When the Atlanta story broke, I knew it was only the tip of the cheating iceberg. My teacher husband was routinely told by his principal, in an offer-he-can't-refuse tone of voice, "I know you'll 'help' Jose, since he's a senior football player, and he needs to pass.' Same corruption, less fanfare. My husband retired early. But when government mandates like N.C.L.B. mete out draconian punishments for low student performance, which is sometimes the school's fault, sometimes the parents' fault, and sometimes a product of students' aggressive apathy, the ethical, good teachers will leave the profession, and the lackadaisical administrators and teachers will become unethical.
Nearly two years ago, U.S. News & World Report came out with a story titled "Educators Implicated in Atlanta Cheating Scandal." It reported that "for 10 years, hundreds of Atlanta public school teachers and principals changed answers on state tests in one of the largest cheating scandals in U.S. history." More than three-quarters of the 56 Atlanta schools investigated had cheated on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, sometimes called the national report card. Cheating orders came from school administrators and included brazen acts such as teachers reading answers aloud during the test and erasing incorrect answers. One teacher told...
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