Atlanta Teachers–From Educators to Racketeers–I Don’t Think So

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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:

From Educators to Racketeers: How Education Reform Led to a National Testing Scandal

 

New eBook on High-Stakes Testing

A new eBook will soon be published by The Art of Teaching Science Blog with the title: Why Should High-Stakes Testing be Banned?

Over the past three months, I have written about the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation of Science Standards, and the corporate take-over of public education.  Living in the Atlanta area, and having been a professor at Georgia State University (GSU) for many years, the Atlanta test cheating scandal hit very close to home.  For more than 30 years as a professor at GSU, I worked with teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools K-12.  I taught science education courses in the Atlanta Public Schools, collaborated with teachers and principals in middle and high schools, and worked closely with graduate students in science education who were pursuing degrees in teacher education and did much of their internship work in the Atlanta schools.

The scandal, which is discussed in the new eBook, shocked many of us, but the investigation into the test scandal has not addressed the fundamental question, Why did teachers and administrators risk their professional careers by participating in a cheating scandal that probably will result in the 180 educators losing their teaching credentials?

In my own view, the cause of the cheating scandal is directly related to the No Child Left Behind Act that put into place a wide-ranging high-stakes testing program that has resulted in an inordinate amount of pressure on students, teachers and parents, so much so, that a culture of fear spread throughout the Atlanta School System.

According to the Georgia Governor’s three-volume report, the Atlanta cheating scandal was caused by “a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation that spread throughout the (Atlanta) district.”  That culture of fear was directly related to the pressure put on administrators, teachers, and students to make sure students scored high on the end-of-year tests at any costs.  The intimidation and the culture of fear that the report describes was part of the school district since at least 2004, two years after the NCLB Act was established by Congress.

Nineteen posts that were written about high-stakes testing, the common standards movement, and the corporate involvement in American schools form the content of this new eBook.

The eBook is organized into  five parts, each posing a question that organizes the posts that were written related to the question.

Part 1: Is High-Stakes Testing an Enigma?

Part 2: Are We Racing to Nowhere?

Part 3: Why Are We Centralizing Standards and Testing in America?

Part 4: What the the Misconceptions about Achievement Testing?

Part 5: Who and What was Responsible for the High-Stakes Cheating Scandal in Atlanta?

Look for this new eBook on this blog in a few days.  In the meantime, you can download and read three previously published eBooks on this blog.