The cheating scandal at Atlanta Public Schools led Friday to the place many of us believed it would and should: indictments for 35 administrators and teachers implicated in the scandal. If this seems too harsh a step, take some time to re-familiarize yourself with the details of the case. The answer-changing parties at which teachers made sure their students made the grade; the spy-novel-worthy actions certain APS employees took to make sure they evaded test-security measures; administrators’ ignoring and covering up complaints about potential cheating — the story is astoundingly shameful.
But don’t forget that a similar pattern of cheating was found hundreds of miles away in Dougherty County, while incompetent school boards in Clayton and DeKalb counties have brought their systems to the brink of losing accreditation. (Atlanta’s own board nearly did the same in the wake of the cheating scandal.) Meanwhile, across the state, many schools and school systems commit the more routine sin of settling for mediocrity or worse from their students.
If there was ever a time our traditional public schools, and the people who run them, could claim the moral high ground in fending off measures to give students and parents more choice, that time is long since over. Georgia’s children shouldn’t have to wait for their governor or district attorney to intervene before having a chance to escape a bad — in the case of APS for much of the previous decade, criminally bad — situation at school.
Georgia’s children need more school choice. Now.
In the legislative session that just ended, however, our lawmakers did hardly anything to expand educational freedom. The longer they wait to expand options for all of Georgia’s children, the more blame they share for allowing children to remain trapped in these shameful stories.
– By Kyle Wingfield