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Atlanta cheating scandal becomes Jay Leno punchline



Jay  Leno worked a dig at the Atlanta Public Schools system into his monologue Thursday night.

“This is a shocking story,” he said. “Teachers – teachers! – in Atlanta – are accused of altering the students’ answers on tests to improve the scores. To raise the scores, they changed the tests. I guess it was pretty hard to catch them. For some reason, nobody could put two and two together.”

That corny quip got both laughs and groans.

Leno continued, saying, “You know who gets hurt by something like this? The kids. The kids are the ones who get hurt, because they’re never going to learn how to cheat on their own. When they get jobs on Wall Street and become lawyers they’re not going to know how to lie and cheat and steal properly. It’s a horrible thing.”

Here’s a link to the video clip that local NBC affiliate WXIA has posted.

- Jennifer Brett/The Buzz/

64 comments Add your comment

carla roqs

July 8th, 2011
9:07 am

am not happy.


July 8th, 2011
9:35 am

Atlanta: City Too Lazy To Care!

APS Parent

July 8th, 2011
10:26 am

You know it’s bad when you’re a national punchline on late night tv. Yesterday’s board meeting really wasn’t that funny.

carla roqs

July 8th, 2011
10:29 am

@aps parent, i cannot imagine how that went. am reading backwards to the stepping down of hall. bowers is a heavy hitter and if he is after the school board, he will come in hitting home runs. unfortunately, i do not think aps will be the last system to get hit. @aps parent–as a parent– what are you going to do? keep your kids in the system, or pull them out?


July 8th, 2011
10:33 am

Leno’s jokes are so lame, they have to use a laugh track on The Tonight Show, so the sound of laughter means nothing.


July 8th, 2011
10:36 am

THe MOST needed thing is to put HALL BEHIND BARS!

Don't Tread

July 8th, 2011
10:39 am

Not a Leno fan, but that was funny.

My Two Cents

July 8th, 2011
10:39 am

The pathetic side of this story is the ones responsible for the cheating will not be charged. Those given immunity will remain employable and receive their pensions.


July 8th, 2011
10:41 am

This is a sad day. most of these of these kids are inner city minority kids who if living with a single mom….or grandma are battling uphill already. Two parent homes with that support system and accountability factor working has more than proven these kids can and will do well….. But this is just setting them up for failure and stuck in Government entitlements forever……..Or as Obama would say, “I love it when a plan comes together”.


July 8th, 2011
10:44 am

That is nothing…wait until someone really investigates Graduation Rates of Atlanta Schools. No system has ever shown such a jump iin Graduation Rates along with student transfers…

This is only the begining….


July 8th, 2011
10:45 am

This is only teaching our kids that cheating is okay if “everyone is doing it,” “others tell you to do it,” “it’s the only way,” etc. The teachers and Hall have done a disservice to the youth of APS.

You know that sign that says “applause?” They still use that.


July 8th, 2011
10:45 am

Beverly Hall & the of the APS cospirators embarrassed the city & the state. i am going to have to brin the race card. but w/ APS & Dekalb isues the african americans that have been running things in the the perimeter seem to be corrupt, liars & criminals. remember bill campbell! franklin was horrible too. I have to give Reed credit. he seems to be trying but it like mission impossible because of the ignorant, incompatent people before him & some that are still there. atl & most of perimeter needs an over haul of people in power & management. Same goes for marta.


July 8th, 2011
10:46 am

Leno also made Casey Anthony jokes that had NOBODY in the audience laughing. He’s over.


July 8th, 2011
10:51 am

I don’t know about whether there’s been an “investigation” into graduation rates, but some time ago the AJC wrote extensively about those numbers jumping. The conclusion, as I recall it, was that the numbers jumped precipitously on Hall’s watch because a lot of the young people who previously counted as non-graduates — i.e. dropouts — were flushed off the books altogether. Therefore, they don’t count against graduation rates. Plus, some under-performers were transferred away before they could fail to graduate.

Not a secret.

The Truth

July 8th, 2011
10:52 am

Jay Leno: Still funnier than Conan.

At least Jay makes me laugh now and then. I have yet to laugh at anything Conan has done/said.


July 8th, 2011
10:53 am

Come on folks–it’s a government school run by government officials/hacks. What in the world do we expect? If you’re downloading children it’s YOUR responsibility to educate them and not toss them into the sewers of public school systems.

Prosecute Her Now

July 8th, 2011
10:54 am

Beverly Hall needs to be prosecuted to the fullest and most severe extent of the law and stripped of her pension! She needs some serious time out in the prison system – hopefully in Jackson closest to the Death Chamber!


July 8th, 2011
11:02 am

@The Truth – Tru dat!!!!


July 8th, 2011
11:02 am

Yes – the educator’s cheating scandal is terrible, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Making teacher’s pay and jobs dependent on how students perform is asking for it. You can be a good teacher and still have student who perform poorly. Politicians – like Sonny Perdue – who want to make teacher’s salaries based on student performance on tests are clearly not thinking. People say that supervisors in other professions are responsible for their employees -so why shouldn’t teachers be responsible for their students? How can people not see the difference? We’re talking about children here – not adults. And supervisors can fire employees who don’t perform; teachers can’t fire the students. It’s simply not the same thing – and asinine to think this is a good idea.


July 8th, 2011
11:03 am

This is truly a sad turn of events for the APS school system. What’s even more sad, is the fact that APS is not the only Metro Atlanta system with a cheating problem. From North Fulton to Cobb, it happens everywhere. I have taught in several counties, so I know. It won’t stop until we truly begin to measure student growth. One test is not a true indication of a student’s academic performance. We have to do better for the kids.


July 8th, 2011
11:05 am

Shocked! Shocked, I say! Come on now, it’s the American way. Leno’s right about depriving these kids of a skill needed for success on Wall Street and in politics. And the real shame of it is, it’s impossible now even to be sarcastic about this kind of thing.

Mr. Ed

July 8th, 2011
11:07 am

WSB radio aired a replay of Leno’s quips during the morning drive commute. After I stopped snickering,I hated myself. The reality of the cheating scandal is indeed sad and sobering.


July 8th, 2011
11:09 am

Well, all one can say is that the multitude of rumors over the past 10 years
that there was massive chaeting going on in Atlanta schools…HAS PROVEN TRUE.

Only proves that the APS, City government, and “YES” that bastion of (dubious) integrity,
the AJC, has been in WILLFUL DENIAL for 10 years.

Way to go AJC. Way to be “asleep at the switch” for the PAST DECADE.

Embarrassed Atlantan

July 8th, 2011
11:11 am

Not surprised. After the story broke on AJC, GMA was reporting from NYC!

Atlanta Taxpayer

July 8th, 2011
11:17 am

When is the APS Board, on behalf of Atlanta taxpayers, going to demand Beverly Hall return the over one-half million dollars she recieved in bonuses based on the bogus CRCT test scores?


July 8th, 2011
11:18 am

When, oh when, will the finger finally get pointed in the right direction????? Yes the teachers are the ones who changed the answers, but the PARENTS are the ones at fault for not ensuring their children would do well on the tests. How many of them ever looked at a homework assignment and checked their child’s work? How many of them ever had a teacher conference to determine why their child was not doing well? How many of them ever got involved in their school (there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that can be done at home). How many of them ever let their child know that the teacher was not the one at fault for them not learning. The teacher’s job is to present the material, the parents job is to monitor their child at home and make sure they are reviewing and learning that material. Now that our daughter is an adult, she will tell you that the only reason she brought home A’s and B’s is because she knew that no less would be accepted. Parents are responsible for their children. Teachers didn’t take them to raise.

Public School Is A Joke

July 8th, 2011
11:20 am

@Teacher – North Fulton and Cobb, really? Thanks for the info, now I’ll definitely put my child in a private school. Public school equals neglect.

Jennifer Brett

July 8th, 2011
11:20 am


The AJC began digging into this more than three years ago. My colleagues’ investigation led to the state investigation. Someone’s been asleep at the switch, yes. It hasn’t been the AJC.



July 8th, 2011
11:28 am

I’m really not happy with what’s going on in APS. I have an 8 yr old that attends APS and I feel as though, they have been cheated with their education. With my 8 yr old, I take his education very seriously. This may be his last year in the APS system, because I’m really aggitated with all of this…


July 8th, 2011
11:31 am

Meesie – Ok – and now help us do something about it. Tell the politicians that linking teacher pay to test scores is not acceptable and don’t vote for those who think it is. We all need to be involved to help fix this. And yes, I think we should our money back from B.Hall too.


July 8th, 2011
11:45 am

I haven’t laughed at Leno since I was an 14 year old 5th grader in an Atlanta public school.

Conan rules and Beverly Hall should go to prison.

carla roqs

July 8th, 2011
11:46 am

@dab, exactly!


July 8th, 2011
11:51 am

What’s the bigger joke is that the citizens of this town/state ACTUALLY think that electing the right people will make things better. There has never been an election that has resulted in things getting better – only government getting more power and more control.

Nobody ever sits around hoping that the results of the next board meeting will improve things at their local grocery store. If they don’t like the store, they go elsewhere and take their money with them. Enough do that and the stores addresses the problems or goes out of business.

It could be the same for education, but everyone is too afraid of freedom, and too addicted to the money the government steals on their behalf to educate their children. And it would also mean that parents would actually finally have to REALLY care about the quality of education their kids were getting – because THEY would finally be responsible, not some unaccountable bureaucrat.

The answer is everywhere around us in the marketplace.

That the majority of americans continue to ignore and deny the obvious would be funny if it weren’t true.


July 8th, 2011
12:06 pm


Jennifer Brett already addressed this but you can thank AJC’s Heather Vogell along with others for helping keep this story alive and making this state investigation happen. Big, big things in her future!


July 8th, 2011
12:12 pm

They should post thier pictures and full names in a special section in the AJC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Escaped from Email Purgatory

July 8th, 2011
12:19 pm


So it’s the teacher’s responsibility only to present the material to the student? Than I, as parent, am responsible for making sure their daily presentation has been learned by my child (”teach” them the material, I suppose).

So class time is strictly presentation time? Teacher’s can’t be bothered with actually ensuring the students understand the material presented – again , “teach” them the material.

By your twisted rationale, “teachers” is a gross misnomer. Better start calling them “presenters”.

Gwinnett Teacher

July 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

I can asssure you that Gwinnett takes testing VERY seriously! The security of the tests is unbelievable. There is intense pressure to protect tests and ensure that cheating is virtually impossible. I’m sure most teachers in most counties are shocked at the lack of control over testing materials.


July 8th, 2011
12:56 pm

I am horrified that school administrators would require (or demand) that their teachers cheat (give the answers or change the answers) in order to keep their jobs. It has happened with the APS scandal. And it happens every school year with all the public school systems. Principals require teachers to change a test score or give a kid a different grade because of parents complaints… or to get the school’s passage rate higher. Very unethical. But very common.


July 8th, 2011
12:58 pm

The biggest PR problem of APS is that there is no ‘whitey’ to blame it on!

Color Blind

July 8th, 2011
1:14 pm

I’m glad APS hired a new super with strong credentials…an engineer? I’m sure they searched thoroughly for the best available. Meritocracy is what differentiates America from autocratic governments. Is anyone surprised there were no white candidates qualified for the job? Not me! Even though white people out number blacks by a wide margin, I think everyone knows white people just don’t have what it takes anymore. I’m glad the APS is colorblind and didn’t feel pressured to hire a white person just because they haven’t hired one in…how many years? Go for the best and don’t let color enter in to it…that’s why another black was hired.


July 8th, 2011
1:33 pm

I had forgotten about the graduation rates. The next shoe.


July 8th, 2011
1:39 pm

Don’t forget about Sen. Charles Walker from Augusta serving 10 years in Federal prison ( found guilty on all 100+ counts) another fine(sic) man abusing power. What is it about the law, black or white, that people don’t get.

who cares?!

July 8th, 2011
1:49 pm

Color blind- you are so wrong! There are plenty of qualified White people for the job up North around New England and the mid west. What do these scenarios have in common: APS, City of Atlanta and the USA? They are all run by black people and are in TERRIBLE shape.
Stop voting for the Brothers and Sisters and start voting for people that CAN do the job!

Escaped from Email Purgatory

July 8th, 2011
1:56 pm

@Color Blind

Huh? There’s meritocracy practiced by the City of Atlanta in filling critical administrative and managerial positions? Really?. Where in the world have you been?

If your selection method eliminates capable candidates based purely on race – as does the City of Atlanta’s – then your method can’t possibly be based on meritocracy.

The Atlanta city power structure has been practicing a reverse “good ol boy” system for years. Prior to the last mayoral election, some movers and shakers in ATL’s black community likened electing a white mayor to a surrender of all that black folks have “gained” by electing candidates to public office based strictly on the basis of their pigmentation.

I guess implicit in that statement is that a white mayor won’t fill every appointed position with black folks – but a black mayor will.

That’s cronyism based on ethnicity, not meritocracy.

Here’s hoping the new super – for the sake of APS students and parents – is the right man for the job. We need his help and all the ability he can muster.

Atlanta can’t suffer incompetent and corrupt leadership much longer if we intend to maintain a decent quality of life for all our citizens and legitimate standing as a world class city.

There’s no guarantee that appointing non-African Americans will improve our situation. But look at it this way. How has excluding everybody but African Americans been working out so far?

Atlanta is a city that is (or was) unique because of it’s diversity and inclusion. Atlanta is fast becoming a city plagued by racial polarization – fostered in part by a civic power structure that flaunts unabashed racial cronyism.


July 8th, 2011
2:13 pm

You do what’s right, you obey the law, you follow the rules and you give a full days work for a full days pay and Black or white, that works. Just compare the US Postal service vs UPS as a gleaming example.

Dan in West Georgia

July 8th, 2011
2:24 pm

Guys, I think “Color Blind” was being sarcastic.


July 8th, 2011
2:45 pm

@ escaped…
No, teachers do more than “present” the material, but even the best teachers cannot ensure that EVERY child gets it.

The question is, how many parents knew that their child struggled and were alarmed by their soaring test scores? Who was that involved? How many parents were satisfied that their child was doing well and being promoted? And NOW they want to be appalled. Parental involvement could have caused this to be dealt with much sooner.

i wonder...

July 8th, 2011
2:47 pm

…why they did not get that themselves, dan in wg? …why if Blacks pull the race card it is wrong, and if whites do it– they are always justified? …why it took so long for the colorful insults to start? …why people do not realize that life is short and that we all need to work together? …why…i am even trying to rationalize with people who are…NOT colorblind?

wow for president

July 8th, 2011
2:50 pm

@ disturbed– do not let ‘escaped’ get you up in arms. i think he is the formerly known as ‘WOW’, and he is a handful. teachers should teach and do their jobs, undeniably– but parents MUST be totally involved in all aspects of their children’s lives- especially the educational portion.

Michael Parish

July 8th, 2011
3:25 pm

It’s difficult for the parents to be involved when the teachers won’t allow the children to bring home their books. I had a running two year battle with my school district to allow my children to bring home their books, so I could work with them. First they told me they feared kids losing the books. I offerred to buy an extra set for home. Then they told me that I would teach the kids wrong because I wasn’t qualified and teachers would have to take time to re-teach them correctly. Don’t think it wasn’t difficult for my kids sitting in a class room with hotile teachers because of my efforts.

Yeah, teachers keep making excuses of why the kids aren’t doing well, because we don’t get involvefd. But every time we try, they put roadblock in our way.