Wednesday, February 23, 2011

APS court-ordered to blink

Atlanta school system calls off its investigation |
State investigators have won their fight with Atlanta Public Schools over whether the district should halt its inquiry into inflammatory comments by a high-ranking school official.
Fulton County Judge Doris Downs — and representatives of the district and state investigators — signed a consent order Tuesday in which the district promised to drop its investigation of allegations that Tamara Cotman, a regional superintendent, suggested a dozen principals tell GBI agents to “go to hell.”
So does that mean she goes back to SRT-4 (supervising principals), or she stays relocated to non-supervisory capacity in the "English as a Second Language" unit, or what?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What were they supposed to say?

The Descent
Atlanta school district denies trying to obstruct
Lawyers for Atlanta Public Schools have sent state investigators a defiant letter, ratcheting up the tension in an already-strained relationship.

In a three-page letter, sent Friday and obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, district officials denied obstructing the state’s criminal investigation into test-tampering, as investigators alleged last week. The letter objected to accusations that school officials have for years systematically retaliated against employees who reported cheating on state tests.

The school system also refused to cease its internal inquiry into allegations that a high-ranking district official allegedly advised a dozen principals to tell GBI agents to “go to hell.”
Judge orders APS to halt investigation
A Fulton County judge has ordered Atlanta Public Schools to halt an inquiry involving a high-ranking school official after state investigators accused the district of misleading them, hiding evidence and retaliating against a witness, according to documents filed Monday.

The temporary restraining order — signed by Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall just before 10 p.m. Sunday — provided a sharp answer to the district’s defiant pledge Friday to continue its investigation of Tamara Cotman, a regional superintendent who is accused of commanding principals to tell GBI agents to “go to hell.”

The state investigators, appointed in August to examine evidence of widespread tampering with state tests in Atlanta schools, asked the district last week to stop internal investigations related to cheating. The district refused and the investigators took the matter to court over the weekend.
It is hard to interpret "go to hell" as an expression of wholehearted willing cooperation.

Administrative trivia

022111: Time is on my side, yes it is...I have too many blogs and not enough time to maintain them all. Therefore, I've just merged my comic-book-specific blog, "An Ear--in the Fireplace!", back into this one. Scrolling down to Labels and choosing "comic books" will allow you to see only those incoming posts, although I can't think of any good reason why you would want to.

Why America's taxpayers are enraged

Bates School
Originally uploaded by Larry the Biker
Why America's teachers are enraged -
I really shouldn't say anything: I have too many friends who are teachers.
The much-publicized film "Waiting for 'Superman'" made the specious claim that "bad teachers" caused low student test scores. A Newsweek cover last year proposed that the key to saving American education was firing bad teachers.
Yes, I've know how much public school teachers hate "Waiting for 'Superman'". I haven't seen it, so I won't defend it. But isn't it just a bit disingenuous for teachers to claim that they have nothing to do with students' low test scores?

And how can anyone say that it's a bad thing to fire bad teachers? Are they blithely asserting that there are no bad teachers? (I never met a teacher yet who thought so.) That there is no way to tell? (Likewise.)

In every other service career it's expected, in some cases legally required, that there will be some kind of evaluation of job performance. Criteria for success are clearly defined, transparent to the consumers of those services, and publicly available. I can't think of a single reason why teaching should be exempt from this. This is the flip side of desiring more commitment from your students' parents: You have to be able to prove that our children are actually better off spending eight hours a day with you than being home schooled, or even being locked in a cage in the basement.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Catching up

Here are a couple of news stories about the ongoing investigation of Atlanta Public Schools that I missed the first time around.

Whistle-blowing teachers targeted
Former teacher Sidnye Fells: “It’s just this thing that everyone knows is going on but nobody says anything.... It’s the elephant in the room. If you say anything, you lose your job.”
Education secretary to Atlanta board: Get your act together
Mayor Kasim Reed: “There are times when a mayor needs to be outraged. If I am not outraged, show me the person who should be. If I am not pushing for change and reform, show me the person who should be pushing for it.”
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan: "What you have now, frankly, is you have adults who I think have lost sight of why they’re doing this work. It is what I call adult dysfunction."
Atlanta school board to meet on cheating response
Atlanta school board members will meet Monday with Superintendent Beverly Hall about how she and her staff handled both the system's response to an ongoing state cheating probe and actions by top aides that drew a piercing rebuke last week by investigators.
The meeting follows reports that two high-ranking Atlanta Public Schools officials have over the past several months disparaged the investigation, which involves possible widespread test-tampering in schools during the state's 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
It also follows a sharply worded letter sent by the investigators that alleged a pattern of "intimidating, threatening and retaliating" against employees who report cheating or other improprieties.
As you were.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm shocked. Shocked.

AJC | State: Atlanta schools protect those who would intimidate whistleblowers
State investigators have uncovered what they call a pattern of “intimidating, threatening and retaliating” against Atlanta Public Schools employees who report cheating or other improprieties.
Imagine that.

See also Atlanta schools official reassigned pending "go to hell" investigation.
And Another APS official disparages cheating probe.

Wait, I can't let this go.
The “... calling in of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is what, nothing short of horrific,” [Deputy Supt. Kathy] Augustine said in [the conference call with principals]. “It is extremely denigrating, it is extremely disrespectful, it is... it is just... it is just bizarre.”

...In her e-mailed statement Wednesday, Augustine elaborated: “My reference to “horrific” related specifically to the reaction of many educators to state [GBI] agents who normally investigate felony criminal activity going to schools in the middle of the day to question principals, teachers and staff.”
This says to me that, even now, they don't think they've done anything wrong. No, wait, that's not enough: That they don't think the charges against them are that serious. That even if they had done it, so what? It's not worth calling in the GBI. Anyone would think they were common criminals.