One of the most valuable concepts taught by African Americans to their children was the belief that education and reading was essential for liberty, freedom and a better life. Over the years, this has changed. Since the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, we have seen the importance of education fall to new lows and its value reduced.
Across the nation, African Americans read less than other racial ethnic groups and perform lower on comprehension related to reading, math and science. Now, in Atlanta, a new horror has emerged – an investigation that found that administrators and teachers have been involved in an ongoing pattern of cheating.
Last week, the state released school-by-school results from this year’s CRCT cheating investigation. The test is used as an annual benchmark to determine success under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The report documented evidence of cheating at 44 of 56 APS schools, involving 178 teachers and principals. Of the 178, 82 confessed to misconduct, and six principals would not answer questions, pleading the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The report also noted that such practices had been occurring since 2001. The test is given each year to elementary and middle school students in the district of 48,000. Most are African American, and many are economically disadvantaged. One section reads, “A culture of fear and a conspiracy of silence infected this school system, and kept many teachers from speaking freely about misconduct.”
The 800-plus page report suggests that moving students up and receiving federal money was more important than students actually learning. This is an example of what got me removed from a school once when I was in graduate school. I addressed a group of teachers and informed them that it appeared from their dress, they spent more time in Lenox Mall than the library.
Teachers are essential, until they become the problem of continuing the acceptance of low competency for the sake of making themselves and their schools look good. Looking good is not as important as students actually learning. Thus, the question remains, how many students have these teachers and principals failed over the past decade, and how many have been inhibited from becoming productive and successful citizens compared to the number they have sentenced to failure and a possible life of criminal activity? –torrance t. stephens, ph.d.