Archive for July, 2011

A lower bar in higher education

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Georgia appears to be doing to higher education what Congress did to housing: chasing downmarket candidates in an effort to flim-flam them — this time into college classrooms. AJC reporter Laura Diamond notes, for example, that a new bachelor’s degree in nursing is being offered at Albany’s Darton College, though it’s already available at Albany State, five miles away, and Georgia Southwestern, 30 miles away. Would you take a degree if we could offer a program in your living room? With government services, there’s something to be said for requiring individual preparation, initiative and effort. Only 48 percent of students at Georgia State University graduate in six years, compared to 80 percent at UGA and Georgia Tech. They’re camping, waiting for a better economy or for an answer to the question: Why am I here?

● Clayton County commissioners raised property taxes 34 percent — topping DeKalb’s 26 percent and Cobb’s 15.7 …

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APS mess tars chamber leaders

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Firing those implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal: costly. Not firing them: corrosive.

● The Atlanta business community’s failure, through the Metro Atlanta Chamber, to exercise sound judgment in separating parents’ and the public’s interest in the cheating scandal from its brand-protection efforts, does raise serious questions. Had they succeeded in protecting former Superintendent Beverly Hall and those below her accused of cheating, the culture of corruption in the system could have gone on for another generation or more. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, this week called on chamber president Sam Williams to resign. In a scandal this seriously damaging to the community, a scandal that might never have been fully explored had the chamber’s efforts and advice prevailed, it is hard to see how its leadership survives.

● The U.S. Justice Department has given Voting Rights Act approval to a law that …

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Able leaders police and protect

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● The 12-page booklet of fulsome praise for former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall distributed just before the final cheating scandal report was released is a reminder of why we should not name public buildings, roads, bridges, parks or other facilities for the living — especially living politicians.

● One strange twist of the scandal’s fallout is the assertion that consequential testing is to blame for the corruption that seeped through Atlanta Public Schools on Hall’s watch. That’s a cop-out and an effort to shift responsibility for the absence of ethics among the college-educated middle class, from molders of children’s minds and character, to “the system.” Testing made us do it. And what, in another institution’s scandal, made priests do it?

● If I read Beverly Hall’s “sincere apology” correctly, she’s a victim. If, unbeknownst to her, the system corrupted during her fine stewardship, she’s sorry. …

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The collapse of integrity at Atlanta Public Schools

Thinking Right’s free-for-all — today on a single topic, the tragedy of Atlanta Public Schools.

Ten observations:

1. The metastasized corruption that spread through the body of Atlanta Public Schools is the most heart-breaking collapse of public-sector integrity in Georgia in my adult life. Investigators found that 178 educators, including 38 principals, participated. More than 80 have confessed. Of 56 schools examined, cheating was found at 44. My God! So deep. So widespread.

2. Once in, cheaters were trapped in their own dishonesty — prompting Part 2, the cover-up. Investigators attributed a quote to now-retired principal Armstead Salters that explains how wrongdoing by individuals descends into systemic corruption. Said Salters, according to the report, “If anyone asks you anything about this just tell them you don’t know. … Just stick to the story and it will all go away.” That, one suspects, is the defense bureaucracies teach and learn to avoid accountability for program …

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