July 18th, 2014

How the Atlanta school system became a hotbed of cheating

This is one of the saddest articles I’ve ever read.

It describes the genesis of the cheating behavior that was exposed in 2010 in a scandal in the Atlanta public school system, where administrators and teachers in predominantly black schools in poor neighborhoods had practiced a systematic, organized, and institutionalized form of cheating for many years, with the goal of raising test scores to conform with laws such as No Child Left Behind, and to received other incentives (such as awards and honors) too.

You may think the morality of this is cut and dried, and in fact it is. What they did was wrong, and there are neither ifs nor ands nor buts nor excuses. But it’s a fascinating story of how the motivations and rationalizations worked, and how it was that teachers told themselves it was necessary to go along with the deception. The few who spoke out against it either were ignored (some of the higher-ups to whom they complained were in cahoots with the cheating as well) or transferred to the school equivalent of an even-colder Siberia.

For example:

After two years of improvement, teachers began taking attendance later in the day so that students had more time to get to school. Eventually, [a teacher named] Lewis recalled, the teachers ceased marking absences altogether. In a letter of complaint, the school secretary, who refused to delete absences from the records, informed the district’s central office that her attendance duties had been taken away and “given to someone whom my principal calls a team player.” “I am lying low because I feel my job is on the line,” she wrote. “I am so overwhelmed by what I’m seeing.”

Without offering it as an excuse, rigid outcome-based laws such as No Child Left Behind do not take into account the deep and broad handicaps faced by teachers in inner-city schools. Yes, great things can be accomplished by isolated schools here and there. But the teachers, even the best ones, are swimming upstream against a strong tide of cultural/societal/familial/social currents that impede their progress.

The cheating process as described in the article reminds me very strongly of what recently happened at the VA hospitals, as well. Do you need to generate statistics that support a certain outcome? Are you frustrated at being unable to produce that outcome? Then lie about the statistics, and the world smiles on you—for a while, anyway.

One of the most dreadful parts of this already very sad article is when the teachers at Parks Middle School (the institution described in-depth by the author) find themselves lauded for the seemingly-remarkable progress they’ve made with difficult students, and have to explain to what they owe their astounding success. They are equal to the task:

[Parks School Principal] Waller was lauded by the district, and became a minor celebrity of the reform movement. [Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly] Hall invited him to attend the Harvard Leadership Conference with her, and she arranged a “Tour of Georgia” bus ride for civic leaders which made a stop at Parks, where Hall gave a speech. Once, at a meeting, when the principal of a middle school said that the targets were out of his students’ reach, Hall responded, “You have to make your targets,” and then pointed to a chart with data from Parks, explaining, “Parks did it.” Waller thought it would have been “evident even to a blind man that the scores were not legitimate.”

Parks attracted so many visitors who were eager to understand the school’s turnaround that teachers had to come up with ways to explain it. At Waller’s direction, they began maintaining what they called “standard-based mastery folders,” an index of all the objectives that each student needed to grasp in order to comprehend a given lesson. Lewis [a math teacher at Parks], who was taking night classes at the School of Education at Clark Atlanta University, wrote his master’s thesis on the technique. “It was a wonderful system,” he said. “But we only put it in place to hide the fact that we were cheating.”

Lewis took pride in the attention that Parks was receiving, and he liked the fact that his students had developed egos about their education. A few tattooed the number of the school zone on their arms. The only time an accolade made him uncomfortable was when Parks won a 2009 Dispelling the Myth Award. He and other teachers were sent to Arlington, Virginia, for a ceremony in the ballroom of a Marriott hotel. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, gave the keynote speech. “I swear to God, I need to write that man, Duncan, a letter of apology,” Lewis told me. “I stood in his court and acted like I was doing something I wasn’t. He held us at the tip-top of education.”

How sad is it that these children were duped by the teachers and principals and superintendents to be proud of accomplishments they didn’t actually achieve? This isn’t just the self-esteem movement run amok, though. The goal was not just to make the students feel good. Nor was it just to receive honors; money was another prize awarded for the fake statistics:

On September 8, 2009, the Atlanta city council declared that the date should be known as Dr. Beverly L. Hall Day. Hall had just been named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators, and the city held a ceremony to honor her for making the district one of the highest-performing urban school systems in the nation. Under her leadership, the district had received more than forty million dollars from the G. E. Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When she began as superintendent, fewer than fifty per cent of eighth graders met the state’s standards in language arts. By 2009, ninety per cent of eighth graders had passed the exam.

Too good to be true, but also too good to be challenged. Ultimately it was a newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that finally led to the corrupt system’s downfall by questioning the results at Park and some other schools as improbable, leading to a state probe that uncovered rampant abuse:

…[O]ne in five schools exhibited an abnormal pattern of erasure marks, in which a wrong answer had been corrected. At Parks and at one of its feeder schools, there were suspicious erasure marks on tests from more than seventy-five per cent of the classrooms.

An Atlanta investigation was a coverup, and a special prosecutor was appointed by the governor. Atlanta and Georgia were not the only places where there was evidence of this sort of behavior, but it may have been one where it was most widespread, and it certainly was one where the investigation was deepest.

Even to some of the perpetrators, the revelations of wrongdoing were experienced as relief. You may think that the following is self-serving, but to me it has the ring of truth:

As soon as Lewis learned of the investigation, he was ready to confess. Occasionally, in the middle of teaching a lesson, he had to step outside the classroom and lean silently against the wall, closing his eyes. He and his wife had separated—they shared custody of a young daughter—and he found himself lying in bed, startled awake by nightmares. In one, he heard a knock at his door, and when he opened it one of his former students shot him.

His first meeting with investigators was in Waller’s office. He wondered if Waller was clever enough to bug the room and told the agents, “I’d feel a lot more comfortable at your office.” A few weeks later, he and several other teachers met at the downtown law office of Balch & Bingham, which was assisting with the investigation. The agents told the teachers that anyone who coöperated would be granted immunity from criminal prosecution. A social-studies teacher asked, “Can we all huddle for a minute?” When the agents left the room, Lewis told everyone, “The jig is up. I’m not letting this shit drive me crazy.” He urged his colleagues to blame the cheating on him, but they refused.

They all decided to tell the truth.

Well, immunity will do that for you.

Most of the teachers who cheated made it clear that they did not think there were any victims, because they disagreed with the premise of the tests. That tells us something about what’s happened to morality these days: hey, let’s break the rules because we don’t agree with them. Of course, civil disobedience is supposed to be open and above-board and this most definitely was not. How could the teachers not have had a conscience about what they were doing to these children? They rationalized that they were helping them by keeping the school from being closed, by encouraging them to think they could achieve, and by actually teaching them, albeit not at the fast pace dictated by the law.

Institutions these days—whether they be school systems or the VA or some other bureaucracy—which are evaluated by statistics are going to face this sort of temptation among workers and administrators to fudge those statistics. The problem has become much bigger than Altanta or the school systems or race or the VA hospitals, it is one that has come to encompass much of our entire culture and our morality or lack thereof.

43 Responses to “How the Atlanta school system became a hotbed of cheating”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    But the teachers, even the best ones, are swimming upstream against a strong tide of cultural/societal/familial/social currents that impede their progress.

    That comes mostly from the Left’s influence and darkness. While not everything is the result of an “engineered collapse”, collateral damage is felt several orders of magnitude away.

    That’s why the system cannot be fixed, even though there are people who can fix it, who want to fix it. The Left regenerates all “damage” done to the system in a few days. Then the Left targets the source of the fixer, and obliterates it, blackmails it, bribes it, or fires it.

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    Some hide the decline more willingly than others. This is why Obama curiously moved the census bureau to be under more direct White House control.
    I love the part about owning Arne Duncan an apology. Arne Duncan was probably aware the whole thing was a scam, but didn’t care. And if he wasn’t aware, he was kicking himself for not thinking of it.

    More generally, these are the results of leftist nihilism. They need to tear down the standards and norms in order to normalize their own version of things.
    In the process, they undo any rationale for standards at all.

    Now set morally adrift, individuals tend to justify their actions with whatever bullshit coincides with their own benefit.

    Democrats know that educational decline is a complex subject. They know the general outlines of what is to blame.
    But the fix would cut into their power base, so they sacrifice the kids’ well being and try to cover up their failure.

    God, I hate leftists.

  3. Ymarsakar Says:

    While No Child Left Behind is normally attributed to Republicans or Bush II, it was mostly Ted Kennedy’s work. The fact that Bush II was willing to work with rapists and killers like Kennedy, is perhaps why Bush II also preferred to think of Islam itself as a peaceful religion (in the US) that we didn’t need riots to burn out. Peace is great, when the enemy is peaceful, but I doubt that is so. While I’m willing to tolerate a “peaceful Islam” so long as they don’t reach 5% of the population, I can’t tolerate Leftists in the US when they reach 51% of the population.

  4. Matthew Says:

    There was an episode of South Park where Cartman teaches a group of impoverished Hispanic students how to get better grades by cheating. It’s a sad thing when real life looks like an episode of South Park.

  5. Richard Aubrey Says:

    It’s difficult to think of a system whose incentives can’t be made perverse.
    That’s why we look for moral courage.

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    This is one of the saddest articles I’ve ever read.

    give it time, your still young…

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Japanese otaku sub culture, when it went “more” mainstream, produced something called GTO or Great Teacher Onizuka in several formats.

    I thought that was an interesting look at the education system, from a Japanese point of view. Unlike a lot of US high school type dramas, the focus isn’t really from a student’s point of view, until the 2014 series at least. It’s from an older adult’s point of view, trying to handle crazy students.

  8. T Says:

    Every organization is geared toward growth and self-preservation. Organizations are a tribal culture at their very root. Thus my three rules for dealing with any organization:

    1) All organizations are corruptible;

    2) The larger the organization grows the more inefficient and more corruptible it becomes;

    3) The more corruptible it becomes, the more corrupt it is.

    The Fast and Furious scandal, the Benghazi cover up, the IRS, the VA, NOW, the EPA, most large corporations and even organized religions all fit this pattern. The Obama administration didn’t invent a corrupt VA, IRS or EPA, but IMO they’ve graduated from misdemeanors to felonious malfeasance all with this administration’s encouragement and approval.

    Washington, D.C. has become Chicago, D.C.

  9. Artfldgr Says:

    You may think the morality of this is cut and dried, and in fact it is. What they did was wrong, and there are neither ifs nor ands nor buts nor excuses.

    your showing that you have no idea of the logic behind all this… (i sent you a great piece as to similar madness appearing today)

    ie. how can it be immoral if there is no such things as morality?

    if that dont work, then how can you say its cheating when the reason for their scores is the environment, not their brains, genetics, or the result of planned parenthood helping the smart and such keep the number of kids down, while the more feral part of a class multiplies to replace them…

    now colleges have been cutting guys like me and my son out of life… (and making my wife barren)

    ie. in the 80s such polices were used to drive poor intelligent people out so that the girls would score higher… with so few males in the stead, they score higher. a success

    now, they apply that by race too… so whites, jews and chinese are the losers in this.

    its why i can never have a raise or promotion for the rest of my life no matter what i do or achieve. you can watch the tape as a college administdrator that is my boss, and his boss sit me down and say so after the college ordered them to make a plan for me.

    ie. i said if i hadnt a raise or promotion in a decade, and you avnet fired me, then something is wrong with your review process.

    the response was to have meetingsa bout my future, where we sat for an hour as they did messaging and dint talk to me, and in that way, they could say theyhad meetings

    leaving life is my only out now…
    all my work is gone, and my ideas and solutions

    anyone want an unused full solution to the big data problem (fits on a desktop and is cheap too using olkd tech! but its too simple for those that equate complicated with solutions not simplicity of elegance)

    its why my son could not get his phd. why would a graduate student who is white get a doc to take him on board for his thesis if the doc thinks that selecting women and minoroties looks better fort diversity and for his career?

    jews are no longer represented as they were in the jews hospital… but no longer are others. the whole website is geared for women… cutting white guys out, but we are racists if we said so

    but then again, saying so puts you in the cluib with watson of crick fame and dna..

    on another note, the report is out, women who are feminists and lived tehir live that way have the highest rate of hate for their own lives every recordfed.

    oh well..
    maybe next life they will get it right

    i am hoping to die soon
    not by my own hand
    but there is nothing left and no time
    the bastards won..


  10. chuck Says:

    Another case if “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Or as Twain wrote, “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; “

  11. Artfldgr Says:

    Madness in Madison
    The University of Wisconsin’s latest diversity plan calls for

    here is the diversity plan
    Early on in the process, the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee set out to develop a document that will not only guide our campus’ work on diversity and inclusion, but one that is responsive to the university’s changing needs. As the work of implementing the 30 plus recommendations put forth within the Framework, we hope the university’s many constituencies, governance groups, and the wider community will help to strengthen the foundation laid by this committee, and the important work already underway.

    We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.

    Suppose there were a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science. Under the “equity” policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their “difference” group.

    Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.

    [my son graduated with honors in genetics, but could not get a school to accept him for his PHD. We have enough of “his kind” in genetics, and we need more women and minorities in STEM… and this is how they do it now… all the money we spent, and all that is gone – he had to go to the navy as that was his best hope for a life. same in my career when I tried to get help to go to school after coming from Bronx science. This is why I was homeless on a bench going to school to learn to program… without that, I would not have a career… its also why I have no raises or promotions from the other department (not this one!). so that’s the game now]

    sign me, waiting for the choir triumphant…

  12. Ray Says:

    If you have good intentions lying, cheating and stealing are OK. Also, if you cross your fingers behind your back it’s not really lying.

  13. T Says:


    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    As your comment implies, some people never learn that those old aphorisms exist for a reason.

  14. parker Says:

    The inherent corruption of a bloated DC operating outside the limitations imposed by the Constitution encourages corruption all down the line. Its everywhere. T is correct, organizations, especially government bureaucracies, eventually become corrupt and even the worker bees, not just the queen and her drones, develop an us versus them mentality.

  15. Eric Says:

    Neo: “Most of the teachers who cheated made it clear that they did not think there were any victims, because they disagreed with the premise of the tests.”

    Indeed, this is the next Leftist project on education: to invalidate the premise of the tests.

    See the NAACP LDF et al current admin-judicial and legislative full-court press to eliminate the transparent, objective math/verbal/logic Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) for Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and other NYC high schools, and replace the SHSAT with malleable subjective multi-measure criteria with the explicit goal of increasing the black and Latino percentages at the venerated NYC specialized high schools.

    A chief argument by the NAACP LDF is that the SHSAT is an invalid predictor of student achievement.

  16. stan Says:

    Liberals are morally defective.

    What do the following institutions have in common?

    — public schools
    — colleges and universities
    — big city political machines
    — IRS
    — EPA
    — VA
    — State Department
    — DoJ (especially Civil Rights Div)

    Answer — they are all corrupt to the core, woefully incompetent, and incredibly expensive. Oh, and they are run by liberals and staffed overwhelmingly by liberals.

  17. Sharon W Says:

    I have never forgotten this man’s article. His experience defines so much that is wrong (and unfixable) in public education.


  18. Artfldgr Says:

    Gonna try one more time…

    The deliberate dumbing down of america
    Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education, blew the whistle in the `80s on government activities withheld from the public.

    you can read the damn book for free, been putting up references to stuff but i dont see people commenting as if they bothered


    list of articles

    Death Of Free Will – Iserbyt / Niwa – PDF format – 11/10/10

    United States-People’s republic of China Education Agreement – 5/1/10

    Obama’s Health Care Plan – 8/8/09

    Iraq Veteran Victim of Government Abuse – 11/23/07

    Operation Save U.S. – 3/7/07

    The North American Soviet Union – 2/27/07

    The Devil’s Seven Prong Fork – 1/13/07

    Restoring The Draft – 6/5/06

    Maine’s Never Ending Assault On Traditional Education – 4/9/06

    Happy New Year Gift – 1/3/06

    Reject Political Correctness! ‘Shout Merry Christmas’ – 12/7/05

    Preparing Children For Virtual/World Classrooms – Part 2 – 8/29/05

    Revolution In Education – Soviet Style – Part 1 – 8/29/05

    The Robotic CAFTA Vote – 7/28/05

    Help Defeat CAFTA – 7/25/2005

    Hooray For France! – 5/31/05

    Base Closures : Disarming America – 5/27/05

    Unanimous Treason – 5/12/05
    [edited for length by n-n]

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    neo. if you have to trim it down, then take out the list of articles… not cut the bottom off…

    the point is that no one has been curious or serious enough to read what has actually passed.

    a lot of the discussions here have no idea that things passed decades ago, in some cases bfore some were even born that comment!!!

    its much like watching a bunch of idiots in the dark try to find a light switch and refusing to listen saying “no non dont tell me, i will get it”

    however, they dont know that the room also contains, precipices and land mines, and wont listen to you anyway.

    you guys are not going to undo a 100 year project without even knowing as to what, who,and all that was done..

    so its quite rediculous to read a lot of the commentary and know the huge amount of this other stuff… all you can thing is “if they only knew” and realize they dont want to know..

    do you want to know?

  20. Artfldgr Says:

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not traitor, he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their garments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.” Cicero

    The only thing Cicero didn’t say relating to similarities between ancient and modern politics is “And the population votes for the traitors, enabling them to continue the treason.”

    Probably the one key historical event which proves without a doubt the conspiratorial goal of the “traitors” to merge our country into an unconstitutional international socialist system (called for by Lenin and Stalin, with the financial backing of Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and many multinational corporations) was the meeting Norman Dodd had with Rowan Gaither, the President of the Ford Foundation during Mr. Dodd’s tenure as the Research Director for the Reece Committee in 1953. This Congressional committee was established to investigate the activities of the left-leaning foundations.

    Mr. Gaither said:

    “Mr. Dodd, all of us here at the policy making level of the foundation have at one time or another served in the OSS or the European Economic Administration, operating under directives from the White House.

    We operate under those same directives…The substance of the directives under which we operate is that we shall use our grant making power to so alter life in the United States that we can be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union.

    Dodd replied
    “Why don’t you tell the American people what you just told me and you could save the taxpayers thousands of dollars set aside for this investigation?”

    Mr. Gaither said:
    “Mr. Dodd, we wouldn’t think of doing that.”

  21. Artfldgr Says:

    (1) gradualism called for by the Fabian socialists, which calls for the making of controversial changes over long periods of time so people don’t recognize what is happening;

    (2) semantic deception (use of traditional-sounding labels to sugar-coat evil intentions and programs);

    (3) endless supply of taxpayers’ hard-earned money;

    (4) use of the Hegelian dialectic (the deliberate creation of problems: poverty, wars, depression, etc. to induce concern/panic amongst the population in order to get the public to accept, often at the polls, the pre-determined freedom-destroying sugar-coated solution which it would never have accepted had the problem not been deliberately created.

    The average voter, after having been heavily conditioned over many years by the media and highly- trained “change agents” in his communities and schools to think and vote a certain way, does so willingly, and walks away from the polls with a smile on his face, not knowing he just lost his wallet or even more important, his constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.

    i have been telling you for nearly a decade now
    its a process. its well defined, you can read about it
    but no one wants to know…
    they been conditioned not to be interested.

    so… you guys discuss this stuff, but do not have any awareness of what is going on in the larger picture… yeah, you can sense or say its intentional.. and neo can wonder about proving the conspiracy… but no proof is necesary, its all over…

    you only have to read history… it tells you this stuff

  22. Mr. Frank Says:

    The teachers have been put in an untenable situation. For many children in inner city schools teaching them to read, write, and do arithmetic on an adult level has as much chance as teaching pigs to fly. In an earlier day kids who were not academically inclined dropped out of school when demands were too great. This was not a big deal when there were lots menial jobs.

  23. Gringo Says:

    I have more sympathy for Mr. Lewis, the teacher, than others here, perhaps because I also taught math at a minority middle school which also was under pressure to improve standardized test results.

    From my reading of the article, his principal pressured Lewis to cheat- it’s what other schools are doing. It isn’t the first example of a principal giving dysfunctional commands/suggestions to teachers. I can list a few from my own experience- though for all the faults one principal of mine had, she never suggested that we cheat the results. Ultimately, Lewis is responsible for having cheated; his not being able to get another teaching job is the consequence for his having done so. It is a tragedy that someone who appears to have been a very good teacher short-circuited his teaching career by cheating.

    Central administration pressures principals. Principals pressure teachers. Woe to those who are insubordinate. Woe to those who carry out illegal and/or dysfunctional suggestions/orders.

    The teacher was in a bind. He made the wrong decision.

  24. T Says:

    “Central administration pressures principals. Principals pressure teachers. Woe to those who are insubordinate.”

    For as much as I am against public service unions, this is why they can justify their existence in the first place.

    There’s gotta be a better way.

  25. chalump Says:

    We’re on a slippery slope here.

    What’s to stop a black school district from hiring white and Asian college students to take the SATs for their students and produce stellar scores for their districts? All you would need is a few “team player” teachers to administer and proctor the test, and money to pay off the test takers.

  26. Don Carlos Says:

    I agree with T and parker.

    If we are looking for root causes, we need look no further than inside the Beltway.”Institutions these days which are evaluated by statistics are going to face this sort of temptation among workers and administrators to fudge those statistics”, says Neo. Who requires the statistics? Why. the Federal and state gubmints, to (ahem) ‘ensure’ their mandates are being followed, and desired outcomes achieved..

    Would we have Atlanta problems without centralization at the state and federal levels? Without a Dept of Ed with an Arne Duncan at the helm, plus a State Dept of Ed with all its minions to boot?
    That’s a lot of minions.
    We cause our own corruption, indirectly but quite effectively. We call them ‘unintended consequences” which we simply tolerate, never eradicate.

  27. Oldflyer Says:

    So. Is the answer to do away with standards? Because if you are to have standards, then there must be some way to measure adherence.

    Why don’t we just cut to the chase? Those in “command”, and those who are responsible to monitor performance knew damn well that something was wrong. They did not do their jobs. I do not fault the process; I do not fault the standards. I fault those who were corrupt in their duties– from the bottom up, and the top down.

    Any Manager worthy of the name would recognize a problem.

    Personal note from decades back when I was actually in charge of something. My Officer who was responsible for the accounting, joyfully announced that we had achieved a remarkable improvement in cost/flight hour. I had to burst his bubble. It took him a week of badgering on my part, and whining on his, to find the error; charges from a detachment that had never entered the system. He actually said at one point; “I thought you would be happy”. Yeah, if it were believable. Pressure from those above because our reporting was late. I told them we did not have an accurate report, and would submit it when I was confident that we did. Once the error was found our actual cost was consistent with previous quarters, and with like units.

    It just ain’t rocket science if you care and are paying attention. I knew that someone would question our reporting, just as someone finally questioned the Atlanta school system–however belatedly. Miracles are very rare.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    The only time I’ve ever seen a large organization retain personal initiative is by having a ‘back channel’ or unofficial chain of command, like the NCO hierarchy or the officer’s wives group, to organize and relay the interests of the bottom directly to the top, cutting through or bypassing entirely the normal hierarchy (officers).

    In a civilian sense, that would mean having local cops and neighborhood watch and civilian security officers, teaming up with the US military in order to suppress crime or foreign invasions. It’s much easier for a large organization to manage large missions, if they have the cooperation of smaller organizations that are more nimble and quicker.

    Which is why when things like the IRS grow too big, they also grow too powerful and start crushing smaller outfits. Then it’s not nimble, and the only way they can solve things is by planting a boot up your children’s head. That works for them, so they keep doing it.

  29. southpaw Says:

    Neo the sentiment expressed by the Atlanta teachers – not feeling they had done anything wrong is one I have heard expressed many times by teachers whom I know.
    With few exceptions, they resent having to get their students to pass a standardized test as much as they resent anyone who would hold them to any standard, or prove they’re competent by taking a test.
    If I had a dime for every time I have heard the complaint “We’re not teaching the students to think, we’re teaching them to pass a test”, We could retire half the national debt. And it is stated in a way that Is supposed to excuse them from all responsibility, as if it is simply impossible for any teacher to manage both tasks – teaching relevant material on the test, AND teaching them to think is impossible in the short span of a school year.
    This Is hardly a new concept – I went to to school in NY state, kindergarten through senior year, and took Regents tests, which as I recall, were standardized. The teachers would infrequently mention a little about what to expect throughout the year, then go over the actual test for a week or two near the end of the year. Some didn’t bother. I don’t recall any handwringing or any pissing and moaning about those tests holding back the teachers from providing us with a “real” education. Nor did they need to. If you did well in the course, you were prepared for the test.
    The whole mantra from public school teachers that you can either have an educated student or one who passed a standard test is so much nonsense it’s hard to listen to without slapping a teacher.. If left to their own to set the standards, more teachers would graduate students who could neither pass a test, nor think.
    There was an international study some years ago, before the “no child left behind” days that tested students in a number of countries on math, science, and self esteem. The American students finished near the bottom of a large field in both math and science, but placed first in psychological tests that evaluated self esteem.
    So they were nearly the worst scholastically, while also feeling the best about themselves. And that’s not really changed much, in spite of all the bleating and crying and excuses offered up by the teaching establishment. At least with the standardized tests, they are assured of being equally unable to succeed, which is how the left prefers things.
    And you’re right it’s a very sad story, because these children are being robbed, and so is our country of its future.

  30. T Says:


    You write: “We’re not teaching the students to think, we’re teaching them to pass a test.”

    That phrase touches a nerve with me. When someone uses that as a defense against standardized testing my reaction is “So what?” You recount how is wasn’t a big deal to take Regents exams in New York and, of course, you are correct.

    I go even one step further. If the standardized test is reasonably well written it tests basic knowledge and skills that the student should know. So, if you’re teaching for the test, then you’re teaching what you should be teaching in the first place. I don’t care if my 6 year old can add because you did your job or simply because you taught for the test. The point is that, as a result, my six year old can add.

    “Teach for the test?” So what?!

  31. carl in atlanta Says:

    No comment.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Japanese testing system is standardized, but also not standardized from a federal point of view. Since there are quite a bit of private schools, including private high schools it seems, the entrance tests are customized to that school’s grade point average, college prospects, and so forth. So all the other stuff, like college prep, is done voluntarily, outside the normal curriculum.

    The reason why Leftists like Hussein put their children into US private schools, while ensuring lack of vouchers mean the lower classes must go into public schools whether they like it or not, is designed expressly to keep the upper class in the Ruling Class and the working class in the slave class. There is no social mobility, because there is no educational mobility.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    Standarized Tests are like the motivations for Shinseki’s VA. It’s designed to help the unions, and designed to crush the competition and put the slaves in their place. Ted Kennedy knew it. And Shinseki knew it, whether he or the rest of the military knew it or not.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    For as much as I am against public service unions, this is why they can justify their existence in the first place.

    The teacher’s centralized boards and various functionaries are allied with the unions in the first place. Who do you think is actually in the Leftist alliance to begin with?

    It’s All Of Them. What do you think all means in this context? It means all of them are involved, whether they know it or not.

  35. n.n Says:

    Religion is a philosophy of morality. It offers a uniform moral code. Whether its philosopher is divine or mortal is irrelevant. The principles of the philosophy must be internally, externally, and mutually consistent. As people are encouraged to reject religion, in favor of a secular basket of alternatives, we will create moral hazards on principle. The doctrines of inherited and collective sin are degenerate. The doctrine of selective exclusion is degenerate. The doctrine of selective value (e.g. pro-choice, “diversity”) is degenerate. Unless we find religion soon, progressive corruption will be normalized, and a dysfunctional convergence will be inevitable.

  36. blert Says:

    This kind of social ‘logic’ is to be found across the Federal government.

    Scary… no?

  37. Doom Says:

    I kept want to write something. Sometimes even I wonder if I have a bit too much bite. Nope. Ymarsakar said it pretty well, right off the bat.

    The only possible fix is to yank federal and state out of education, outlaw the teacher union, and leave education to local choice and oversight. All of it. If they want God in school, so be it. If they kick out troubled kids, that is wise. If they fire teachers and administrators for any reason, moral, ethical, social, good call. Look, if schools want to conglomerate? Let them, if locals agree to it. There is no other solution, save homeschooling. Unfortunately most parents aren’t capable or interested and an uneducated populace is not a good thing. Then again, that is exactly what schools are churning out. And worse, immoral, unethical, entitled people who think they are educated.

  38. bob sykes Says:

    This post and the comments miss the point. The problem in the Atlanta schools and in nearly all other failing urban schools is the students. They are genetically low IQ (<80) blacks who cannot learn the prescribed curriculum. Many of their black teachers are also mentally challenged. There is simply no cure for this problem.

    The problem is exacerbated by socialist delusions of all sorts. One of these is immigration amnesty. The Mexican and Central American mestizos and Indios that comprise the overwhelming majority of legal and illegal immigrant are displacing blacks from whatever meager foothold they currently have in American society and its economy. In terms of its results (and likely intent) our immigration policies are the most anti-black laws since those of the Jim Crow era. The Jim Crow laws sought to isolate blacks; current immigration policy seeks to eliminate them.

    The black underclass is the greatest threat to America's future. Some role must be found for them. They are not going away Pretending they are just impoverished whites won't do. Allowing uncontrolled immigration of poor Hispanics that compete with them won't do. Those paths lead to race wars.

  39. expat Says:

    bob sykes,
    I think there is more to the problem than low IQs. And the same thing is happening with lower class whites. It is all part of a big jumble of changes our society has gone through with out looking at the societal underpinnings we were destroying. Some factors are that our increasing wealth has led to less interaction among social classes and less transmission of societal values to the lower classes. (Charles Murray has shown this.) This wealth has also allowed people to purchase very expensive items to signify their class, and those lacking money for in brands frequently lose all sense of financial common sense.

    Another factor is feminist goals, which said that women should have careers and that homemaking skills were totally yesterday. But if someone doesn’t make the home (and in a less rigid society men can certainly be a part of this), kids don’t grow up in a home: they grow up in a house. Here is an example of this effect (HT Real Clear Politics):


    And then here is the push to get a college education. As a result, many young people with no curiosity and no academic interests are spending years getting credentials. Today’s teachers are a prime example. They are brainwashed by Bill Ayers-type education leaders. Since teachers no longer have the standing in society that they used to have, there is no loss of prestige when they fail and little honor for those who do a good job. There are all too many people today who would rather have a “journalist” daughter write stories about Kim Kardashian’s neckline than a daughter like the teacher who mentored Homer Hickam.

    Somehow we have to find a way to identify lost values that held us togther and to sell them to the lower classes. It’s gonna be a hard job.

  40. ErisGuy Says:

    Once again the self-proclaimed party of science either takes no measurements to confirm their theories or falsifies the measurements so as to confirm their theories.

  41. Ymarsakar Says:

    The next thing they will say is that officers can’t win battles because their troops have low IQs. Talk about great officers.

  42. Don Carlos Says:

    Yes standards are the problem, when set from afar in D.C., applicable to faceless millions, and accompanied by $ penalties if not met. This is basically asking for fraudulent statistics in return.

    In the Old Days, public schools had standards. They were locally set and locally achieved (as well as locally funded). So there were good school districts and not-so-good and bad districts.

    Now we have national standards. The chicken brains in the ‘disadvantaged” sectors cannot meet them; their teachers and administrators know this full well, and send up false data to keep the federal funds flowing to themselves from D.C.

    We’re not talking FAA flying standards here, standards set for a trained and motivated elite. We’re talking public schooling for the masses, least common denominators.

  43. Juli Says:

    Sharon W – wow – powerful article!

    ” The few who spoke out against it either were ignored (some of the higher-ups to whom they complained were in cahoots with the cheating as well) or transferred to the school equivalent of an even-colder Siberia.”

    How tragic – the few who had the moral courage to speak up being ignored or worse…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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