Parent video message to APS educators: “My prayers go out to you.”

I am getting comments from readers concerned about the possibility of jail time for the Atlanta educators found guilty this week by a Fulton County jury.

In conversations, I have found deeply divided reactions to the guilty verdicts handed down to 11 of 12 educators on trial for test cheating.

One view: No millionaire Wall Street bankers went to jail for lending abuses that crippled the U.S. economy, yet teachers are marched off to jail. And legislators get slaps on the wrist for taking bribes or using their offices to enrich themselves.

The other view: These educators cheated children for their own benefit and refused multiple opportunities to take pleas and avoid trial. They deserve what they get.

Here is an example of the former  — a video from a longtime Atlanta parent activist maintaining corruption is rampant in Georgia and Washington politics. Yet, it is only teachers who are brought to trial.

Reader Comments 0

105 comments
anothercomment
anothercomment

This all could have been avoided if Beverly Hall had fallen on the sword in the beginning. She just needed to go to those business community and chamber supporters of hers and admit, that she had walked into a pit so large that it was going to take real community envolvement. She could have asked the business community to provide dedicated FTE's and employee volunteers for a 5 year intensive catch up tutoring campaign.

This idea is not far fetched as companies lend out executives and up and coming management track employees all the time to work on special projects such as the United way, rotations to the Carter Center. She should have gotten a commitment from the top 100 firms in Atlanta to provide enough volunteers to be tutoring children for at least 2:1 ratio for 1 hr a couple of times a week, in reading in Math.

I did this when my daughter was in the second grade and a health condition prevented me from working 60 hrs a week. I went from 60 hrs. to stay at home mom and bored out my mind. I could still volunteer an Hour or so at a time in a class room. I asked the teacher if she needed some help while my two year old was in pre-school. She said she would love it, she had two kids who had been very transient, both Minority, that couldn't read. She couldn't slow down to teach them and the rest of the class. This was right after they first stole the aides out of 1 st and second grade classes.

I started going in and just would help them to read. Sitting on the floor in the corner, just like I would with my own kids. Unfortunately, the girl disappeared one weekend never to return. Where they evicted., chasing the next free month rent schedule . The boy stayed. I even got the parents to let him come to my hose three times between Football and Basketball season. I bought him the first books he ever had. At the end of second grade he was reading on level. He became 4 star recruit at Auburn. He was a redshirt his freshman year. When I looked him up last year the end of his second year at Auburn he was listed as an SES Honors Student athelete.

He is lucky a young blonde teacher said yes to me when I asked is their anything I can help you with. All I did was read to him and let him read, just like I read to my own children. Seeing what life was like when he came home those few times after school, that we sit and do our homework and reading was enough. Seeing the nice houses in the neighborhood. Sure, a former NBA/ Europe player lived and a Braves pitcher lived in two of the houses but the other houses were occupied by college educated professionals.

Starik
Starik

Judge Baxter is not Attila the Hun. I expect the sentencing will reflect the extent of criminal activity and the level of responsibility the individuals had within the system. That's how it should be. Responsible for cheating in one classroom? Probation, possibly. Responsible for one school? A group of schools? A school system? more, maybe prison time, more time for more crime.

popacorn
popacorn

It is appropriate and important that this blog pauses forever on this entry while we reflect and focus on the true victims of this tragedy: the criminal 'educators' who are going to jail. 

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

I don't care whether they go to jail or not. Just make sure that they are never a part of any educational institution....EVER!

EdUktr
EdUktr

Should we be at all surprised to see Maureen remaining silent about her role in spreading that made-up story of a “rape” at a University of Virginia fraternity house?

A full twenty-four hours after Rolling Stone admitted to the hoax?

birdrow
birdrow

@EdUktr Probably won't come up.  Doesn't fit quite so nicely with the ideology any more.

I always love the old "other people do worse defense".  Funny how it would never work if she (this obviously highly intelligent, enlightened beyond all others, and contemplative intellectual) were being presented the same argument from one of those greedy evil bankers she knows so much about.  These people knowingly cheated children because they are lazy and incompetent, and it was easier to do that than teach them.  And they got paid more to boot....No brainer.  You just gotta make sure you don't get caught. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@birdrow @EdUktr


Sorry, there is a lot more going on in this cheating scandal that a bunch of "lazy and incompetent" teachers.  If you had ever worked with a high needs population of struggling students and been instructed to  have them show unrealistic gains and average to above growth without any additional support services while under pressure from those above you who have the power to fire you at will, you might have a bit more understanding of all the dynamics involved.  

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

@EdUktr 


Would be poetic justice that the fraternity goes after Maureen and The AJC.

Belinda51
Belinda51

That would be awesome. It will never happen though.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Quidocetdiscit @birdrow @EdUktr  I have a lot of understanding and sympathy for the teachers who cheated.  The fish rots from the head down.  Unfortunately, Beverly Hall is not around.  That being said - those teachers had the option of being whistleblowers, and if they got terminated, they would be in a good position to sue for back wages now.  The ones tried also had the option of pleading guilty and throwing themselves at the mercy of the court.  Only the arrogant ones - the ones who thought they could say yes we cheated, but it was necessary - they are the ones who deserve at least SOME real punishment.  (Especially Tamara Cotman)

atln8tiv
atln8tiv

Of course there should be some penalty for the APS educators found guilty, but I don't think it merits the possible 20 years in prison that I've heard floated around; the APS educator crimes don't rise to the level of those of the Wall Street bankers in terms of effect. 


We have some serious problems in our country today. Is there one institution left in America that hasn't compromised its ethics? Banking, Education, Religious institutions, Government, Heatlhcare...what am I leaving out? 


Until we insist that the leaders of these institutions are punished for their criminal acts (and in proportion to their underlings' punishments), America will remain a country where money can buy a pass on criminal activity.

popacorn
popacorn

@atln8tiv

'the APS educator crimes don't rise to the level of those of the Wall Street bankers in terms of effect.'

There are thousands of kids who might disagree with you, but they can't read or write to express it. 

atln8tiv
atln8tiv

@popacorn @atln8tiv Thousands of kids, in one city, versus millions of Americans across the nation. By all means, there should be punishment for these educators, but 20 years is disproportionate to what others, in positions that have the potential to affect a whole lot more people, have served. Punish these educators appropriately, and then let's start punishing (appropriately) those that are higher up the money chain.

catmom-scout
catmom-scout

The real injustice is that Beverly Hall died "presumed innocent" because she never made it to trial. I wish a class action civil suit would be brought against her estate.

catmom-scout
catmom-scout

These convicted felons get no sympathy from me. Actions have consequences. Load up the paddy wagon!

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

"No millionaire Wall Street bankers went to jail for lending abuses that crippled the U.S. economy, yet teachers are marched off to jail"


Wrong like usual for The AJC.  Kareem Serageldin was sentenced to (and spent) time in jail.  Also, Eric Holder refused to prosecute any of the offenders,

marval
marval

I personally would resent my taxpayer dollars being used to incarcerate these educational professionals who have been found guilty of crimes against the students in their charge.  Instead, I think they should make restitution to the students and parents to whom they caused harm.  One method of performing this restitution would be for the group (with some assistance) to create a special educational program for City of Atlanta School students who are not meeting their educational standards.  They would also be responsible for performing the daily work directly with the students, being paid only a small living stipend - no real salary. benefits, or perks.  The largest costs for this type of program - the personnel costs - would be quite small. The injured parties (as well as other students) would be assisted in their missed educational opportunities;  and the guilty parties would not be wasting their time and our money sitting around in prison. I hazard a guess that this form of punishment would be more to everyone's liking.  If any of these educational professionals  refused to or did not perform their required restitution to the students and families that they harmed ,  they should then be incarcerated.

eulb
eulb

@marval Absolutely not!  It is almost never a good idea to put victims and perpetrators together in close personal contact. The judge is not going to authorize that type of restitution.  I certainly would not allow my son to be put in in  a situation where he would be guided and influenced by an adult who already betrayed him and harmed him. The opportunity for these defendants to provide helpful instruction to vulnerable students is long gone. Administrators and teachers convicted of cheating should never teach academic content nor administer tests ever again.  Unfortunately, the children who were harmed in the 2009 cheating scandal (and likely also in years prior to that) are no longer children.  They are young adults. Locating them and providing effective remedial instruction at this point is an enormous undertaking that should absolutely NOT be entrusted to the individuals who harmed them in the first place.  


I'm not sure that all the defendants belong in jail, but I'm very sure they don't belong in a classroom, tutoring room, or any similar setting with their former victims.

Betsy Ross1776
Betsy Ross1776

@marval  You cannot force people to work, marvel. Also, I wouldn't want a cheater, liar and thief teaching my kids. Imagine the retribution. For a small living stipend, you're not going to get a teacher to teach well, even an honest one who hasn't committed crimes.
But clearly you are right about something....

That is...

It is the innocent children who need help and didn't get help and who were robbed of an education and will suffer. For that, everyone needs to join in a class-action lawsuit and SUE the people involved,  including the chamber of commerce for putting up fake inspectors for  the fake blue ribbon  panel that had on its agenda protecting the guilty.
And meawhile,
the liars, thieves  and crooks formerly called educators need to rot in jail as  punishment for their crimes. without punishment, no one will ever be in fear of getting caught cheating and cheating will continue.


marval
marval

@Betsy Ross1776 @marval 

It is true that you cannot force people to work, and I understand your concern about these individuals being placed in a teaching or planning role with children.  However, judges can offer community service in place of, or in addition to, incarceration. This is commonly done; and some judges are quite creative with the type of community service they offer individuals who have been found guilty of various crimes. The individual may choose community service in some cases - and it is often perceived as a good alternative to prison.  Teaching can be performed in many settings, it does not always involve the teaching of children. I worry about the enormous costs of prosecuting these individuals, along with the enormous costs of housing them for many years.  This is money that rightfully should be spent educating our children.

jezel
jezel

Nail on the head ...Atl parent video. Media is bought and paid for...as are many elected officials. Thanks for calling it out.

frogg
frogg

Most of these people were NOT classroom teachers at the time of the acts that led to these convictions. Most of them were administrators of some type. I include Test Coordinators in the general label of administrator. I really wish folks would get that straight because admins have a lot more power in schools than teachers. Not saying I agree that is the way it should be, just that it is. 

Starik
Starik

@frogg Most of the people on trial were administrators; what about those who took pleas? And even more that avoided indictment?

Nora50
Nora50

These educators should NOT serve time. They have endured enough. If they have to spend years in prison, the lack of respect educators are receiving will increase. The children they are educating are very challenging to teach. A lot of them are absent frequently from school, have problems behaving, and move around a lot. Even when they are offered the free after school tutoring, the ones that need it the most do not even show up! Everyone seems to think that if these kids had had a chance to receive the extra help everything would be okay. No, that's not the case. The parents need to get involved! Quit blaming the teachers for everything. The parents need to be role models at home. They need to send their kids to school everyday. They need to make sure their child completes their homework and help them with their homework. If a teacher calls home because of a behavior issue the parent needs to support the teacher instead of making up excuses. If these changes were made, these educators would not be facing possible prison time. I know cheating is wrong, but the real issue is still with us. What are we going to do about it? It seems to be getting worse. Now a teacher's evaluation is tied to test scores. A teacher has to show growth. It is harder to show growth when the parents don't view education as important and do not support you. What will be done to attract teachers to teach this population of students? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Fabby  "The children they are educating are very challenging to teach. A lot of them are absent frequently from school, have problems behaving,"


REALLY?  Who has been saying this for a while?

jezel
jezel

@Starik @Fabby  Teachers jeopardized their degrees...job...career...reputation....for several thousand dollars ?  You must be two people. One person cannot be that dumb.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Starik @Fabby 

Be fair. Many teachers did it because they had been threatened with termination if they didn't, and many were single mothers supporting their own children.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik @Fabby Few of the teachers got bonuses. Those went to the bigs--Hall first at the trough.  The teachers were trying to hold onto their miserable jobs.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Wascatlady @Starik @Fabby 

I think I read that the teachers got $1000 annual bonuses. Plus the favor of the administrators holding power over their jobs, of course.

Starik
Starik

@OriginalProf @Wascatlady @Starik @Fabby Come on, guys, would a reasonably decent school system have hired many of these teachers in the first place? APS was a corrupt organization with the mission of providing good jobs to the people who work there. Were the kids really harmed by all this?  They got the same inadequate education as everybody else, promoted year by year with a diploma at the end of it. 


Remember, the teacher who started the ball rolling had a "vision" that caused her to come clean, if I recall correctly.

Starik
Starik

@Fabby Ah, but these teachers did it for the money.  Bonuses. Maybe teachers' pay isn't the greatest, but is there any job these teachers could do that's even close to APS salaries?  What tests did they pass to become teachers? 

Starik
Starik

@jezel @Starik @Fabby It's called theft, and people risk all of those things every day. Some of them get caught.

stdno2man
stdno2man

I feel this is very heavy handed. I do not condone cheating and think discipline was in order. However there are two forms of discipline: 1) punitive and 2) rehabilitative. These persons have lost their jobs, their careers, their reputations and now may also lose their freedom. How much is enough?


Also Maureen please help me to remember when the AJC first published their findings didn't they say there were 3 school districts with testing irregularities? What ever happened in the other two?

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Well stated. It appears the zebra can not and will not ever change his stripes. We are all so screwed. " 


Wow........ were not worthy. Sir, you should remove your sheet at the door. Mr. PoPaCorn Wallace has entered the blog and us zebras must leave. Your words may be perfectly typed and your spelling and grammar is is superb. Unfortunately for us, intelligent people have screwed up value systems.

Betsy Ross1776
Betsy Ross1776

Lack of respect for the teacher is not the problem but it is the tip of the iceberg of the problem.
Lack of respect for education is the fundamental problem.
The fundamental part of the civil rights movement has all but died.
Participation in government requires an education.
When the civil rights movement was looking for a leader, they literally said they wanted someone "colleged."
They found their educated leader in Dr. Martin Luther King.
He and his generation struggled for equal rights so that their children could go to good-quality schools and fully participate as equal partners in their own government.
That movement has all but died.
Sports and gangster worship have replaced the values and culture and purpose of the civil rights movement.
More time is spent memorizing vulgar gangster lyrics than time spent memorizing multiplication tables.
Throwing a football in a perfect spiral takes practice -- and so does grammar, spelling and punctuation.
There is no excuse for cheating, lying and stealing....
However, schools can only make a difference if the children and families value an education.
Otherwise, school only becomes a temporary holding cell for the next generation of criminals.

popacorn
popacorn

@Betsy Ross1776 

Well stated. It appears the zebra can not and will not ever change his stripes. We are all so screwed. 

ShowMeTruth
ShowMeTruth

And now the children will pay again, due to the cheating scandal, compounded by financial restraints imposed by Atlanta's thug Mayor - (Millions owed to APS from Beltline & refusal to release deeds to so APS can sell it's own property!) Already the APS BOE is ready to abolish Fine Arts programs on 4/13 - orchestra, band, PE, Art and World Languages also to be affected. Many dedicated professionals are about to loose their jobs, while those that are less qualified maintain their positions.

No matter where you stand regarding the guilty verdicts, this article is about the rampant corruption and greed in our state and local government trickling down to every facet of life in Georgia! Aren't we all just so proud of our corrupt and guiltless leaders who throw innocent children and adults under the bus due to personal political, and corporate greed?!!!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

The death of public education is not coming from charter schools, choice, teacher pay, or cheating. The death nail is the lack of respect of the school teacher. I would love to be in high school now…there are no rules and the adults ignore the real problems. Teachers can’t defend themselves from students, parents, politicians, or blogs. Students in Atlanta where cheated by the school system, their parents, school board, and politicians.  All parties involved, including the parents should go to jail.


Starik
Starik

@JBBrown1968 Perhaps if we had better teachers - people who graduated with real, non-"education" degrees from average or better schools with good grades/?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik @JBBrown1968 Have you ever seen those people teach?  Some can, but some cannot.  All the subject matter in the world won't help the teacher of disadvantaged kindergarten and first graders.


Remember in college, the profs that knew their stuff but could not instruct?  Is THAT what you want K-12?

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

The big question is what is the Legislature going to do to mitigate the risk of something like this happening in the future?

Here's an idea:  The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners lists a Hotline as one of the best ways to combat fraud.  Of course, a hotline is only one side of the equation.  Next, there should be a means to quickly and effectively investigate every call that is received by the hotline.  Just about every government agency has an Office of Inspector General (IRS, Post Office, DOD, etc, etc, etc).  Maybe the state should form a similar investigative agency under the State DOE.  Give them powers of arrest and subpoena and hopefully, you can clean up a lot of this type of mess.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Lee_CPA2


The GA government doesn't even want to pay for the quick and effective investigation of calls concerning CHILD ABUSE, and you think they would fund something like this?  Unlikely.  You idea has merit, but may be unnecessary as teachers are supposed to follow a code of ethics as it is.  As part of that "code" we are to report any violations of test security or validity.  I believe some teachers tried to do that in Atlanta - and subsequently lost their jobs.  So the problem is not so much that there is a lack of oversight, but that those in power have too much control over those further down the food chain.  This is not just true in education - but can be seen in all large systems.  It might send a positive message if those who DID blow the whistle on this and were fired for it, were both reinstated and compensated.  Like others, I wonder what happened to them.  As it stands now, the message seems to be  "don't cheat" but if you see someone else cheat "keep your mouth shut."

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Quidocetdiscit

"....teachers are SUPPOSED to follow a code of ethics..." [emphasis mine]

The problem is, they don't always do so, do they?  

Another problem is that the Professional Standards Board is a toothless tiger with regards to ethics violations and complaints.  Most often, their "investigation" into ethics violations is to call the Superintendent and request that he/she investigate the complaint.  Let's just say that some are better than others....

Beverly Hall commissioned an investigation and then whitewashed it.  Her cover-up is what prompted Purdue to launch his investigation.