Jackie Gingrich Cushman

It was my freshman year of high school. My mother, sister and I had recently moved back to Carrollton, Ga. It may have been social studies, or it may have been biology, the subject does not matter, it was the life lesson that I learned that does.

We were given a test. A few of the other students were writing notes on their desk. Deciding that this might ensure a high grade, I followed suit. The teacher made rounds during the test by walking up and down the aisle. She caught me cheating on the test.

The ramifications: a failing grade on the test and a discussion with my mother. I don't remember exactly what my mother told me, but I remember that her response was: Study hard, do the best you can, the process of learning is more important than the grade.

What I learned from this experience was that the end does not justify the means. The process of learning (or at least of memorizing the subject matter for the duration of the test) was more important than the grade that I received on a test.

The culture in our school was that cheating was not allowed.

That childhood lesson is one that many of the people who have run Atlanta's public schools might never learned. Delivered last week to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and made public this week, the governor's special investigation into Atlanta Public School's 2009 CRCT test, led by Robert E. Wilson (former DeKalb County district attorney), Michael J. Bowers (former state attorney general) and Richard L. Hyde (former Atlanta police detective) is shocking and sad. The special investigation was started under then-Gov. Sonny Perdue and continued under Deal. The report is based on 2,100 interviews and more than 800,000 documents.

The takeaway from the report is that the ends were more important than the means for some of the teachers and administrators during the 2009 CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Test) process. According to the Georgia Department of Education website: "The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system, and state levels. This information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses as related to the instruction of the GPS (Georgia Performance Standards), and to gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia."

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.