Atlanta Teachers–From Educators to Racketeers–I Don’t Think So
Last week, 11 educators from the Atlanta Public Schools were convicted on racketeering charges related to the test erasure scandal. The fact that these educators were brought to court on racketeering charges is not only outrageous, but also informs us of who holds power, and how they are able to side-step any accountability, and are able to keep themselves out of the court.
Ever since the story was reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009, I’ve written many blog articles about the “scandal,” and explained why I think these educators should NOT have been brought to court in the first place, and how a system that was mired in a “culture of fear” was infected, resulting in test erasures. The culture of fear, that was described in the Governor’s report of the Atlanta case, exists in many school districts across the country, from Pennsylvania, to Texas, to California.
The eleven Atlanta educators are scapegoats for a system that Jose Luis Vilson explored in one of his recent posts. He said this about these teachers:
The 11 educators we saw arrested in Atlanta, mostly women and mostly Black, didn’t come off as criminals racketeering for massive profits, but as scapegoats for policies written on the backs of their children (Vilson, J. (2015, April 6). Recruiting Educators of Color In The Time of Race To The Top. Retrieved April 9, 2015, from http://thejosevilson.com/recruiting-educators-of-color-in-the-time-of-race-to-the-top/).
Below is a link to one of many posts I wrote about the “cheating scandal.” I introduced this article with this statement:
How could this happen in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS)? The district is in a city that is home to The King Center, The Carter Center, Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and many other institutions that embody academic, research and cultural and social change. Each of these institutions collaborated with the Atlanta Public Schools, some more than others, in research projects, staff development programs, curriculum development, and other educational activities for decades.
Grants were received from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and many other funding agencies. The Georgia Department of Education has contributed to the APS by providing consultants to help teachers who work with struggling students in the lowest performing schools in Atlanta.
Some schools received funding from private foundations and corporations, as well as mentoring and training relationships with local universities, especially in science and technology. (Disclaimer: I was professor of science education at Georgia State University from 1969 – 2002, and worked with teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools for more than 30 years).
Did these organizations have their heads in the sand while they were working with the district? How could the Georgia Department of Education not be aware of any of the pressure that was being put on teachers to make students score as high as they could on the high-stakes tests, no matter what? Did the agencies that funded specific schools in Atlanta not check on how their resources were being used.
If you go ahead and click on the link, you will find some surprises about students in Atlanta perform–before, during, and after the period teachers were accused of changing student answer sheets. ¥ou’ll also find why I think the reform policies that are still in effect in Atlanta specifically, and Georgia generally, will prevent education from improving.
So I invite you read this blog post: