Why educators (and others) behave badly under pressure

Blog contributor and statistician Jerry Eads, a faculty member at Georgia Gwinnett College and past president of the Georgia Educational Research Association, sent me this provocative essay and series of questions about why educators cheat and whether we have created accountability systems that foster such behaviors:

Here is his piece:

This inferential statistician asks a probability question: Who among you think that two school systems in Georgia were the only ones in the nation that engaged in unauthorized test data manipulation (“cheating”) under No Child Left Behind?

I have watched the Georgia events unfold since questions arose about test results more than a decade ago. This saga has reminded me frequently of Stanley Milgram’s research in the 1960’s. See an overview here.

Milgram wondered whether Adolf Eichmann could have “just” followed orders as he testified during his trial. In Milgram’s studies, participants readily administered what they were told were potentially lethal electric shocks to others after simply being told to do so. (The “recipients” actually just acted as if they received shock.) Numerous other studies have confirmed Milgram’s findings (a review of them was published by Thomas Blass in 1999).

In his 1974 book “Obedience to Authority,” Milgram asked, “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?”

Generalizing his findings beyond questions about the Holocaust, he concluded that “ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”

Of course, the Holocaust was infinitely worse than any amount of student test results manipulation, yet if the Milgram study illustrates how readily so many will shock others, and if the Holocaust illustrates how readily so many will send others to their deaths, it’s not at all difficult to imagine that some educators might manipulate test scores if pressured by higher authorities.

That’s not to say manipulating test scores (or shocking participants in an experiment) is excusable; it’s simply to suggest that current national accountability policy creates an environment in which we should not be surprised that some people behaved badly. Perhaps we should be surprised, pleased, and perhaps even awed that the vast majority remained steadfast to their core educational beliefs and focused on doing what they knew was best for their students.

Given we’re so incessantly disposed to finger pointing, who in relation to No Child would you choose as the equivalent to Hitler and Eichmann?

Far more importantly, how might you suggest the-beatings-will-continue-until-morale-improves-prone policymakers rethink education policy so that we might begin making public education better rather than continuing to tear it apart?

Will “Race to the Top” correct the mistakes of NCLB or is it just working around the edges of the same underlying approach?

I find this lesson from Milgram’s later work of interest: When a peer, told privately to refuse to administer high shock, was “planted” in the room, almost all of the participants also refused to administer high shock.

Unfortunately, teachers who objected to cheating or refused to cheat were frequently threatened, punished or fired, and others learned that lesson. Perhaps, if teachers were treated as respected professionals rather than as serfs (and scapegoats), they might have been heard when they spoke and we never would have had the sad tragedy of Georgia’s cheating scandals. But then if teachers were treated as respected professionals, perhaps we would never have had the inexcusable travesty of NCLB in the first place.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

193 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

December 27th, 2011
12:09 pm

Maybe we need to take a closer look at the colleges these “respected professionals” graduated from. Could it be that the education they recieve is less than adequate and that grade inflation runs amok? Could it be that their degrees, for all practial purposes, are not worth the paper they are printed on?

catlady

December 27th, 2011
12:15 pm

Jerry, your last two sentences say it all. Amen, and amen.

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:16 pm

how about hiring professionals who actually believe in the concept we’re here to educate kids first, build our careers second?

and here’s a novel thought – nobody can rise to educational administration until they’ve put in a minimum of 8 years in the classroom.

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:19 pm

one thing to add Jerry – its not just faculty. the support staff who do everything from sweep the floors to install the most current technology are in the same boat.

catlady

December 27th, 2011
12:20 pm

Bootney, it used to be like that, at least in Alabama (Educational Capital of the South). I remember noting, back in 1973, that in order to be ACCEPTED into a master’s degree program in administration you had to have 10 years in the classroom.

InEd

December 27th, 2011
12:22 pm

What we should be concerned about, above all other considerations, including the information from this writer, is the further narrowing of our curriculum, via the CCSS (Common Core State Standards).

Parents, teachers and administrators should do their own research, and a place to start is the National Educational Policy Center, based at the University of Colorado at Boulder – nepc.colorado.edu/ — if policymakers relied less on findings by educational institutes and more on academic research, the true state of current education would become more apparent. Investigate the folks who create education policy, including the committees for the Common Core State Standards, and you will see that the educational research and evidence do not support what they are trying to roll out – more high stakes testing on a narrowly focused curriculum tied to staff employment and salary. I’m scared for my grandchildren.

justbrowsing

December 27th, 2011
12:23 pm

I agree bootney- too many collegiate minded administrators in administrative capacities who lack sound judgement and integrity -to the extent they are not only ineffective, but are also destructuve to the schools they are appointed to improve.

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:24 pm

@ catlady,

what on earth changed?
requiring teaching experience too much common sense?

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:27 pm

@ just

if you take a look at the people actually leading most higher ed institutions – presidents, deans, VPs, ect – you’d be appalled how
few of them have logged any signifigant teaching time.

more than a few have never taught at all

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:32 pm

@ ined

respectfully, I think we’re talking same thing – just from different POVs.

Teacher2

December 27th, 2011
12:40 pm

Excellent! I agree with catlady especially the last two sentences…so true.

bootney farnsworth

December 27th, 2011
12:45 pm

as to the article directly…
best way to kill your career in education, very possibly your job?
object to rampant non essential spending or career building dreams of others.

I’ve been told to get with the program or else, and found out very quickly what “or else” means – even after doing as I was told. I had,
after all, questioned the goals of “my betters” and had to be made
an example of.

Libby

December 27th, 2011
12:53 pm

I have taught for 35 plus years. During that time I have worked with ONE effective super and THREE effective principals/assistant principals. I see teachers every day who are poorly educated and pitiful excuses for teachers. I see admins who are promoted because of family ties, party buddies and f*** buddies. I see admins who sleep at their desks often, with the doors open for everyone to see. I see admins who are miserable teachers promoted and promoted and promoted, in spite of the fact that they are pitiful excuses for admins.

No, I don’t have an admin degree. This is not sour grapes. If I had wanted to be an admin, I would have gotten an MBA. I love teaching children and learning from good teachers.

If I had children in this day and time, they would be home-schooled. No doubt about it.

Where does it end? Many of the cheaters will be kept or suspended, with pay, for a short period. Good example for our students, right?

Libby

December 27th, 2011
12:54 pm

Forgot to add—-how many bad teachers are ever fired, non-renewed? I think I have seen it maybe twice.

Hillbilly D

December 27th, 2011
1:14 pm

Why educators (and others) behave badly under pressure

Because they are human. That’s why you have to have regulations, checks and balances, etc., to deal with what happens when humans act like humans. None of it is restricted to the world of education.

concerned teacher

December 27th, 2011
1:21 pm

I entered the teaching profession in my late 40s after a career in the business world, and the only thing I can state with accuracy about public education is that the issue is complicated. I teach special ed in a wonderful school that did not meet AYP for the past 2 years because of the failure of spec ed students on graduation tests. My three children graduated from this high school; one received a full presidential scholarship to a nationally ranked university and the other two were accepted to UGA. My children had wonderful teachers and took between 5-7 AP classes and scored 4-5 on AP exams taken. Even though this school is on a “needs improvement list” my children received an excellent education. But they also received the benefits of a home culture of high expectations and emphasis on education. We took our children on vacations, cultural outings, concerts, etc. We discuss current happenings and politics at the dinner table and in the car. We were involved in their education, read to them as children, forced them to do homework, encouraged them to take difficult classes, etc. Am I trying to pat myself on the back…no…just pointing out that my children not only received an education at school, l but also at home. This is not true of the majority of the students I teach in general education classes. So many students do not come from backgrounds where education and learning is valued, and I am amazed at the lack of interest in learning that I see from my students. And I find this even when trying innovative and differentiated instruction. Many simply do not have any curiosity or interest in learning. I go the entra mile to help the students I teach as do most of my colleagues. But I am convinced that it is almost impossible to bridge the gap between achievement of children from backgrounds and cultures where education is valued and encouraged and those where there is little interest in education. I offer to help tutor students on graduation tests before and after school and very often they do not care enough to show up for tutoring. But of course, our school is judged on AYP on how these students perform on the tests, so it falls on the school to come up with ways to help remediate them, which means we take them out of class for extra help. It ends up that the teachers care more about the students’ education than the students do. I know we have to continue to keep trying new ways to reach students, because it is not the students’ fault that they do not have the advantage of being born into an environment where education is valued. However, it is time we faced the fact that the schools cannot possibly make up for deficits in home and family life. To try to act as if it is possible places too much pressure on teachers and administrators. I am not justifying cheating in any way, but it is certainly reasonable to understand how it can happen. After all, if it is human nature to be honest, then why do we lock our homes and cars? I can only imagine it will get worse when more teachers are compensated on how their student perform. I cannot offer easy solutions, but I can say with certainty that I think more needs to be done to change cultural values. Until this changes, I will continue to work hard to try to help my students succeed, even when they do not care as much as I do about their education.

madteacher

December 27th, 2011
1:32 pm

The biggest problems we have in education is constantly scapgoating teachers as the main problem. What is the main problem is discipline in the classrooms and lack of enforcement. If parents aren’t held accountable for their child’s actions, nothing will improve in public education, and the more a teacher complains about this, then they are looked at with the one that has the problem instead of the students that are constantly causing behavior problems in the classroom which leads to lower achievement. I also agree that there are teachers and administrators that shouldn’t be where they are but that is the same in any profession. Unfortunately, teachers can’t pick their students and can only do so much with what they are given… If we can ever get the federal gov. out of education and get some real leadership at the state board with people that are in the real world with some common sense, then maybe we can improve education. In addition, race to the top is just going to create more paper work and stress on the teachers instead of helping them or improving education. Right now we are being told what to say and how to say it like robots. I wouldn’t advise anyone to go into education.

College Student

December 27th, 2011
1:33 pm

I agree that Teachers are getting a poor education while in college. I am currently in the Education program at one of our larger universities here in Georgia, working on a Middle Grades Education degree. I hove found that most of the requirements for my content areas have been a waste of time. None of the Math classes that I have to take has anything to do with the content that I will be teaching. Instead it is just college level math classes. I feel that it would be more beneficial if the classes covered the content for middle grades and taught us the material. as well as teach us many different ways to teach the content. I feel that this would arm the teachers with a better understanding of the content that we will be teaching along with teaching us valuable teaching techniques.

d

December 27th, 2011
1:38 pm

@College Student – I will say this much – hopefully you have personally mastered middle grades level math before you are going to teach it. I won’t disagree about needing to understand the pedagogy, but if you need courses on the actual content, there is an issue. I obtained my M.Ed. from Georgia State in Social Studies Education – I had Social Studies pedagogy courses and 15 credits of graduate level content….. does this mean I will necessarily teach the content I learned at that level? Probably not – quite a bit of it is not in the GPS (heck, the last third of the material I learned in Issues and Interpretations of European History won’t ever make it in a Georgia high school classroom – too “adult” for the children).

sp

December 27th, 2011
1:39 pm

Enter your comments here

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

December 27th, 2011
1:40 pm

Ya…that sounds like a good excuse. Since everyone is doin it then lets just turn a blind eye, like we are…

d

December 27th, 2011
1:45 pm

As far as this particular thread is concerned, there is a perfect line in the Georgia Performance Standards that explains this whole problem:
SSEPF1a: “Explain that people respond to positive and negative incentives in predictable ways.” Heck, we have to teach our children that people respond to incentives in predictable ways. If an administrator’s job is on the line because of AYP, and there’s nothing that can be done because of how poorly education law is written, they may indeed become desperate to make the scores what they need to be – or where they were set by someone who has never been in front of a classroom.

I am not excusing this, but people tend to behave in their own self interests – it’s in our nature. Perhaps the answer lies in letting the professionals take charge. You don’t become a doctor without passing muster with the AMA or a lawyer without passing muster of the ABA. If you violate their policies, those organizations will kick you out and you can no longer practice medicine or law respectively. Why can we let people become teachers without passing muster of their professional association (NEA)? Why can’t teachers set the standard of who becomes a teacher and who is removed from the classroom? (Just a note, I have seen on more than one occasion NEA locals council one of their own members out of the profession. I don’t know any teacher, member or non-member who wants a “bad” teacher in the classroom next to them).

ScienceTeacher671

December 27th, 2011
1:45 pm

@College Student, do you really think that middle grades level content is all you need to know? You should have known that much before you ever graduated from high school.

I agree that pedagogy is important, but you really need to know more than your students do – that’s one reason a college degree is required.

d

December 27th, 2011
1:52 pm

@ST671 – great minds think alike :)

I think if you go back to the history of American public education – especially in the early 20th century, you will see why the system is set up like it is. You didn’t always need a college education to become a teacher – and we had to have the respectable people in the town watching over the teachers (who weren’t necessarily the professionals we are today) – thus we have school boards. So now, we have businessmen/women, contractors, doctors, etc setting policy and standards for professional educators just because that’s how we’ve done it for so long. I think it’s high time we really take a look at the composition of school boards (both local and state) to see who is there, why they are there, and if they are really qualified to hold that position. After all, you can’t be a judge unless you are a member of the Bar…. and you can’t be a member of the Bar without certain qualifications. Why not make that a requirement for school board membership? (At least then we can avoid the “I’m gonna slug you/you bullyied me” types of school board members we’ve seen around here.)

College Student

December 27th, 2011
1:57 pm

@d and Science Teacher671– I agree that it is important to know more than the students, and just the required General Math classes is much more than what an 8th grader would know, but when every math content class is beyond the CCC or the GPS, that is where I have an issue. I have no trouble doing the required content classes, and I can do the middle grades content in my sleep, but how does that teach me how to teach the material. In the English content classes, they are taught different techniques and strategies on how to teach their material to varying student levels. I feel that more teaching like this would be more beneficial to our future students. It doesn’t matter how much you know of a certain subject, if you do not know how to teach it in a manner that the students will understand, then it is pointless.

MM

December 27th, 2011
2:10 pm

@ concerned teacher @ 1:21

I suggest everyone read your piece above. I have firm views on what’s wrong with American education but won’t repeat them because you already have said all that needss to be said. Education has become a football in American politics which has added much sound and fury to the discussion without giving anything real to think about. If American parents do not value education then their kids won’t either.

d

December 27th, 2011
2:11 pm

@College Student – as I said, when I was in my M.Ed program, I had both – the content courses I had were all grad-level courses. That is what they are designed to be. Even looking back at the European History course that I mentioned, sure I’m not going to be talking about all the “adult” content to my high school-aged students, but it gave me a greater understanding of why certain events unfolded the way that they did. The pedagogical courses that were required taught me how to use what I know in a way that would be useful for the students. I honestly don’t believe that your program does not have courses on teaching middle grades math in addition to your content courses.

Double Zero Eight

December 27th, 2011
2:14 pm

There is a chairperson for a large metro
school board that does not have a college
degree.

This is an fyi based on previous posts.

College Student

December 27th, 2011
2:16 pm

@d– NONE of the required courses are middle grades content and none of them cover any standard that I will be teaching. How does that help me be a better teacher?

mountain man

December 27th, 2011
2:16 pm

The better question about Milgrams experiment – if the planted “refuser” is immediately taken and traded places and received multiple shocks, then you ask the others to apply the shocks, I think you will see that they consistently apply the shocks. That sounds like the situation the teachers found themselves in. Look at the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster last year. Any miner could have been a “Whistleblower” and called MSHA and reported the unsafe conditions there, but none did, because they were threatened and fired. As a result 29 miners died. So why do people find it so difficult to believe that teachers would cheat when they are told by their supervisors that they will be FIRED if they refuse and they see colleagues fired? So where are the teachers who were fired for refusing to cheat – have they been reinstated with all backpay? And have the administrators then been summarily fired and prosecuted? No, I doubt it.

Chuck Allison

December 27th, 2011
2:17 pm

These people supported political leaders who thought “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” was wrong and that standardized tests discriminated against those who could not score well. They probably thought that they were doing the right thing to resist legitimate testing and academic standards.

From The Outside Looking In

December 27th, 2011
2:24 pm

I agree with madteacher. Too many parents want teachers to raise their children while setting poor examples of moral turpitude at home. Here’s the test for adults, are your children expected to read more for school than you read on your own? If so, how are you the example for your child. Do you have a high aptitude for math and information technology? if not how are you an example for your child. Do you have a detailed written short term and long term goals for your child’s education besides waking, feeding and pushing them out the door to their teachers. People please stop acting like most people can walk off their job because they cannot meet the standards set by policy makers without a road map for meeting the requirements. A cheating teacher shuld never be able to pull the wool over a parent’s eyes. Standardized tests don’t tell you your child is a poor performer interacting with them should.
There will always be organizational leaders that just want the numbers whether it is education, finance and banking, etc. We need to focus on protecting employees that want to blow the whistle otherwise most people wil just have to go along with the ruse until they find another job or rich spouse

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:26 pm

funny how everyone here seems to blame the teachers when your bad a$$ children–sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins–come to school dumber than a sack of rocks or feel entitled. many of you blame the system or teachers, but the parents and children are as much part of the problem, too. furthermore, many of you so-called experts wouldn’t last a semester. the paperwork alone will make you quit. stop your finger pointing and get to the root of the problem: you had a child with someone with terrible genetics and your child is the result. deal with it because your child aint that bright any damn way.

d

December 27th, 2011
2:27 pm

@College Student:
I just pulled the following from Georgia State (required courses for middle grades math and science):
EDCI 6540 Principles of Instruction in Middle Childhood Science and Mathematics (3)

Principles of Instruction in Middle Childhood Mathematics
and Science. This course provides the pedagogical content
knowledge necessary for effective middle school
instruction in mathematics and science. Students engage in
lesson and curriculum planning, teaching strategies and
methods, content, and technology for middle grades
mathematics and science education
EDCI 7540 Theory and Pedagogy of Middle Childhood Science and Mathematics Instruction (3)
Theory and Pedagogy in Middle Childhood Mathematics
and Science. This course provides theory and pedagogy
necessary for effective middle school instruction in
mathematics and science. Approaches for integrating
mathematics and science curricula are learned in a school
setting

This is where application of the content and integration of the GPS (as well as the actual student teaching).

Good Mother

December 27th, 2011
2:28 pm

“Could it be that their degrees, for all practial purposes, are not worth the paper they are printed on?”

This is not as much about a degree as it is about integrity. Although some of my children’s teachers could not pass some of their own tests, that is a matter of ignorance. Cheating is a matter of honesty and integrity. Those things are something you have or you don’t have before you ever enter a college. They don’t teach honesty and integrity in college. They either enforce their own ethics policies or they don’t.

d

December 27th, 2011
2:30 pm

@Chuck Allison – I would argue there is a difference between “legitimate testing” and what actually occurs in the modern classroom at the direction of the State.

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:30 pm

definition of passing the buck: employers blame high school. high school blames middle school. middle school blames elementary schools. elementary schools blame parents. parents blame society. society blames the systems.

Mahopinion

December 27th, 2011
2:31 pm

@mad teacher:
No one “scapegoats” the teachers. The teachers choose their own behavior, therefore they bear the consequences of it. It’s the constant refrain of “it’s the parents, students, administrators fault, not ours”, that people are tired of.

In many fields there are multiple people involved in events that either makes things work or fail. But the person who bears actual responsibility for it is the person who implements the behavior or action. For instance in medicine a doctor writes a prescription, a pharmacist fills it and the nurse administers it to the patient. If there is something wrong with the prescription and the patient suffers from it (the wrong medication, an allergy, the wrong dose, etc) it’s the nurse who holds the ultimate responsibility for it because he/she is the last safe guard for the patient. Is it fair that the doctor and pharmacist matter off with barely a slap on the wrist while the nurse can loose their license? No, but that is the way things work. Accountability is part of being a professional.

The teaching profession is the same. They are the last safe guard when it comes to the policies and practices handed down by the government and administrators before they reach the students. If the teacher throws up their hands and says it’s the fault of everyone else rather than making sure the students are educated in a way that is effective for them ( and not the easiest for the teacher) then the teacher had failed to carry out their responsibility.

Bottom line, if teachers can’t or won’t live up to their responsibilities, then they need to leave the profession and make room for those who will. On a daily basis, I see teachers who are onlybidding their time until the bell rings. I also see teachers who are aware of the limitations and difficulties that are in front of them, yet they still move heaven and earth to make sure their students are learning what they need to know (and not by drilling test questions in to their heads) . Guess which students are the most successful (and not just on tests)?

Mahopinion

December 27th, 2011
2:36 pm

@WAR-
I’m sure you are speaking from experiences, being from the shallow end of the gene pool as you are.

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:38 pm

teachers would really like to implement many of the wonderful ideas posted here that could turn education around. Lord knows no educator has ever thought of these quick fixes; however, it is rather difficult to teach when your child is out of control. which is worse, you defend your precious gift to God’s green earth about missing homework assignments and late projects while expecting the integrity of learning to remain unblemished. get it together. your child is not that bright and you cannot expect me to turn chicken $hit into chicken salad.

d

December 27th, 2011
2:39 pm

@Mahopinion – the problem with your argument comes in at the very beginning of the process – the people making the regulations, for the most part, don’t have a clue what is going on in the classroom. Teachers are, for the most part, doing everything they can to give the highest quality education to their students, but when bureaucrats stick their nose into the water, that’s where the problem comes in. I spend more time documenting what I am doing rather than actually doing it. When I get back to school (walking in the same day as the children because our planning day is now a furlough day), I have to go back and copy information that was already provided to some faceless individual at the central office – and I have to do this manually because the form isn’t designed for copy and paste – before adding the current information to it. The sad thing is this data is already available to anyone at the central office. So instead of planning for instruction, I am regurgitating data that isn’t going to really affect future instruction.

Teachers are also indeed being scapegoated in several cases when you look at the cheating issue. I have taught at two different schools in two different systems (sure this is a small number, but I can’t imagine that it is much different elsewhere). Never have I been alone long enough with a standardized test to do anything with it even if I wanted to.

You are right – people are responsible for their own actions, but when trying to find out why people are taking the actions that are being taken, you have to look at are they doing what they know how to do or trying to meet some unattainable goal for someone who is so far removed from the process they can’t see what they are actually doing?

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:40 pm

maho
the shallow end is where are the nutrients are.

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:45 pm

each year when i informed parents and students what the rules were about no late assignments or no make-up work without exceptional circumstance or the result would be a zero, the most amazing thing happened. assignments were turned-in on time (except in some cases) or it was not turned-in and the result was a zero. rarely was there any discussion or conference. students earned their grades. parents were thankful. it was controversial and difficult because you feel for some kids. but students and parents alike responded like champions. as a result, other teachers adopted the same attitude and we became better educators because of it.

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:46 pm

maho
the shallow end is where all the nutrients are

WAR

December 27th, 2011
2:52 pm

soon ill see many of your children in the classroom. we will be excited for another semester. we will teach and learn. but some will decide otherwise for whatever reason. i will call you and ask for a conference. give them additional sources. they wont do the work and you wont make them. april will come and ill see you for the first time then with this sad look on your face wondering why your child is going to fail and maybe not graduate. on the outside i will be politically correct, but believe, on the inside, i will rejoice for the other children and parents who did what they were suppose to do and then some, because your child aint important to me if he/she aint important to you.

College Student

December 27th, 2011
2:53 pm

@d– Required math content area classes where I attend.
Math 1190 Calculus I
Math 3332 Probability and Statistical Inference
Math 3390 Mathematical Systems
Math 3395 Geometry
Math 3495 Adv Perspectives
These are strictly Math classes taught out of the Math Department, they have nothing to do with the Ed Dept.

Another comment

December 27th, 2011
2:57 pm

Ii

Th

TH

The biggest problem I see with the low performing states and even low performing urban districts in the better performing states are the large size of school districts. Until we go back to small school districts that consists of no more than one or two high schools with their feeder middle school and elementary school. Large districts and large schools are not money savers. They do not allow more services to be provided to the students. They are just huge patronage systems to the politically connected. They allow the incompetent administrators to be shuffled from one school within the district to another. They allow the same thing with incompetent teachers, they are just shuffled from school to school within the huge district. With 2,200 to 3,500 students at a high school it is all about the football and basketball teams. What if your kid is not one of the 40 or so on the football squad, the 11 or so on the basketball or the 19 to 22 on the cheer squad.

Don’t buy in to the line you can only have AP and honor classes at the mega schools. That is crap! My nieces and nephews have had plenty of AP and Honors classes at their High Schools in small Upstate New York Districts (20-30) miles SE of Buffalo (the 3rd poorest city in the country). Their high schools have only 1,000 -1,200 students they continue. To make News Weeks top School list every year. Football and Basketball exist, but they are not the end all. Multiple school districts share vocational schools that the non-college bound, general diploma students go to during their junior and senior year afternoons. They don’t drop out they graduate from High School with a General Diploma with a Vo-tech certification. Many go on to SUNY’s two year colleges and obtain an AA degree, they are then eligible to go on and get a BS or BA. You have over 90 percent graduatin rates.

There are so many advantages with small school districts. If we really want local control Georgia needs to get rid of these county wide 50,000 ,100,000 school districts. Look what works Decatur, Buford, Marietta. People get involved where they live. We don’t ne

Another comment

December 27th, 2011
3:04 pm

Sorry, I am trying to get used to typing om my new I-pad. The large districts are full of bloat and allow bad administrators and teachers to be hidden. We need to get rid of the football mentallity and concentrate on educating our average and above students
.

Let’s out source the SPED, since that is what is taking away from the majority of students.

d

December 27th, 2011
3:08 pm

@College Student…. I’d check with your adviser then. I don’t see any courses that would qualify you to be certified to teach in the state of Georgia. I can’t believe they would give you a M.A.T or M.Ed with simply those courses.

Mahopinion

December 27th, 2011
3:20 pm

@d-
Want some cheese with that whine?

Stop blaming the faceless bureaucrats who took away your planning day and realize that you aren’t being effective in the classroom if your students aren’t learning. If all you are doing is teaching answers to pass a test, then you aren’t really teaching at all.

Oh my. You have to document stuff, in triplicate, for nosey administrators. And on your own time, no
less. Sorry, but perhaps you missed the first day of science class when they discussed how the results of an experiment, in order to be considered valid, must be repeatable by other sources. Like it or not, our system of public education is just a big social experiment. As such, that experiment must be documented so we can see what works and what doesn’t. Anecdotal stories don’t prove your hypothesis.

@WAR-
Good for you on holding your students and their parents accountable for assignments being turned in on time. I have said here on this blog multiple times that students have this uncanny knack for living up or down to the expectations you set for them. When the only expectation for a class is to get little Johnny Shallowenofthegenepool to pass the standardized test, then everyone else suffers by not having goals high enough to challenge them.

Let’s face it. School has turned in to a big social factory. More emphasis is put on recycling and “everyone is a special snowflake” theory than on reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s time to get back to basics. Schools cannot fix the social ills of this world, and they shouldn’t even be trying.