The now very public Atlanta school testing cheating scandal is a big deal, and there are many 'teachable' lessons to be learned therefrom.
Never missing an opportunity to 'educate' the public, some of the leadership of the teachers union and government run school administrative bureaucracy have been commenting openly on the unfair nature of the proceedings and the underlying causes of the cheating.
In The Tests Made Them Do It, subtitled 'The teachers union explains the Georgia cheating scandal,' the union makes its case:
"The great Georgia teacher cheating scandal is by now well known, but we can't let it pass without noting the reaction of the teachers unions and public-school bureaucracy. They say the fault lies less with the teachers than with the testing.
"Tragically," says American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten, "the Atlanta cheating scandal harmed our children and it crystallizes the unintended consequences of our test-crazed policies."
"When test scores are all that matter, some educators feel pressured to get the scores they need by hook or by crook," adds Robert Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. "The higher the stakes, the greater the incentive to manipulate, to cheat." He adds that "politicians' fixation on high-stakes testing is damaging quality and equity."
So the pressure of "high-stakes testing" made dozens of teachers gather from 2005-2010 at what the indictment calls "cheating parties" or use exacto knives and lighters to secretly open and reseal plastic-wrapped test booklets. And it must have been the test craze that caused the defendants to erase incorrect student answers on state standardized tests and falsify the results.
As it happens, the much-maligned test craze also meant that the inflated test scores helped administrators accumulate performance bonuses as valuable as $580,000 in the case of Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall, according to the indictment.
The accused teachers deny the charges, but somehow we doubt their lawyers will be using the test-made-them-do-it defense in court. More than 80 educators have already confessed, and some of them will testify for prosecutors. Meanwhile, if your kids are ever caught cheating and blame the tests, you'll know where they got the excuse."
Rather than focusing on improving academic results, the teachers union leadership instead wants to eliminate testing which reveals those results.
Maybe the NCAA basketball finals tonight shouldn't have a scoreboard. And maybe the preliminary games shouldn't have kept scores either. That way everybody wins.
And all the coaches, teachers and others can receive an "A" for their efforts, as can all the "players" and students.
And nobody ever has to improve his performance. Until a real competitor comes along, that is.
Such as people who are receiving real educational experiences and knowledge that they can apply in the workplace of the future.
In that case, guess who wins?
So maybe keeping score is important after all. And maybe we need to use an ACCURATE SCORING SYSTEM with good coaches and impartial referees as necessary parts of the action, too.
That's my take.