STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Hey Teachers … Leave Them Kids Alone!
By Staff News & Analysis - July 07, 2011

America's biggest teacher and principal cheating scandal unfolds in Atlanta … At least 178 teachers and principals in Atlanta Public Schools cheated to raise student scores on high-stakes standardized tests, according to a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Award-winning gains by Atlanta students were based on widespread cheating by 178 named teachers and principals, said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday. His office released a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that names 178 teachers and principals – 82 of whom confessed – in what's likely the biggest cheating scandal in US history. This appears to be the largest of dozens of major cheating scandals, unearthed across the country. – Yahoo News/USA Today

Dominant Social Theme: How can this happen after all the billions poured into America's public schools? It seemed finally that the system was headed in the right direction. What a setback.

Free-Market Analysis: No doubt there will be thousands of articles written about this most recent "teacher and principal cheating scandal." (See excerpt above.) Yet, what is taking place is entirely predictable and, as the article reports further down, cheating is taking place throughout the country. This only happens to be largest outbreak and therefore is most newsworthy.

It was President George W. Bush who, in addition to presiding over several unsuccessful and questionable wars, pushed through "No Child Left Behind" legislation that mandates national testing on a regular basis. The only rational way to improve the educational system is through competition – the Invisible Hand. But the Bush Administration and Congress, loathe to open up the system to competition, substituted legislation for competition with predictable results.

There is no law in the world that cannot be subverted; most laws of any significance are disobeyed on a regular basis. This is why the more laws a society has the more corrupt it gets. This is happening in the US public school system, which was always dysfunctional and corrupt and is only more so now. Here's more about the scandal:

The article allegations point an ongoing problem for US education, which has developed an ever-increasing dependence on standardized tests. The report on the Atlanta Public Schools, released Tuesday, indicates a "widespread" conspiracy by teachers, principals and administrators to fix answers on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT), punish whistle-blowers, and hide improprieties.

It "confirms our worst fears," says Mayor Kasim Reed. "There is no doubt that systemic cheating occurred on a widespread basis in the school system." The news is "absolutely devastating," said Brenda Muhammad, chairwoman of the Atlanta school board. "It's our children. You just don't cheat children."

On its face, the investigation tarnishes the 12-year tenure of Superintendent Beverly Hall, who was named US Superintendent of the Year in 2009 largely because of the school system's reported gains – especially in inner-city schools. She has not been directly implicated, but investigators said she likely knew, or should have known, what was going on. In her farewell address to teachers in June, Hall for the first time acknowledged wrongdoing in the district, but blamed other administrators.

Brenda Muhammad, above, is "devastated" by the scandal, which she claims "cheats children." But American school children have been cheated since the inception of public schooling. Pre-Civil War literacy rates in America are said to have been very high; today, in America, a significant minority of students do not even finish high school and the literacy rate is abysmal.

The simple reason for this is lack of competition. By draining the school system of competition by creating a public school monopoly, the US educational powers-that-be virtually guaranteed the dysfunction that is currently taking place. Unionization has only made matters worse.

The Atlanta cheating scandal, the article tells us, is not by any means the first cheating scandal affecting schools. It is perfectly predictable. Set up a non-competitive system which does not reward excellence to begin with and then use testing to try to improve it and people will … cheat: students, teachers and principals alike. Many schools now "educate for the test" – a situation in which rote memorization of test facts substitutes for learning.

Cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, the article tells us, is on the rise. While the 55,000-student Atlanta public school system gained notice for its positive testing results in the early 2000s, recent investigations show that teachers and principals in nearly 50 schools were erasing and changing test answers.

The situation was compounded by a refusal to investigate. "In one case, an administrator instructed employees to tell investigators to 'go to hell.' … When teachers tried to alert authorities, they were labeled 'disgruntled' … one principal opened an ethics investigation against a whistleblower."

Again, these results stem from a lack of competition. When competition is drained, then other methods of encouraging must be brought to bear: testing and monitoring will figure prominently. But the flaw is, of course, that testing and monitoring are being practiced by those who have the most to lose. It is an untenable situation, one that has seemingly been constructed to blow up. And it has.

According to the article, a USA Today investigation in March found "erasure data" in six states. Such investigative results led Michael Sarbanes, the district's community engagement director, to suggest that cheating in such cases is "inherent in human nature, [although] we think people who do that are outliers."

They may or may not be outliers, but what is clear is that the system continues to pile MORE pressure on testing and its results. At least 10 states use test scores as a main way of evaluating teachers and others award teachers up to US$25,000 in bonuses for classes that score well on these tests. Likewise, the ramifications of poor test results are also significant. Teachers and principals can lose their jobs; entire schools can be shut down or merged.

Atlanta education columnist, Maureen Downey writes that the most alarming part of the scandal is that "these professionals ultimately felt their students could not even pass basic competency tests, despite targeted school improvement plans, proven reforms, and state-of-the-art teacher training."

One is struck by the astonishment of Downey, and of the larger educational establishment. From the very beginning the public school system has been a pawn in a larger game. When it was first implemented at the turn of the century, one of the justifications was to appeal to prejudice. US citizens in the Northeast were told that it would remove the Irish from the private school system. At the time, there was considerable prejudice against the "Papist" Irish.

The system that was put in place was actually a German one developed in Germany and refined by Otto von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor." These "Gymnasiums" were notable because they taught children in a graded formation. Previously, children had all been taught together and there was no age distinction, with older children helping the younger ones.

What is never addressed today is the reason for the reconfigured system: It had to do with military accommodations. The idea was that boys educated together from childhood, and sent into battle together as well, would result in far more cohesive units. Public education was basically a way of increasing the efficiency of the German war machine.

Inevitably, this system spread to Britain and Europe and then to the United States. It was further complicated in the US by famous educator John Dewey who imported the dysfunctional see-and-say system from Russia into the US. Dewey, like the Soviet-Russians of the day, believed that the function of education was mainly one of socializing in order to turn out compliant workers.

George Bush's "no child left behind" legislation added a further authoritarian overlay to what is already a dysfunctional system. Originally conceived to add military prowess to German armies, the system was further redefined in America and Russia as one that was intended to turn out obedient, regimented workers. Learning was a secondary to the goal of achieving submissive subjects who would willingly succumb to life-long mind control. Naturally, mainstream media would be there to pick up the slack and further the "education process" when the public school days of a subject were completed.

Today's testing cannot "gild the lily." There is none. The only hope of solving the education problem in the US is to allow educational facilities to compete – to privatize the educational establishment from top-to-bottom and let the Invisible Hand do its work.

After Thoughts

Of course, the Anglosphere elites that have adopted and supported this system are not apt to allow such competition. They are not interested in using the system to create alert, educated individuals capable of critical thinking. They seek socialized workers and cannon fodder; that is what public education has been constructed to provide. Corruption is far more tolerable than an educated populace.

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