Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Free at last, free at last

Ex-Atlanta Schools Chief Charged in Cheating Scandal [NY Times]
Dr. Hall, who retired in 2011, was charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Prosecutors recommended a $7.5 million bond for her; she could face up to 45 years in prison.
...The falsified test scores were so high that Parks Middle was no longer classified as a school in need of improvement and, as a result, lost $750,000 in state and federal aid, according to investigators. That money could have been used to give struggling children extra academic support.
And all the while, bonuses of comparable magnitude went into the pockets of Dr Beverly Hall and her assistant superintendents, the so-called "school reform team directors"; Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts, and Tamara "tell the FBI to go to hell" Cotman.

And for ten years, while Hall was being praised and given hefty bonuses for being a model superintendent, tens of thousands of children passed through APS barely knowing how to spell their own names.

This is the story I've been waiting to see. Alleluia!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I thought they were volunteers?!?

Communities In Schools ties with Atlanta’s public schools in jeopardy | SaportaReport
For 40 years, Communities In Schools has been working with the Atlanta Public Schools to help the most vulnerable students stay on course and graduate.
The organization, which was founded in Atlanta as Exodus in 1972, now is in 24 states and the District of Columbia working with about 3,000 schools across the country. It is considered one of the nonprofits that has been most successful in getting tangible results.
But now the Atlanta Board of Education is considering ending its partnership with Communities In Schools.
Erroll Davis, superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools, has proposed ending the school system’s relationships with several nonprofit organizations, including Communities In Schools, Teach for America, Project Grad and Hands On Atlanta as cost saving measures.
But ending those relationships is creating great concern among community leaders who are concerned about what will happen to the students who are in great need of extra support if those nonprofits are not there.
Wait. You mean APS is paying them? So they're not really volunteers, they're subcontractors?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Oops. Never mind. Sort of.

12 Atlanta educators named in cheating case going back to work | ajc.com
Twelve Atlanta educators implicated in a massive test cheating investigation will be allowed to return to work, school district officials said Thursday. It's the first time Atlanta Public Schools has reinstated any of the approximately 180 educators named in the case.
...After reviewing the cases, the district concluded there was not enough evidence to prove the 12 reinstated educators cheated or knew about cheating.
...Eight of the reinstated educators are from Peyton Forest Elementary, two are from Finch Elementary, one is from D.H. Stanton Elementary and one is from Fain Elementary, [Superintendent Erroll] Davis said. The educators may not be assigned to the same school, as their positions were filled while they were on leave.
It seems to me that if this announcement meant that APS has unequivocally cleared these employees of wrongdoing, they would name names. That's how I read this comment from Bob Wilson, co-author of That Report To The Governor:
If anything, he said, the report fell short of identifying all educators who participated in cheating. But standards of evidence must be met in order to fire teachers, and that’s not what the investigation set out to do. “I don’t think it raises any questions about the investigation,” he said. “The mere fact they don’t have enough evidence doesn’t mean teachers didn’t violate protocol of the test.”
So, if you look at this scandal as if it were a game, a dozen players just won. They got to take a year off with pay and have jobs waiting for them this fall.

Do you suppose they will return to work committed to record-keeping honesty? Thinking "*whew*, dodged a bullet, better not do that again"? Or will they conclude that what they did is pretty much what APS wants them to do?

LATER: Now we've got names, and they and their attorneys seem to think their names have been cleared, which just goes to show they don't know how trials work.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

If it's this hard to fire a teacher...

Readers Write 6/18 | ajc.com
After following the proceedings of the APS tribunal, I have a question for the teachers and some administrators who claimed fear for their jobs as reasons for cheating: If it is this hard to fire a teacher, even one accused of such a serious offense, why were you in fear for your job?
Ooh, that's a good question. It has an obvious answer, but I can't fault this AJC letter-writer for not seeing it: I didn't see it at first, either, until I asked an actual APS employee.

It's only difficult to fire a teacher if you go through proper channels, as the current administration is doing.

The previous administration, led by the Dirty Half-Dozen (Beverly Hall, her deputy superintendent and the School Reform Team Directors, the authors of the climate of fear and intimidation under which the APS ran), didn't feel constrained by "proper channels". They were happy to use rumor and innuendo to ensure that those not looked upon with favor faced dead-ends and mandatory "professional advancement" certifications on which their continued employment depended. (Principals and SRT directors could place a teacher in corrective training without having to prove that corrections are needed. Teachers can't refuse or challenge. And enough of those on your record become grounds for termination.)

And even if they can't manage to outright fire you, they can see to it that you get transferred to a position you'd rather quit than occupy. "Fear for your job" also means being pulled out of a school you like and assigned to one where you fear for your life. But if you say "no" to whatever crap they hand you, then they can fire you on the spot.

(I was tempted to reply to AJC's "Letters to the Editor" and make this point, but in order to do so I'd have to give the AJC my full name, address and phone number. With no guarantee that my comment would see the light of day, and no link to the question it answers if it were used.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

19 more frycooks available

19 APS educators may lose licenses over cheating | ajc.com
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission recommended Thursday that 19 Atlanta educators caught up in the nation's largest test cheating scandal be barred from the classroom.
...Ten educators in leadership positions had their certificates revoked; nine teachers had their certificates suspended for two years.
...Forty-eight cases have yet to be decided, including those of former Superintendent Beverly Hall and other top leaders who worked at APS.
I've updated the scorecard. I wonder if GPSC will name names when they get to the Dirty Half-Dozen?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two firsts

Atlanta educator prevails in tribunal
Angela Williamson, formerly of Dobbs Elementary School, is now the first teacher named in the CRCT scandal whom the APS tribunal has recommended be reinstated.
APS tribunal, for first time, backs firing a principal for test cheating
Selena Dukes-Walton, formerly of Slater Elementary School, is the first principal to go before the tribunal. Although no one contends she was personally involved in falsifying test results, the tribunal has recommended that she be fired for failing to prevent cheating.

I'm still thinking these tribunals would be a lot shorter if the so-called Blue Ribbon Commission hadn't done such a good job of tainting the evidence. But although I have nothing against Ms Dukes-Walton personally, I'm encouraged that "should have known" is almost as damning as "knew". It gives me hope that the same attitude will prevail with the people who really deserve to fry for gross malfeasance.
Six APS principals sue district to keep jobs
The district isn't planning to renew the expiring contracts of the six principals, all of whom were implicated in the 400-plus-page cheating investigation report released in July.
...The six principals have job protection rights earned while they were teachers. That means the district doesn't have to promise them another principal position, but it does have to guarantee them a teaching contract, or show why they should be fired from the district completely.
"Knew or should have known." Only two of these six are accused of actively cheating or telling teachers to cheat, but all of them satisfy the same criteria as Ms Dukes-Walton above: It was their job to ensure that this didn't happen in their schools, and they failed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"She was referring to previous years when ...rules were different"

Tribunals fire two in APS cheating cases | ajc.com

There's always a reason it isn't really cheating. I didn't know you meant that. I was just clarifying the question. I only told students to recheck their answers. This isn't an unbiased panel. You can't judge me. I did that when I taught second grade: The rules were different. It was just to get them to focus.

The educators being slowly processed through their tribunals are not producing the "smoking gun" testimony I'm looking for. It's an open secret that the SRT directors were telling their principals to raise the test scores by any means necessary or face non-renewal of contracts--a threat passed on to the teachers. It's a mystery to me why this isn't coming out in these hearings.

Can it be that the teachers are still too terrified to name names?