Education

Cheating Teachers Play the Blame Game

Atlanta's dishonest teachers say the data made them do it.

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They're called "erasure parties" and contrary to what you might guess, they do not involve consuming several cans of FourLoko and a box of matches after a bad breakup. Instead, on weekends during standardized testing season in Atlanta, small groups of teachers get together to erase and correct their students' wrong answers. In short, they cheat.

Social use of pink gum erasers wasn't the only form of cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools described in the 800-page investigative report released by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's office last week, but it does sound like the most fun. According to the report, other teachers took more traditional approaches to cheating, such as obtaining test questions in advance or simply standing over their kids' shoulders and pointing at the right answers. At least 178 cheating teachers and principals at 44 different schools were uncovered, and 82 of the teachers confessed when confronted by investigators. 

And the folks who caved all fingered the same culprit when asked why they did it: data. They blamed data-obsessed school superintendent Beverly Hall and her administration for setting "unreasonable improvement goals" and establishing a "no exceptions, no excuses" culture in which teachers and principals who failed to meet state testing targets were named, shamed, and booted. 

Education pundits and wonks took up the cry, with lines like this: "Fundamentally, the Atlanta scandal is the logical and predictable result of data-driven reform." And this: "It's this idiotic pressure on schools and teachers regarding test results that I think is corrupting not just the test results, but education."

It's true that a heavy emphasis on testing can distort what teachers focus on during the days and weeks leading up to the test. But for all the disdain heaped on high-stakes testing, you'd think Atlanta was asking kids to do exotic and useless tasks like execute triple salchows or solve Rubik's cubes. The tests may not be perfect measures of academic achievement, but it's hardly outrageous to attempt to measure basic reading comprehension and math skills, particularly for elementary students.

Those "unreasonable testing goals" are being blamed for a culture of cheating, but there hasn't been as much attention paid to whether those targets really were so outrageous. This is due in part to that fact that in Atlanta, targets were individually tailored for each school and grade level, so there are no easily obtainable pass-fail figures. The system also required lower performing students to show more progress than higher performers. 

The examples given as typical in the report are illuminating, however: If 60 percent of last year's fourth graders met expectations in math, the goal for the following year might be 63 percent, the report explains. If anything, the example given in the report is optimistic. National tests find that about half of Atlanta's fourth graders fall below basic reading skills, with less than a quarter of kids testing proficient or above. 

Which gets to the fundamental question: Is it reasonable or unreasonable to ask that a majority of the kids in Atlanta be able to read and do math at grade level? In many cases, individual teachers were undoubtedly correct to feel they were being asked to work miracles. This is especially true given that the long legacy of cheating teachers meant they were annually hoisting themselves on their collective petards. Each year's standards were based on the previous year's results. A 2 percent improvement in math performance for fourth graders each year is already a tall order, but it's tougher still if the skills of last years' fourth graders were mostly fictional, the product of a decade of ever-inflating false scores.

But what is more unreasonable: putting intense pressure on teachers to get kids' scores up, or continuing to allow Atlanta's kids to slide by year after year as test scores show that they aren't learning even basic skills? Underlying the constant push for improvement in Atlanta and elsewhere is the ultimate in perfectly-reasonable-yet-unreasonable goals, the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which demands 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

There's no denying the pressure on Atlanta's teachers and principals was intense. The report is studded with stories that would make even Michael Lewis-era Salomon Brothers bond traders ashamed of their wussy hazing tactics. For example, "at Fain Elementary School, the principal forced a teacher to crawl under a table in a faculty meeting because the teacher's students' test scores were so low." Though student performance formally counts for only 25 percent of a teacher's evaluation by her principal, the report notes that in some schools, principals "told teachers that if they could not meet targets…they should find another profession." Or as one DeKalb county teacher told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Anybody whose job is tied to performance, it is a setup."

While forced crawling under conference tables isn't typical, in most professions it wouldn't be unusual to be told that if you can't meet your boss' expectations, you might want to start looking for another gig. But as Michelle Rhee, the former superintendent of D.C. schools (where another cheating scandal may be brewing) said in an interview with Reason in 2009, "in the private sector, they would think it's completely insane" to base only 25 or 50 percent of an employee's evaluation on how well he performs his core task.

But rather than facing the music or considering a career in retail, dozens (perhaps hundreds) of Atlanta's teachers decided to cheat, a choice they presented as inevitable to investigators. The report notes that "targets were implemented…in such a way that teachers and administrators believed that they had to choose between cheating to meet targets or failing to meet targets and losing their jobs."

In the first chapter of the book that made him famous, Freakonomics, economist Steven D. Levitt describes a study [PDF] he did of cheating in Chicago public schools. He didn't have the benefit of test papers covered with eraser marks to sift through, but he did have some sophisticated statistical tools to catch unlikely clusters of correct answers. Along with co-author Brian A. Jacob, he estimated that "serious cases of teacher or administrator cheating on standardized tests occur in a minimum of 4-5 percent of elementary school classrooms annually"—which sounds bad, but pales in comparison to the cheating found in nearly 80 percent of the Atlanta schools investigated. 

But rather than condemn cheating as the inevitable consequence of testing, the scholars make this no-brainer point: "The obvious benefits of high-stakes tests as a means of providing incentives must…be weighed against the possible distortions that these measures induce. Explicit cheating is merely one form of distortion. Indeed, the kind of cheating we focus on is one that could be greatly reduced at a relatively low cost through the implementation of proper safeguards, such as is done by Educational Testing Service on the SAT or GRE exams."

There are many good (and well-intentioned) teachers trapped in a bad system in Atlanta and in public schools around the country. But sending half your fourth graders on to the next grade without basic skills is inexcusable—unreasonable, even. Cheating is not an inevitable consequence of focusing on data that reveal that fact. Atlanta's superintendent seems to have been a bad apple, and she was well on her way to spoiling the bunch. But she was right about one thing: Everyone needs to do better. No exceptions, no excuses.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. History shows that teaching children to read, especially poor ones, is the hardest thing anybody can do.

    1. I taught my daughters to read when they were three but I still can’t get their mother to understand zero-based budgeting.

      1. FTW

      2. Paul Krugman can help you with that, Elf.

        1. Smile when you say that.

      3. Concur.

        1. I was being sarcastic, rural.

    2. That would explain sky-high literacy rates in the U.S. before public education?

  2. “…if it’s really so unreasonable to demand that fourth graders be able to read, write, and do basic math?”

    Depends on the 4th grader. I’ve known a few home schooled boys who were unable to read at age 10, but were reading at high school senior or college level by 13.

  3. They blamed data-obsessed school superintendent Beverly Hall and her administration for setting “unreasonable improvement goals” and establishing a “no exceptions, no excuses” culture in which teachers and principals who failed to meet state testing targets were named, shamed, and booted.

    People who fail to perform at their jobs being fired? What is this, the real world?

    This is why I would work three jobs before I allowed my children to be indoctrinated in the public system. How could my children learn to take personal responsibility for their actions if they are “educated” by people who refuse to do so?

    1. You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.

  4. Haha. I thought only evul corporatist profit-mongers cheated. These people literally said, “Shit, our job is hard now that someone is actually measuring our performance. Let’s cheat!”

    Fuckers. I hope they clean house.

    1. Fuckers. I hope they clean house.

      That would be uncaringful.

  5. “How do I reach these keeds?”

    1. “This is Bill Beelicheck. Head coach of the New England Patriots. He’s won three Super Bowls. How? He cheated. He even got caught cheating and nobody cared! He proved that in America, it’s alright to cheat, as long as you cheat your way to the top.”

      1. You hit that one out of the park like a corked up Sammy Sosa!

      2. The NFL cared enough to take 3/4 of a million dollars from him and the Patriots, but they didn’t care enough to do anything when the New York Jets were caught doing the same thing.

        1. they only penalize the actual winners…jets cheat and still lose

  6. I simultaneously think that the goals are unreasonable, but also that it’s just too damn bad.

    Welcome to government employment, guys. If you want to deal with someone reasonable, quit.

    1. Yes. You want your bloated pensions and 9 month work year? Fuck you if you don’t like the performance requirements set by your monopolistic employer. OOPS

  7. Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?

  8. eliminate the rules and no cheatin. vi-o-la ! and libtoids just luv no rules

    1. Yep….no rules mean that when one of the Atlantic Public schools finest graduates walks in and applies for a job at my business but can’t pass the screening test I can send him on his/her way with absolutely no fear of reprisal from EEOC or any other lettered government organization.

      That’s a fair trade Double Anus!

      1. see u DO like no rules.

        1. eliminate the rules and no cheatin. vi-o-la ! and libtoids just luv no rules

          You set the terms of the argument with that statement. If you defend a system that churns out overpriced illiterates from government factory schools and are willing to give me the no rules option to play I might just take you up on it. But remember….you brought it up first.

          1. I am such a cocksucker.

          2. move 2 ethopa if u do’nt like ruls dummass

            1. move 2 ethopa if u do’nt like ruls dummass

              You spell and compose your sentences like you were educated in the Atlanta Public School system.

              1. We in the proud country of Ethopia welcome all visitors with sandwiches!

              2. I think you just insulted the Atlanta kids…

              3. a top percentile graduate no doubt…

            2. You thinking of Somalia?

              1. Somalia….Ethiopia…..? I’m not seeing much difference here.

    2. Or you could let each community set its own rules, rather than shoveling the rules down to them from on high.

      Or, better yet, you could give each parent complete control over where his kids go to school. If his kids turn out to be dumbasses, we’ll know exactly who to blame!

      I know, I know. But what about the children!?

      1. The world needs an endless supply of dumbasses. Those painful-looking yet hilarious YouTube videos won’t film themselves, will they?

        1. SOMEBODY has got to pump my gas and make me french fries while I wait…

      2. Gotta love Darwin.

    3. “libtoids just luv no rules”

      Isn’t it wonderful when assholes with zero knowledge of libertarianism try to define it?

      1. Is he wrong?

        1. I mean, we love “no rules”, as a rule. Not “no” rules, period.

        2. I’d say so. I’m kinda partial to rules like, oh, no stealing. Or, clean up your own mess. How about: Take responsibility for yourself.

    4. Eliminate the schools, and no cheatin. And it’s not like kids would be getting any less education, so there’s no real downside.

  9. Seriously, does anyone know a public school teacher? Are they just highly functioning retards who the government lets have jobs as a PR move, like grocery store baggers?

    Because I can not understand an intelligent person objecting to having their performance in their primary job task be evaluated by a third party (okay, perhaps the self-employed, but that’s a different situation).

    1. Yes, I know plenty of them, most of the band teacher variety. They come up with every excuse under the sun why it’s unfair and the tests are flawed and yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s kind of bizarre.

    2. I’ve kept in touch with a couple of the one I learned from.

      Of course, there is a selection bias because I kept in touch with the ones I learned from, not the ones I ignored while skating in their classes.

      They bitch about the quality of the intake in general, and buckle down to figuring out how to teach the little bastards anyway.

    3. Bad baggers get fired, even if they originally got their job as a favor.

    4. The teachers I know are fairly competent, though usually left-leaning. They do whine about testing fairly often. But they work for a higher quality district, so I cut them some slack.

    5. I have several in my family. I try to avoid talking about their work with them, because it inevitably leads to me belittling their so-called Master’s degrees and ruins family gatherings. I’d say that all the teachers I know personally are dumbasses. None of them are very knowledgable about anything really. I’d estimate that their Master’s degrees are about equvalent to a fairly decent 10th grade education.

      1. But that doesn’t explain why such adverse selection occurs. After all, anybody could have chosen such a career — but apparently they didn’t. The pay isn’t that bad.

      2. Yes, they are like shooting fish in a barrel when confronted with reality and not that science experiment they work in……but they sure spin some tales about their importance. I remind them of Milton Friedman and the people who made his beloved pencil.

    6. I got to substitute teach a history class for 6 months (so I had to make lesson plans and all that shit) and a math class for 3 when I couldn’t get a job out of college. So I was teaching without the performance standards. Although I almost got into trouble in history, for the relatively benign sin of explaining that it was privateers who won us the revolutionary war.

      Anyway, the biggest problem with the performance standards is: they also measure kids who’s parents don’t give a fuck. A secondary problem is that the few kids who’s parents don’t care but still want to learn can’t, since they need extra attention which you can’t give.

      The reason you can’t give it is because you can’t hit the little bastards anymore, and the ones who don’t want to learn also don’t give a fuck about the lame punishments at your disposal. So every time you put your head down to work with a struggling student, some of those little bastards just go hog wild.

      If you manage a group of people who are supposed to perform a task, than an important part of maintaining high performance is cutting the dead weight, those who can’t or won’t measure up. You can’t exactly fire students, so performance standards are kinda bunk.

      The best way to check performance is already done. In-class assessments by the administration. These should be given way more weight than the test scores. Of course, then you run into the office politics. I’ve worked a ton of different jobs, and teaching is the worst, by far, in having to deal with office politics.

      1. “I’ve worked a ton of different jobs, and teaching is the worst, by far, in having to deal with office politics.”
        I’m going to presume this was in a public school system?

        1. You guessed it.

          1. This was an excellent comment – this is my concern with teacher evaluation too – how can you blame them for a shitty discipline structure and piss poor parenting?

            1. how can you blame them for a shitty discipline structure and piss poor parenting?

              This is a huge reason why having a Dept of Education and bullshit like NCLB is pointless. Education is always going to be an issue that needs to be resolved at the local level, probably no higher than district.

              Education is going through a double-whammy right now: a society that expects teachers to act like glorified babysitters, because that’s what The State has been promoting to everyone for the last 40+ years as the ideal; and teachers coming out of Education departments with heads full of mush about social justice and PC bullshit, rather than sticking to what worked in this country for over 100 years.

      2. So, how would a libertarian society address the issue of terrible parents and terrible students. Should the troublemakers be segregated into a class on hard labor and the realities of being a troublemaker in the long run? Should the kids with the terrible parents but a lot of effort be segregated in smaller more cooperative classes? Should schools be funded by the parents or third parties who have some understanding with the parent they will take the kid away if they don’t perform?

        1. The first two ideas don’t even require a libertarian society. We could put them into practice now. In fact, there are a few schools who already use your second idea. I have no idea how well it works, however.

        2. End public schools. What is libertarian about coercing your neighbor into providing an education for your children? Nothing.

      3. You are totally wrong about the hitting.

        I’ve taught for 15 years in public schools on 2 continents. Never hit a kid. My classes are always on task.

        It takes effort, but it can be done and SHOULD be done without hitting. My belief is anyone who needs to hit to teach is either incompetent or lazy.

        Hitting is counterproductive in the long run and leads to kids hating school, which is the the first battle to be won or lost by any teacher.

        NOTE: I am not a hippy. I am a stickler for concrete standards, which I always exceed and for politeness, hard work, respect, personal responsibility and other ‘conservative’ values. Violence is not a conservative value.

      4. You are totally wrong about the hitting.

        I’ve taught for 15 years in public schools on 2 continents. Never hit a kid. My classes are always on task.

        It takes effort, but it can be done and SHOULD be done without hitting. My belief is anyone who needs to hit to teach is either incompetent or lazy.

        Hitting is counterproductive in the long run and leads to kids hating school, which is the the first battle to be won or lost by any teacher.

        NOTE: I am not a hippy. I am a stickler for concrete standards, which I always exceed and for politeness, hard work, respect, personal responsibility and other ‘conservative’ values. Violence is not a conservative value.

        1. It takes effort, but it can be done and SHOULD be done without hitting. My belief is anyone who needs to hit to teach is either incompetent or lazy.

          I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say you’ve probably never taught Junior High aged kids in a public school setting.

          There’s a reason I was given classes to run for so long without any training or experience whatsoever. A lot o those kids are more volatile than a coked-upped third world dictator with his dick caught in his zipper. Nobody wants the damn job.

          Hitting is counterproductive in the long run and leads to kids hating school, which is the the first battle to be won or lost by any teacher.

          I think it’s been a bit too long since you were enrolled public school yourself. Any half-bright kid rightly hates it anyway. It’s by and large a waste of time, more akin to prison than a proper learning environment.

    7. That’s what I want to know. It seems statistically highly improbable that there should be such a cluster of incompetence in one profession, if it just shook out at random. How could the selection be so ridiculously adverse?

      1. Selecting a profession is not random though. It’s actually highly probable that a society will end up with certain professions that attract the incompetant.

        Most of the people I know who became teachers did do after dropping out of 3 or 4 other majors that were too hard first. You also have to consider that the most intelligent teachers are going to tend to gravitate to higher grade levels at better schools. Elementary schools in poor neighborhoods are going to mostly end up with the least intelligent teachers. The worst schools need the best teachers, but the best teachers usually want to teach at the best schools.

        1. cops, fire, teachers and politicians…to name a few. all those who sup at the public teat

    8. My brother-in-law is a public school teacher. He teaches earth science to middle school kids. He wanted to be a meteorologist but he admitted to me that the “math was too hard.” Proving to me, at least anecdotally, that those who can – do, those that can’t – teach.

      1. Frankly, meteorology is physics and contains some very hard math.

        I definitely wouldn’t frown or sneer upon someone’s unability to grok this kind of math. It is probably suitable for less than 5% of the population.

      2. He wanted to be a meteorologist but he admitted to me that the “math was too hard.”

        I’ve always thought teaching (well) requires a different set of skills, the ability to explain something well in simple language. More social skills. It wouldn’t be the first time someone discovered his aptitudes weren’t appropriate for his chosen vocation. Not everyone who “can’t do” teach. There are other alternatives.

  10. “in the private sector, they would think it’s completely insane” to base only 25 or 50 percent of an employee’s evaluation on how well he performs his core task.

    But a child’s performance on standardized testing isn’t solely dependent on how well a teacher teaches. The child’s inate abilities and parental involvement probably pay a larger role than the teacher’s ability to perform. So, basing a teacher’s evaluation primarily on standardized test scores is also completely insane.

    This is especially true in the higher grade levels where more kids have already maxed out their intellectual capacity and have little hope of further improvement, no matter how hard they try.

    1. Sorry some guy that is just a cop out. Yes these kids might be maxed out intellectually but good teachers can make a hell of a difference at all levels, including college. Teaching is the only job that is allowed to use outside life as a n excuse for failure.

      Bad teachers need to be shit canned at all levels ASAP. Even the mediocre teachers need to be retrained or told to find new careers. Only the best should be accepted. Public schools work in other countries, a big part of that is because the public does not accept failure.

      But then again if we succeeded in educating the majority of kids in this country our government would cease to exist.

    2. The child’s inate abilities and parental involvement probably pay a larger role than the teacher’s ability to perform. So, basing a teacher’s evaluation primarily on standardized test scores is also completely insane.

      I agree that parental involvment is important, but for 2 decades, the educational establishment has been saying they need more money to improve test scores.

      NCLB give them a lot more money, but they must now show results.

      1. The Federal Government sez: “Throw money at it and maybe it’ll go away. That should work.”

    3. The child’s inate abilities and parental involvement probably pay a larger role than the teacher’s ability to perform.

      Oh, and … “Raciss!!”

    4. “But a child’s performance on standardized testing isn’t solely dependent on how well a teacher teaches…”
      My performance at work isn’t totally based on how hard I work, either, but guess what?
      Enough ‘gee, things didn’t work out this quarter’, and that’s the end of it.
      Tough.

    5. If teachers are such a minor factor, then they are not worth half of what they’re paid.

      Let’s cut our education spending by 80%.

    6. Its not like the standardized tests are a high bar to climb over. Kids with an 85 IQ and rote learning can pass them.

      1. I remember assessments where we’d NEVER been taught what was on the assessment. And the teachers weren’t total goof offs by any means, either. Lots of times, the curriculum and the standardized test have relatively little to do with each other.

        1. This would be self-correcting, one way or the other.
          Either everyone in the district would ‘fail’ which would alert the administration that something was screwy, or some of the teachers would learn from last year’s assessment and include that in the curriculum.
          Of course, this assumes an administration and some teachers who are interested in something other than just keeping their jobs

    7. Teachers should be paid per-pupil based on improvement, so each teacher would have to weigh taking an extra kid (and getting more cash) against the possibility that the kid would cut up and slow other kids down. There would be no hard cap on improvement either — if a first grade teacher can get his kids up to fifth grade standards, he gets paid for four years of education.

      Those kids that no teacher thought could be educated, well… the teachers are probably right, actually, that trying to educate them is a waste of time. So why bother?

      All testing should be done by a separate organization that is explicitly, legally separated from teachers and teaching union interests.

      1. The scantron lobbyists just got a boner.

  11. The entire point of the system was to weed out poor performing schools. If they can’t get good scores honestly, they need to go. This cheating should justify firing everyone at the school and starting from scratch.

    1. Probably true but where do you go to get new, better qualified, teachers? The same Ed Schools that turned out the ones you just fired?

      I just don’t think there is a massive group of highly qualified teachers out there who aren’t working. One of my friends, who taught in public schools for decades told me: “the whole country would be better off if we shut down every College of Education in the country.”

      1. You dont need to close the schools of education but they need to dramatically raise their standards. I was at one of these school last year and happened to hear a conversation between a counselor and student. The student was being advised that they were not going to be able to student teach if they could not raise their grades. The student was advised that a change in subjects might be in order. This young lady was planning to be a math teacher but could not pass the courses. I hope she changed career path, but probably is getting ready to teach her first class next month.

        1. My middle school math teachers were all first-year teachers. My math grades improved dramatically when I got the high school.

          New teachers often don’t do a fantastic job, unless they really like the subject. I had some pretty good first year elective teachers.

        2. I don’t see how that solves anything. They raise their standards, now they don’t even have those teachers graduating. It still doesn’t explain where the better teachers are going to come from.

    2. The idea of booting everyone is real appealing….and also reminded me tha we haven’t heard from the cheaters union delegates, explaining this is what happens when incentives are put in place: people cheat, just like on wall street. So we shoul do away with inventing teachers or judging them on performance if we want to weed out the cheaters. Yeah…

  12. The bigger question is what to teach? Compared to what was taught before John Dewey brought his Communist inspired ideas to the US School System, even elementary school would be tough for today’s ‘college educated’ students.

    http://www.snopes.com/language…..95exam.asp

    1. Senior, there is a big red false at the top of the page you linked which is all about rumors…

      1. Read the body of the Snopes article. The “False” doesn’t mean that the test was not a test used in 1895, but that it is unfair to say that it indicates today’s students are inferior. After reading through the test, I would agree that many of the questions are pretty pointless, but it still indicates a higher level of effort and intellectual attainment than is common for today’s high school grads. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to take Snopes with a grain of salt when the “urban myth” is related to politics. Snopes is pretty left of center.

        1. After reading through the test, I would agree that many of the questions are pretty pointless, but it still indicates a higher level of effort and intellectual attainment than is common for today’s high school grads.

          Some of them would be considered pointless in today’s world, but as you said, overall it indicates a level of literacy, education, and rigor that would be completely out of place today. I can’t even see today’s college students doing that well on it.

  13. I do not have a standardized test at my job but I have a yearly review which determines if I get a raise or a pay cut and affects any possible bonuses. The tests would not be needed if the teachers were actually properly reviewed and bad teachers actually, you know, fired.

  14. One of the reasons this cheating occurred is because teachers were put in charge of testing their own students. The person doing the evaluation should have no stake in the child’s performance…and lots of incentive for providing a clean test.

    I think Aesop must have written one about this once.

    1. “The person doing the evaluation should have no stake in the child’s performance..”
      That’d be the ideal, but who within the school system doesn’t have a stake?

      1. Perhaps a better question is, “who has a stake in providing a valid test?”

        1. That’d be the parents and the kids. Unfortunately, they really don’t have a lot of say in the matter.
          It certainly would not be the teachers’ union.

    2. Doesn’t excuse this rampant cheationg, NM.

      1. ARGH! My spelin’ skilz done lefted me.

  15. vouchersvouchersvouchersvoiuchersvouchersvouchersvouchersvouchersvouchersvouchers

    1. Vouchers are scary!

      In all seriousness, whenever the subject comes up, it seems that the response is incoherent babbling. It’s like listening to a demoniac speaking in tongues. No intelligible reasons are given, but everyone is sure that vouchers are this terrifying, radical thing.

      1. Vouchers do one most important thing. They interrupt the money flow from government to vendor and insert a consumer into the transaction chain.

        Much like medical care schemes which do the same thing, government directly to provider, eschewing the consumer, education fosters unaccountability, like any monopoly.

        You will never…ever…ever…achieve accountability unless or until you allow the consumer to exercise his discernibility by considering another alternative.

        Vouchers are not scary. You sir, are scary.

        1. I believe that you will never….ever…ever achieve accountability unless people pay for their own children. Why would someone be accountable when it isn’t even their own money being spent?

      2. Vouchers are scary!

        I suspect one issue is that many associate vouchers with private schools (often dishonestly), which of course is not necessarily the case. We need *competition* regardless of who runs the schools.

  16. Less than a quarter of fourth graders test “proficient” in basic reading skills – that should be an indicator of how many k-4 teachers in Atlanta deserve their salaries.

  17. `>
    I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshibalaptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by fedex. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores.I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, BuzzSave.com

    1. “I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360”
      You got screwed.

  18. Atlanta Teachers Sacked Over Cheating Scandal.

    false headline.

  19. Its not my my fault that my penis raped your daughter, she was just SO hot! Obviously you shouldn’t be having such sexy children. Its all your fault.

    1. Totally different sort of offense altogether….

      1. The thought process is the same.

  20. Is it reasonable or unreasonable to ask that a majority of the kids in Atlanta be able to read and do math at grade level?

    Yes, probably.

  21. And yet, somehow, we’re all here and educated.

    What makes people think the education scare isn’t a scare like all the others we keep hearing about “the children”: satanic ritual abuse, obesity, measles, sexting, shooting, comic books, etc.?

    1. What makes people think the education scare isn’t a scare …

      It’s a trend at the very least.

  22. a tasing for the ages!

    lady clearly inspired by south park’s “you are SO sued. i’m suing you. You are SO sued” but not quite the same lines.

    http://www.policeone.com/polic…..ith-Taser/

  23. The problem isn’t that there was too much cheating. The problem is that there wasn’t enough!

  24. If a student in Atlanta was caught cheating on a test, but claimed that his cheating was “inevitable” and justified because of the “insane” pressure put on him by his teacher to learn basic skills, would the teacher excuse him? Just asking.

    1. If he was cheating on one of hte tests that go to rating the teacher’s performance, the teacher would probably blow him.

  25. I taught in a private school in New Orleans in the 60’s for $440/mo. When I changed jobs to the public system for $700/month, I discovered how terrible public schools had become.

    When I broke up a dangerous fight and sent the boys to the principal for punishment, I was shocked to see them returned to my classroom later, with nothing but a lecture for their behavior.

    Disruptions were awful, and we could not even ban the perpetrators from the room.
    I resigned after 6 weeks and started looking for another job.

    The answer? VOUCHERS and let the parents select their own schools, be they public or private. COMPETITION!

    1. public school teachers don’t need book and black boards…they need electric cattle prods…that will get the little fuckers motiviated to learn…

    2. VOUCHERS and let the parents select their own schools, be they public or private. COMPETITION!

      It would be nice if parents could select the principal and the principal had the power to fire teachers. Give parents more power over the schools.

  26. Education has become just another big-government money pit, where hardly anyone understands what their job is supposed to be, and fewer still care if it’s well done, ill done, or done at all.
    The local bureaucracy gets government money for showing certain statistics. Nobody, but nobody checks up on whether the statistics reflect anything actually accomplished- and in all probability nobody knows how to ask in the first place, and wouldn’t dare try.
    That would involve not only professional, but probably physical danger.
    And just what is “education”? What are we “educating” our children to do, to be, to value, to accomplish? In all too many cases our schools are simply holding pens, to keep the impossible little brats off the streets and out of the labor market. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have remarked that a graduate of the average American high school is no use to the American economy as it now exists. Seriously, does anybody give a good hoot about algebra in the real world? Or what happened in the year 1066? if the textbooks were dumbed down any further, they’d be Manga comics or maybe just blank sheets of paper- in fact if they were just blank journals, it might be an improvement, provoke creativity someplace.

    The Atlanta teachers cheating ring is right- so-called “education” in America is a literally a damned joke. They are perfectly correct in according it the treatment it deserves.

  27. Ha!

  28. I hope David Callahan doesn’t run with this, but it’s most likely he will. He’s the liberal guy that wrote The Cheating Culture and he blames every social problem, LITERALLY EVERYTHING wrong in the world, on the fact that people cheat.

  29. Close down the government schools. Face it; the attempt to create standardized “education factories” failed. Miserably. The children are unique human beings, not interchangeable parts.

  30. This is where the basis for American Society starts and will most likely end. Corruption has officially leeched it’s way into the foundation of US society. hell any society for that matter. An event that did not happen overnight and is the result of incompetent people in positions of authority overseeing the process. Kids are being destroyed at an early age. this problem starts at the ‘top’ not with the teachers or the kids. The government did not learn it’s lesson with ‘greenlighting’ a financial bailout. But it is most likely that most of us won’t be around to see the devastating effects of all the incompetent decisions leaders have made. Either that or we will be too old to do anything about the results. And that’s what these guys care about. Immediate results and profit. screw the future and everyone else.

  31. I saw some poll a couple years ago that said more parents would be outraged if their kid was found to be smoking than cheating.

  32. ok…FIRE THEM ALL! dont care…they cheated, they are liars, they need to be fired and arrested for fraud. Parents need to begin suing the schoolbard and the education dept and bring it all down. enough of this tolerance, mitigating circumstance, forgive and live crap. we are LOOSING everything our forefathers fought and died for because we refuse to judge. let put our boots on these unions, and teachers and the fed and press down hard til we hear a crunch!

    1. this is what needs to be done. Unfortunately there are too many stupid laws put in place to protect scum. That is how people who are cowards keep themselves in power. Making everything and anything to their disliking illegal. the most key critical point of your statement is the part of people who once cared setting up things a certain way to achieve somewhat fair results. Granted these people had their faults back in the day. But they weren’t complete idiots like the guys and gals we have in charge now. The same needs to be done for the country’s debt problem. Unfortunately Wall Street and the government has everyone by the balls they put everyone’s pensions, lifesavings etc… into bad debt. And the average person is just too obsessed with daytime t.v and their luxuries. No one wants to worry about their finances and financial well-being taken. It comes down to one thing: everyone in this country is too scared to stand up in force to do a damn thing about it

  33. The critics do have a point. In any industry that uses quantitative measures to judge performance there is intense pressure to produce the numbers needed by any manner. Corporations use accounting fraud all the time to hide debt. Mortgage brokers sold crappy loans in order to boost their commissions. If they said to the,selves, “I can’t make enough money because poor people can’t afford my loan products” they would be out a job. That is how the subprime crisis worked. The bosses told their brokers to sell crap by any means necessary. Now teachers are told the same thing. They are faced with classrooms of transient, problem saddled students and told to produce numbers. Is this an excuse for any individual teacher to cheat? No. But it is a condemnation of a silly accountability system.

  34. The culture war has many victims, and on the egalitarian side of the war, the wounds are mostly self-inflicted.

    Egalitarians hate competition. They find it stressful and “unfair” to engage in, citing advantages that some people have going into a competition.

    In their ideal world, nobody would judge anybody’s performance negatively, rewards would be handed out equally, and everyone would be told, “Good job!” as long as they “tried their best”.

    This system creates the classic moral hazard of the “free rider”. To those of low ability, it’s “unfair” to be forced to work hard, while those with natural gifts can succeed more easily. to those of greater ability, the rewards are meaningless, so why try hard? A free rider problem incentivizes all participants to underperform.

    The measurable performance targets become vague objectives, while the unmeasurable subjective, emotional, social, and self-esteem goals become dominant.

    Social promotion, extra credit, vague grade criteria, grade inflation, self-esteem platitudes…all have infected the public school system such that most kids have become free riders, able to get credit by just showing up, or putting superficial effort into their assignments.

    Teachers are not paid for performance, but on tenure, so the free rider problem affects good and bad teachers as well. The unions lobby for tenure and big benefits and cry racism/sexism if low performers are persecuted for their slacking.

    The whole system is a corrupt morass of mediocrity, malaise, immorality, incompetence, and abject, disgraceful failure to “educate”. It’s a big coercive babysitting program that makes a mockery of the ethic of learning and knowledge which made our species the most successful on Earth.

    The public school system needs to be scrapped and privatized. It’s a sick joke gone on way too long.

    1. But why did the complaints start only recently, when the game’s substantially unchanged for centuries?

      I have to conclude one of two things: Either the complaints did not start only recently, and things have been the same bad for centuries — which means it’s a perpetual “crisis” which really isn’t a crisis; or something has changed within the game, and the problem people complain of mostly isn’t intrinsic to gov’t schooling but rather some recent detail(s) of gov’t schooling.

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