Atlanta schools scandal highlights the failures of the U.S. Education system
As someone who feels the education of our children is probably the MOST important responsibility a society has, this scandal and the current state of the U.S. Education system brings me true heartbreak.
Growing up in Canada, I recieved what I feel to be a strong education. I did not take one SINGLE standardized test. I learned math, reading, science, history, geography and so forth all the way through High School. My education was geared towards actually learning valuable and useful information, not learning how to take tests.
For those who haven’t heard, there’s a been a huge scandal that has erupted involving the Atlanta Public School system.
Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.
A state investigation found former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides either ignored or destroyed evidence of test cheating across the district.
Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.
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.
For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.
This is the result of legislation like No Child Left Behind and an education system that is more focused on test scores that anything else. No one, NO ONE should be shocked that certain people took it upon themselves to do unethical things to “fudge the numbers.
It wasn’t just one or two rogue teachers and administrators either…
The voluminous report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.
The investigators gave three key reasons that cheating flourished in Atlanta: The district set unrealistic test-score goals, or “targets,” a culture of pressure and retaliation spread throughout the district, and Hall emphasized test results and public praise at the expense of ethics.
Read that again. 44 of 56. That means pretty much 80% of schools examined were guilty of unethical acts.
And don’t think this is happening elsewhere in America too. Of course I don’t have any hard data to back that up, but considering the way the system is structured and what happened in Atlanta, I tihnk it’s foolish to think it’s not happening elsewhere.
It’s not quantum physics, usually when something is measured numerically, it’s relatively easy for someone with the right know-how to gimmick the numbers to produce any desired result (especially if ethics and morals are not a factor),
One of the most telling quotes from the article (and I’d really encourage you to read the whole story, it’s just too much to cover here but totally worth the effort) is this one:
“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.”
It’s a spot on observation of where the problem lies. We often discuss a variety of reasons why America is falling behind other nations in terms of innovation, scientific knowledge and research. This is a huge part of it, our education system is simply not conducive to producing strong scholars and citizens. It’s efficient at producing students who know how to take a test really well though.
I hope it’s not just Atlanta. I hope there are more dominoes to fall. Drawing as much attention as possible to these issues is the only way we can get real education reform in America. Reform we badly need.
There’s just too much at stake to sell out our future generations like this.