City councilman: Still reason to be proud of APS diploma

Here is a piece by C.T. Martin, the “Dean” of the Atlanta City Council. He was elected in 1990 and represents District 10. He is also a graduate of an APS, a system that he says still has reason to be proud:

By C.T. Martin,

In 1869, Dr. Daniel O’Keefe faced fierce opposition from the city’s elite when he led the charge for the establishment of a public school system in Atlanta. The municipality’s well-heeled didn’t have the slightest desire in supporting a system in which their children would not attend since they were sent to privileged private schools.

City Council members, however, made O’Keefe’s resolution law. Thanks to O’Keefe, access to education for most of the city’s citizens was born. This was, of course, a good thing. However, there was also a less palatable racial caveat. The following year, in 1870, the first Public School Act of Georgia mandated separate black and white schools.

I’ll be clear. The negative impact of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal will be with us for some time. But we mustn’t lose perspective here. Frankly, there’s been no history of a cheating scandal before this one.

The heritage of Atlanta’s schools includes many not-so-good and good years. The good has outnumbered the not-so-good. Ministers’ associations led by Daddy King, Joe Boone, John Boone, the Atlanta Summit (which I am proud to have been a member), organizations such as the NAACP and a slew of local educational leaders fought the good fight for educational access and equality in teacher’s pay, this in an atmosphere in which the city’s constitution required segregation by law and with governors all too willing to enforce it for cheap political gain.

We will get past a cheating scandal because we have to. Free access to education remains pressing, especially in these uncertain economic times and a changing economy that demands an educated workforce. The computer age is here to stay.

In the scheme of things, Atlanta’s schools have not done too badly. They’ve produced such notables as Martin Luther King, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, lawyer and business executive Vernon Jordan, celebrity judge Glenda Hatchett, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, businessman Herman Russell. As are many of my colleagues on the City Council, I am a proud product of APS.

Each year thousands of new and inspiring graduates are produced by APS like Deonte Bridges, who last year became the first African American male valedictorian of Booker T. Washington Senior Academy in more than a decade. He did it through hard work and with the support of dedicated teachers. Deonte faced challenges but overcame them, from drug enticements, robbery at gunpoint, the untimely death of his brother and other emotional setbacks. His family, like so many others, did not have deep pockets to afford a private education.

Had the elite of the city’s early days had their way, most of us would not have been able to become educated to make significant contributions to our city, state, the nation and the world in which we live.

Consider these recent APS achievements as well:

Under the BuildSmart plan, a billion dollars was invested in constructing and renovating state-of-the-art schools. From school years 1999-2000 to 2010-2011, APS built 17 new schools and renovated more than 60 others, thanks to taxpayer support from SPLOST.

APS established the 21st Century Atlanta Scholars program to prepare high-performing students for admission to selective New England colleges known as “Little Ivies.”  In 2010, 100 percent of the first class of 21st Century Scholars graduated from college on time, with degrees from these prestigious institutions.

APS produced the highest number of Gates Millennium Scholars over the past three years — 69 students have earned the scholarship from 2009-2011.

As you have read, Gov. Nathan Deal and other officials have announced that they would look into what legal action can be taken against those involved in the scandal. Fine. But, still, how do we fix this — to lessen its likelihood from happening again?

Maybe, we need to revisit the school’s relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. It’s good to have input from all sectors of the community, but today the business community plays an enormous role in the APS, from the choice of superintendent to school policy. That wasn’t the case in the not-so-distant past. Our system, as a result, has lost its independence.

Also, I do not doubt the intentions of programs such as No Child Left Behind, but I wonder whether providing bonuses for achievement contributed to the scandal. As any experienced teacher knows, students don’t magically blossom simultaneously on test day. Those of us outside of the profession can only imagine the pressure to meet these goals to ensure their livelihoods.

And let us not forget that the great majority (2,816 of the system’s 3,000) teachers weren’t involved in the scandal and that the relationship between teacher and student remains among the most beneficial and endearing in our society today.

With all of our school system’s many achievements, the perception of mass cheating by every teacher and student persists. Thousands of recent graduates are asking how valuable is their APS diploma.

Recently, a 2000 graduate questioned his mother (who is a teacher) asking, “What do I do with my degree? Be proud or ashamed?” I say he should be proud. But fix the system we must—and we will, so that there’s no repeat performance to tarnish a system that doesn’t deserve it.

This is a city that survived a race riot in 1906 to become the city “ too busy to hate.” The Great Atlanta Fire of 1917 reduced attendance in Atlanta’s public schools by two-thirds. They’re still there, by the way, the students, only many more, awaiting the imminent renewal.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

122 comments Add your comment


July 23rd, 2011
7:18 am

I also believe APS will survive this tragedy as I will do all that I can do to help the city I love overcome this major challenge. As an Atlanta native I feel a special responsibility to take care to keep a watchful eye on anyone arriving making promises to the citizens and we entrust our most important treasures.

As an APS employee I was always distrustful of this aloof distance woman arriving from New York after initially meeting her and was immediately in fear for my school district and city. Her demeanor wasn’t warm or welcoming which is the normal culture here in the ATL. Unfortunately, my gut was right and I wondered on most days why the hometown folks didn’t see what I saw. She was not going to be good for Atlanta in the long run.

I hoped and prayed for 11 years for some civil rights hero to come rescue and save us from this really bad experience, No one came and still wonder why the universe allowed her and the regime to stay so long. There must be some real important lesson we are suppose to learn from this sad saga.

I guess the lesson for me personally was that I should have stepped up and risk more such as loosing a job that I truly loved to bring the wrong I observed to light sooner to set us free. I guess the hero I was waiting for could have been me.


July 23rd, 2011
7:38 am

@APS/APS – AMEN, AMEN to everything that you said!! Instead of hiring a well qualified candidate right here in the south, we went to New York and brought back one of the biggest imposters up there to lead this school system. Hall had absolutely no people skills, trusted no one, was paranoid, hid up on the 8th floor and pretended that she didn’t know what was going on in her school system. I read the entire 405 page investigation interview of her that was conducted by Bowers, Hyde & Wilson. I believe she told a lie on 399 of those pages. She’s in denial and I strongly feel that she should repay those fraudulent bonuses. She should be indicted for corruption and coverup. Beverly Hall, APS, Sam Williams of the Chamber of Commerce and others should be sued to the max, including the lint off of their drawers.


July 23rd, 2011
7:53 am

What a great article Mr. Martin. Thanks you highlighting the positive regarding APS. My heart hurts that this happened and ultimately the students and innocent staff members suffer. Despite your income level, effective parental involvement is necessary.
To APS/APS: I commend you for your comments here. Please do not fault yourself here and you sound like a hard working honest educator and for that I thank you. There were too many “big elephants” in the rooms for one person to make a difference. Justice will happen for the just and punishment will occur for those that it is deemed for. There are so many similar stories going on in school districts around this country. They just have not made it to the media yet and some never will due to income levels, power and race.


July 23rd, 2011
8:01 am

Chilly Willy…I am cracking up over your comments about the lint off their drawers…(lol)…the only laughter that I have gotten out of this sad story…I too agree the leader needs to be punished but she had a smart lawyer that crafted a contract that protected her but the parents need to file some lawsuits against some folks on behalf of their children.


July 23rd, 2011
8:13 am

I would have to agree with Chillywilly- INDICT all individuals involved in both the cover-up and the actual changing of the grades. Go after them in civil actions to recover awards and bonuses received.
This will take years to recover whatever reputation that the APS had.

Inman Park Boy

July 23rd, 2011
10:24 am

I am a product of the APS having attended Moreland Elementary, Anne E. West and East Atlanta High. None of these schools now exist under those names but there are thousands of us in Atlanta, Norcross, Decatur, and in all corners of Georgia and the U.S. who remember “what was.” Okay, that being said (with a huge thanks to all APS teachers who taught us) everyone who loves the city and its schools needs to be intolerant, yes, intolerant, of the criminal acts that have occurred in the APS. To brush these acts aside with an, “oh well, not everyone engaged in them” is shortsighted and counterproductive. I suggest a complete overhaul in the central office; recruit teachers, area superintendents, and principals from the suburbs who are squeaky clean. Start over and start anew. Bring honor back to our great schools.


July 23rd, 2011
11:30 am

Until all criminal elements in the APS system are eradicated , this will happen again. Most Georgians are products of public schools as are most Americans, some of the greatest leaders in this country are products of public school education. The notion that black APS students can’t learn unless they are help by cheating is the straw that broke the camel’s back. For these scandal ridden instructors not to believe in the their students own merit is unjust and insulting. Yes the phoenix will arise from the flames but, at what cost? It most definitely shouldn’t be on the backs of our children. We need teachers who are worried about the success of their student (through honest means) and not those who are only concern about their pay bonuses and self-gratification. Deep down inside Bev. Hall knew this was happening to think otherwise would be naive, and that is not the case nor has it ever been.

APS High School Mom

July 23rd, 2011
11:36 am

I am an involved APS parent.

At the end of the school year, I dropped by my 9th grader’s teachers for their work. More than one teacher complimented my child. Not for his high performance, but for being such a patient and effective student-teacher-mentor for the lower performing students in the class. Student proficiency levels in basic literacy skills (rudimentary math and English) were lacking and in order to teach the subject matter the teachers had to get the bulk of the class up to speed. The kids who were lacking the essentials mostly came from schools where cheating has been identified.

By the end of the year, the teacher’s methods worked. Most of the class performed above the state average. My high-achieving child was part of the solution for his peers (even though it may have been at the expense of his learning the subject matter at a more nuanced level like some of the other 9th grade classes had in that high school).

High school is late in the game to learn basic literacy skills, but APS can and must catch these students up. It can be done. All children can learn. Adults can help like my 9th grader did. All involved APS parents, former parents and civic leaders need to step in and commit several hours of volunteer service in a school where there has been widespread cheating in grades K-8 or in a high school in the SRTs where there were cheated children.

Involved parents need to spread their talents beyond their own children and help others for the good of the whole. Atlanta may be an international city, but we are a community first and our public schools have great potential.

Patrick Crabtree

July 23rd, 2011
11:48 am

Being a teacher in APS, I know test score measures not a man. What a student puts in is what that student walks away with. There are a lot of very good students and they will be great leaders. There are excellent teachers. I will never demean the teachers in APS. 95% are honest, hardworking, have integrity, and care about students. It is sad the ‘Peter Principle’ is so alive and well. So many underperforming teachers get higher degrees to get out of the classroom because they cannot handle it and tell those of us who are successful that we can’t teach. What sounds so good in 2 minute soundbytes may be our demise (Hall admin). We need to do better research and more monitoring and most of all, question! Question! QUESTION!

APS parent

July 23rd, 2011
11:51 am

Being a City Council watcher for ten years or so now, you cannot convince me that dear CT (the biggest defender of the political status quo which lined up behind Hall to begin with) wrote that in the least, esp. after threatening to have Alex Wan’s house picketed in a rather tinged interaction about a month ago.
No history of cheating before this? No, just rampant graft and corruption, benefitting a certain segment of the population – same as benefits from the existing political status quo (rumors about census fallout are now starting to swirl).

APS parent

July 23rd, 2011
11:52 am

And final thouht -

Is CT stating a position of supporting the SPLOST over Reed’s transportation tax -?
Or is this the positioning of saying – gee all this has been done, how wonderful, now let’s funnel funds elsewhere?
As Martin’s considered Reed’s whip on Council, makes me wonder.

Mr Charlie

July 23rd, 2011
12:17 pm

Unfortunately, matter how you spin it, the kids in Atlanta are just plain DUMB. STUPID. They lack the basic necessities to survive in a capitalistic society, hence the push for socialism.


July 23rd, 2011
12:17 pm

“…but I wonder whether providing bonuses for achievement contributed to the scandal.”

No, do ya think? C. T. you are right there on the cutting edge. What’s your next epiphany, that maybe an 18 year old who can’t memorize the alphabet shouldn’t get a HS diploma?

Ed Johnson

July 23rd, 2011
12:24 pm

@APS/APS (”There must be some real important lesson we are suppose to learn from this sad saga.”):

There is. APS offers a local, small scale, 12 year run of what will play out nationally over an even longer run, thanks to Obama.

K-12 public education is the one thing Obama could have done right, easily. But he flubbed it with Duncan, Broad, Gates, et al. Horrible consequences will emerge only over the long run. Just as happened with APS under Beverly Hall.

And maybe that’s the plan, since Obama has appointed Hall to a administrative post…


July 23rd, 2011
12:38 pm

“Also, I do not doubt the intentions of programs such as No Child Left Behind, but I wonder whether providing bonuses for achievement contributed to the scandal”


Hey Erroll, How does Sharon Pitts remain YOUR Chief of Staff?

July 23rd, 2011
12:43 pm

Let’s see now…would it make sense for the Chief of Staff of a disgraced President to remain the Chief of Staff of the new President?


Am I missing something or it is incredibly naive on the part of Erroll Davis to keep Sharon Pitts as HIS Chief of Staff?


Is it Erroll Davis’s position and Sharon Pitts’s position that Ms. Pitts know NOTHING about the cheating, the modus operandi for it, and the cover-up?


I believe that Erroll Davis is going to whitewash much…blame the teachers named, and try to move on quickly…like he fixed something…and yes, collect his almost $400,000, right?


Maybe I am stupid…but I don’t see much changing as long as Beverly Hall’s “CHIEF” remains Erroll Davis’s “CHIEF.”


July 23rd, 2011
12:47 pm

APS….JUST ANOTHER JOKE OF AN URBAN SCHOOL SYSYTEM. A whole bunch of smart kids coming out of SW Atlanta? They can’t even speak English.

CT has a lot of crap.


July 23rd, 2011
1:02 pm

As a product of APS (@tim, from SW Atlanta lol), and an employee, I am so pleased to read this article. Yes, there have been many successful graduates of this scool system. Jasmine Guy, Angelique Proctor (local news anchor), Travis Payne (choreographer, most notably Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It” video), Fonzworth Bentley, Lil John, Chili from TLC, not to mention many highly successful folks names you wouldn’t recognize.

I am extremely grateful to the teachers I had while in school. The performing arts program at Northside (now North Atlanta) was once the best in the country. This was of course prior to Ms. Hall’s arrival. Many of the reforms that she put in place were not only useless, they interfered with the arts programs. I am hopeful that changes will occur that will bring Atlanta back to what it was “back in the day”.


July 23rd, 2011
1:02 pm


“There are so many similar stories going on in school districts around this country. They just have not made it to the media yet and some never will due to income levels, power and race”!!!!!!!!!

Oh yes we are that still… much as we attempt to cloak our real motives .

Responses to the article are pretty revealing though!!!


July 23rd, 2011
1:02 pm

oops… I meant “school” system.


July 23rd, 2011
1:24 pm

@ awaiting moderation..does this new blog meet your censorship?

@Hey Errol..I so agree how on earth can Sharon Pitts still be on the public payroll…she should be embarrassed to show her face in Atlanta. I wish Mr. Davis good luck but SHARON PITTS needs to resign.

@APS/APS…your reflections are amazing, you took the words right out of my mouth. I often ask myself, how did we let this happen???


July 23rd, 2011
2:10 pm

Cherry-picking notable APS grads in an attempt to divert attention away from the shool system’s shortcomings is . . . well . . . rather sad. There will be plenty of time to pat people on the back when, and IF, the mess a/k/a APS is ever cleaned up. I’m not about to start holding my breath.

Sharon Pitts Must GO

July 23rd, 2011
3:03 pm

Either clean house or don’t. Having S Pitts,S Dyer and L McKee is not cleaning house


July 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

No doubt APS has been a part of producing many fine individuals. However, fewer and fewer seem to come from there, and for years everyone has been very proud of things that did not actually happen! Now they want to move on? Well, if someone robs a bank do you say, “Hey, let’s put more security in place and move on?’” or do you apprehend and punish the perpetrators as you revamp your security? One way of revamping is to remove everyone higher than a plain old 28,000$ per year secretary at the CO. Perhaps allow them to reapply for their jobs in a few years when they prove themselves at some other venue. Go after any bonuses “earned.” Attach retirement funds if needs be.

Next is to get rid of (ie NOT continue to pay a cent to) those who have been implicated by the thorough investigation in the scandal at the school level. As long as any of them are still employed the cancer still festers and spreads.

THEN start planning for the children. You can’t do much until you weed out every one of the cancer cells that have affected this system.

However much it takes to remove the cancer is money well spent. The patient cannot get well till the cancers are eradicated. Start with the biggest first.

I hope the DAs will get busy with their indictment pens and, starting at the top, bring to justice the top 3-4 levels of APS “leadership”, as well as those complicit on the BOE and the C of C. Let’s get some folks in jail–it might convince some of the lesser minions who want to fight it not to even bother, when they see the perp walk done with the “almighty” and then the jail doors clanging shut!

APS is being laughed at all over the country. It is time to show that Atlanta won’t put up with the sub rosa, but is instead after the truth and will punish the liars and thieves!


July 23rd, 2011
4:16 pm


“APS is being laughed at all over the country.”

Careful …your racist claws are showing!!!!

[...] For those participating in this thread, take a look at this link: City councilman: Still reason to be proud of APS diploma | Get Schooled [...]

[...] For those participating in this thread, read through this link: City councilman: Still reason to be proud of APS diploma | Get Schooled [...]


July 23rd, 2011
4:19 pm

@Patrick Crabtree

Thank you for making it known the why others come out of the classroom. They do not want to deal with other folks children and the behaviors. They go in their offices and kick back. I remember asking a principal why did they come out of the classroom and the response was: “I felt that I could do more outside of the classroom.” My response was “or do less.” I know if we were to ask them to come and teach our students they would not last 10 minutes. That is why they left in the first place and now blame us for what they could not do either.

Sharon Pitts must Go

July 23rd, 2011
4:57 pm

Enter your comments here

Sharon Pitts must Go

July 23rd, 2011
5:01 pm

@ catlady… good plan


July 23rd, 2011
5:25 pm


“I am hopeful that changes will occur that will bring Atlanta back to what it was “back in the day”.”

Unfortunately , Hall was not the only one who walked into the trap where the focus was on getting learners to regurgitate ’stuff’ they had dinned into them. This trend began with the advent of Reagan who really gave standardized testing his blessing !! The 70’s had seen disussion and dialogue on the importance of teaching from ‘the known to the unknown(Baratz and Baratz … Sylvia Ashton-Warner)and harnessing the cultural arts as a tool to providing learners with different ways they could participate in to convey meaning and understanding as they explored what they encountered in their environment!!From the early 80’s the trend began to falter , even though it took off in British oriented school systems where the once rigid testing soon gave way to a more ‘humanistic’ approach that was set in motion by American thinking!!!!

Ironically,schools in areas that need cultural arts to help kids are the ones that have decided to eliminate what even few creative programs they have had!!

Sure , more affluent areas provide cultural experiences for their kids BUT these experiences are in isolation from the school curriculum .

I am afraid we have been misled …. standardized testing is NOT EDUCATING!!!


July 23rd, 2011
5:41 pm

@carolynstairs – don’t you have anything better to do than to keep changing your user name and spamming the threads with this same advertisement? Jeez, AJC….can’t you ban the IP address instead of messing with an email addy?

school observer

July 23rd, 2011
6:01 pm

Why does everyone assume teachers who become administrators were not good teacher? There is incompetence at every level. Teachers, Administrators and Parents. Finger pointing and blaming is how we got here in the first place. APS is in the mess it is because of a lack of accountability and responsibility. The problem is that school is not about children, it about keeping grown ups employed.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 23rd, 2011
6:30 pm


History remembers “doers,” not “musers.”

APS teacher.

July 23rd, 2011
6:43 pm

Our AP was an awesome english teacher and is a good AP.


July 23rd, 2011
7:12 pm

Paulo–Cheating, graft, telling lies, extortion (pressuring people to give you things of value), stealing are all crimes that know no race. Equal opportunity problems. No racism there, unless you want to believe this was due to race? Do you? You think the cheating was because of race? Or do you think punishing the above is racist?


July 23rd, 2011
7:14 pm

Paulo, do you think looking foolish is confined to one race? Cause we got lots of examples from all kinds of folks on that, too!


July 23rd, 2011
7:50 pm


You’re an idiot. Standardized testing simply means that ALL kids take the same tests. The idea of “cultural bias” particularly in a universally media dominated age as the one in which we liver is patently absurd. Maybe a hundred years ago, your idea “might” have had traction; but, it doesn’t now. Even then, people managed to excel.

This scandal is a result of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty which quite effectively took away the “burden” of any responsibility for minorities and tthe economic disadvantanged (you know, we used to call them poor before it became un-PC to say). Giving people what they haven’t earned avails them (and society) nothing.

i used to teach

July 23rd, 2011
8:28 pm

Public school in general is graduating kids who are not as smart as they were ten years ago. With the heavy emphasis on test scores and graduation rates, coupled with pressures to help kids get that good ole HOPE, they are receiving less good instruction than ever before.


July 23rd, 2011
8:29 pm


“Maybe a hundred years ago, your idea “might” have had traction; but, it doesn’t now. Even then, people managed to excel.”

For your consideration ….this is not 100 years ago

Neither is this…


July 23rd, 2011
8:51 pm

iused to

“With the heavy emphasis on test scores and graduation rates, coupled with pressures to help kids get that good ole HOPE, they are receiving less good instruction than ever before” ..

From the classroom and someone who knows what s/he is talking about!!


July 23rd, 2011
9:06 pm

I’m a proud alum of Atlanta Public Schools I attended elementary, middle & high school in APS and I enjoyed it.


July 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm

Who thinks Beverly Hall should be tarred an feathered , in Maui.?


July 23rd, 2011
10:35 pm

The APS school system was a wonderful district prior to Hall’s arrival, and was doing remarkable things with urban youth when I was a child. It is my hope that they are able to hopefully restore order to chaos, and place it back in its proper order. It was an exceptional school system with outstanding teachers (80’s and 90’s). There are still wonderful teachers there, but, let’s give them the tools and the opportunity to accomplish the miraculous things that they did back then. I pray APS is on the mend. Onwards and Upwards.
@catlady- I do agree . They must rid the system of those parasites that are there only for a check and not for transformative purposes. Too many jockeying for a postion to benefit from the prestige and influence that it ONCE held- let’s hope that all changes.

Money vs. Destitute

July 23rd, 2011
10:41 pm

We’ll seen this before, in the not so distant past. Clayton Co. Lost it’s accreditation and the county suffered tremendously because the Co. Chamber and unwise delegation sold the schools credentials to SACS to show other metro school systems who was in charge. The SACS show in Clayton didn’t work out too well. But it’s important to remember, the majority of Georgia’s districts cheat! However, the ” Exploited” will remain the same, and you know who they are! Sometime jail will only help, too bad jail is only for a certain race. A number of rappers have gone, however, people like Winehouse and Lohan are too privileged for jail/help.

bootney farnsworth

July 23rd, 2011
10:57 pm

this history lesson on why APS is wonderful reminds me of France claiming to be a world power because they once had an empire

what I wouldn’t give for someone to say “yeah, we were OK once, and can be again – once the trash in taken out and the multitudes of guilty are perped publically.

APS Parent #2

July 23rd, 2011
10:58 pm

@catlady & @Sharon Pitts Must Go..I know its a few hours before Sunday church, but AMEN!!

If Sharon Pitts and any of Dr. Hall’s former cabinet and/or chiefs of staff remain on the APS payroll, then nothing has changed.

I am still ruminating over something I read in the AJC…the Atlanta Board changed leadership to Muhammad and McDaniels and hoped to focus on rebuilding the relationship with the business community. Really??? Why them???

The business community helped Dr. Hall and LaChandra Butler-Burks lift the rug up and attempt to sweep the dirt under it. Seriously??

If this is the best that our board can give us, then they all should be removed. I am sick of anything related to APS that has a taint of the past 11 years.

bootney farnsworth

July 23rd, 2011
11:00 pm

oh, and considering that history lesson….

seems the bulk of the APS greatness comes from a time when the system was not obsessed with placing race ahead of achievement.

sorry CT, the more I read your letter, the worse it gets for you.

APS Parent #2

July 23rd, 2011
11:02 pm

I’ll add one more thing, that those who tried to lift the rug and sweep the APS cheating scandal under it didn’t include the Governor Sonny Perdue. Must be because the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and those business folks in Atlanta who hold the prison contracts are Democrats and not Republicans.

bootney farnsworth

July 23rd, 2011
11:03 pm

that CT touts many of the city council as being “proud products of APS”
goes a long way in explaining why Atlanta is such a disfunctional hell hole.