Belmont Club

Erase to the Top

The AJC, which has been in the forefront of breaking the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, now suggests the whole fradulent enterprise was directed from “downtown”.  In this narrative the effort was not the fault of a few rogues, but a conspiracy directed from the center.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible. Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn. …

“APS is run like the mob,” one teacher told investigators, saying she cheated because she feared retaliation if she didn’t. … Phyllis Brown, a southwest Atlanta parent with two children in the district [said] … “It’s the people over them, that threatened them, that should be punished,” she said. “The ones from the building downtown, they should lose their jobs, they should lose their pensions. They are the ones who started this.”

Always Outwitted But Never Fooled

But downtown is fighting back. Beverly Hall maintains her innocence although she now regrets any shortcomings on her part. In her narrative whatever cheating occurred was perpetrated by a few bad apples.

In an op-ed piece that will appear Sunday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hall cautions the public not to condemn the entire district for actions of a few.

“To the extent that I failed to take measures that would have prevented what the investigators have disclosed, I am accountable, as head of the school system…” Hall said. “I sincerely apologize to the people of Atlanta and their children for any shortcomings.”

“If I did anything that gave teachers the impression that I was unapproachable and unresponsive to their concerns, I also apologize for that,” Hall said. “Where people consciously chose to cheat, however, the moral responsibility must lie with them.”

So begins he finger-pointing in the largest educational scandal in American history. Prosecutors have offered full immunity to those teachers who agreed to cooperate in the probe. But the struggle for control over the investigation has already begun.

The U.S. Department of Education has joined the District’s investigation into allegations that some recent big gains on standardized test scores might have been the result of cheating by teachers or principals, a D.C. official said Thursday. …

The department’s involvement comes amid heightened concern about cheating on tests the government uses to determine whether schools have met progress benchmarks under the No Child Left Behind law. Test scores have also been increasingly employed as a measure of teacher effectiveness and a make-or-break factor in career trajectories of principals and other administrators.

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