Your morning jolt: An outsider’s view of the APS cheating scandal

We don’t usually begin the day with video, but ever since the days of Henry Grady, Atlanta has always been more than sensitive when it comes to how outsiders perceive the Southern metropolis.

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal is drawing attention from every quarter. Here’s the heartburn that ABC News gave the Metro Chamber last night:

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State Rep. Ralph Long, D-Atlanta, on Wednesday held a news conference at the state Capitol to blame the APS mess on Mayor Kasim Reed, who as a state senator backed legislation that – Long maintains — strengthened the hand of the Atlanta school superintendent at the expense of the board of education.

Reed says the legislation was necessary to attract top-flight talent for the job of superintendent, and said human beings rather than legislation were to be blamed for the cheating scandal. Long and Reed have a history of disagreement stemming from the 2009 race for mayor.
The video from Aaron Diamant at Channel 2 Action News:


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In another school-related development, my AJC colleague Rich McKay reports today that the name of former state school superintendent William “Brad” Bryant has surfaced as a proposed candidate to head the DeKalb County school system.

The position has been filled temporarily by Ramona Tyson, but a search for a permanent replacement has been stymied by a series of candidate withdrawals and 5-4 votes on the board.

State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, called in to say that both he and state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, had pitched the name to the DeKalb County Board of Education on Tuesday. “It’s a Republican-Democrat thing,” Millar said. “I’ve thrown these guys a lifeline.”

Bryant is a former chairman of the DeKalb County school board. He was then-Gov. Sonny Perdue’s pick to fill in for state school superintendent Kathy Cox following her resignation. Dick Williams of the Dunwoody Crier notes that Tuesday’s DeKalb school board meeting was held in the William Bradley Bryant Center.

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The Marietta Daily Journal says state Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise is the leading candidate to be the next CEO of Cobb EMC:

Choosing Wise, who is apparently favored by his longtime friend, embattled EMC head Dwight Brown, may extend rather than extinguish the lingering controversy at the electric cooperative. Since the spring, Chip Nelson has been the interim CEO, and there are reports that employees would like to see Nelson in the role permanently.

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This morning on the Martha Zoller radio show on FM103.7 in Gainesville, Gov. Nathan Deal again said that he anticipates that no topic other than redistricting will be included on the Legislature’s agenda when it is called into special session next month.

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Gov. Nathan Deal has taken some heat for naming close friends – and friends of friends – to state positions. But my friend Terry Dickson with the Florida Times-Union says coastal residents are very happy with Deal’s appointment of Albert Ike to a vacancy on the board of the Jekyll Island Authority:

The retired associate vice president for public service and outreach at the University of Georgia holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers, a master’s from Colgate and a doctorate from N.C. State.

Here’s the part that a lot of Jekyll Island residents like: He served on the advisory council for Coastal Zone Management, was among the founders of the Sandy Creek Nature Center and the Oconee River Greenway Commission and was on the board of trustees for the Georgia Conservancy.

***
The Macon Telegraph spotted former Democratic candidate for governor and state lawmaker DuBose Porter at a campaign event for former Senate Democratic leader Robert Brown, who is challenging incumbent Mayor Robert Reichert.

Consider it a sign that Porter, a Dublin newspaper publisher, isn’t done with politics yet.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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50 comments Add your comment

Paul

July 7th, 2011
9:21 am

Ralph Long’s not the sharpest tool in the shed

Cityzen Able

July 7th, 2011
9:27 am

Hopefully, APS gets back on the right track. The kids deserve better and our tax dollars should be going to administrators with more integrity.

Embarrassed

July 7th, 2011
9:30 am

This is completely embarrassing. It’s crazy that some idiots were upset that the Governor and the Mayor stepped in.

Cham

July 7th, 2011
9:33 am

This redistricting effort will be extremely interesting. I’m sure they’ll be some GOP attempts at gerrymandering. Eric Holder may have to step in.

Atlmom

July 7th, 2011
9:37 am

Mr. Able: how do you suppose we do that? By electing ‘new’ people? that might help for one election cycle, but as an ongoing thing – how do you suppose that gets done? What has worked elsewhere? (hint: I think…um…nothing that the politicians have suggested).

Gadfly

July 7th, 2011
9:37 am

As long as Deal’s friends are qualified, I don’t see an issue. If I were in office I’d want people I can trust around me too. If they’re not qualified then he should be taken to task for such graft.

Atlmom

July 7th, 2011
9:40 am

oh, please there is nothing that the Rs could do that would be any worse than the gerrymandering done 10 years ago.

Centrist

July 7th, 2011
9:41 am

The levels of corruption and incompetence inside the I-285 perimeter at every level of government has been well known by the metro area residents for decades. It is mostly the people directly involved, Chambers of Commerce members, and the media that are sensitive to it being exposed to outsiders. The rest of us just shake our heads and sometimes laugh at the pathetic messes.

SWATS Guy

July 7th, 2011
9:42 am

Thank you Mr. Long

APS Alum

July 7th, 2011
9:44 am

This cheating scandal is truly disappointing. Throughout the years there have been thousands of well-educated people who came out of APS. All is not lost, but we must first seek leaders of character and then find effective methods of educating our children.

Rep. Long needs to stop vainly running towards the spotlight. This isn’t the time to play politics or “look at me” games.

SWATS Guy

July 7th, 2011
9:45 am

Thank you Mr. Long for putting yourself and your politics before the city’s children. *sarcasm alert*

kate

July 7th, 2011
9:47 am

The longer I live, the more I realize it’s all about the money. I hope they take every ill-gotten nickel away from Beverly Hall and everyone who benefited financially from this! Make them pay it back with interest, and use it to educate the children who were left behind!

Maximilian Greenburg

July 7th, 2011
9:57 am

I just needed a space to say that Beverly Hall is a corrupt, cheating, money grubbing low life…oh, and did I say that she was really ugly, too?

SpaceyG on Twitter

July 7th, 2011
9:58 am

I’d watch, but I’d rather watch MIA Dr. Beverly Hall shoot the ‘Hooch than look at Diane Sawyer.

the teacha

July 7th, 2011
9:58 am

What exactly was the business community thinking. That a coverup would be good for business. I understand Hall, she has to maintain the lies. What did the biz community gain? The children were thrown under the bus this is clear. Maybe now atlanta will be forced to look in the mirror. No more hiding behind history, you are making history. Mayor Reed the stage is yours.

LMAO

July 7th, 2011
10:03 am

Yes, yes, yes, shot the messager.

APS needs to hire a military veteran to run its operations. Seattle did it when they hired former Fulton County Manager John Stanford (RIP) who was a retired Army General. It’s time to think and work outside of the box.

There are plenty of unemployed people who can step in and teach for APS. These folks may not have teaching certificates but, look what you got with those that have them.

The teachers who are not involved should step up and reclaim their school system. Why let a few bad apples spoil the the barrel?

LMAO

July 7th, 2011
10:04 am

Shoudl be “shoot the messenger”.

SWATS Guy

July 7th, 2011
10:11 am

Has Rep. Ralph Long ever passed a significant piece of legislation? He needs to be worried about learning how to legislate instead of worrying about where to fix blame.

Ralphie

July 7th, 2011
10:14 am

Ralph Long hasn’t had a real job in years. I guess he has to find something to do with his time. #bum

WillieRae

July 7th, 2011
10:23 am

The business leaders who were part of the blue ribbon committee have something besides egg on their face and it smells worse. These so called leaders helped foster a coverup that damaged everyone. How much better off we would be if they had pursued the truth and done their job!

Time for a high integrity board who will tell the truth.

Some Guy

July 7th, 2011
10:26 am

If Nathan Deal appointed Albert Ike to the Jekyll Island Authority, then you can be sure that there is an understanding between them that Mr. Ike is expected to do Mr. Deal’s bidding. On matters that the governor has no interest in, Mr. Ike can employ his knowledge and conscience. If you have any doubt, research what has happened to most every state board commissioner who has crossed the governor that appointed him/her. “Gadfly” (above) seems to think this “loyalty first, taxpayers second” approach is normal and appropriate. I think it is corrupt, and leads to decisions that enrich the few politically connected, at the expense of the millions of regular Georgia taxpayers.

Seriously?

July 7th, 2011
10:26 am

And Ms. Hall, according to the NYT, left for vacation in Hawaii this past Tuesday. Says a lot don’t you think.

MiltonMan

July 7th, 2011
10:41 am

Hall Pass was voted Superintendent of the year in 2009. Education system in ATL is a joke just like all the clowns who elected the education board. Residents of Atlanta got exactly what they voted for. Just like Clayton & DeKalb county. Before these whiny, pathetic parents blame the system maybe they should take a long, long look into the mirror.

BTW: I used to tutor kids in the Atl schools only to be put off by the lackadaisical mentality of the kids & the unwelcoming attitude shown to me by the teachers & admin of the schools. When I hear that there are many, many good teachers in Atlanta, I chuckle.

ANGRY AS HELL

July 7th, 2011
10:42 am

What, exactly, were these APS administrators thinking when they launched off into this scam? Did it occur to them (most of whom are African American) that “cooking the books” would only make them and African American children look really bad? Did it matter so much for former APS Superintendent Hall that the positive national attention and awards she received would look pretty hollow and dishonest when all the lies were made public? Besides Mayor Reed, where’s the outrage from other African American leaders in Atlanta? They ought all be ashamed of themselves for this great disservice. Good luck trying to attract business to this town.

Ga Values

July 7th, 2011
10:54 am

I agree with Ralph Long, Reed carried Hall’s water and defended her against the group of 5 who are the only heroes in this mess. Just remember that the Jackson family skims over $1,000,000.00 per year out of the APS food service. Reed’s only job is to take care of the Jackson family’s interest.. Bet they don’t lose any contracts at the airport & probably add a few.

Road Scholar

July 7th, 2011
11:04 am

“They are saying our kids are dumb!”

Yup! either that and/or lazy! Parents need to be involved in their kids education now! Setting goals and expectations and following up daily is the only way kids will be encouraged to excel.

Bev

July 7th, 2011
11:18 am

Nope, I know nothing about cheats. Now, if you would excuse me, I’m on my way to Hawaii.

chillywilly

July 7th, 2011
11:25 am

Ralph Long stood up and demanded Beverly Hall’s resignation when others were either afraid to do so or were involved in the coverup. Thank you Mr. Long for your bravery & decency. You have my unwavering support.

MD

July 7th, 2011
11:47 am

What did you expect that is the democrat way.It ain’t my fault!

Book em Dano

July 7th, 2011
11:58 am

Beverly Hall apparently thinks Hawaii doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

Rafe Hollister

July 7th, 2011
12:08 pm

One party rule= corruuption, everywhere it exists, Chicago, Philadelphia, NY, Atlanta.

Jon Lester

July 7th, 2011
12:10 pm

We still remember well the Carol Purvis episode in Clarke County in the early 90’s, and there have been at least half a dozen other high-profile superintendent scandals statewide in the years since. It would seem now that anyone considered for the job, especially if they’re working in another large district, warrants considerably more scrutiny than has been customary. The other solution may be to recruit from smaller districts, where a candidate’s job performance can be more clearly established and documented.

Aquagirl

July 7th, 2011
12:24 pm

And Ms. Hall, according to the NYT, left for vacation in Hawaii this past Tuesday.

This would be an awesome time for god’s debut of his new laser-guided tsunami. I’ll also settle for a low-tech hungry shark—but it better have a big appetite, if ya know what I mean.

A dad

July 7th, 2011
12:36 pm

This is what happens when the primary deciding facotr in any decision is based on race. APS’ problems go beyond mere race, however, and involve cultural attitudes (is a black who wants a good education still accused of “acting white” or am I just showing my age?), a disportionate amount of single parent homes, lack of accountability, societal imagery (music videos, etc.) and the list goes on and on.
Whoever is eventually hired has a Mt. Everest to overcome.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

July 7th, 2011
12:50 pm

Uh, you are pointing out that Gov. Deal appoints friends to high places……

….have you forgotten that King Roy would just happen to appoint folks who just happened to have cut big multi-thousand dollar checks to his campaign right before (or sometimes during) the selection process?

larry

July 7th, 2011
1:13 pm

When are we going back to a white political structure in the city ? Ever since the civil rights laws passed and blacks got involved in government,school administration,the quality of life for all has gone down,now our children.The theft of money from the state,federal government will just continue until whites take back Atlanta.
The uppity negro is just too full of greed to be allowed around government funds.

Burroughston Broch

July 7th, 2011
1:19 pm

@ ANGRY AS HELL
What were the APS administrators thinking?
Some were thinking (like many politicians) that the public and the media are dumber and lazier than APS administrators, and no one would be the wiser.
Others were thinking that they’d be retired on fat pensions before anyone caught on to the scam.
The rest were thinking that they would move on to higher paying positions before the cat was out of the bag.

jsmtih

July 7th, 2011
1:23 pm

Larry , that is why everyone got the hell out of the city. alpharetta and johns creek and other cities north of atlanta got a massive population boost by whites because of exactly what you just said.

Diehard

July 7th, 2011
1:28 pm

The ATL chamber should have heartburn. It enabled the Supt.and then assisted in advising the coverup. Shameful.

Fran Surgess

July 7th, 2011
1:36 pm

I just returned from England and was shocked to see an article regarding the cheating scandal in the local newspaper there.

Calm on Cents

July 7th, 2011
1:46 pm

An increase in scores from 38% to 92% in one years time. RED FLAG!!! Given the right tools even incompetent educators can demonstrate success in a relatively short span of time on a tiny budget. The right tools happened to be a few erasers and some sharp pencils in this case.

RC

July 7th, 2011
1:56 pm

And what were the parents doing all this time? Turning over their responsibility to others like they always do that’s what. These kids couldn’t have turned into supposed overachievers overnight otherwise.

T K O

July 7th, 2011
2:08 pm

Want to blame someone for the APS’s? Truth here folks. Stop blaming the failure of the schools on everyone but those who need to be blamed…. the majority of black single mothers who are caught up in entitlements and do not value education. A parent who was involved with their child’s education would have seen this coming.

The school system may have failed the children… but the parent or parents failed these children first.

Beth

July 7th, 2011
2:20 pm

Ralph Long is a jackass (I live in SW Atlanta) and is looking for a soapbox….but he may have hit on something here….about the Mayor. A broken clock is right twice in 24 hours.

I just read as much as I could stomach of the Report of the Cheating Scandal. It would gag a maggot. From the humiliation of honest teachers, their firing (and one forced to crawl under a desk in front of other teachers by a principal….for the purposes of humiliation), the FACT that Hall, Augustine, et al. and down the totem pole covered up and denied the complaints of HONEST teachers…speaks to exactly what we got here: A culture of intimination and corruption running the school system. Backed up by embarrassed citizens and desperate to deny the issues, and to do the work of parents.

I was a substitute teacher for a year in Capitol View Elementary until a knife threat to the throat to my (white) child by 5 little black boys made me take him out of that school. The principal? “He didn’t mean to hurt nobody”. Hah! That child ended up in prison for life at 18…after he killed two people.

There are honest teachers and probably SOME honest principals, but there is a climate, culture of excuses, denials, and plain old lies by the Atlanta School System, backed up by lots of other people in positions of power (Mayor, Chamber of Commerce, etc) because of _______. You fill in the blanks.

I’m sick of it all. Hall, Augustine, Waller (principal of Parks Middle School) and ALL of the other administrators and teachers/principals….should serve jail time.

They are criminals who have no faith or real interest in these (mostly) black children. And we wonder where Atlanta’s crime comes from???

Starts very, very early…in the school system. What marvelous examples Hall and her cronies are!

Beth

Representative Ralph Long

July 7th, 2011
2:54 pm

Over the course of three years as a legislator I have learned to take criticism, in actuality it is a part of the job. Being a public figure means to know that at times your job is thankless. As a statesman and servant in this city and state that I love with all of my heart, I’m willing to do what others won’t. I’m willing to lead.

I invite all of my critics here to call me directly on my cell (770-616-2130) so that we can directly discuss areas where we may disagree. I look forward to addressing any complaints you have of me head on. I promise to listen and hold dear your perspective. I would hope that on an issue this important and involving children that you are not simply playing politics or part of a PR machine. I do not fear your criticism and welcome the chance to win you over. My cell is the same one that I successfully ran for office on, it has not changed since I’ve been elected. This issue is about children people. The game playing is over, let’s be businesslike when it comes to our future.

Wilma

July 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

Heck, you had to bring money just to get in to see King Roy. I can’ imagin how big a bag o’money you would need to snag a King Roy appointment.

Beth

July 7th, 2011
10:41 pm

Kasim Reed isn’t the one to blame for this APS debacle. We can shuck and jive all over the map on the issue of blame, but it’s broader and deeper than blaming Reed and a few others. It comes from a culture of fear and denial developed by petty bureaucrats and certainly goes to the top: Beverly Hall must be looked at seriously, and I think people will now. Also the people immediately next to her on the totem pole and down the line. 178 teachers, administrators and principals .

Remember, this cheating goes back to 2001. Way before Reed. But Hall came in in 1999.

After I read a lot of the report, I was sickened. If this is the way our school authorities act, Atlanta has no possibility of ever putting this behind this city. And it’s a little too early to talk about putting things behind in any case.

People need to take this scandal seriously and read the report. There are a lot of questions to be faced: why is the majority (all of them??) of the schools in black areas? What does this say about the teachers, most of whom don’t live in the areas where they teach. Why the deception? Is this some perverted ‘leveling the playing field’ mentality?

These kids can learn, and this has been my experience after all these years in Atlanta. It seems the adults, the teachers, administrators and parents that don’t give a damn are the main stumbling block for these kids. Politics and politicians, too.

Ethics has flown out the window in the APS debacle. Perhaps ethics was never of much concern. Certainly the end result seems to say so.

Fed up with the greed and the blame game

July 8th, 2011
9:42 am

Follow the money. It’s all fine to fire the teachers who cheated but the money maker is Beverly Hall with the bonuses – if she is not fired, then the remedies to get past this are just for show and mean nothing. Corruption must be cut out. The pressure for the teachers to cheat must have come from this Ms. Hall and others in charge. The legislation leave it open to corruption – that should have been obvious before it was adapted. Go after the big guns, those with the influence and control and fire them all. Start fresh with the last honest person who demands that kids, parents, and teachers get down to business and work hard, be disciplined and take education as their most important job. Everyone stop being lazy and everyone do your job honestly, parents included.

Sadd

July 9th, 2011
4:51 pm

This is so sad…..Parental Involvement is not only necessary, but mandatory…Bless the children….

Tena

July 12th, 2011
2:35 am

Hey ralph! You just want use this opportunity to get a political score against reed. You and you wife was bad mouthing mayor since a day one of his campaign. This is about atlanta childeren, please do not try take advantage over it. It is always good to take a high road. havein descency and common sense is also advisable. Mayor reed has nothing do with this scandal.In the mean time, before considering to run for the mayor, I advise you to go head finish up the 4 year college. Education is a major tool to have all around knowledge.