published Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Arrested development

Paul Jacob

Former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other school employees, including high-level administrators, principals and teachers, were recently booked in Atlanta's Fulton County Jail after being indicted on 65 criminal counts. The charges included racketeering, theft, conspiracy, making false statements and witness tampering.

Just four years ago, Hall was the National Superintendent of the Year. Now, she faces the possibility of 45 years in prison for having allegedly snagged almost $600,000 in bonus income for higher test scores achieved through fraudulently changing students' test answers.

And this, the nation's largest-ever cheating scandal, may prove only the highest shard of a proverbial large floating mass of frozen water.

But instead of condemnation, some of the nation's leading "education experts" seem bent on excusing the cheaters.

"What we do know," Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss pointed out, "is that these cheating scandals have been a result of test-obsessed school reform."

Dr. Christopher Emdin of Columbia University Teachers College reminded readers at the end of a recent Huffington Post column, "I am not saying that educators and school officials who cheat on tests or conspire to cover up cheating should not be reprimanded."

Just "reprimanded"?

Award-winning teacher Steven Lin explained that "environments such as that alleged in Atlanta present the classic sociological phenomenon of 'diffusion of responsibility,' along with a host of other flaws regarding the compartmentalization of job descriptions within bureaucracies."

You mean they suffer from "peer pressure"?

Nevertheless, I still think it's more than sorta bad to cheat.

Paul Jacob is president of the Liberty Initiative Fund. His "Common Sense with Paul Jacob" column is available at:

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