Jail Time Not the Answer to Atlanta Cheating Scandal

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  • It was the saddest news of the week: three dozen public school educators were indicted in a huge cheating scandal. Included in the indictment are the former superintendent of schools and several high-level administrators and principals.

    If you haven’t heard about it, they are accused of giving or changing answers on tests after they were turned in to boost their students’ grades.

    They were wrong and they may be going jail.  But what does that solve, really? Will children be able to pass those tests? Will teachers still feel intimidated into making sure students perform better? Will schools stop pressuring teachers to do things that may be beyond their control?

    Schools with good test scores get extra money to spend in the classroom or on bonuses, and everyone knows how rough it is for most public schools and public school teachers.

    I believe with my heart of hearts that these educators were up against it and were doing what they thought was best for their students and their schools.  The best solution for everyone involved is to allow the accused teachers to pay back any money they received and get them back into the classrooms where they belong.

    Think about it. Other people have gone free for much worse infractions. Cheating is a terrible thing but once again, follow the money. These teachers, for not much pay, are expected to do the impossible.

    Day after day, they enter over-crowded classrooms with minimal supplies. Not to mention, they are the scape goats for the “No Child Left Behind” policy that, by most accounts, is failing.

    We all want America to be competitive and to churn out students who will make remarkable contributions in math, science and literature. But we have to be realistic, too. There are some social problems that have changed the game and addressing them takes the kind of sacrifice few of us are willing to make.

    The mantra at the TJMS is to “put the work in.” That means, if you say you want the best, most competitive schools and students in the world, put the work in! You can’t expect it to happen while turning your backs on Head Start and other programs that feed poor children and offer their parents assistance.

    You can’t shut down drug rehab and mental health facilities. You can’t cut off money for after school enrichment courses, P.E. and summer jobs. You have to come up with a way to make kids ready to learn in safe environments. You have to face the fact that no matter how many times you blame the parents, some parents are just not present physically or mentally able to do what they ought to do.

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