Atlanta Teachers Save Newspaper Industry With Valiant Cheating Effort

  teach them well

No one will be able to read them, anyway.The daily life of American children in 2011 is, at best, a tragedy. They are obese from inhaling Pop’em donuts in front of the teevee, knocked up from having slumber parties in the wilderness, and they are also only mildly literate. The obesity thing is Michelle Obama’s problem, but when it comes to education, the brave teachers and school administrators of Atlanta, Georgia will do whatever it takes to put their students on the road to success. Of course, actually teaching children is extremely difficult, especially when kids are poor (and obese, probably) so the next reasonable alternative is for teachers to hang out at each other’s houses, drinking boxed wine and scribbling out their students’ incorrect answers on all the important tests.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced this week that widespread cheating – not widespread learning – was the reason for inflated 2009 state standardized test scores in the Atlanta Public Schools. This is now the “largest known revelation of systematic test tampering in the history of U.S. public schools,” uncovered by a University of Pennsylvania School of Education report and Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation. And the fun doesn’t stop there!

The report paints a vivid picture of a culture where teachers were publicly humiliated or fired for underperformance, and whistleblowers faced more consternation than cheaters. For example, a group of teachers at Gideons Elementary School held a weekend “changing party” at a teacher’s home, where they systematically altered test answers to boost results.

This is all very terrible for education and all, but do you know who is loving this right now? Newspapers.

But the issue might not have reached Perdue’s desk without the AJC. “Without the work the newspaper did, this would have probably not gone very far or would not have been uncovered,” Judd said. “It played out at a time when we were greatly reducing our staff.”

So there you have it! Education is destroyed, but newspapers will survive after all, as long as they adapt to their new job of making sure kids get the awful test scores they deserve.

These episodes, says Caroline Hendrie, executive director of the Education Writers Association, underscore the importance of investigative education reporting.

“Newspaper reporters play a very valuable watchdog role, particularly in the climate we’re in right now with regard to test-based accountability,” Hendrie said.

“It’s nice to be right and see things that you were writing about somewhat validated by an independent group,” she continued. “But the whole scope of the thing is really pretty bleak.”

Even victories in journalism have bleak outcomes! With that kind of possibility, how could the industry not be destined for a comeback? [HuffPo]

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156 comments

  1. nounverb911

    "held a weekend “changing party” at a teacher’s home,"
    Was David Vitter there?

      1. nounverb911

        Well the children are safe for a while, Foley's having prostate cancer surgery.

        1. Fare la Volpe

          And I'm sure after his "cancer surgery," not even his own mother will recognize him.

          1. PristineODummy

            His prostate extends all the way into his face? The things you learn at Wonkette.

  2. iburl

    Why shouldn't the kids learn to cheat from their teachers? Do we want them to be successful hedge fund managers / politicians / CEOs or not?

  3. orygoon

    Give those rascally teachers a just a tad of pity. They were, for the most part, "educated" in Georgia public schools themselves.

    1. riverside68

      I am sure the public humiliation lead to the AJC tip regarding the test modification program.

      If the cheaters had just kept quiet it would be business as usual in Atlanta, just like all the other skool districts in the country.

  4. metamarcisf

    Well you should see Polythene Pam
    She's so good-looking but she looks like a man
    Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
    Yes you should see Polythene Pam
    Yeah yeah yeah

    Get a dose of her in jackboots and kilt
    She's killer-diller when she's Jacked to the Hilt
    She's the kind of a girl that makes the "News of the World"
    Yes you could say she was attractively built
    Yeah yeah yeah

  5. KeepFnThatChicken

    Why not get rid of all the shitty, cheaty teachers, and re-hire the good ones that got laid off because they were makin' that bank?

  6. CrunchyKnee

    JoJa is a Libertarian-tard wonderland. No, imma-gants to pick the crops or clean the hotels, but plenty of low tax christianism, rebels and Jeebus.

    Forget, hell!

      1. CrunchyKnee

        Boy, the lynching town of hate
        All the darkies pulled their weight
        Gee, our old racist state ran great
        Those were the days…

  7. Goonemeritus

    Man have things changed, I remember Sister Mary mustn’t touch taking points off for my staple angle.

    1. riverside68

      She probably wasn't putting out either.

      Kids these days don't know how good they have it.

    1. GOPCrusher

      Who would of thunk it? Set up a system that rewards school districts based on test scores and someone tried to take advantage?

  8. LiveToServeYa

    There will be a lot of blackboards with 'I will not cheat' written on them many times, I'm thinking.

        1. Fare la Volpe

          Touché. I guess you must visit the nice parts of town.

          I can assure you, as someone with relatives in the cruddy parts, it ain't all peaches and Anderson Cooper.

      1. Negropolis

        Near Atlanta is a world a difference than being from Atlanta. Atlanta proper really is the only thing redeemable about Georgia, and even that's not saying much. Well, Atlanta and Savannah's favorite daughter Paula Deen. Mmmm…butter…biscuits…

  9. finallyhappy

    I am going to Iowa and Atlanta- stop finding bad stuff about places where I am traveling!!

  10. Callyson

    Education is destroyed, but newspapers will survive after all
    Too bad no one will be able to read them now…no time to teach critical reading skills or any of that crap: time to teach to the test!

  11. OneYieldRegular

    What with this news, the local agribusiness in ruins thanks to the new immigration law, and Saxby Chambliss, Georgia appears to have a promising future behind it.

  12. SayItWithWookies

    So Atlanta was well on its way to test-taking glory, and then the teacher's union and the AJC blew the whole plan to smithereens. All the Georgia legislature needs now is a badly-edited James O'Keefe video and they can put these nosy unions and newspapers away for good, and then maybe the state can fiddle with the numbers in peace, as the LORD intended.

        1. SayItWithWookies

          Whaddyamean Johnny can't elocute? Georgia has the death penalty, so he can elocute all day if he wants to.

          1. SayItWithWookies

            When it comes to justice and states' rights, I'm sure Georgians would agree that no expense is too great. Now if they could just cut the appeals process so not too many prisoners are found innocent instead of being zotzed, everything would be peachy.

          2. Mumbletypeg

            I know there's strong feelings on the wrongly-convicted perishing in death row– but I'd advise against pitting the two sides in this controversy against each other if it were up to me.

          3. Biel_ze_Bubba

            The guys doing the perishing are mostly minorities … that's completely peachy.

  13. Oblios_Cap

    “Newspaper reporters play a very valuable watchdog role, particularly in the climate we’re in right now…

    So why don't they do their jobs better?

    It's all cool. Those slack-jawed unlearned youngsters can go pick the crops that are sitting in the fields now that the Mexs have been run off.

    Once we change the child labor laws. Shared suffering, and all that.

  14. Gopherit

    How ironic. Poorly paid teachers, probably members of union and likely liberal in their politics, are creating more future republicans to save their jobs.

  15. Mahousu

    So I guess now we send the cheating Georgia teachers to England to bail out Rupert Murdoch? I'm not sure I really understand it, but it sounds great.

      1. horsedreamer_1

        I'm pretty sure that's NSFW, so I'll have to check this out on my ipad, later, from someone's stolen wi-fi. (Or free wi-fi at Barnes, or something.)

  16. nounverb911

    “Newspaper reporters play a very valuable watchdog role, particularly in the climate we’re in right now"
    Needs more cell phone hacking.

  17. weejee

    The sillies. As I've posted here before, the Army figured this out years ago. Just have the smart kids take the test first and tick mark the correct answers in the test booklet, then have those in the last lift of dumbz do the erasing.

    wee edit: Isn't this how they do it at MIT and Cal Poly?

  18. elviouslyqueer

    [Former Superintendent Beverly] Hall either knew or should have known that cheating was widespread, the investigators said, though her attorney has denied all allegations against her. Hall retired less than a week ago.

    "Not one of the 82 persons who allegedly confessed to cheating told the investigators that Dr. Hall at any time instructed, encouraged or condoned cheating," Hall's attorney, Richard Deane, wrote in a statement.

    I do so love the smell of mendacious bullshit. So invigorating!

  19. SheriffRoscoe

    Look, dictators win elections with 99.999% of ballots cast in their favor all the time; which leads one to think, what's so strange about a school district with unbelievably high test scores? Not a damn thing fishy about this at all, Atlanta teachers.

  20. DerrickWildcat

    All this amounts to is Georgia being the 40th dumbest state instead of the 42nd dumbest state before the cheating. A Statewide education scandal with the sole purpose to look smarter than Tennessee.

    1. KeepFnThatChicken

      Meanwhile, there' s not a teaching scandal here in Tennessee. That's, like, worth three or so points, right?

      1. elviouslyqueer

        Ah, but you're forgetting Tennessee's whole "YOU CAN'T SAY GAY IN SCHOOL AT ALL EVER" law. So you might as well go ahead and poof those three points.

        Your move, Georgia, also.

        1. KeepFnThatChicken

          I didn't forget. I was too busy crying about our "Science is open-ended if your pussy teacher says so" legislation, that my bitter tears washed away the points already.

    2. Biel_ze_Bubba

      "All this amounts to is Georgia being the 40th dumbest state instead of the 42nd dumbest state before the cheating. "

      Hey, Georgia's teachers did the best they could with those highly biased questions. (The correct answers were known to people in places like Massachusetts.)

  21. sportshort

    Wal, any fool knows that iffen you don't keep 'em fat, dumb and stoopid, they gonna grow up wanting stuff like "better quality of life", "access to affordable health care", "decent wages", and shit like 'at. Like the old snaky dude in "Eight Men Out" sez: "Do you know how much you feed a dray horse? Just enough to let him know he's hungry."

    1. OneDollarJuana

      They might figger out that there's some kinda connection between CEOs sending alla the good jerbs (and most of the mediocre, too) to China and the high unemployment rate and rapidly-lowering wage structure.

      1. riverside68

        wages, we spit on your wages,

        Wage are a yankee carpet-bagger inovation brought in during the present intermission in the war of nothern agression

        In another few years ain't anyone around here gonna know what wages were.

  22. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    You would think Conservatives would be defending the teachers, who, after all, took the initiative, and while not on the State's dime, put in all of this hard work to increase their students' grades while not costing the state a thing. Throw in the cheating, and this sounds like a classic Haliburton deal with Bush Administration. Win/Win!

  23. Redhead

    "Even victories in journalism have bleak outcomes! With that kind of possibility, how could the industry not be destined for a comeback? "

    When the schools fail to teach kids how to read….

    1. elviouslyqueer

      It bears repeating:

      Why is Mississippi called "The Hospitality State"? Because "Home of Stupid, Slack-Jawed, Poverty-Stricken, Chronically Obese Racists" wouldn't fit on our license plates.

      1. OneDollarJuana

        And diabetes and heart attacks will send you to the hospitality, also, too.

    1. Fare la Volpe

      I know, right? You can't even upfist the stories you like without breaking the damn thing.

    2. BaldarTFlagass

      Yeah, and since it's already printed, you don't have to waste your company's precious bond paper and ink-jet cartridges to give you something to read while you are on the shitter.

      1. OneDollarJuana

        And you can wipe your Popeye's chicken-stained fingers on the sports section.

    1. SheriffRoscoe

      Even dumb kids know better than to change their report cards from F's to A's. You go for C's! B's are also liable to arouse suspicion.

        1. riverside68

          The liberals are many, but always abort

          For which we will soon take them to court!

    2. DashboardBuddha

      Change, your answers well
      This standard's hell
      So just start cheating

      And feed them the right grade
      It's a fair trade
      To miss a beating

      Don't you ever tell them why
      'Cuz you know that they will cry
      So just look at them and sigh

      …because the NCLB is the worst piece of education legislation know to maaaan.

  24. ThundercatHo

    By all means let's hold teachers responsible for all of the socioeconomic problems and political bullshit associated with the public education system. I'm not saying that cheating is right but it is completely unfair that they have been put into a situation that makes achieving goals set out by non-educators and/or those unfamiliar with the life situations of the children they are teaching completely impossible.

    1. Rotundo_

      Good of you to bring that point up, arbitrary goals by non-educators looking to justify killing free public education are as stupid as cheating to meet the same bullshit criteria. If the kids are living with drug addicted parents or parents working two to three "jobs" to make rent, a teacher is pretty powerless to do much to change that. Of course this is conveniently overlooked by most in the education/politics game.

  25. Monsieur_Grumpe

    If they were all home schooled or went to Catholic schools we wouldn't have this problem. Instead our kids would be completely illiterate and their asses would be broken in for when they get out into the real world.

  26. BaldarTFlagass

    Well, all these stupid kids should at least be able to help harvest the rotting crops down there.

  27. Sue4466

    What do you expect in a state where stupid is something to strive for? Teachers were just looking out for the children, didn't want them to be all educated elite libruls.

    1. LowProfileinGA

      Horribly, Sue, most of the teachers in the City of Atlanta schools likely voted Librul. It's a black thing; you wouldn't understand.

  28. OneDollarJuana

    What's all the brouhaha about, anyway? Teachers and other school administrators have been unjustifiably raising test scores of promising athletes forever. Even to the point of doing their homework for them.

  29. Eve8Apples

    Now that's going the extra mile for America's children. First, the teachers spend all day administering the tests, and then they slave away all night answering the questions on behalf of their dumb, lazy students. Give 'em an "A" for effort.

  30. Tommmcattt

    Oh, please, like those kids need to learn things. This is Georgia we're talking about, people. Even the governor is illiterate there.

  31. mavenmaven

    If the Palins can have their books be ghostwritten for profit, what's wrong with the kids having their exams ghostwritten for free?

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Yes. You can see the fighting from a Wasilla front porch. Oh, the humanity!

  32. Radiotherapy®

    I've said it all along. Metrics suck. They basically give middle managers BB's to stack. Or, Brightfart commentors something good to feel about. And, yes, even us here at the Wonkettes can slide into "p"ness envy.
    We know who is funny, insightful, plaintive, witty, etc. here.
    Instead of focusing on one small factor, we do much better seeing the whole equation.

      1. Radiotherapy®

        Haha, M, I came back to check my replies and downfisty has been through. All the more reason to be wary of the game that metrics generally are.

  33. TheSheriffsNear

    Building on ThundercatHo,

    Poor fucks. Paint them in a corner what the hell do you expect them to do? They're not dumb or evil, they're trying to survive in the Kafkaesque box we build for them.

    We just need more testing and teacher accountability, not smaller class sizes, more prep time, fewer absentee, entitled and litigious parents, less bureacracy, or even a culture that values learning and knowledge. Nope.

    Needs MOAR teacher accountability.

    1. OneDollarJuana

      As my school psych and teacher family members will tell you, 90% of the problem with our schools is parents and the home environment. We need parental accountability.

  34. TanzbodenKoenig

    Wow, if you replace "Atlanta Teachers" with "GOP Representative" and "Newspaper Industry" with"his marriage," you could reuse that headline more often than a heroin needle!

  35. prommie

    Well this just proves we have to privatize all the schools immediately, and give vouchers to the kids who want to go to religious schools.

    1. KeepFnThatChicken

      If one goes to a religious school, and learns a lot of complicatedly drafted stuff that pertains to magick, sorcery and presence of the divine, and they're pitted in the marketplace against a child that was taught that the answers don't matter — and that they'll still get a good grade anyway…

      …are we any more or any less fucked?

  36. WhatTheHeck

    Youse guys is missing the point. Higher test scores mean the School district gets more funding, not less. They do loves them some gobermint monies while bemoaning big government and too much taxes.

  37. alaninthecastro

    What with all the brouhaha that followed Al Gore's election to the Presidency in 2000, we tend to forget that the key issue throughout the campaign was "more school testing" vs. "even more school testing." I forget who was for which, but looks like one of them was wrong!

  38. anniegetyerfun

    I have to admit, whenever public school discussions come up, it makes me so so happy that I don't have kids, because then I would have to give a shit about our future and stuff.

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Yeah, but just remember that your future gynecologist or internist was in a Georgia school last month.

  39. Guppy06

    "Newspaper reporters play a very valuable watchdog role, particularly in the climate we’re in right now"

    Because, gosh darn it, someone has to watch the Casey Anthony trial!

  40. prommie

    So there is a problem with demanding that Teachers meet the Lake Woebegone goal of making ALL the students above average? Who woulda thunk that when you ask people to do the impossible, they might just say "fuck it all, then."

    1. Mumbletypeg

      demanding that Teachers meet the Lake Woebegone goal of making ALL the students above average

      I don't know who feels like the greater fool — the teacher who at least tries to simulate they're achieving what's asked of them*, or the teacher who's still holding on to a thread of wishful thinking if we can just wait out this lunacy, when lawmakers and populace at large come to their senses, this will wash and then some semblance of rational, realistic solution development can be restored to our efforts in public education.
      But as long as these badly-conceived NCLB/ Race>>Top gestures carry the seed of wounded pride at the root? like USA #1 At All Costs? then this test-scoring-initiative/ value-added-'incentive'/ carrot-and-stick crap remain a patched-on panacea never a real solution for our downhill slide.

      * and not necessarily meaning teachers 'simulating' i.e. pulling something like a cheating scam; teachers who forego their better judgment and previously-sacrosanct autonomy in their classrooms and agree to go by-the-book for the sake of avoiding administrative downhill-rolling-b.s.

  41. Guppy06

    Years of effectively slashing teacher pay and benefits while eroding their job security by making them a political punching bag, and then we're shocked and appalled by the quality of teachers we get on a budget that consists of three broken shoelaces and some dryer lint.

    Capitalism's a bitch, ain't it?

  42. Beowoof

    I knew someone other than the students was doing the work. Its obivous when they get to college they are absolutely clueless.

  43. MinAgain

    And, of course, it's all the fault of the teacher's union in the conservative blogosphere.

  44. BaldarTFlagass

    Haven't seen much of it today, but it looks like someone has finally got around to releasing the downfist hounds.

  45. BTWBFDIMHO

    Gingrich has a PhD (mmmmm…) from Georgia, and he used to be a very patriotic cheater, I mean, teacher.

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      I think that his PhD is from Tulane, in Louisiana. I'll bet that school is really proud… Piled Higher and Deeper, you bet.

  46. mormos

    didn't this exact same thing happen somewhere else in the U.S. a few years ago? symptoms of a larger problem maybe…

  47. Zombie_Reagan

    Only $500 stolen from poor kids. Pfft, we've been fucking over generations of poor kids for years. Can Demo-rats do anything right?

    Love,

    The GOP

  48. donner_froh

    “Newspaper reporters play a very valuable watchdog role, particularly in the climate we’re in right now with regard to test-based accountability,” Hendrie said.

    Blah, blah, blah.

    I will pay attention to U.S. newspaper reporters when they can hack Casey Anthony's cell phone and erase the messages. Those Brits do it right.

  49. ttommyunger

    As an Atlanta Metro resident since l971, I can only submit that this is just the latest proof of a theory I've held for many years, to wit: nobody fucks over the blacks like the blacks. Every face in this sad picture is black. The entire public service sector in Atlanta is 90%+ black. This most recent scandal has not only set Atlanta back, it has set innocent children and youths back as well as innocent home and property owners. It has, indeed, managed to set blacks in general back as well. I hate it. It saddens and grieves me. Too serious and too sad to snark.

  50. zhubajie

    This is what happens when you go to concentrating on tests. The cheating in Chinese schools would take your breath away.

  51. LetUsBray

    Basically there are two groups of people who believe standardized testing measures anything other than the ability to take standardized tests: People who work for standardized test companies, and people people who know squat about education. There's considerable overlap between the two groups, and in any case it's generally the latter who get into public offices and set education policy.

  52. Negropolis

    Snark off, this is the really the result of No Child Left Behind, at least the pressure to systematically/institutionally cheat so blatantly. You better not leave a child behind underneath this law, or it's an academic death sentence that doesn't take much into account where each student is coming from.

  53. Negropolis

    Atlanta: The City Too Busy to Learn!

    I believe the children are our future
    change their test and watch them lead the way
    Let them know the booksmartness that they possess inside…

  54. Beck_is_Trig

    What really rankles ole' Nathan Deal is the possibility this cheating occured to benefit minority students, "thems urban kids is gittin' cheatin?" he exclaimed when his secretary read him the newspaper…they didn't have newspapers on tape for this one, on which he relies.

    Everyone knows in the old confederacy cheating of this magnitude is only reserved for rich, white private school kids. I watched this special on HBO a while back about rich kids and it's funny because several of them were barely literate, too…but they knew how to party. Either way…this is too much diversity and fairness in Atlanta for Republicans to handle…let the beheadings begin!

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