Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Atlanta cheating scandal/ Broad connections

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW POST: Atlanta Cheating Scandal

Under the headline "America's Biggest Teacher And Principal Cheating Scandal Unfolds In Atlanta," the Christian Science Monitor (7/6, Jonsson) reports that Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced on Tuesday that some "178 named teachers and principals" had allegedly perpetrated "what's likely the biggest cheating scandal in US history." Noting that 82 of the alleged individuals have "confessed," the Monitor adds that the charges "point an ongoing problem for US education, which has developed an ever-increasing dependence on standardized tests." The Monitor describes the deleterious impact the scandal has on the image of outgoing Superintendent Beverly Hall, "who was named US Superintendent of the Year in 2009 largely because of the school system's reported gains."

Just so we are all on the same page here, Atlanta's Board was trained by the Broad foundation in 2006: ("Broad Institute Trains 29 New School Board Members on Leadership Strategies to Improve Student Achievement")

The connection does not end there: RANDOLPH BYNUM, The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2007 Associate Superintendent for High Schools.

But we are not done yet! PANYA LEI YARBER, The Broad Residency Class of 2006-2008, is the Chief Strategy Officer for Atlanta Public Schools.

And yet we need not stop with the Broad connections: Beverley Hall, APS outgoing superintendent, is chair elect of the Council of Great City Schools (long Pittsburgh's partner of choice when Superintendent Roosevelt needed a third party to study a problem for 24 to 48 hours and print a report that reached his conclusions).

In fact, in 2009, the Council bestowed its Richard R. Green Award, "the nation's highest urban education honor," upon Atlanta Public Schools.

Won't you sleep better at night knowing Pittsburgh Public Schools keeps the same company?"


Questioner said...

The link to the Christian Science Monitor article, dated July 5, 2011, is:

From the article:

"This appears to be the largest of dozens of major cheating scandals, unearthed across the country. The allegations point an ongoing problem for US education, which has developed an ever-increasing dependence on standardized tests."

Questioner said...

Another quote from the article:

"The [Atlanta] teachers, principals and administrators wanted to prove that the faith of the Broad and Gates Foundations and the Chamber of Commerce in the district was not misplaced and that APS could rewrite the script of urban education in America and provide a happy, or at least a happier, ending for its students," writes the AJC's education columnist, Maureen Downey.

"And that’s what ought to alarm us," adds Ms. Downey, "that these professionals ultimately felt their students could not even pass basic competency tests, despite targeted school improvement plans, proven reforms, and state-of-the-art teacher training."

Anonymous said...

Amazing how that second paragraph manages to blame the teachers twice over.

Going to read the article now to see if they mention that teachers who have their hands tied with bad curricula and/or a curriculum that doesn't teach the needed standards.

It's not the teachers who are choosing the curriculum, the pacing and the "just move on whether they get it or not" demands.

Anonymous said...

Bill and Melinda have given Atlanta Public Schools $18.4 million since 2005.

Nice to see all the players at the table for this scandal.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop with the connections to the Council, Gates and Broad.

Atlanta Public Schools has been the darling of - surprise - the Aspen Institute (funded by - surpise - Gates)!

Session Three: A Matter of Will: Can We Sustain our Commitment to Excellence for All Children? This panel featured Atlantic Media Company Political Director Ron Brownstein, Prince George's County (Maryland) Schools Superintendent John Deasy, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall, Education Trust President Kati Haycock, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Remember the connection - Gates and Broad use Aspen to create seemingly independent reports to support their worldview, for instance calling on Linda Lane and John Tarka to present on Pittsburgh's "historic contract" the very week that the teachers' academies came to a grinding halt because the program was fundamentally unsustainable.


Questioner said...

From the NYT, "Systematic
cheating found in Atlanta school system":

Link to another blog discussing "why they did it":

Anonymous said...

The second link there, to AJC, is the same woman (Maureen Downey) quoted in the first article posted. Seen in context, her remarks are VERY different! The first makes it sound like it's just the teachers not believing hard enough.

She followed up with this however:

Here are the questions that the report ought to raise and that I hope we can discuss this week:

"Do we know yet how to take children who live under the worst circumstances for learning and help them get fantastic educations anyway?

Can an urban school system elbow its students past poverty, uneducated parents and lack of education-rich home lives by extraordinary will, commitment and effort?"

That gives it a whole different meaning, right?!

Anonymous said...

And the more important question is Does the board- elected by taxpayers even realize they have sold out to a band of profiteers? Do they even SEE the other urban districts going down? Are they at all worried that whistle-blowers will come forth? Or have the spiked the kool-aid enough that teachers that are left after purging the wise seasoned voices of reason, are willing to behave and spout the script?

Anonymous said...

From the article by Maureen Downey:
"But with evidence now suggesting that other urban systems also faked their meteoric score increases, we ought to focus on the larger questions about how much we are asking of these systems, schools and teachers and whether we are equipping them with the tools and resources to do so."

"And the final and toughest question of all: Are we asking too much?:


We live in a world where the "work" and "belief" necessary to educate ALL children is missing in action. If teachers do no have the tools and resources, they have NOT been prepared to teach ALL children.

And the "final and toughest question" is absolutely INSULTING to real educators. What is abundantly clear here is that we
are fortunate that Maureen Downey is not a teacher. For her to even hint or infer outright that there is an excuse for this kind of "cheating" is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!

She, and all who advocate for her QUESTIONS in this article, need to get as far away from the field of education as they can get. They have nothing to contribute!

"And the final and toughest question of all: Are we asking too much?

Anonymous said...

Well, we certainly haven't had a HUGE cheating problem here or the scores would look a lot better! Or should I qualify it and say a "successful" cheating problem.

There were one or two cases that have been reported (though in some it isn't clear if it was the teacher's idea or a "whispered" suggestion gone awry in practice -- like the little post-it tag on questions to look at again scandal.

There have been whispers about certain principals, too. Though it's never clear if they themselves would be doing the erasing or if there would just be pressure on the teachers to get more kids getting problems right.

Questioner said...

The writer seems to be suggesting simply that we may not be giving teachers the tools and resources necessary (tools and resources could include adequate social services and support) and questioning whether, if that is the case, we are asking too much.

Anonymous said...

3:12 --

Perhaps you didn't really understand what she was saying. I don't think she's saying what you think she's saying!

Also, do you really mean that teachers need no resources or tools to teach?!

You do realize that the insistence that poverty and experiences outside of school are unimportant is a big piece of how PPS (and Atlanta and DC and and and) ended up where they are right now?

It's what Broad has been pushing all along -- there aren't problems in society or a problem with inequality, it's all just bad teachers.

Anonymous said...

What if we contact this person from the NY times and share our school district story??

Anonymous said...

Please don't put words in my mouth or thoughts in my mind. Downey's words were clear. Certainly, teachers need tools and resources; the best of these are what they bring ,IF they are prepared to take on the job. IF you are not 'bringing it' please don't come to urban schools!

"Poverty and experiences outside of school" are only unimportant as excuses, If you want to teach to the privileged, please do NOT take a job in urban schools.

Meeting the challenges in urban schools is its own reward and compares with no other!

Questioner said...

"The best" may be the tools and resources they bring, but is that enough?

Anonymous said...

More than enough, IF it qualifies as their best !

Questioner said...

Can you name 3 teachers in Pittsburgh (or even one) who is bringing their best and their best is enough?

aparentgrad said...

Wow, what a question, Questioner! How about the teacher at Obama who moderates the online newspaper THE EAGLE? How about teachers who come through the line with students being recognized at a legislative meeting? I wish I knew more, but this could prove to be a good summer exercise.

Questioner said...

Great teachers who bring their best, but are students near 100% proficient or are their students who would benefit from additional resources and social services?

Anonymous said...

Will "additional resources and social services" teach the kids how to be "proficient"?

If that is the case, then we do not need teachers. Right?

Questioner said...

A combination of strong teachers and social services is likely to produce the best results.

Anonymous said...

I took Questioner to mean that by the standards set, a "great teacher" would obviously be one whose class(es) were always proficient (or advanced).

Those are the standards set and some people seem to think that the only reason they are not met in urban schools like ours is that teachers aren't good enough.

Personally, I think it's bigger than that.

Anonymous said...

Classroom teachers are not the villains in this sad tale.

Anonymous said...

Teachers can not replace parents!

It does start at Home, and that is not a excuse.

Anonymous said...

Teachers CAN and should be the Heroes and Heroines in this tale, a tale which CAN be one to CELEBRATE.

Classroom teachers should not see themselves as "villains." Rise above that characterization. Teachers have the rare and honorable opportunity to change children's lives, to set them on the right path, to identify and strengthen every child's God-given talents, and, to prepare them for successful futures.

Seize the opportunity! Each day!

Questioner said...

It's unlikely many classroom teachers see themselves as villains! And probably the great majority do try, every day, to change childrens' lives and prepare them for successful futures.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the reinforcement!!?!!

Questioner said...

From My Fox (News) Atlanta:

"The report was especially critical of Hall, saying she was more in interested in boosting test scores than actual learning. It talked about her "no exceptions, no excuse" policy, which put huge amount of pressure on principals to meet targeted CRCT scores. Those who failed risked losing their job. In fact, Hall replaced 90 percent of the district's principals during her time in office."

Anonymous said...

Recent Atlanta connection with Mark Campbell, CIO. (Who decimated the IT department here) He worked for the city, not the school district so the connection may mean zero. If you read the comments following the author's blog you will see he was not popular in Atlanta, and was not employed there very long.
It just made we wonder due to the data importance and all the important jobs cut by him at PPS.

Anonymous said...

It is probably overdue to ask this now, but should our mayor be stepping into things here? Maybe another Mayor's Commission on Public Education could be formed, LOL?

Anonymous said...

Yup, just what we need. A mayor who grew up on the north side and went to a Catholic school--as did his brothers--and whose dad still has ties to that school chiming in on public education.
Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Report on PSSA scores raises possibility of cheating
(In Pittsburgh)