Tuesday, September 30, 2014

K-12 Schools in Atlanta .... An Example for All of Us as to How the "Broken System" Works

K-12 schools in big American cities such as Chicago and New York have been getting get lots of bad press lately, and deservedly so, concerning the expensive systems for taxpayers and weak educational outcomes for enrolled students.

But the problem is much worse and should be seen in a much broader light than just looking at our broken system of public education in our nation's largest cities, as the example of Atlanta will show.

How much broader? Well, first, we learned about the VA issues and the way the people in charge of that government agency have gamed the compensation and measurement systems in their favor and to the detriment of the veterans depending thereon for their health care needs. And now we're forced to listen to President Obama complain about ISIS  and how it 'surprised' senior officials in his administration with its rapid and destructive growth in Iraq and Syria. {NOTE: His story is not credible, of course, but it's still his story.} And if that's not enough, there's Benghazi, the IRS scandal and countless other bureaucratic "snafus" which have become all too common.

My take on all this is a simple one: Government has grown too complex and its officials aren't especially focused on doing a good job for We the People. Yet We the People still depend on them to take care of us. I don't get it.

Let's look at education and Atlanta's K-12 government schools today.

These schools are governed and operated by and for the educational infrastructure and the benefit of the broken system's administrators and teachers --- not the kids and not their parents.

So here are the salient questions for We the People to address and answer: Vouchers, anyone? Free individual choice or rule by government bureaucrats and elitists?

Trial Opens in Atlanta School Cheating Scandal has the "scandalous" details of a story that's much larger than the one about to be uncovered in an Atlanta courtroom:

"ATLANTA — The criminal trial of a dozen public school educators opened here Monday with prosecutors alleging that the teachers and administrators had engaged in a “widespread, cleverly disguised” conspiracy to cheat on standardized test scores in an effort to protect their jobs and win favor and bonuses from administrators. . . .

It was a near-guarantee that the trial, which is expected to last three months or more, will generate more unpleasantness for these former colleagues at Atlanta public schools. The urban school district has already suffered one of the most devastating standardized-testing scandals of recent years. A state investigation in 2011 found that 178 principals and teachers in the city school district were involved in cheating on standardized tests. Dozens of former employees of the school district have either been fired or have resigned, and 21 educators have pleaded guilty to crimes like obstruction and making false statements. . . .
The criminal trial of a dozen Atlanta Public Schools employees accused of conspiring to alter and boost students’ standardized test scores opened on Monday.

Whether prosecutors will be able to convince a jury that a group of teachers engaged in racketeering — a charge often associated in the public imagination with mobsters and gang members — has been a topic of intense discussion within Atlanta legal circles. . . .

The dozen defendants in court — 10 women and two men — included three regional school district directors, one principal, one assistant principal, two testing coordinators and five teachers. All have pleaded not guilty to a charge of participating in a racketeering conspiracy. All but one of the defendants also face various lesser charges. These vary from defendant to defendant, but in some cases include making false statements, for allegedly lying to investigators; and theft by taking, for the receipt of allegedly undeserved bonus money. All of the defendants have entered not guilty pleas for the lesser charges as well.

As the trial began, a national education group that is critical of what it sees as an over-reliance on standardized testing released a study it said showed that the issues at play in the Atlanta trial were common across the country. The organization, the National Center for Fair And Open Testing, or Fair Test, said cases of manipulating scores in standardized tests have been confirmed in at least 39 states and Washington, D.C.

“Unfortunately, Atlanta is just the tip of a test cheating iceberg,” the organization’s public education director, Bob Schaeffer, said in a statement."

Summing Up

Stay tuned.

This is really ugly.

But it's not just happening in Atlanta.

And it's not just happening in education and in our public schools.

It's simply big bureaucratic and impersonal government in action.

And it's a fact of life across America, as too many of our nation's future leaders are being "schooled" in how government really works.

Scary, isn't it? Sad, too.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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