Poison seeds: The bitter harvest of the APS cheating scandal

downeyart0401In 2009, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education featured Atlanta’s Parks Middle School on its annual bus tour of high-achieving schools, and I joined the visit. I arrived early in my own car, beating the bus and getting a chance to chat with students for an hour.

The enthusiastic students expressed pride in their school, which was decorated with banners announcing its awards and distinctions. And there were many.

In 2006, Parks Middle made adequate yearly progress and surpassed Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall’s even more ambitious targets. That same year, the percentage of eighth-graders who passed the math section of the CRCT rose from 24 percent to 86 percent. In 2008, Parks earned national accolades after becoming Atlanta’s only middle school to meet all its academic targets.

Over the weekend, I dug into my old files — a box in my closet — for my notebook from Parks. Among the quick observations I had jotted down: “Kids proud of school.” “Telling me about their high test scores.” “Staff all smiles waiting for bus.”

They aren’t smiling now. Nor are students bragging about terrific test scores.

According to the state investigation into cheating sparked by an AJC investigation, the miraculous test scores at Parks reflected systematic cheating by charismatic principal Christopher Waller.

Waller is among the 35 APS school leaders indicted Friday by a Fulton County grand jury for conspiring to cheat on mandated standardized tests. Leading off the list of indictments is Hall, who championed Waller and, according to the indictment, protected him from staff complaints that he pressured teachers to cheat.

The indictment describes school leaders for whom test scores became more important than students. It’s not just that students were promoted when they weren’t ready; the alleged collusion of Waller and his staff to doctor student scores delivered a message that belied all the student affirmations on the classroom walls proclaiming “The power is within me” and “I can be whatever I want to be.”

In surveying all the wreckage from the CRCT cheating scandal, the worst is the perception that students in Atlanta’s poorest schools were unteachable. According to the 90-page indictment, Hall “created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.”

While that self-serving focus created doubts about student abilities, it also fueled doubts among teachers about their abilities. I met veteran educator Julie Rogers-Martin through my children, who attended a church youth group that she led. I marveled at how she inspired jaded adolescents to get up at dawn to present a sunrise Easter service. (By the way, happy Easter.)

She then decided to return to the classroom and was thrilled to be hired at a progressive APS elementary school where she invented creative projects for her class, including building an imaginary zoo funded through an excellence-in-teaching grant she won.

Still, something didn’t seem right to her. Rogers-Martin told me about students who came to her class barely able to read yet had posted top CRCT scores the previous year. And struggling students she recommended for special education suddenly were exceeding expectations on next year’s state tests.

“The obsession with scores wore us down because no matter how much the students improved — and they were improving — it was never enough unless every single student was passing: no exceptions, no excuses,” said Rogers-Martin, who, dispirited, eventually left APS. “Even when parents contested the scores and begged for their children to be held back, they were moved on, and sent with a directive to the teacher: get this child on level by the test. Even if pre-assessments showed they were two and three years behind in skills, the directive was the same: No exceptions, no excuses.”

Rogers-Martin said there’s nothing more devastating to a society than low expectations for our kids. But, she said, “when expectations are not tempered with reality, it sucks the life out of everyone involved, especially the teachers who have given their lives to create, inspire, and empower.

“We worked 10 hours a day, came home, worked some more, graded papers all weekend, and then were expected to write reports as to how we were addressing the failing scores of the students that should never have been in our classes to begin with. It’s hard to be inspiring,” said Rogers-Martin, “when you are beat down each week in the war room with ‘no exceptions, no excuses.’”

Now, it’s the APS leadership being told by the grand jury, “no excuses.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

171 comments Add your comment

10:10 am

March 31st, 2013
10:49 am

Catchy phrase.

“What happens when test scores become more important than students,” will no doubt now be used to rally the anti-reform forces. And to “explain” yet again why accountability is inappropriate and overrated.

Wonder if inner-city parents will buy what your side’s selling, Maureen?

Centrist

March 31st, 2013
10:52 am

It will be interesting to see if there are holdouts who don’t surrender tomorrow and hide/fight extradition.

Some of those indicted will probably beat or at least lesson the charges. Others may plea bargain for much lesser punishment (of course, while declaring their innocence). This will be a long, and yet sadder saga.

Rick L in ATL

March 31st, 2013
10:54 am

@Maureen: nicely written.

As a parent who has fled APS (at least for now), it would take much more than a reassuring Erroll Davis press release to bring me back. Here’s what Erroll needs to do if he truly wants to repair the district’s reputation and restore trust:

1. Declare nuclear war on social promotion. End it and prove you have ended it.

2. Forbid the promotion of students who have more than a maximum number of unexcused absences and (especially) discipline issues. Make no exceptions and stand up to parents who try to bully you over this.

3. Create an innovative new way of evaluating teachers involving video, outside experts and parents with the goal of removing the bottom 10% of APS teachers every year. Yes, the GE model. Be utterly ruthless. Also rank and remove the bottom 10% of admins. (Parents need to know the remaining bad apples in APS can be eventually tossed out).

4. Allow more “Montessori” type classrooms where students advance at their own pace. Students capable enough to be admitted to such programs can pass the CRCT, so free them from the dungeon that is nonstop test-prep.

These moves would take a lot more courage than sending out a presser, and I have no illusions you’ll actually do it, Erroll, but if you did, I think the high-aspiration parents would come back.

Janet

March 31st, 2013
11:08 am

“In surveying all the wreckage from the CRCT cheating scandal, the worst is the perception that students in Atlanta’s poorest schools were unteachable.”

I agree that the perception that a group of students can’t learn (or is simply unteachable) is devastating to both the students and the teachers. You are correct that reading through the entire indictment does leave you with the realization that that is exactly the message that was being given to those schools, those teachers, those students and those communities.

But what I perceived from surveying the wreckage as the worst fact, is that it is clear that not just one year of test cheating affected these student’s learning but YEARS of falsifying tests, passing students along and ignoring their needs left them unable to read or likely to do basic math or likely to be able to succeed in life. The indictment indicates that the school system failed these students in monumental ways and covered it up. That is devastating.

As remediation continues, we all can only hope that somehow all these young lives can be made whole and that they can receive the education we all were fooled into believing they had already achieved. Along with now convincing these schools, communities and teachers that their students are wonderfully teachable, I hope we can repair the wreckage they have suffered.

Just the beginning

March 31st, 2013
11:12 am

Perhaps this will help the district focus on teaching. As the parent of three who attended APS, albeit in one of the two functional clusters, I saw first hand the misplaced priorities of APS’s senior leadership. I could cite many examples, but they would be all too familiar to those whose children went, and seen as grotesque by those whose did not.

There are excellent administrators and teachers within the system. Unfortunately, these are seldom the people with real power to effect effective change as they are too busy doing the jobs they have rather than seeking another. Somehow, APS needs to find a way to take what these teachers know and how they behave and make that the standard for the system. There is a wonderful phrase for this kind of leadership – “working ‘on’ your business, not just ‘in’ your business.”

The horrible fact this scandal has made real to the world, the students and the taxpayers is that for too large a percentage of teachers, administrators and, yes, parents, education of children is far down their list of priorities. We can cynically accept that the situation is hopeless, or we can redirect the priorities of the people who remain.

Is it over?

March 31st, 2013
11:24 am

Why do we assume this behavior has stopped? Why are we not applying statistical analysis to our current stanardized test results as well as other statewide test results?

Just sayin…

Inquiring Mind

March 31st, 2013
11:35 am

Maureen,
Inquiring minds want you to find out about Kathy Augustine! She was #2 in command and was not indicted. Are your reporters trying to find her? Did she turn, and is she being hidden as a witness?

Top School Atlanta

March 31st, 2013
11:42 am

If Kathy Augustine is smart…she will tell on everyone involved…including those hiding out on the northside of Atlanta.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

March 31st, 2013
11:47 am

A long road thus far. Thanks to the AJC for starting us down that path. Please, AJC people, talk to your friends in media outside Atlanta. We have lots of problems outside 285 as well (far outside, in my case), but our locals don’t have – what? – the power? – the willingness? – the ____s? to investigate like the AJC did. Thanks again AJC, may it spread…

atlmom

March 31st, 2013
11:48 am

This whole scandal is horrific. It is just head shakingly terrible.
BUT part of the problem is the whole idea that we can have a federal government run a school system. There I said it. Every few years we get a new initiative, and they have only shown that they don’t have any idea what they are doing.
And now – we want to be more reliant on test scores for evaluating the TEACHERS!!!! Craziness. Do we think this will put an end to the cheating. When my kids were in APS last year, I said: that is it – we’re done. Then we moved out of state -and they are in the local system, which is much better than APS but well, um, still isn’t the best (and really – there are some things that APS does way better than where I am now…). We’re probably not keeping them in the ‘regular’ school next year (pretty much decided, but perhaps we’ll change our minds) – but what they have here are focus schools – so if we get in (lottery) then they will go there.

Here’s the difference between the ‘regular’ school and the ‘focus’ school. At the ‘regular’ middle, the kids used to be able to earn 2 HS credits in math. Now, well, that will be changed to one. Why? The principal said: because of Common Core. They have too much to do, and they won’t be able to get it all done.
The math and science focus school math teacher said: we’re just going to plow through and do it. These kids will STILL have two credits of math when they graduate, that’s just what’s going to happen.
If all teachers were like that math (and science) teacher, we’d be better off…most definitely.

Check out Ron Clark for a teacher who does not think that there are unteachable kids. He is doing amazing things – right there in Atlanta!!! but does APS care? NO. They don’t care in any way. They have 30 slots to fill each year at that school – and they get approximately 200 applications. They must be doing something right, one would think. But APS – well, they couldn’t care less that those kids are getting millions of dollars in scholarships to high schools (none of those kids are yet in college, the school’s only a few years old).
We need to stop teaching to the bottom (which, apparently, they weren’t even doing in many APS schools). Teach to the top. Mr. Clark takes all kinds of kids in his school – and he teaches to the top. And gets all of them to be doing well.
We as a country have no idea how to create an education system. I say give the power back to the parents. Allow parents MUCH MORE school choice (why is it only those with money have school choice?).

atlmom

March 31st, 2013
11:52 am

Anyway – this is so terrible. The kids were cheated time and again. First, they didn’t get the education they needed to begin with. Then, they ’supposedly’ passed these tests, so they were put in classes where they couldn’t possibly do the work. So they were cheated again. And no one was evaluating them properly.

Obviously, there is lots of blame to go around. And I hope that the remedial classes being offered now will be fine…but I suppose they aren’t.

Again – some sort of school choice is the only answer. How to implement? I have no idea the best way. but what we have, well, there’s no amount of tweaking that can make it better.

roughrider

March 31st, 2013
11:52 am

Imagine how bad our schools would be if they did not cheat.

Digger

March 31st, 2013
12:02 pm

Educators have no business running education. As a rule they are some of the most unintelligent, non-creative people around. Put a PhD after their name, and some become quite dangerous, actually believing that that they are somehow elite, magically morphing from the dolt they were in Teacher School. There is nothing scarier than a complete idiot truly believing that they are intellectually superior.

indigo

March 31st, 2013
12:07 pm

It will be interesting to see if any of the “higher ups” actually do any jail time.

Ath1

March 31st, 2013
12:07 pm

Do you sincerely believe that parents can (and will) rate teachers OBJECTIVELY?? Reading this forum, everyday, shows that parents cannot accept decision based on the entire class, school, system, etc. It’s all about what can I get for MY child. And we know that no organization could be effective making decisions subjectively…based on each parent’s wishes. I can understand a parent rep for each class, but not the entire parent population…makes no sense!

My youngest daughter spent three years and graduated from North Atlanta, where she excelled. I thank God for the strong educational foundation she received in the private schools in the US Virgin Islands, as well as parents and grandparents who VALUE education.

Tim

March 31st, 2013
12:18 pm

The school officials who participated in cheating should have been dealt with by the school system, not the criminal justice system. This is the same thing that is happening with students. Now, if there is a cafeteria food fight, the police come in arresting students, instead of them being disciplined by the school system. Just like with the Dekalb County school board, there is simply a different set of rules when dealing with black public officials. I saw AJC editor Kevin Riley on ABC News last night. He said the AJC investigated test cheating in school systems all over America, and that thousands of systems are guilty of cheating on standardized tests. And out of those thousands, ONLY THE BLACK SCHOOL OFFICIALS OF ATLANTA have been indicted. School sytems all over Georgia have budget deficits and “financial mismanagement”, but only the majority black school board of Dekalb County had their elected officials removed by the governor.

And if anyone doubts that the grand jury was all-white or majority-white, the recommendation they made for Beverly Hall to have a 7.5 million dollar bond answers that question. 7.5 million?!!!!! Does Beverly Hall have dead bodies buried in her yard or something? It’s just outrageous. For District Attorney Paul Howard to use the RICO law, as if these officals are part of the Mafia, is despicable. How can you have a bail that high for a non-violent crime?

And Channel 2 News’ coverage of this fiasco is overblown. Starting every newscast with this? Come on. It just shows how they brainwash people in what they should think is important. Because in reality, the decision for the Atlanta City Council to vote 11-4 in giving almost 1 BILLION (not 200 million) in public dollars to give to a billionaire for a football stadium is much bigger news than this years’ old story with APS. That’s what every newscast should be starting with. The AJC got people whipped into a frenzy because Dekalb school board members were using taxpayer money to fund their defense. But use almost a billion in taxpayer money to fund a stadium that the people don’t support, and the AJC is as quiet as a mouse. I guess the use of that taxpayer money is okay.

DA Paul Howard felt it was time for him to get some more national attention I guess. Hopefully he ends up with egg on his face like he did with the Ray Lewis trial.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 31st, 2013
12:20 pm

@10:10am “What happens when test scores become more important than students,” will no doubt now be used to rally the anti-reform forces. And to “explain” yet again why accountability is inappropriate and overrated.

Wonder if inner-city parents will buy what your side’s selling, Maureen?

10:10. I am not sure what these “sides” are of which you speak, since I am pretty sure that anyone who is actually interested in the children (and not the profits to be made off of them) is on the same side when it comes to reform. We all want accountability and reform. However, we want MEANINGFUL accountability and reform, and that is NOT what we have right now.

Over the past 20 years, I have watched the “accountability through testing” movement suck money out of the system to the tune of billions while at the same time, systematically undermining and destroying much of what actually works in a classroom.

I have watched for-profit testing companies, and educational reformers with their latest new snake oil cure-all, bilk systems out of millions with their fancy talk and “latest innovative teaching programs” much of which is just repackaged –Seen-It-Before- stuff with a catchy, new name. Then, two years later, a new superintendent, or a new principal brings a brand new scheme. Out with the old, and in with the “new”! And teachers are back to square one, while someone walks off with a lot of dough. I have watched prepackaged, script driven, “teaching” programs suck all the life, art, and creativity out of teaching, so now districts can hire less competent cheaper “teachers” to parrot exactly what is in the scripts, to the detriment of meaningful classroom interaction.

Want REAL reform and accountability? TALK TO THE TEACHERS! They KNOW what is needed, and they have been saying it for years, only to be accused of whining or sticking to the status quo, because what is NEEDED is not some easy fix with more texting and “firing the bottom 10% every year” regardless of how good or bad that bottom 10% happens to be.

What is needed is a multi-layered, complex approach that addresses problems within society, society’s perceptions of education, the level of rigor at our schools of education, the ways in which we address students with special needs, the ways in which we address discipline issues, the way in which we group students by age and not mastery of concepts, the options we offer students when it comes to educational choices, and an accountability system that recognizes that TEACHERS are not the only ones that should be held accountable – parents and students are part of the equation as well, and their efforts are IMPORTANT!

I am sick and tired of watching people who have NO CLUE what I do make decisions out of ignorance, or good intentions with no understanding, or pure greed and self-interest – imposing those decisions upon me, my fellow educators, and our students and parents, often with very negative results.

What is happening now is destroying the schools systems that DO work! Why all the focus upon failing systems? Why don’t the media and reformers highlight systems where public education IS working? Yes, they DO exist, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. The fact that the reform movement ignores this, and continues to tout the “failing public schools” and look overseas for answers, can only lead the cynic in me to conclude that there is an underlying agenda to the reform movement that has nothing to do with REAL reform, and a lot to do with setting up for-profit business model schools and school purchases to enrich friends and family.

GOOD teachers – you know, the ones everyone claims they WANT in the classroom? – are getting out of teaching, and fewer and fewer strong educators are replacing them. The number of student teachers is dwindling each year, and the number of “strong” students teachers is even less. The whole system *is* in need of an overhaul, but WHY are we looking to people who know nothing about education for those answers? WHY are we not talking to TEACHERS! And I mean REAL teachers, the ones IN THE CLASSROOMS. The ones that have BEEN in the classrooms for years, not just until they could jump ship and move up to a more lucrative positions. Talk to us. We KNOW, and don’t automatically dismiss everything we say as “whining.” Until “reformers” do so, nothing will get better for public schools, and the “failing schools” self-fulfilling prophecy will become a reality everywhere.

Though I suspect that is JUST what some people want.

Private Citizen

March 31st, 2013
12:31 pm

Brings to mind the whole concept of “constructed realities,” which is what is happening with these testing numbers games. building an imaginary zoo

Mary Elizabeth

March 31st, 2013
12:40 pm

I just posted the following in-depth analysis of this cheating scandal on Jay Bookman’s blog. I wish to repost my comments, here, for any readers who may be interested in my thoughts, based upon my educational experiences.
=======================================================

Other poster: “Yes it’s not the only reason he’s at a 2nd grade level (in 8th grade), but that doesn’t in any way excuse the harm that was done.”
———————————————————————————

My response: “When I was in graduate school, I was taught by the head of the University’s Reading Department that the higher the grade level, the greater will be the range of instructional levels within the grade level. The professor said that that fact would ALWAYS be true because of the multiple variables of students’ backgrounds, ability levels, needs, etc. Teachers would need to be taught how to instruct to those varied instructional needs within each grade level, or schools would need more innovative instructional designs. I found fact that to be true in my following 35 years of educational practice, first as an Instructional Lead Teacher (grades k – 7) and, later, as a high school Reading Department Chair (grades 9 -12).

This is why to form a business model in public schools in which students’ standardized test scores are manipulated and projected, as one might project an increase in sales and profit with corporations, is not only morally wrong but grossly ignorant of instructional principles and of child development.

Moreover, teachers and students perform best in a nurturing, supportive environment, in which excellence is inspired, not mandated, by those educational leaders who are not only instructionally knowledgeable but also supportive and caring of all the human beings within their school’s setting. These educational leaders would not implement a business model for instruction because they know that human beings are more complex and unique in their needs than are material “products” sold for profit. Each student’s potential must be maximized all along an instructional continuum, years k – 12, and perhaps even into the secondary years of 13 and 14 for some students to achieve, realistically, the minimum standards for a high school diploma. The education of parents and of the general public, as well as more in-depth teacher-training courses are essential to achieving educational excellence without coercion and duress. Coercion to achieve unrealistic standardized test scores, massively, and setting unrealistic educational goals for all students must be rejected. Test scores must be used ONLY to ascertain the correct instructional placement, and the correct levels of instruction, for every student, individually – irrespective of the student’s grade level assignment. Standardized test score results must never be used for bonuses for teachers or for schools, nor be used to dismiss teachers or to cut their pay. Evaluations of teachers must be multi-faceted.

Individual student’s academic records, for all students, must be incorporated within a computerized data-based system – as medical records are today incorporated into a paperless, data-based system for all individual medical patients – for easy access by teachers. Then, either through well-informed administrations being allowed to implement an intelligent change in their school’s overall instructional design, or by well-informed teachers’ own creativity, teachers must be able to address EXACTLY where every student is functioning in point of time, regardless of students’ grade level demarcations. If this realistic instructional reform is implemented in public schools, then massive failures in public schools will cease, and drop-out rates will be dramatically lowered.

Sophisticated instructional knowledge. Nurturing, not intimidating, environments. An educational, not business model, for schools. Community outreach. Educating parents. Educating legislators. State-of-the-Art technological databases of students’ instructional levels. Teachers pinpointing their instruction to the functioning levels of students, individually. Rejection of unrealistic instructional goals. Rejection of falsifying students’ progress for political purposes, or for self-promotion. Education. Education. Education.”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/why-there-are-myriad-instructional-levels-within-each-grade-level/

Private Citizen

March 31st, 2013
12:40 pm

Tim,
Maybe housecleaning is appropriate in Atlanta, as it is the only enlightened place in the whole state. If it fell to thuggery, Georgia would just be a write-off, a loss, as the only thing left would be these Gawd-awful rural counties. Atlanta area has been sinking like tied to a rock thrown into a lake. I, for one, am glad that someone is not allowing outright in-your-face stealing and thuggery to take over the metroplex. Yes, people can say two wrongs make a right and Bush did it, so it is okay. But times have changed and maybe Georgia is doing some leading. The whole moral character of the United States has gotten completely disgusting.

Private Citizen

March 31st, 2013
12:44 pm

An old guy told me he used to work at a bank and a fellow who counted the coins, long term employee, stole three rolls of quarters and got caught and went to jail for five years. I’d give a dollar for any these indicted to stand up and stay “But HSBC and Wachovia laundered billions of dollars of illegal drug money and not a one of them went to jail!!!! Where is President Obama when I need him? Hey, why me?”

Mary Elizabeth

March 31st, 2013
12:44 pm

Correction: “. . . well-informed administrators. . .”

Google "NEA" and "donations"

March 31st, 2013
1:15 pm

@ love/hate teaching:

As we begin a second half-century of liberal excuses for opposing tuition vouchers … fifty percent of African-Americans blame the failure of the education system for minorities/African-Americans for high unemployment among blacks, says Black Entertainment Television founder:

ref: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/bet-founder-country-would-never-tolerate-white-unemployment-14-or-15-percent

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

March 31st, 2013
1:17 pm

@Tim: I hope you’re not right! But, I do see your correlation. I’ve been naive about this issue before and ended up quite surprised and disappointed at the community I was in (UGA grad school at the time). Maybe it is that the school leaders out here are all white. I hope we’re not that shallow, but…

Dalton Daily, Summerville News, Rome Tribune, Walker County Messenger, Dade Sentinel, Chattanooga Times Free Press, etc. – you’re not just protecting the good old boys (and girls) are you?

Rick L in ATL

March 31st, 2013
1:23 pm

The scandal gives Erroll Davis the political cover to clean house and implement the kind of radical reforms (as I mentioned above) that no other urban school leader in the country would dare attempt and which reforms could save APS from being swallowed (as other systems inevitably will) by the burgeoning school-choice revolution.

Come on, Erroll, think big! I know you’re consumed with trying to rescue the kids at the bottom and “prevent APS from becoming two school systems,” but you have an opportunity here. Don’t squander it. No to more press releases; yes to real, dynamic leadership.

Fred ™

March 31st, 2013
1:46 pm

I found it curious that a couple feeder elementary schools and a feeder middle school were found guilty of cheating, but Booker T Washington wasn’t.

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2013
1:53 pm

Yes, Maureen, I remember the bus tour and its stop at Parks. I remember laughing uproariously about how the Partnership and you guys were either being duped big time or were willing participants in the scam. I remember it well. Like it was just yesterday.

Burroughston Broch

March 31st, 2013
2:00 pm

@ Tim
The bail bondsman’s usual fee is 10%, so a $7.5million bail would cost Beverly Hall $750,000. That’s less than two years salary plus bonus she was paid by APS. She was on the APS payroll for 12 years. I assume that $750,000 would be no problem for her.
I assume that she’s still a Jamaican citizen, but Jamaica has an extradition treaty with the US.

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2013
2:04 pm

I think that it is very significant that Kathy Augustine was not indicted. Hmm. I also remember when she called the police and tried to block me and my colleagues from entering into a “secret” school board meeting. Cooler heads prevailed. I think that it was the good Dr. Norman Thomas (who, by the way, should have been named the superintendent in 1999, and APS would have none of these problems) who convinced Ms. Augustine that we had every right to be in the “secret” school board meeting on the third floor of the Taj Mahal.

Lee

March 31st, 2013
2:06 pm

“Rogers-Martin told me about students who came to her class barely able to read yet had posted top CRCT scores the previous year. And struggling students she recommended for special education suddenly were exceeding expectations on next year’s state tests.”

And what did she do about that? Did she raise the flag that something wasn’t right? Did she call the Professional Standards Board? Did she send an anonymous letter to the news media, Beverly Hall, or anyone else?

Or did she take the safe route and keep quiet?

The most damning thing about this whole sorry episode is the number of “good” teachers who stood by and said nothing.

You know, the 95% who we should be proud of…….

Top School Atlanta

March 31st, 2013
2:18 pm

Has anyone ever researched how much money Beverly Hall spent to hire a PR firm to promote herself during her APS reign?

How many other lawsuits were filed against the APS corrupt system under Beverly Hall’s tenure? And the details of how much was spent fighting each case.

How much taxpayer money has been spent on the rise and fall of Atlanta Superstar of the Miracle Testing Network leader – Beverly Hall?

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2013
2:25 pm

I think that this 7.5 million bail will be reduced significantly.

I really don’t think that the average person realizes just how much pressure that there was on the teachers to cheat. I admire the many teachers who did not give in and do so. Many lost their jobs as a result. But, before losing their jobs, they underwent the most harrowing corporate executions, resulting in many losing their good health before losing their jobs.

From the very beginning, I knew that the Beverly Hall Administration was full of sh^t and therefore I never even once attempted to sit down talk with Beverly Hall about any issues…unlike doing so with other superintendents. Sometimes, you simply conclude that it is a complete waste of time. I felt and still feel this way same way about superintendents Joe Hairston, the Thompson fellow, and Edmond Heatley in Clayton County; Jim Fox, Jamie Wilson, and Robert Avossa in Fulton County; Alvin Wilbanks in Gwinnett; and Thomas Tocco in Cobb. Some just reek with arrogance. Complete jackanapes. I have probably interacted in some way with 50 to 75 superintendents in the Metro Atlanta area in the last 25 years, and some are just not worth sitting down and engaging in a conversation. I can assure you that unlike APS superintendents Benjamin Canada, Lester Butts, and Betty Strickland, Beverly Hall (as well as fellow transplanted New Yorker, J. Jerome Harris) has this arrogant air about them.

I did speak at the school board meeting in, I think, July of 1999 when Beverly Hall was first introduced to the public in Atlanta. I remember saying, “Dr. Hall, Welcome to Kosovo, welcome Rwanda, welcome to North Korea…because the Atlanta Public Schools doesn’t seem to think that it is located in Georgia.” I went on to talk about APS’s almost complete disregard for the Georgia laws (relative to complaints, duty free lunch, sick leave, etc.). Under Beverly Hall, the situation in Atlanta got worse…much, much worse. Many lives were ruined by the actions of this administration.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

March 31st, 2013
3:06 pm

Dr Trotter-what do you think are the chances the solution for APS will be to merge APS and Fulton?

Are you hearing anything? That’s what the federal Equity & Excellence Commission report envisions and it is consistent with the policies and practices Avossa and his cadre have brought from Charlotte-Meck. Basically replicating the sociocultural Standards for Teaching and Learning that caused so much grief at APS.

Moreover Gary Orfield’s work pushes these unitary county districts as we see all over Florida.

Just curious what you, teachers, or other parents are hearing. I know what all the reports are envisioning. Just got the book the Atlanta Paradox from the Ford financed multicity study and it definitely wants to see those city lines breached as well. The Fulton Charter actually reflects the policies Beverly Hall had in place in APS with its soft skills and life skills language. And the CRCTs are going away in favor of open-ended group project assessments that will obscure the academic weaknesses of less able students.

I am not seeing any sign of anyone wanting to inform parents or taxpayers about how empty too many of these credentials will be. Sad on so many levels. Especially when you factor in spreading Gene Bottoms high schools that work tecademics to all the previously high performing high schools all over Georgia. High school diplomas to kids who can barely read and are to get passed along with gaming and group projects and a social interaction and dialogue in class model=an adult with expectations for the future that will never be met.

If you want to watch an administrator squirm just ask if one of those Career Pathways can be to traditional college prep/abstract mind type work. The answer is No. Wouldn’t be equitable.

n

March 31st, 2013
3:13 pm

Mary Elizabeth, I agree with you 100%
A business model for education is absurd, and is the corrosive invention of folks who want public education to fail, so that they can replace it with their soulless, money-grubbing, privatized, for profit, out of state corporate charter schools.
Making these poor hapless teachers, who were just trying to hang on to their thankless jobs, into FELONS, fits perfectly into ALEC’s plan. Plus they get nationwide banner headlines to assist in their efforts to deconstruct and vilify the institution of public education.
Prosecute Beverly Hall, and some of her minions; but don’t indulge in overkill, grandstanding and theatrical persecution of basically impotent & helpless pawns.

The Dixie Diarist

March 31st, 2013
3:22 pm

Sales knows no hours. The people who know the most about a company’s faults and good parts are the salesmen. The people who know the most about a school’s faults and good parts are the teachers. When you’re the person actually providing the product to the customer you will be amazed about how much you come to know about everything and everybody, and you’re usually exactly right.

http://www.actionjacksonart.com

WilieJo

March 31st, 2013
3:34 pm

The problem that schools have is that hiding the academic failures of the students is only a short term game. Ultimately the academic incapacity of the kids who are being failed by the current system is exposed, either in college or in the world world. It might work for a bit to scream racism to the next institution in the chain or like Jason Carter try to legislate mandated success.
Eventually kids get past the politically motivated academic double speak and come against a standard that does not move when complained about.
In our world an uneducated child is quickly marginalized. No one is profiting from their misery. They are irrelevant to the world spinning around them.
Sadly, it does not have to be so. If the adults would allow reality to creep into the school and let failure be failure, we could fix the issues while there is time. The fairy dust inspired educrat is simply incapable of fixing the problem.

About Time

March 31st, 2013
3:39 pm

@ Fred – Wouldn’t that be because Washington is a high school and the CRCT is not given to students past 8th grade? SMH…

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2013
3:51 pm

Attentive Parent: I personally haven’t heard about any talks of merger but I know that the educational think tanks that are full of Ivy League trained non-educators always push for school system mergers. Several decades ago there was a big push for cross-district busing. This mush-for-curriculum is, in my opinion, racist at its core. It stems, I think, from the notion that minority students can’t keep up with the white kids and the Asian kids in the suburbs…and they can’t as long as virtually no discipline is in place in the urban schools. I believe that with the proper discipline in place and with the teachers freed up to be creative so that they can find unusual and sometimes crazy ways to motivate the unmotivated students that these students can learn information (you know, the “old” curriculum) instead of having to push them to engage in non-accountable group projects and touchy-feely stuff which will not help them in the real world, but will doom them to a lives of serfdom in the “global economy” (which is perhaps the plan). Thanks for indulging me in “stealing” some the good stuff that you have tirelessly unearthed. Thanks!

Bernie

March 31st, 2013
3:55 pm

Tim@12:18 pm – Bravo! I stand UP and APPLAUD Your comments! Finally true words of Wisdom for consideration. They are not the usual circle jerk comments and remarks you find posted here daily.

Your comments are thoughtful,honest, truthful,objective and void of racist stereotypes that run the gamut here. Thank-you Sir!

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2013
3:56 pm

I notice that the quicker that I type, the more typos I have. Please forgive, but this is a blog, heh? At least it’s not like texting. I find myself trying to text my kids so properly when they apparently don’t give a rip about the grammar and syntax. Ha!

HENRY A. TURNER, ATTORNEY AT LAW

March 31st, 2013
4:00 pm

Concerning Bail Bonds. In Georgia the bondsmen, whose privilege of doing business in a county is granted by the local sheriff, make their money by charging arrestees a percentage – typically 10-15 percent – of the bail bond. Then, if their client does not show up for trial, they are on the hook for the full bond amount. Many counties require that the Bondsman carry a blanket Insurance Policy to cover the Bail Bonds they write. With a large Bail Bond The Bondsman may require co-signers or even collateral. As to Beverly Hall’s Jamaican connection, the Court can easily deal with that by requiring she surrender her Passport upon the granting of Bail.

AJC isn't me

March 31st, 2013
4:03 pm

@John Trotter:

Thank you for not advertising your business today. And for not using “ha!” as punctuation.

AJC isn't me

March 31st, 2013
4:05 pm

@John Trotter:

Disreqard my last post.

Fred ™

March 31st, 2013
4:08 pm

@ Fred – Wouldn’t that be because Washington is a high school and the CRCT is not given to students past 8th grade? SMH…

thank you. I did not make that connection through this whole thing. I didn’t realize that High Schools weren’t tested as well. It never occurred to me that education ended at the 8th grade……..

Fred ™

March 31st, 2013
4:09 pm

Oh, and what does SMH mean?

Jack ®

March 31st, 2013
4:15 pm

All the fault is not with the schools and teachers; the fault lies with the culture that produces children whose future is in doubt the day they are born.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

March 31st, 2013
4:16 pm

Dr Trotter-

That’s the real tragedy here. The idea has been if we cannot bus, the suburbs cannot be allowed to have academically excellent schools or a superb academic track for those kids for whom knowledge is as much a craving as food. The new attitude is just starve or act as a tutor for the less able. Who of course do not have to transfer their natural beauty or sports prowess or the keys to the new car dad funded.

The Common Core, as I explained most recently, has become a grab bag for every theory of social change anyone has ever developed in the last 100 years. No one is talking about raising achievement in the traditional sense for rural schools or Dekalb or Fulton. No, it’s destroying Walton and Northview and Riverwood that is the goal. It’s the suburbs that are the enemy. We really are eating our societal seed corn because these reforms are about political transformation using theories that simply cannot hold up to independent scrutiny from anyone with knowledge of history or economics. Then where will the urban areas be once the federal printing press of revenue sharing runs out?

Those students will have been kept weak and the able students are to be decimated in their genuine knowledge and skills as well. I just finished reading the Spencer Foundation financed view of the way they want to see Opportunity to Learn interpreted. It means no transmission of knowledge for anyone. There’s not a parent at any school in metro Atlanta in any system of any race, color, creed, ethnicity, with any modicum of sense who would not understand that those OTL rules are collective social and economic suicide.

Yet the professor who wrote them is part of the Gordon Commission determining the future of assessment in American education. Mostly off everyone’s radar screen but mine.

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 31st, 2013
4:20 pm

@Bernie (3:55 pm) …

Gee Bernie, most readers would probably see you as the biggest jerk racist on our blog. Or the most long-winded clown?

Dc

March 31st, 2013
4:34 pm

So many obvious answers, but so much pushback from the entrenched eduacracy. Reward great teachers, and fire weak ones. Don’t reward mediocre teachers. Give parents the ability to control the money allocated for their kid, so principals will actually care about making satisfying them, and won’t just ignore issues and bad situations. This would give principals an incentive to do the hard, painful work of getting rid of bad teachers.

I don’t for one minute buy into the idea that a good teacher can’t make a difference. They are IMO the key to success. But year after year of them watching bad teachers who face no consequences, simply drives them out

othello

March 31st, 2013
4:36 pm

erroll davs running a corrupt school system, sending out BS PR statements to make things “look good” — absolute comedy