Atlanta schools cheating scandal: 11 educators convicted of racketeering
One of the largest school cheating trials in U.S. history drew to a dramatic close Wednesday with a jury finding 11 Atlanta elementary school teachers and administrators guilty of taking part in a racketeering conspiracy to illegally boost….” latimes.com
There are many angles to this unfortunate story that must be addressed if a lesson is to be learned by all from it. When we compromise our integrity and willingly choose to participate in a scheme such as this, we have contributed to the ACADEMIC and SOCIAL DEATH of our children – children who are obviously in dire need of help from a system that appears to be broken beyond measure. This, right up front, is my response to comments and questions as to whether the punishment is too harsh for a crime that was not murder.
It seems to me that these administrators and teachers did not see the need to improve their instructional effectiveness in a manner that would be of benefit to the students they are charged with educating, when faced with the possibility of making money through illegitimate means. They appear to have disconnected themselves from that special relationship dedicated teachers, all around the globe, are known to have with their students. Teachers who belong in the classroom develop and maintain a special bond, not unlike that which parents have with their OWN biological children! These professionals did not only operate with complete disregard for professionalism, they taught their students the most conflicting lesson a teacher can ever teach, when they chose to have their students’ test answers doctored.
There are grumblings in certain quarters about the Judge’s lack of sensitivity that does not correspond with the usual pre-incarceration courtesy that is afforded to ‘white people’. Rather than waste precious time on that trend of thought, I would opt for the lesson inherent in the case that I believe is worth taking into consideration. When we commit a crime, we automatically reduce or even forfeit our chances to negotiate with the mentality or the authority of a sentencing Judge on how the punishment should be meted. To spend time debating this in terms of the racial makeup of the perpetrators, is to further do a disservice to children who, perhaps, may benefit from knowing that when one is found guilty of a crime, they are literally at the mercy of the court, and they may not get a chance “to go home and take care of business before incarceration”. This goes for people of all race and ethnicity who have to deal with Judges who are not all necessarily mono-racial, and have received a vote of confidence from their constituents.
In conclusion, I feel the need to disclose the fact that; even though, I was not brought up in a society or community in which people considered themselves “perfect”, the one undisputed fact I remember quite vividly, is the emphasis on high expectations for the children in the community, coupled with the desire to model good behavior for the children in the community. It was not unusual for children to hear the following rebuke from a random community member: “Act your age”, “Do you see anyone in your household comporting themselves in this manner?” I must add that it was also not unusual for community members to take in and nurture children who were victims of their family circumstance. What I am attempting to leave everyone who reads this with, is that we must resist the temptation to direct our focus on fragments of a bigger picture, and instead, look for ways we can address the need for personal and community development when we or those around us fall short. The true victims of this travesty are the faceless students whose test sheets were tampered with, and the children in the lives of this group of adults who left their thinking caps at home.