More details on the Atlanta School Cheating Grand Jury Indictments

Here is an excerpt from the NYT article:

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.

During the decade she led the district of 52,000 mainly poor, African-American children, Atlanta students often outperformed wealthier suburban districts on state tests.

Those test scores brought her fame — in 2009, the American Association of School Administrators named her superintendent of the year and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, hosted her at the White House.

And fortune — she earned more than $500,000 in performance bonuses while superintendent.

On Friday, prosecutors essentially said it really was too good to be true. Dr. Hall and the 34 teachers, principals and administrators “conspired to either cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistle-blowers in an effort to bolster C.R.C.T. scores for the benefit of financial rewards associated with high test scores,” the indictment said, referring to the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

(Unfortunately, I need to start paying the NYT before I can read much more — they have dropped the paywall on me, and I can’t find a way around it until April 1, no fooling.)

Here’s a bit if you, like me, are stuck on the wrong side of the NYT paywall:

In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, Dr. Hall said that people under her had allowed cheating but that she never had. “I can’t accept that there is a culture of cheating,” she said.

Paul L. Howard Jr., the district attorney, said that under Dr. Hall’s leadership, there was “a single-minded purpose, and that is to cheat.”

“She is a full participant in that conspiracy,” he said. “Without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree it took place.”

Longstanding Rumors

For years there had been reports of widespread cheating in Atlanta, but Dr. Hall was feared by teachers and principals, and few dared to speak out. “Principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated,” the indictment said.

Reporters for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and state education officials repeatedly found strong indications of cheating — extraordinary increases in test scores from one year to the next, along with a high number of erasures on answering sheets from wrong to right.

But they were not able to find anyone who would confess to it

I guess, until recently and they amassed the evidence in this indictment, for which I salute them.

Will the courageous principal at Noyes who replaced Ryan, found cheating, told about it to her superiors, and got the quiet axe be taken seriously?

Probably not as long as friends of Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Milken, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, and of course Michelle Rhee are still in power in DC and have the power to get the DC Inspector General to very clearly and consciously turn a completely blind eye to all the evidence of cheating here in DC.

(Remember – to fire a principal in DCPS the all-powerful Chancellor doesn’t have to lift a finger or sign a memo or push a button. Just NOT renew their contract, ie do nothing at all. Nothing overt.)

a bit more:

For weeks that fall, Mr. Hyde had been stonewalled and lied to by teachers at Venetian Hills including Ms. Parks, who at one point, stood in her classroom doorway and blocked him from entering.

But day after day he returned to question people, and eventually his presence weighed so heavily on Ms. Parks that she said she felt a terrible need to confess her sins. “I wanted to repent,” she recalled in an interview. “I wanted to clear my conscience.”

Ms. Parks told Mr. Hyde that the cheating had been going on at least since 2004 and was overseen by the principal, who wore gloves so as not to leave her fingerprints on the answer sheets.

Children who scored 1 on the state test out of a possible 4 became 2s, she said; 2s became 3s.

“The cheating had been going on so long,” Ms. Parks said. “We considered it part of our jobs.”

She said teachers were under constant pressure from principals who feared they would be fired if they did not meet the testing targets set by the superintendent.

and a bit more:

It is not just an Atlanta problem. Cheating has grown at school districts around the country as standardized testing has become a primary means of evaluating teachers, principals and schools. In El Paso, a superintendent went to prison recently after removing low-performing children from classes to improve the district’s test scores. In Ohio, state officials are investigating whether several urban districts intentionally listed low-performing students as having withdrawn even though they were still in school.

But no state has come close to Georgia in appropriating the resources needed to root it out.

And that is because of former Governor Perdue.

continuing,

an investigative report with a narrative that read more like a crime thriller than a sleepy legal document and placed Dr. Hall center stage in a drama of mind-boggling dysfunction.

She had praised Mr. Waller of Parks Middle as one of the finest principals in the city, while Mr. Wilson, the special prosecutor, called him “the worst of the worst.”

According to the report, Mr. Waller held “changing parties” where he stood guarding the door as teachers gathered to erase wrong answers and make them right. “I need the numbers,” he would urge the teachers. “Do what you do.”

(When questioned by investigators, Mr. Waller cited his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.)

Published in: on March 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Put the title of the article into Google, along with NY Times and you should be able to click on the article without hitting the paywall. You’re allowed a certain amount of free article through Google links as well as direct clicks onto the Times site.

    Like


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