APS trial ends, but underlying problems, education challenges remain

Erica Turner is an assistant professor of educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin who has studied the meaning of the Atlanta cheating scandal to families and students in southwest Atlanta.

By Erica Turner

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial came to a close after a Fulton County jury last week convicted 11 educators of conspiracy to falsify students’ test scores.

0317artThe decision capped a seven-month trial and years of investigation. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from city leaders and school district officials who have wanted to put behind them an episode that has “tarnished the image of the school system and the city,” as this newspaper reported.

The trial was a spectacle that focused on the “who” and “how” of cheating, and diverted attention from understanding and improving the heart of the matter: the educational trajectories of APS students. Rather than closing the book on the cheating scandal, now is the time to focus on those children.

There is much still to learn and do.

Less than five minutes’ drive from the Fulton County Superior Courthouse, where the trial was held, the effects of the cheating scandal are not over. My research on the meaning of cheating among students, families, and their communities has identified that some youth believe that teachers think they are “not smart enough;” these youth have left school or remain in school but are struggling to keep up.

While I have interviewed parents who feel their children have not been harmed by this scandal, many parents feel an enormous sense of betrayal.

One mother asked me: “Who cares about these babies? Who cares about what happens to these children? Who has gone to go check up [on how they are doing]?”

While the school district has instituted new ethics rules and test security measures as well as a summer tutoring program, many children have not received adequate compensatory services. Community trust in the schools is low. The school district must provide students with the education they missed and rebuild that trust.

To compound this, in the southwest Atlanta community that has been the focus of my research, cheating is just one of many complicated circumstances contributing to children’s life chances. Health concerns, crime, and poverty have loomed large in my conversations with youth and families.

Educational research has demonstrated the ill effects of poverty on children’s well-being and academic achievement; families too are well aware of these effects. In my interviews with families, neighborhood safety and health concerns—such as asthma and lead — were repeatedly mentioned. These circumstances make it difficult for youth to learn and hard for teachers to raise student test scores.

Amidst these challenges, some students have received important supports, sometimes from the same schools where cheating occurred. One young woman described her school not as a barrier to success but as her second family. She described teachers, some who later admitted to cheating, who provided students with extra tutoring, afterschool activities, meals, safe rides home, respect, and sometimes even a place to live.

In addition to many educators, a few community development organizations, neighborhood activists, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation have been trying to provide support for these children. While efforts are being made to assist this neighborhood’s residents, the city services regularly provided in other parts of town are not always present here. It is painfully obvious more comprehensive support from local government is needed.

Listening to youth also brings to light the inequality of educational experiences and resources made available to different groups of children in Atlanta’s schools. Youth who attended schools where cheating occurred describe an incredible emphasis on testing, test preparation, and rote learning intended to help students improve standardized test scores.

In addition, the resources at their schools for educational trips, band instruments, and the maintenance of recreational facilities were deplorable in comparison with the predominantly white and wealthy schools to the north of them.

A former student noted, “Kids were being disserviced…far before the cheating scandal ever happened, and are still being disserviced. There has been no plan instituted to…give urban schools better infrastructure. It was just about making them look like they’re responsive…they really care, but they don’t.”

While these youth viewed the education they received as quite good, they were well aware that they received a less than equal education.

To be sure, test security is important and cheating should not be condoned. However, if we want to improve children’s educations and lives, then the lessons we take from the cheating scandal in Atlanta cannot be limited to test security and punishing a few bad apples.

The focus on cheating distracts us from understanding the conditions shaping the lives and opportunities of children who attended schools where cheating occurred. A focus on children, and listening to them and their families, brings those conditions to light. It also makes it clear that there is still plenty of work to be done. The school district can provide needed educational services and repair trust with communities. The city can extend greater social support and services to these neighborhoods.

However, it will take policymakers and citizens to ensure an equitable education: committing to educational resources across APS schools and rejecting the high stakes policies that promised to address educational inequality but have failed to do so. That is to say, addressing the inequalities at the root of the cheating scandal—at the root of the conditions shaping these children’s lives — requires a broad, civic, state, and federal effort. This work needs to start now.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

63 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

Lee CPA represents those who would move us as fast as possible toward a future like the Beyond Thunderdome flicks. We've created many policy disasters over the years, and certainly one of them has been welfare policy that encourage the poorest of the poor to have more children so to increase their checks. Another has been our school "accountability" policies that can draw leadership out of the pigsty to ruin the lives of teachers, students and entire school systems.

While there seem to be many like CPA who seem to want to take us to hell in a handbasket by expanding an underclass as fast as possible, our problem is not that we try to improve society but that our so-called leaders (our fault - we elect them) so often refuse to learn from their mistakes and move on.


East Point's Own
East Point's Own

Be the first to hear what a key defendant has to say about the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal. Christopher Waller, the former Principal of the school at the center of a national news story has spoken, and you may not expect the discussion he wants to have with you. The authors of this book “Cheating but not Cheated” hope to provide a transparent view of the side of the story not discussed in depth during the trial. For Mr. Waller this book is not about attempting making a profit or attempting to redeem himself. This book is about telling the “other side” of a story that affects the way children are being taught nationwide.

Pre-Order now
http://goo.gl/48Qacs
For more details visit www.CheatingButNotCheated.com

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@East Point's Own 

I can't find any sign on this link (or Google) of a legitimate publisher for this book, so it must be self-published...maybe self-xeroxed. The author is the principal who held the "cheating parties," trying here to make some more money off the situation though he does promise to send some of the proceeds to a children's charity in Haiti. Oh yes, he does.


Maureen, you keep allowing these blurbs for self-published books.  They're as bad as self-published blogs.  If a regular press hasn't published the book, then outside, objective reviewers for the press have not evaluated it for reliability and accuracy. As someone who has published books with reputable publishers, I know the difference. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

So, this is what passes for "educational research".  Turner's only solution is for more local, state, and federal involvement to solve "inequities in education". 

"Equitable" and "Inequities" are two buzzwords currently in vogue in the educational industrial complex nowadays, and the only solution is more taxpayer money.

Two students, attend the same schools, use the same textbooks, have the same teachers.  One student does very well and the other does poorly.  Tell me Turner, what type of government intervention is going to fix that "inequity"?

Mandatory birth control for welfare recipients would do more to fix educational "inequities" than anything this author can envision with all her "research".

EdUktr
EdUktr

@MaryElizabethSings

Except that bad cops are fired; too often, bad teachers are not. And crime statistics are moving in the right direction. 

But not test scores.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  Both of those ignore the REAL problems - the criminals and the students.  Fix them before you blame the cops and the teachers.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@EdUktr @MaryElizabethSings


EdUktr,


I refer you to the link I posted on your recent comment.


http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/ltt_2012/summary.aspx


According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students' scores have actually risen overall since the 1970's when they started tracking - following the Nation at Risk report.


Let's consider some of the data:


1.  First, despite all the "schools are failing" rhetoric, scores have actually gone UP or maintained overall - not fallen.  This is especially true of various minority groups and special needs students.


2. Everyone likes to post about the good old days of the 1970's when schools were so good, but according to the data, our schools are actually BETTER now than they were then, so why are schools under attack?


3.  Scores cannot continue to rise...at some point you reach a plateau - that is just the nature of the beast.  I am not saying we should not try to raise scores, or that there is not room for improvement, but at some point you top out.


4.  With desegregation, there was a rise in the number of private and charter schools.  We now have more options for families with money who want the best they can buy - which means some of our top performers and best supported students have been pulled out of the public system.  Despite this, overall, scores have not fallen.  I think this is a positive thing - yet all we every hear is how badly schools are doing. 


5.  Reformers like to use the scores of children in other nations to denigrate our schools, but often you are comparing apples to oranges.  Very few nations have the racial and SES disparity in their schools that we do.  In many nations, only the top students are educated, or the poor are only educated to age nine or so.  They have a less diverse student population, or parents have children tutored as par for the course. In many nations, the poor or women are not educated at all.  Education is much more values by some nations, and better supported - so one needs to look at international data carefully before trying to make direct comparisons.


6.  Scores generally went up, according to NAEP, until about 2008.  Now, what happened in 2008?  Oh yes, the recession - when school budgets were slashed, class sizes rose, teachers were laid off, and many families suddenly found themselves in dire situation which affected their children' ability to do their best in school.  Is is hard to concentrate on school work when you are not sure where your next meal is coming from...


So, looking at the actual DATA, schools are doing a pretty good job given the problems we are facing as a society - certainly there is still a lot of room from improvement, but my question is WHY is there so much focus on what schools are not doing rather than on what they ARE doing?  Why so much chatter about "failing schools" rather than "Wow, look how well many schools are doing considering some of the obstacles they are facing"?  I wonder what they could do with less attack and more support?


Because there is a lot more going on  here than what is seen on the surface... and too many are buying into it without question.

brandonmom
brandonmom

She was sounding pretty good until this part: "In addition, the resources at their schools for educational trips, band instruments, and the maintenance of recreational facilities were deplorable in comparison with the predominantly white and wealthy schools to the north of them."  Who does she think is providing all of those resources? The parents! Hello! What an ignorant statement. I think it goes the other way. We get LESS because they know that the parents will come through. And our kids are crammed into overcrowded classrooms and every year they keep taking away teachers and programs. But heaven forbid any affluent area in the city should have decent schools supported by their tax dollars....

eulb
eulb

@brandonmom I suspect lots of people  notice functioning band instruments a just ASSUME that stuff is paid for with TAX dollars that were unfairly diverted from needier schools.  I think they are dead wrong.  But it's possible that I'm the one who is wrong.   We won't know unless a reporter follows the money and publishes a trustworthy report.

anothercomment
anothercomment

When are people going to wake up to the fact that us "rich white folks" mostly waited until our 30's to have our children. we complete our education, establish careers, then make sure we are over any "partying" so we are home at night to read to our children, teach them to count to 100, before we ever hand them over. We work our butts off to buy a house in the better school districts. We pay the high taxes.

That Buckhead, North fulton moms pony tail, is because we are skipping getting our hair done. So are the yoga pants wearing, we have to skim the money from someplace.

Stop having children before you are out of your teens is one solution,mas to how your Children's schools may do better. Then refuse to lie down with men with Felony's who you know will bounce. Simple!

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

"Shaping these children's lives - requires a broad, civic, state, and federal effort." Really? I mean, really?  Is that all there is to it? This is akin to Obama refusing to specifically name the murderous, blood thirsty savages and barbarians who are now making now huge gains in the Middle East and all over the world. You have to name and identify the problem and who or what is causing it in order to solve it - political correctness be damned. 


Today's under paid and over worked educators - among their many, many other tasks and duties -  are also required to parent an ever increasing number of of their pupils. Because if they didn't, then who would? Yes, who would? Perhaps a broad, civic, state, and federal effort could parent them? But, come to think of it, probably not. 


And to be very clear about this and completely politically incorrect - we are talking mostly about black children living and  growing up in poverty, mostly raised by single mothers, with no fathers to be found. If there was ever a time to ignore the Wizard of Oz, and to start paying attention - very close attention - to the man behind the curtain, it is now. 


Because with 73% of black children now being born out of wedlock, the great majority of whom are raised by their single mothers (who lose control of their sons by the time they are ten years old), and that number growing, we are now at the tipping point - if not already beyond it - where this problem can never be solved. 


If mom cannot control her children, and dad is no where to be found, how can we expect teachers and principals or a broad, civic, state, and federal effort  to control them?  That is pablum. Muddle headed, fuzzy headed, politically correct, liberal pablum that won't solve one iota of this catastrophic cultural melt down in the black American community and culture.  


The only people who can fix this problem are black Americans. They created it , and they are the only ones who can fix it. It is starting to dawn on them that after nearly sixty years of the welfare state, their family structure is nearly gone. Without a solid family structure, no people, race, culture, no civilization in the history of the world has thrived or succeeded - a politically  incorrect truth, proven by thousands of years of human life on this planet. 


A great truth of human history, of human existence, may now be coming to light in black America, at long last. If you do for a man or for a people, what he or they should learn to be doing for themselves -- in the end, you are doing them no favor. Sixty years of the welfare state. Billions and trillions of public money spent to raise them up


Poverty alone is not an automatic destroyer of families. Nor is racism, another handy and bogus excuse (Tell that to the rich Asian family next door,  and I do mean rich family) that came here there generations ago with no one who could speak English in the family.  In fact, left  in place without any artificial help or progress or any interference, poverty can and does strengthen families and cultures over time, with each succeeding generation doing a little better than the one before it - each new generation standing on the shoulders of the last. 


Black American children in poverty can find no shoulders to stand on. Poverty is used as the excuse for this cultural calamity and while that is politically convenient, it is not borne out by history, and, in fact, it is no excuse.  It is time to clearly shine the spotlight on this and every effort possible made, by all black Americans, and mainly and mostly black Americans to start turning this thing around. A broad civic, state, and federal effort will not work. 



Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Ficklefan If you were looking at my area, you would know race is not the factor.  Low income. low education, low motivation white parent (s) do the very same things.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Ficklefan I hear tale after tale of relatively affluent white students that do well on tests, go off to college, and come back to live at home because they can't find a job that pays enough to support them and pay off their student loans.


Before someone tells me they made a poor choice of college major, if there are only a very few majors that will reward you enough to be financially self supporting/pay off loans (which I don't recommend), then are there really enough good paying jobs in this economy to support everyone? 


If students  with all the resources we say are needed in the failing schools are struggling to survive with a college degree in this economy, can we not see how there is a lack of motivation and some lack of hope in those who do not have those resources? Why should they pass "the test"?


We cant pretend that good scores on the GA Milestones leads to HS graduation to college to good paying job. It is not just a school problem, it is a structural economic problem that includes education.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @Ficklefan  Yes, Wascatlady, people who make bad choices come in all colors.  Bad parents and teenage pregnancy are not limited to one race alone.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

A fuller interpretation of my poem below for interested readers:


Today's world is too centered simply upon the mind's understanding, thereby limiting the full understanding of the soul.  The Mind, as I wrote in my final stanza, is Form, or that which divides, often through facts.  The Soul, which is inclusive to all, can impregnate one's Mind, however, and help the person to raise his consciousness to the truth which transcends mere facts, alone

hssped
hssped

@MaryElizabethSings


Thank you for posting your poem Mary Elizabeth.  I like it very much.    You are truly a Renaissance woman!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


Of course, mind and soul are not dichotomies.  The fact that you think that that is how I perceive because I wrote this poem is more reflective of your limitation of imagination than of mine, Prof. 


One cannot place all of one's perceptions in mere words.  Words are simply a slice of one's total consciousness for some small definitiveness and perceptiveness within it. That should have been obvious to you.  We see the world through differing eyes. Who are you to judge me? And, your insult is petty.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


And, I would remind you that our most brilliant president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote a letter to a married woman he probably loved while he was in France as our nation's Minister, in which he  described a conversation between his Head and his Heart.   That did not mean that Jefferson, himself, thought in such simple terms that his heart and his heart were dichotomies. Neither do I.  Writer Gore Vidal later wrote that he believed Jefferson incorporated his heart into his head as he aged for reasons that were personal.


Link to Thomas Jefferson's words to Englishwoman Maria Cosway:


http://www.pbs.org/jefferson/archives/documents/frame_ih195811.htm

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

That's what you seem to say in your poem. You're contrasting analytical "Mind" that "divides...through facts" with Soul, which "help[s] the person to raise his consciousness to the truth which transcends mere facts." Seems rather anti-intellectual, in its privileging of "Soul" over "Mind." There's also more to "Mind" than only factual analysis.

 And if you're going to print your poems, you should expect criticism of them, not simply praise.  Receiving criticism is part of being a writer.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

Thomas Jefferson didn't write "Form and Substance." My comments only related to that poem, that you wrote at 28. I'm assuming that your ideas have changed over the last 45 years or so...though  maybe not, since you posted it here and on Bookman's blog, approvingly.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


1st paragraph:  You are too literal in your awareness, imo. There are different kinds of intellect.  My poem was not meant to be anti-intellectual.


2nd:paragraph:  I posted my poem here to make the point that, as citizens and as educators, we attempt to see beyond facts, alone, as we educate children. I am not a professional poet, but I stand by my poem, written 44 years ago, in its discovery of spiritual truths. Your criticism was petty, personal and mean-spirited, and, more importantly, you missed the mark. Besides, you are not a professional critic, yourself.  Nothing says the writer as to value the opinions of all critics. Publishers in the north and south have told me my poem was "profound.'  I was not after personal accolades nor criticism.  I was trying to get people of our fact-obsessed age, math and science obsessed-age, to realize that there is a world of truth, found often in the performing arts, which transcends the intellect alone, into the soul or spirit of all human beings.  One would have to be a true egalitarian to understand.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


No, my ideas have not changed over the years.  This poem represents my core spirit, which I was born with and with which I will die.


Please give your attention to other posters.  I find these exchanges with you, lately, unpleasant, unnecessary, and much too personal.  (And, not because you have offered criticism to my poem.)

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

Certainly.  But when I read posts that ignore the facts of slavery, or try to suggest it was just part of the American historical context and so should be excused, I will speak up.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 


First of all, I have never ignored the facts of slavery.  That is simply in your mind.  You said on a blog that I knew "squat" about chattel slavery.  That too was wrong - I actually  know quite a lot about Southern slavery - which according to Wikipedia is synonymous with the term "chattel slavery."  You have somehow sustained generalities in your mind about what I know and do not know, which have been wrong.  And, you have been insulting about this, even when you have been wrong about what I know.


Also, I have read the research of some black writers, of 15 or 20 years ago, who gave details as to what had happened on Jefferson's plantation Monticello regarding his slaves. (You had assumed I was unread in this area also, erroneously.) I had given credence to the fact-gathering of these two scholars, but I did not think that the  two writers whom I had read perceived with a visionary consciousness, as did Jefferson. I have, likewise, read positives regarding Jefferson's treatment of his slaves, such as the biography of Jefferson by Dr. Saul Padover, in which Jefferson's slaves were documented to have cared much for him.  You caricatured that into saying I thought that "all slaves loved Massah" which was another intellectual insult and wrong. Jefferson was opposed to slavery all of his life. He was full of paradoxical thinking.  I can contain thinking with paradoxes involved in the same mind.  Can you?


Prof, you have assumed so much wrong lately about me that I would really prefer to discontinue our exchanges.  You are free to post whatever you desire.  I would, however, ask you to please stop assuming in your mind things to be true about my thinking and my studies, which you cannot possibly know, and please stop making your remarks to me personal.


Thank you.  As I said the other evening to you on another blog, "I bear you no ill will, and I truly wish you well."  That still is true.



I

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

I ask the same of you: please discontinue "these exchanges ... lately, unpleasant, unnecessary, and much too personal."  Insults beget insults, and you throw them at anyone who disagrees with you, as here.

Here, you are continuing a prolonged exchange we had recently on Bookman's blog in which I challenged your white-washing of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave mistress, Sally Hemmings. You seemed to see it as a romantic relationship of her own free will in which she chose to continue her "duties" as his chamber slave; and you continually ignored the realities of chattel slavery at the time.  The "paradoxes" in Jefferson didn't come from his thinking, but his actions when compared with his ideas.  Dr. Padover's book on Jefferson dates from the 1940s; and you also stated that you chose him since he wrote before the Civil Rights movement with its negative view of Jefferson. I was surprised that your mind was closed against insights from black scholars.

During that public blog exchange you dwelt at length upon the "limitations" of my "academic training" and my "condescending ego that valued the Ph.D. before [my] name." This did not incline me toward your "thinking." And indeed, I only know your "thinking and your studies" through what you post on blogs, and that is what I have commented on.


I will close by asking you to try to accept criticism and different ideas better than you do, and answer them with something other than name-calling... perhaps in a free exchange of ideas, not insults. That's also something we value in the University.


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Here is a poem I wrote when I was 28, just back to Georgia from 7 years in NYC.


It describes the choice we each have of reaching out to all others, or staying closed into our own comfort zones of stereotypical thought regarding others. It describes reaching out with our souls to understand others, who may not share our backgrounds, with depth.


FORM AND SUBSTANCE


Form guides and limits.

Form creates separateness.

Form is secure.  This is mine.


Substance runs free and seeks.

What - Form?

Perhaps - or yet

Itself, expanded.

The river seeks not the bank -

But the ocean.


Do not negate the essence of the Soul.

Without the water, the bank hardens.


The Mind is Form, unfertilized.

Be fruitful and multiply said the Lord -

Of the Soul.

Form without Substance is barren.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

A very interesting op-ed, until the last paragraph when Ms. Turner inserted some political bias around high stakes testing. She makes good points, but while we should not eliminate standardized assessments, we should revisit how they are weighed within the accountability indices being rolled out by the states.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Are there stories of hardworking, determined students with family support that are failing the tests?

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@AvgGeorgian


I have known a few, and unfortunately much of that was due to innate ability.  Low IQ students can be very motivated and hard working, but standardized tests tend to measure discrete factual knowledge that they have trouble retaining.  Those are the students I feel we are truly failing with our current system.  There just does not seem to be a place for them in our fast moving, everyone needs a college degree, society.  They need to be taught life skills, and somehow we need to prepare them to support themselves, but the jobs they need do not seem to exist anymore!

EdUktr
EdUktr

Education's anti-reform lobby is obviously going to stick with their bogus claims that poor kids can't learn, and that testing is anyway bad. Except, of course, in their own kid's case!

But families trapped in failing schools are no longer buying it.


AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@EdUktr Ed. Are you saying that there is a large number of students that are eager to learn, encouraged and helped by their parent(s), work diligently, turn in homework, study for tests and are not making adequate academic progress? If so, where is this happening?

EdUktr
EdUktr

Ms. Turner has "studied" Atlanta's problems but cannot find space in her article to mention the 73% black illegitimacy rate? Really?

Has she bothered to speak to any black Christian ministers?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@EdUktr  But schools have no power to stop illegitimacy - there are not even LAWS against it!  All they can do is try to address the issues that it causes at SCHOOL (discipline, attendance, etc.)


Schools need to focus on THEIR AREA, and leave society's problems alone - they have plenty to do in their area.

straker
straker

Are schools still giving social promotions to the next grade?


Are some students still graduating while remaining functionally illiterate?


If so, this school cheating scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@straker 

"Are schools still giving social promotions to the next grade?

Are some students still graduating while remaining functionally illiterate?"


Yes and Yes.  And yes, schools are STILL cheating their students.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@straker


Yes, schools still socially promote students. Sometimes it's because they're nice children who work hard and don't cause trouble, and sometimes it's because they're about to get too old for their level - for example, if a child is about to turn 16, s/he will go to high school in our district regardless of test scores. 


In my opinion, however, the biggest "cheating scandal" in the state over the past 15 years or so has been that perpetrated by the GaDOE in setting "passing scores" for the CRCTs.  Eighth graders who were reading and doing math on as low as a 4th grade level were deemed "proficient" by the state and eligible to be promoted to high school without even being socially promoted.  


This, by the way, gives you an idea of just how poorly the students in APS were actually doing, if the teachers needed to cheat so the students would pass.


And, according to a Testing Newsletter the GaDOE put out a few years ago, a student needed to be reading at a higher level to pass the 6th grade CRCT than to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test--but the governor and General Assembly just "socially promoted" the students who didn't get diplomas because they failed the GHSGT.  

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

To bu2:


Yours is too simple an answer (and solution) for a multi-layered problem.  The problem may be due, in part, to the parents, as you have written, but what about their parents, and the parents before them?  This problem is wrapped up in our societal values and in the poverty which reflects, and has reflected, that neglect to society, as a whole, for generations. 


This educational problem goes much deeper than building maintenance and present day parents. Our citizens, all of us, must care for others in our society, not from the vantage point of the person on the mountain looking down at those in poverty, and its results, in contempt, but from the vantage point of being an equal human being to those in poverty, and one who cares, in love, about what happens to the less fortunate among us.  We must see with historical vision - both of the past and of the future - to improve public education with lasting substance.  That vision is within a educator's domain, not the businessman's domain.

bu2
bu2

@MaryElizabethSings 


My post was more narrow.  I was simply commenting on his claim that there are more resources in the north Atlanta schools.  I was saying that if there was a difference in resources, it was due to the parent's resources, not the school district's.

bu2
bu2

Its a common refrain from South DeKalb as well as South Atlanta that the northern areas get better resources and have better facilities.  While it was undoubtedly true in the 70s that minority schools got less, times have changed.


Today's reality in DeKalb, at least, is that 50% more per student gets spent on the poor schools.  The buildings in the north are in poor shape.  I was shocked when I moved here how bad the facilities in the northern part of APS and north DeKalb looked.  I couldn't believe the people in those neighborhoods, which are overwhelmingly upper middle class, accepted that.  There are studies that show that something as simple as good maintenance makes a difference.


So the author is repeating what he has heard, but the numbers say otherwise.


Any differences aren't due to the school district.  Its due to the parents.

Astropig
Astropig

@bu2


" I was shocked when I moved here how bad the facilities in the northern part of APS and north DeKalb looked.  I couldn't believe the people in those neighborhoods, which are overwhelmingly upper middle class, accepted that."


It may well be because the upper middle class have abandoned the public schools like the wealthy did years ago.But there is another group that is accepting that-the management and administration of these schools.Where the heck is their pride? 

bu2
bu2

@Astropig @bu2 

There's lots of upper middle class at Morris Brandon, Sarah Smith, Morningside, Fernbank, Oak Grove....

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Your words are totally on target, Maureen.  Thank God, you see what is going on and what needs to be done to improve public education.


In the last tread, I spent some time trying to convince businessmen that their model is the wrong model for improving public education, as is reflected in what happens ultimately with the business model - cheating, lying, and prostitution not only literally, but to one's soul.


I was single for nearly 10 years between my two marriages.  I married a second time at age 36. During that decade I dated some businessmen and had single friends who were in corporations.  I had forgotten some of what I had learned until I had a vivid dream last evening.


Here's what happens in the corporate world, from my knowledge of friends who were in it and who shared their stories.  Cooking the books to reflect sales increases, doing anything necessary to get the numbers up including figuratively, "cutting the throats" of others and even of one's own friends, sleeping with clients to get the numbers up.  I could go on, but that is enough to make my point.


These parents in this article ask, "Who cares about my children?"  I will tell them and you, readers, that I cared deeply as an instructional leader and teacher about what happens to all the children - not just the one's I taught and I will keep caring until I die.


To the extent that I have any influence at all, I will NOT allow public education to assume a business model and prostitute and bastardize public education for numbers and for profit.

4PublicEducation
4PublicEducation

I live in a county in Georgia that has high test scores and people moving in for the schools.  But there is a difference in achievement among the schools in our county.  One school consistently has the lowest scores and is in the poorest, most transient area and gets the most Title I money. Administrators have been moved because of No Child Left Behind regulations, but the school remains at the bottom of the rankings. If I were superintendent and wanted to fix this for the kids that are currently attending school there, I would transfer and bus them to the other higher achieving schools.  This is their best, quickest fix.  There are lots of reasons my county will never do this: politics, concern for neighborhood schools, overcrowding at the other schools, loss of some jobs at the low achieving school, separating friend groups, etc.  But if the highest goal is student achievement, this is the best short term strategy.  Fixing the community problems surrounding this school would take too long, even if it were possible, and would not help students currently attending.  An individual teacher can provide the missing home support for a few of these students more easily if most of the students do have home support.  No teacher can provide that level of extra help to an entire class, which is why these students should not be housed all in the same building.

My county has about 12000 students and I can envision that this is actually possible with the number of students we have.  I do not know if the numbers would work in Atlanta.  But, one fix would be to shut down APS altogether and place the kids back in the counties they would be in if there were no city system. Then within those counties, distribute them evenly among the higher achieving schools.  I am sure the reasons I listed above that this will never happen in my county apply even more to APS, but if student achievement is truly the main goal, this is the short term fix. 

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class80olddog
class80olddog

@4PublicEducation  If you distribute the poor students to the good schools, you will soon find that the "good" schools are now "failing" schools.  The students MAKE the school.

hssped
hssped

@class80olddog @4PublicEducation


Maybe not.....if one is careful to not overload the school with poor students.  Perhaps it could work???


What would be really interesting is to have every school in the county cater to a specific group and let  the students go to whatever school they want.  There could be the athletic school, the STEM school, the arts school, the vocational school, the college prep school....there could even be an ESOL school.  Pick a school,  follow the rules,  and enjoy learning.   Get rid of attendance policies (Just have a flat rate...you miss x number of days then you fail.  Period.) and get rid of mandatory school until you are 16.  If you don't want to go.....then don't.  Make the parents responsible for educating kids like that. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@4PublicEducation You describe the problem well. Schools aren't failing, they just have a higher concentration of poorly performing students. Distributing them across higher performing schools would get rid of failing schools, but then what would happen to the state takeover plan?

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog @4PublicEducation 


Teachers and administration can make a school, although its a lot easier with the right students.

Teachers and administration can turn a good school into a failing one.

bu2
bu2

@hssped @class80olddog @4PublicEducation 

Laughing a little because it sounds like you are describing DeKalb-Athletic-Stephenson & Tucker, STEM-Arabia Mountain, Arts-DeKalb school for the Arts, vocational-?, college prep-Lakeside & Chamblee, ESOL-Cross Keys & Clarkston.


DeKalb has a lot of magnets and "theme" schools.  It provides an outlet for those parents.  But overall, there are a lot of problems.

hssped
hssped

@bu2 @hssped @class80olddog @4PublicEducation


I know it did. 


Let kids go where they (or their parents) want.  In the end everyone will be separated anyway.  Like attracts like in most cases and then we will back to square one.  Good schools and bad schools.  

4PublicEducation
4PublicEducation

@bu2 @class80olddog @4PublicEducation No one will do this experiment, but I believe if you swapped the faculty of the highest achieving school in my county with the faculty of the lowest achieving school, the following would happen: the lowest achieving school's scores would come up just a little bit because of the higher expectations of teachers and the highest achieving school would stay about the same because of the parents.   The most important factors here are students and their attitudes and the attitudes of their families, not the faculty and staff.  As a teacher and administrator, I believe I can make a difference, but I have much less influence than the culture surrounding that child.  I stay in because I believe it matters to the one star fish I save, but larger change requires much more than individual effort  on the part of the teacher and I would hate to work where I did not have the support of the parents and community.  You will not get the same results as you would in a school with support, no matter how much you try.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@class80olddog @4PublicEducation  There is no such thing as a "failing school."  That concept makes education seem like a shell game.  Failing students, parents, teachers, administrators, perhaps.  NOT "failing schools."