Now that I have your attention…

Sorry, in the “education business” that title (a motivational strategy used at the start of a lesson, and embedded in the lesson plan and prupose) is designed to get the student’s attention and “set them up and open them up” for a productive learning experience. However, this is not in any way a typical “valentine season of love” gone bad story. But it is a story of anti-love demonstrated by educators who would allow themselves to be pushed to the point where they violate one of our most Prime Directives in professional education: “Under the possible loss of prestige, money, position and yes even your life….Do No Educational Harm to Children!


“A trial in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal is just three months away, and this week a high-ranking former official in the school system pleaded guilty and became what the Fulton County District Attorney’s office calls “the state’s most valuable witness.”- Washington Post


One should surely be aware of your fellow cheating partners, less they turn on you. As with these kinds of things, it boils down to every scoundrel for him or herself! I read and heard somewhere that : “there is no honor among thieves”; and why should there be the expectations for honor to appear, when one is engaged in a partnership to commit a dishonorable act? Its everybody get their own lawyer, as every perpetrator seeks to cover their own tender posterior (the Gluteus Maximus in the  official language of Biology teachers Tiffany and Andrea:-) Folks start to cut deals in order to save their own slimy hides. But the tragedies that can never be fixed or negotiated away are:

  1. The insane way in which we have forsaken the hard work and commitment that would make schools, and the students in them successful. We have been misdirected by “false recognition” for years. School improvement and student achievement are not subject to quick magic show tricks; it takes thoughtful time and purpose rich efforts; the kind of efforts our society is not willing to invest in our children. We have forsaken very effective methods that have been put forward by people like Ron Edmonds, J. Jerome Harris, Lisa Delpit, Asa Hilliard and Lorraine Monroe. In part because their methods don’t fit the model of the “poor, and forever hopeless achievement gap Black and Brown student” But the greatest offense committed by these very smart and thoughtful people is that their theories seriously undermine the huge and lucrative “failing”, “underachievement”, special- needs (never met), “achievement gaped”, “drop-out”, criminal justice driven industries. 
  2. After-School, Saturday, holiday and summer tutorials are of course necessary and ethically required in Atlanta. But we must be honest with the Children, parents and tax-payers; we can’t just “recall” and fix a “malfunctioning educational part” in a child, as is done in the automobile industry. Children not given the proper academic intervention support strategies that standardized assessments (their true, good and intended use) help us to discover, move out of that developmental learning stage, forever. A fifth grade year of instruction  based on a false 4th grade reading and mathematics score, can’t be “done over”; that 5th grade year is lost forever; and “damage control”, must involve a massive amount of educational resources including all of the before mentioned “Out of school time” activities, along with an extended school day and year. Unfortunately, giving children false academic achievement scores is much more serious than the public may be aware; for it causes a great deal of damage as these students move up in grades and find themselves incapable of performing with the “normal” degree of academic competence. The child is frustrated: “I passed my 8th grade reading test and so why can’t I read my 9th grade history/biology/algebra/English text book?” The teacher (in the next grade) is working with bad data, and so she is then forced to first discover the “inconsistency” of the false achievement grade, and then design a strategy to get the student successfully through the course; an extremely difficult task, for even the best and most experienced teachers. Parents are frustrated: “I don’t understand it, you passed your 8th grade standardized exams; and so what is the problem that you can’t keep up with the other children in your class; maybe you are just not applying yourself!”. High and Middle school  building administrators who have designed a strategy for academic  support, enhancement, improvement and achievement; find that their strategic plans for various cohorts of students are made useless and ineffective when they receive a group of students with false standardized test grades; they are forced to improvise, only after the problem is identified, which could take a while based on the experience of the teacher. They must then scramble to design a new academic intervention and support plan based on what has become now known as the children’s true academic status; this is the equivalent of making repairs on a car while it is rolling down the street! ……Note to High school administrators and a full disclosure here. No offense to my many dedicated and honest K-8 administrator collogues: But as a high school principal I never met a K-8 report card grade, test score or promotion that I trusted; I am going to asses all incoming 9th graders, so that I will know exactly what I am working with, and what I need to do! 
  3. When these desperate acts of unethical behavior occur; we professional educators are assisting the downward trend of confidence in our commitment, dedication and ability to properly educate our nation’s children. As a society we have at the least a general sense of “certification” and “competency”. When people visit a Pharmacy, Physical therapist, plumber, accountant or surgeon; there is some expectation on the part of all of us that the professional we are engaging has honestly passed some type of assessment utilizing a standard. Even the least engaged citizens in our country understand the difference between passing an exam honestly; and passing an exam through dishonest (yours or others) methods. How do we begin to earn back the public’s trust? My hope is that anyone who is guilty in this case should also “plea out”; and spare us (and the APS families adversely affected)the pain of reliving this terrible tragedy. 
  4. Finally, and didn’t we learn this in history class: in desperate times the public’s interest is inclined toward the “dramatic”, yet senseless and unprincipled solutions: “these people were professionals with experience and they failed us, and so let’s go with no professional experience” (Yeah, that should work!) These terrible actions only open the door to more and more: corporate (profits before children) entities; to the “quick-fix” snake-oil selling-cure-all lack of experience “educational reformist”, who then go on to wreck greater educational  havoc on our nation’s most vulnerable children, by “playing school”, with real schools, with real children in them.