and do what’s best for children.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the soul of Atlanta has been truly stirred – Atlanta is facing a genuine crisis of character, character that is decaying because of fear, intimidation and retaliation.

I believe three questions should haunt Atlanta for the foreseeable future:

–Why was the cheating scandal so exclusively pronounced for some children and not for others (splitting sharply along racial lines) and yet equal in its mistreatment of the poor and disenfranchised? Why were these children – mostly low income and African-American – so cavalierly denied access to America’s promise?

–How did we – the elected officials, business leaders, and the system itself – become complicit in, through our actions and in our silence, a deal with the Devil that sold out a generation of children for the sake of the city’s image and the district’s “perception of success?”

–Who, in the end, benefited from this collusion? Why did powerful people use their positions to punish those who dared to speak out? Why was legislation created to expressly limit the voice of the electorate, the people? What was behind the decision to place into law a provision to “restrict the powers of the Board” as outlined in the APS Charter?

If Atlanta is lucky, these questions will force the community to confront a long overdue and difficult conversation about race, class and power. And while some people will proclaim that we must move forward now to put this episode behind us, for the sake of the kindergarten classes that starts next year and the year after that, Atlanta will have to be uncomfortable for a while before we can truly claim victory.

It has been said that “A man should be able to find an education by taking the broad highway. He should not have to take by-roads through the woods and follow winding trails through sharp thickets, in constant tension because of the pitfalls and traps, and after years of effort, perhaps obtain the threshold of his goal when he is past caring about it.” A parent right here in this auditorium demanded such; I just hope she was heard.

To my colleagues and for the courageous acts of Brenda Muhammad, Courtney English, Nancy Meister, and Yolanda Johnson you have demonstrated that against all odds, you will hold steadfast to your oath of office and act boldly when it comes to the welfare of children entrusted in your care. It is on your shoulders that this challenge now rests.

To my neighbors, friends and supporters, thank you. You gave me the voice to speak out, even when it was unpopular to do so. You demanded that I stand when others suggested I sit. Thank you, for the chance to serve, to grow, to learn, and the opportunity to do what’s right.

What I wasn’t able to do for children in Atlanta, I hope to accomplish in the city of Newark where I’ve been asked to help lead Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s contribution of $100M to turn around that city’s schools.

With that, I am announcing my resignation as a member of the Atlanta Board of Education, effective immediately at the adjournment of this meeting. The general counsel is prepared to brief the Board on the process for naming my successor to serve until the November municipal election.

Warmest regards,
Khaatim S. El

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

166 comments Add your comment

Teaching is worse in FL

July 12th, 2011
10:08 am

I take issue with the statement/question: Why were these children – mostly low income and African-American – so cavalierly denied access to America’s promise?

There continues to be a presumption that the teachers in question who cheated stopped doing their jobs, and only showed up one week a year to hold “bubble parties.”

Again, the cheating occurred and is not condoned, but to make other assumptions is inappropriate. If these schools operated like most, assessments were ongoing and used to plan instruction. I think the general public fails to realize that we do not test ONCE A YEAR. (Just the CRCT)

The use of the word “cavalier” is unfortunate and inflammatory.

Former SPARK parent

July 12th, 2011
10:16 am

I think you should reflect at some length, Maureen, on the way you excoriated the so-called “Furious Five” when they rebelled against the LaChandra Butler-Burks-led whitewash known as the “Blue Ribbon Panel Report.”

Even though you wouldn’t listen to commenters like me at the time, events have now shown us that the Five were right to oppose this attempt to bury the burgeoning cheating scandal, and while El had his flaws (such as hiring a PR firm against the rules, when clearly he can write and speak for himself), he was willing to stand up and declare that the empress Hall had no clothes when too many (including you) refused to believe it.

It wasn’t a power grab, it was a principled act, and I wish Mr. El well in his new job. Meanwhile, what can we say to persuade Cecily Harsch-Kinnane to be the next to leave?

WE lost our way

July 12th, 2011
10:20 am

Let’s see how it works out for him in Newark. Time will tell if he is looking out for the best interest of the students or himself.

atlmom

July 12th, 2011
10:26 am

This whole scandal shows how top to bottom, our education system is SO flawed. even school choice (which I have indicated before that I think we need some of) is so completely NOT the answer. What does it matter even if SOME people have school choice when children have parents who do not care?
I have seen some of the parents interviewed who are shocked that this has occurred. Where were those parents last year? or the year before? did they just think their kids were ‘learning’? did they not talk about what the kids were doing in school? Did they not see the kids weren’t able to read?
YES I do believe there is a responsibility in the school – if you are a parent who cannot read, you probably are also a parent who wants your child to go to school to LEARN to read. but how would you know (same analogy goes with a host of other things your child may learn).
There is something so wrong with the SYSTEM. Yet we keep thinking that everything is okay, if we just get rid of some board members, or we just get a new superintendent, all with be right with the world. REALLY? the system is SO fragile that just getting a few new board members will work? There is a serious flaw in that argument.
Let’s just keep ambling down the same path. no problem. we’ll be fine. um…well…

Blk Male SpEd Teacher

July 12th, 2011
10:42 am

I’m with Atlmom and Teaching is worse in FL on this one…

A couple of things that have caught my eye on these Blogs is that we have no way of figuring out if b/c the teachers cheated and changed answers on the CRCT if their classes were effective. I know alot of people on these blogs would disagree but I recall the assessment classes I took while getting my Masters from GA State. We had all out discussions and research on the effectiveness of testing ALL students with the same standardized testing and requiring the same results. I know some people want to pin everything on race but the problem that lies in our education is clearly one of socioeconomic status.

As someone who was raised low-income and now live middle class, I notice the differences in how students from the different classes come to school prepared to learn. This is not a fault to the school system or teachers. Everyone will then point out that it’s the teachers job to remediate these problems and catch the students up. My question to the educators out there is: How can you begin education with remediation and expect them to still be at the same level of students who often have a 3 year head start? How can a teacher focus all of their time uplifting the students with no background while avoiding holding back the students who come to school prepared?

These are the problems urban teachers are faced with and until we have a way to judge PROGRESS students make from the time they reach a teachers classroom until the end of the year, we will always have skewed test results and good teachers who actually can make improvements in their students stressed over this money machine testing…

Dr. John Trotter

July 12th, 2011
10:43 am

Mr. El, Good luck in New Jersey. I appreciate the fact that you stood up and showed your mettle here in Atlanta. Someone had to speak out, and you were the one.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 12th, 2011
10:45 am

Maureen,

Who were the educational experts who visited APS schools without suspecting cheating?

Jovan Miles

July 12th, 2011
10:50 am

“Why was the cheating scandal so exclusively pronounced for some children and not for others (splitting sharply along racial lines) and yet equal in its mistreatment of the poor and disenfranchised? Why were these children – mostly low income and African-American – so cavalierly denied access to America’s promise?”

El’s question above is the most poignant and the one most deserving of investigation in that it can be used as a catalyst to examine how the community and school are forever joined. The community’s problems will almost always be reflected in classrooms and hallways. The so-called 90-90-90 schools are often cited as examples of how students can overcome environmental disruptors on their education, and while these schools are stellar examples, they are more often the exception and not the rule.

“If Atlanta is lucky, these questions will force the community to confront a long overdue and difficult conversation about race, class and power.”

It isn’t popular to admit that inner city students need something different than do their suburban counterparts, but the scandal in Atlanta and the subsequent scrutiny being placed upon meteoric rises in test scores in other districts across the country will hopefully shed some light on the fact that inner city students face far more economic, social, and emotional challenges and need schools that address those challenges in addition to the academic challenges.

Race, class, and notions of power intersect in APS and similar districts across the nation to create a maelstrom of problems that require more than a focus on academics to even begin to address the very real needs of the students.

As an APS employee I’m cautiously optimistic about the system’s future. I recognize that some public proclamations of outrage at the offending administrators and teachers and grandstanding must take place to show the public that the system is heading in the right direction. However, if the system does not address the issues in the community and how those issues impact the educational progress and outcomes of our students then we will simply return to an era where accountability is not shared equally by all stakeholders (teachers, admins, parents, AND students) and the social, economic, emotional, and educational outcomes for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds continue to suffer, further perpetuating the great American caste system.

Shar

July 12th, 2011
10:52 am

Ms. Downey: I have to disagree that Mr. El’s letter is eloquent. I find it windy, elliptical and whiny. El was in a position to know and to make a difference, and he didn’t do it. He cannot blame those he refuses to name – other Board leaders, Hall and her cronies, Atlanta’s business leaders. He is just as guilty.

As to his questions, the disproportionate representation of poor African-American children among the cheating victims is most likely due to the willingness of their parents to engage in their education, either because they didn’t believe they were as ‘expert’ as their children’s teachers/administrators, because they didn’t have time or because they believed the test scores. Children are the primary consumers of education and, at the same time, are not able to accurately assess, or to question, the quality of the serivice they are receiving. Teachers and administrators are usually ethically driven to deliver true learning, but this cheating scandal sadly proves that their personal investment can be in conflict with less selfish goals. Parents are the ones most invested in their individual children; they are the ones who can see that little Johnny cannot read regardless of what a standardized test says, that little Jill cannot add or gets F’s on all her schoolwork. If parents are not engaged, there is no check on education quality at the individual level. No one can do this for them, and in their absence children are very vulnerable to abuse.

How did those in power become complicit? They failed to “trust, but verify.” They closed ranks around a deeply corrupt sociopath, interested only in her own power, fame and wealth, and they ignored warning signs even as they, too, reaped benefits. They invoked “the good of the children” as an effective mantra for getting more taxpayer funding, but they were primarily focussed on projects and images that would personally benefit themselves. Board members such as Brenda Muhammad ’suggested’ family members get system jobs, Board and administration representatives colluded to paint rosy pictures to make themselves look good and the incredible amounts of money flowing through the system ended up in sweetheart contracts with Atlanta businesses that were unwilling to question any part of Hall’s program for fear of having their own deals examined. Andrew Young famously said that APS’ primary purpose was to employ black Atlantans, and as long as Board members and the Hall administration held to that goal everyone concerned felt invulnerable.

In short, there were fewer and fewer people who took responsibility for what each individual child was receiving, and their voices became weaker and weaker as the adults’ competing interest expanded.

Those who were deeply invested in the status quo, whether politically, financially or professionally, should be barred from working with the school system for five years. Rotating Board positions for teachers and parent advocates should be put on the Board in place of the “district-wide” members, and the Board should commission independent spot checks on learning with an emphasis on schools that suffer from low parent involvement. Parents should be required to attend at least two teacher conferences per year and to volunteer at least 20 hours per year in the schools so they can see firsthand how well their children are doing and what is being done to shore up weak spots.

Pouring tidal waves of money into the hands of educrats, politicians and business people with no meaningful input from either the consumers of the services or the taxpayers who fund the scheme is a recipe for the disaster we are facing.

www.honeyfern.org

July 12th, 2011
10:53 am

Ultimately, though, the question that is not raised is, “What should a Board’s role be in education?” Generally, boards are not made up of educators, so they shouldn’t be making curricular decisions, and, if local control can be done without politics and ego, it works very well (each school knows what it needs and makes decisions accordingly). Having a school district that cannot function without the intervention of a board that may or may not truly understand how classrooms work and how students learn is a disaster that will benefit no one.

As to how educational experts could visit and not see cheating, that is extraordinarily easy. Just as with every public school system everywhere, visitors are carefully guided during specific times to specific places in the school; all dirt is swept under the rug, and all conflict is managed discreetly and quickly. It is pretty amazing what can be glossed over for a visitor.

Jovan Miles

July 12th, 2011
10:55 am

@Blk Male Sp. Ed teacher,

The new Executive Director for APS department of Research, Testing, and Accountability, Ray Hart is implementing a “value added” tracking system in the district for the 2011-2012 school term that is designed to measure both progress from individual students’ baseline achievement scores as well as mastery of grade level standards.

APS Parent

July 12th, 2011
10:58 am

To EL – for years you have fought,sometimes not as hard as we wanted, but you did. We Thank You. I wish you the best in your new job. A lot of people owe you and the other members of the Furious Five an apology for questioning their cover up attempts. And even Jean Dobbs when she alerted the board that something was not right. It took too long with too many kids being sent out unprepared.

To L. Butler Burks – RESIGN NOW! You are just as guilty as Hall. You drove this cheating mess and followed her orders and not the people who elected you. If you don’t resign, then Deal and Reed need to replace you.

One other question: Why didn’t some of the high school principals/teachers/counselors speak up? They had to work hard to reteach some of these kids.

Jovan Miles

July 12th, 2011
11:00 am

@APS parent…teachers at every level spoke up…but in this political environment if a child isn’t learning most people automatically blame the current classroom teacher with no regard for what happened in the past.

Outspoken teachers were looked upon as whiny or unable to handle the challenge by admins and were systematically non-renewed.

The system’s culture was really terrible for years.

Maureen Downey

July 12th, 2011
11:01 am

@Dr. Spinks, The schools had various teams in them over the years, including evaluators for grants and visiting educators from around the world. An educator this week told me that she was on a team that assessed an APS middle school and her observation was that they had so many people who were not in the classroom.
Maureen

female sped grad student

July 12th, 2011
11:05 am

@Blk Male SpEd Student: Great posting..I can relate to your comments about the assessment class..about 1.5 years ago I took a grad class on assessments and it was very enlightening..had a lot of discussions on validity and reliability..income levels and race should not have to be in the education of getting a quality education but it is. Despite, me growing up in a low income household, I have made many sacrifices to make sure my daughter got what she needed to be successful academically and it paid off…on a full academic scholarship majoring in computer engineering and will be graduating next year…Income levels should not dictate the level of parental involvement in a child’s education but it does weigh heavily. Best wishes Mr. Khaatim…

Incredulous

July 12th, 2011
11:06 am

Jovan Miles. Are we really naive enough to believe that this culture of deceit and graft is limited to APS? The cover-ups and data rigging, nepotism, retaliation, etc., are endemic to all systems. Again, this investigative process needs to be extended to ALL flagged classrooms and schools. The Governor has an opportunity to make his mark as the leader that cleaned up education.

Blk Male SpEd Teacher

July 12th, 2011
11:06 am

yeah @honeyfern is exactly right.

I was at a school who was expecting a visit from the State Super. The entire morning before the visit our students weren’t engaged in any schoolwork at all. We had classrooms of students in the hallways putting up fake work, multiplication award charts, and school mission statements. At this point, 1 or 2 years removed from undergraduate school, you realize that a lot of the “high-ups and administrators” are more worried about the horse and pony show than what are kids are actually learning.

As long as the standards are the same and the playing field is different you are going to have discrepancies in education. That’s something we need to come to grips with.

NCLB was based off of the flawed “Texas Miracle” and look at where that’s got us… Now the race to the top is about to create a culture that the administrators know that they have limited time to make a change in the school even though they get student who come in with the same problems as those who have been unable to pass these test over the last 10 – 15 years…

Somewhere I heard that doing the same thing expecting different results equals insanity… But hey what do I know… According to the comments I read on these boards everyday I’m just another Thug who got passed through the educational system….

chillywilly

July 12th, 2011
11:08 am

Thank you Mr. El for your bravery, dedication and hard work. New Jersey’s gain is APS’s loss. When you took a bold stand against fellow board member Lachandra Burkes, whom you felt was engaged in wrongdoing and misleading the district, Mark Elgart of SACS, Mayor Kasim Reed, The Chamber of Commerce and others decided to make YOU the problem. Sensible people could see clearly through this SACS, Kasim Reed & others’ smoke screen. YOUR WERE NOT the problem.

If new Superintendent Davis is worth his salt, he will get rid of every top administrator in the CLL Building, including Millicent Few, Chuck Burbridge, Dave Williamson, Keith Bromery, Sharon Pitts, Penn Payne and a few others.

Here’s hoping that you will return to Atlanta to run for Mayor against Kasim Reed. If you do, you have my vote. Thank you for your service.

atlmom

July 12th, 2011
11:12 am

My parents grew up on ‘low income’ households too (my mom and her sister shared a one BR apt with the mom – their dad had died when my mom was VERY young). AND now all of their kids have gotten bachelor’s degrees, one with a master’s degree. The thing is it has NOTHING to do with income. It has to do with the integrity (for lack of a better word) of the parents. My parents KNEW that education would be a great thing.
My parents DID NOT go to college. Yet we lived in one quite exclusive expensive place. My parents (dad only) did not make a whole lot of money – we did without A LOT of the things my friends had. Did it matter? NO. We were surrounded by lots of money and people with wealth. My parents NEVER taught me that I deserved what others had – we were taught that we had to earn whatever we wanted, and the way to that was education, and that they were giving us *that*. But I was never taught to look around and say: oh, I deserve what other people have. NEVER.
That is NOT how kids today seem to be raised.
It is distressing to hear from teachers on here as to what happens in the classrooms because of the administrators. As I’ve been saying for years…well, we need fewer administrators. since they’re clearly not doing their jobs anyway. and no, we don’t need ‘more oversight.’ that’s another joke….

L Sturch

July 12th, 2011
11:13 am

I echo Jovan Miles comments. My daughter teaches early intervention kindergarten in the metro area. Everyday she dedicates herself to the needs of her students, educational and emotional.
This scandal taints all teachers results, whether earned and justified or ill gotten.

Blk Male SpEd Teacher

July 12th, 2011
11:13 am

@jovan Miles…

I was speaking of Raymond Hart in my post. He is an exceptional teacher and our discussions were exactly what I am seeing right now in education. I have full confidence that he will do a great job as he did in Ohio. He is from Atlanta and I’m sure he is going to have the best interest in the children…

@femalesped
I’m with you on the parent involvement. The problem with a lot of our parents is that they aren’t looking at the big picture of education. Spend the first couple of years ensuring that your child is able to read, write, and do math and you will produce a child who can make it somewhere they couldn’t without education. My mother didn’t have degrees but she made sure I did… Read the Book “Take a risk” By Ben Carson…. When a parent wants better for their children, they dedicate the time and make sure their child is prepared to succeed in this world.

APS parent

July 12th, 2011
11:15 am

To echo Former Spark’er – When will the LaChandra B-B, who helped Hall cook the books on the Blue Ribbon report, and her fave lackey C.K-Harsh, step down too? I don’t know if L-B-B will face a re-election campaign, but CK-H will, should she be so stupid as to run again. I’m similarly ignorant of the state of affairs regarding the districts of the other two of Hall’s Fab Four.
I hope Mayor Reed is pleased with himself – after so vocally supporting B.Hall and her junta and crowing that he’d strong-armed K.El off the board… K. El was right, and Reed, ever playing for his legacy, was oh so pathetically wrong.
Maybe if Reed had actually lived in town for any length of time before running for election, and actually talked with a wide swath of APS parents and teachers instead of whatever power bases he keeps playing to (such as the large-corporate-headquarters’ folks), he wouldn’t have made the mistake of supporting such a huge puddle of poo.

Glad I can afford to send my children to Pvt School

July 12th, 2011
11:16 am

If there is a hero in this mess it’s Khaatim S. El and the fab 5. Too bad Atlanta’s Thug Mayor, Kasim Reed, is owned by the Black Political structure and stuck with Hall. Kasim Reed was good at carrying Hall’s water but sure let the stidents down.

Glad I can afford to send my children to Pvt School

July 12th, 2011
11:19 am

Kasim Reed = Fat Bill Cambell

Dekalb Teacher

July 12th, 2011
11:20 am

There are so many issues that have surfaced due to the APS cheating scandal that are far more disturbing than just changing answers on the CRCT tests. First, let’s look at the APS administrative leadership team above the principal level. Several comments were made about targets being the key to what has happened. Even if a school made AYP, principals would be placed on PDP simply for not making Hall’s self serving targets. This type of negative leadership can lead to nothing but disaster. Second, due to the pressure from above, principals, in order to try to save their positions, used the same negative leadership towards their teachers trying to produce the results (even false reports) that was expected from above. They totally showed lack of ethical principles and courage. They are supposed to be the role model of those they lead. Finally, the teachers, test coordinators and all else involved. Where is the courage that you are supposed to possess to say “No, I’m not going to stoop to that level”? You expect your students to have the courage to say no to drugs, violence, and all other negative pressures placed upon them, but you fall to the pressures yourself. Probably the most disturbing thing that I see in this scandal is that no one had enough faith in the students themselves to be able to pass fairly. What everyone involved is saying to those students in “you don’t have the intelligence to do it yourselves, we’ll cheat for you. I too teach in a title one middle school. We don’t test our own students, or even grade level. I’ve never seen the CRCT test for my grade level, and I’m glad. Over 90 percent of my low income, African-American, students passed the math test. They have the same background as the Atlanta School System. If you tell a student that he/she is unable to learn, believe me, they will learn to believe it. Don’t hand me any excuses except that you were all serving yourselves instead of the children placed in your care. Shame.

Gwinnett Teacher

July 12th, 2011
11:24 am

There is a culture of this behavior that starts with the Georgia Department of Education who “pretends” to investigate allegations of abuse of power by administrators. Gwinnett has many of the same issues (also documented and reported) that got swept under the rug. This isn’t an “inside of the perimeter problem” but rather a Georgia problem. The corruption that exists in GEORGIA public education school administrators that make salaries from $160,000 to 385,000 dollars annually (go to: open georgia.gov. as it is public information) shows the lengths they will go to protect these jobs that they would never get in the private sector and are doing on the taxpayers back. Everyone has a right to make a decent living but it should not be behind a corrupt system or while the rest of the country is taking furloughs and paycuts. . I have personally witnessed test alteration in Gwinnett County Schools and reported it to the GADOE, the Governors Office and the Professional Standards Commission. . A ridiculous investigation was conducted by the GADOE only after I faxed documents everyday for over a month to support the allegations. In the end, GADOE took the Gwinnett administrators and lawyers word- over several teachers that reported it, ommited information from written reports, even told us that the investigation notes were destroyed as required by law. Ironically, we were all reassigned to the more difficult schools within the county even though we had more time at our schools – Get rid of the whistleblowers- Maybe thats why APS was so silent. I still work for Gwinnett county, I am black balled, and will get out of teaching after this school year. All because I, like so many other teachers, tried to report the wrong doing of a system that rewards corruption and deceit and will go to any length to protect their paychecks before they protect kids. If you want to make this a racial issue then lets make it a political one as well. Republican Gwinnett is left alone while Democratic Dekalb and Atlanta City are “REALLY” investigated. Just like Gwinnett and any other district that has allegations of cheating should be.

joe

July 12th, 2011
11:41 am

–Why was the cheating scandal so exclusively pronounced for some children and not for others (splitting sharply along racial lines) and yet equal in its mistreatment of the poor and disenfranchised? Why were these children – mostly low income and African-American – so cavalierly denied access to America’s promise?

Isn’t the overwhelming majority of those “in power” on the APS board, African-American? So if indeed the cheating was “splitting sharply among racial lines”, wouldn’t that signal that the majority of those schools in the APS had mostly African-American students were the ones whose test scores needed raising in order to meet the score objectives set by the same AA board members?

And if the minority students (non-AA) had scores that didn’t need to be raised because they already met those standards set by the same board, then saying the cheating was split among racial lines makes zero sense. The cheating was done by AA administrators to fix the scores of AA students, so why not say it like it actually is…or was? If anyone failed here, it was the AA administrators who failed the AA students, who should have failed their grades and repeated their school years in order to actually learn instead of the teachers passing them on to the next grade, despite not being able to read or write as they should based on their grade level. Pathetic indeed.

Dr. John Trotter

July 12th, 2011
11:45 am

Future campaign sign…”Kasim Reed…He Defended Beverly Hall.”

Wrong is wrong, dude

July 12th, 2011
11:45 am

I don’t get the point about a nefarious business community being complicit. Surely, the blame for this falls within the schools.

ENOUGH !!!!!!

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

Here’s what REALLY come next:

First:

Teachers in ANY school should NEVER again be allowed to handle the tests.
It will require am OBJECTIVE 3rd party to administer and oversee ALL CRCT testing.
Teachers in APS (and other systems) have CLEARLY PROVEN that they can not be trusted.

Second:

Lawsuits. Lots and lots of parental lawsuits against APS, the City of Atlanta,
and the State of Georgia, all 3 of which REFUSED to investigate YEARS of SUBSTANTIATED rumors of massive chearting.

Fourth:

We need a NEW newspaper in Atlanta.
The AJC KNOWINGLY sat on their hands whiel alal this
had been going on……..FOR YEARS.

Lastly:

The so-called “Black Leadership” in Atlanta need to STFU, as they
were COMPLICIT in this fraud and have lost ANY credibility left on this
topic and ANY OTHER TOPIC.

Paddy O

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

I think Mr. el swiped that “crisis of character” description from me (but i described the entire nation, not just the poor fools in Atlanta), I need an average lawyer! BUT, SACS seems to be a disfunctional accreditation agency – what can the AJC tell me about them? Why do they (somebody must authorize & mandate SACS accreditation,no? Should not the state BOE do this?) do this, when there seems to be little to no benefit, and actually seems to be negative impacts.

Go Panthers!

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

Noblest act of this entire debacle. I thank him for his service and wish him a bright future, no sarcasm intended.

Now, I move for a recall and election of all new BOE members to accompany the housecleaning. Muhammad’s district middle school is Parks and the other former Chair is listed in the report as possibly turning a blind eye. They need the opportunity to move on to their next opportunity, too.

Shar

July 12th, 2011
11:49 am

DeKalb teacher, good post. Although I know that “ability grouping” (aka tracking) has been a bete noire for many years, I am wondering what the teachers on this blog would think of putting it in place in the most affected schools, given that the cheating has deprived slower students of years of needed help and resulted in huge disparities in the classroom? Would differentiated instruction be helpful in addressing needs and classroom management?

ENOUGH, ALREADY !!

July 12th, 2011
11:50 am

Just in case NAYONE needed an example,
just read teh article about form er Mayor Shirley Frankiln…defending…Beverly Hall.

Totally unethical and disgraceful !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But hey, just more of the SAME “Black Leadership.”

Maureen Downey

July 12th, 2011
11:52 am

@Enough, I don’t mind valid criticisms of the press, but I have to ask if you have been paying attention. It was the AJC in 2008 that first looked at CRCT scores and did an analysis that suggested strongly cheating had occurred. As the state report itself notes, none of this would have occurred if not for the AJC series of investigations into the CRCT scores.
Put simply, had the AJC not taken up this issue for three years, there would be no report and no one be aware of the cheating. There would have been no audit by the state, no outrage by Gov. Perdue and no follow-up probe by the GBI. Dr. Hall would be happily dancing a hula, Dr. Augustine would be unpacking her dishes in DeSoto and parents would be still wondering why their children passed the CRCT with flying colors in middle school and were failing in high school.
Maureen.

Paulo977

July 12th, 2011
11:53 am

Jovan Miles

“simply return to an era where accountability is not shared equally by all stakeholders (teachers, admins, parents, AND students) and the social, economic, emotional, and educational outcomes for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds continue to suffer, further perpetuating the great American caste system.”

All the witch hunting is driven by the hidden agenda to maintain the American caste system !!!!

Shar

July 12th, 2011
11:54 am

@ ENOUGH!!! You forgot third. Did you attend an APS school?

Also, “lots and lots of parental lawsuits” will only punish one group – the taxpayers. Parents of cheated children failed to monitor their educational attainments, and were a part of the problem.

I’m not sure that teachers should no longer be able to touch tests, but I do think that they should be rotated among schools for testing week, so the tests are administered by teachers who will not be affected by the outcome. It wouldn’t be that difficult to make a random rotation for that one week.

Wrong is wrong, dude

July 12th, 2011
11:54 am

Common sense and a moral compass tell you not to change a kid’s answer on a test. I wouldn’t blame anyone but the people who did it or knew about it within the school system.

Incredulous

July 12th, 2011
11:56 am

@Shar. Aaahhh, differentiated instruction. Looks great on paper. Unfortunately, it is a too convenient
tool for administators to blame the teacher for students lack of progress. Differentiated instruction is not a panacea. Before it can be applied, we’d have to back up a little and divest ourselves of the inclusion model. In short, what was a great tool for remediation and reaching a broader audience, has become a catch phrase for ineffective administration.

PracticalWiz

July 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

After reading the plethora of stories about the APS cheating scandal, it is glaringly obvious that the whole situation is a perfect example of corruption in its ugliest light. Let’s all face the real truths of this travesty:

Hall is wrong because she encouraged the cheating in the schools and then attempted to covered it up when it became obvious to the AJC and the state investigators what was going on. She should be ashamed of herself and should promise to never involve herself in the field of education again.

The central administration under Hall was wrong because they, along with Hall, thought more about career building and image than promoting sound education in APS. They were derelict in their duties and arrogant in their fraudulent activities.

The school board was wrong because they spent more time arguing among themselves than ensuring that the policies that they were sworn to make and uphold were effective and were being effectively carried out.

The school administrators were wrong because they became dictatorial bullies in their own little kingdoms. Their actions were cowardly in that they demanded that their employees commit fraud under the threat of termination. The money they wanted was more important to them than the educational veracity of the children in their schools.

The teachers were to blame because they allowed themselves to be used by the board, the superintendent, the administrators, and the parents to perpetrate fraud. They should have taken the higher road and worked together to stop the cheating. Scared people who are morally weak (or corrupt) should not become teachers (or administrators). Stand up for yourselves teachers and for your students.

Parents are to be blamed for “not knowing” enough about what was going in the schools (and with their kids) for years and for not teaching their kids that cheating, regardless of who is encouraging you to do it, is wrong. Also when their children tell them that they were told answers on a standardized test, they shouldn’t just blow it off. (It is hard for me to fathom the idea that out of the thousands of kids involved not even one parent came forward to say their child was involved in cheating??? I simply can’t believe that none of the thousands of kids told their parents.)

The Atlanta elected community leaders were wrong because for years they have used the school system as a political punching bag upon which they base your campaigns. Nothing gets more votes than bad mouthing the schools. How about actually spending more time helping the schools by dropping by and tutoring kids?

The Atlanta clergy leaders are wrong because instead of teaching their congregations (in which many of the parents, teachers, school leaders, and students belong) moral lessons of right and wrong, they prefer to teach the doctrines of gaining wealth at all costs. Who is really setting the moral compass in Atlanta?

Lessons learned:
Cheating is wrong.
Cheaters are wrong.
Cheaters shouldn’t be helped.
Those who encourage cheating, are cheaters themselves.
Those who silently watch cheaters, are cheating too.
Cheating because you are scared is still cheating.
Cheating doesn’t continue indefinitely.
Lying about cheating doesn’t make it go away.
Cheaters eventually get caught.
The cheated never forget.

Southside Shawty

July 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

Ironic that he waited until yesterday to resign, and has a job already lined up.

Paulo977

July 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

Why does CANADA begin standardized testing only at the end of grade 6?

ATL Taxpayer

July 12th, 2011
12:10 pm

APS’s new superintendent and Board – on behalf of Atlanta taxpayers – should immediately seek return of all bonus money – derived from phony test scores – paid to any APS employee. Beverly Hall – when she returns from her luxurious Maui vacation – needs to be first in line to repay the over one-half millions dollars she fraudulently received!

chillywilly

July 12th, 2011
12:14 pm

Speaking of APS Finances, why do we need a Director of Disbursements (supervises Payroll & Accounts Payable), two Accounting Supervisors in Accounts Payable, a newly created Assistant Director – Accounts Payable and a newly created Assistant Director – Payroll? If we have all of these positions, why in the world do we need the Director of Disbursements? Is she capable of performing her assigned duties? Obviously not. How did she get this position in the first place? Was it her knowledge or tight dresses? There are two Supervisors (one in AP & one in Payroll) that are very capable of performing the duties of Assistant Director – Accounts Payable & Assistant Director – Payroll. Why not just transition these two fine individuals into these two roles? Why are they readvertising these open positions? Have they “secretly” selected someone to fill these positions? Something “ain’t” right and I plan to contact the right sources to conduct an investigation.

Justice Seeker

July 12th, 2011
12:17 pm

@Maureen Downey – if the AJC is on the ball and on top of the story, why aren’t you reporting about the ethics charges filed against Kathleen Mathers, Gary Walker and Kelly Henson? Mathers and Walker both wrote letters containing falsehoods, they knew what they were writing was false and that their actions harmed the reputation of an honest educator. Why is it not a story for the AJC to report on the “watchdogs” having possible ethics issues? The ethics complaint was delivered to Kelly Henson on June 30th and it is “not in their system.” They will whitewash it, apparently with help from the complicit media. Maybe you don’t want to “upset” them by reporting these facts?

Paulo977

July 12th, 2011
12:20 pm

winnie

July 12th, 2011
12:20 pm

Parents have power. Parents in some of these communities need to accept their part in this great mess. Many of them knew their children were not reading. We as parents know our children and it is our job to help the schools, and teachers to educate our children. As bad as this is many parents have let their children down. Cheating uncovered now could have been uncovered by parents monitoring their children progress. Parents as well as APS have let these children down. What will APS parents in these communities do now? Point fingers, or will we go to our parent conferences, read to our children, help with homework, support and attend PTA meetings support our teachers and schools in our communities There is enough blame to go around but the children are blameless. Parents what will you do to help our children?

Incredulous

July 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

@Maureen Downey. Has there been an official statement from either the Broad or Gates Foundations?

BADA BING

July 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

Big Mama Hall is in Maui. 3 words……Book ‘er Dano.
Q. If Hall was the School Supt. in Hawaii, what kind of grades would the students make?
A. All leis.
Q. If Hall went swimming in Hawaii, why wouldn’t the sharks attack her?
A. Professional courtesy.

Justice Seeker

July 12th, 2011
12:28 pm

The AJC, while doing a good job on dogging this story until government finally took action, definitely plays favorites when it comes to reporting. There are serious ethics charges against Kathleen Mathers, Gary Walker and Kelly Henson filed, but not one piece of investigation or reporting. Could it be they don’t want to “upset” these folks? Mathers and Walker wrote letters containing false statements in the course of an investigation. They knew their statements were false and knew the process would produce irreparable harm to an innocent educator. The dishonesty in the “process” is repulsive – I would hope other honest people would never have to go through this.

Now, an ethics complaint has been delivered to the PSC against these individuals, but they are not “in the system” and if they ever do get into the system, I would guess their cronies on the Commission will whitewash this and make it go away. Where is the press asking the tough questions of these people? The AJC has the details and can easily get the supporting documentation that proves the case. Why no “investigative journalism” here? One can only wonder…