Teachers that lived through the Bush era No Child Left Behind fiasco understand the impossibility of making students succeed and schools look good with inadequate resources and classrooms bulging with kids that can’t read, Prozac, and violence.

The “Texas education Miracle” that lead the NCLB’S deconstruction of America’s schools proved to be as wrong and dysfunctional as the erasures on thousands of test questions executed by hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers in Georgia and now DC  (and there may well be other states – see Tennessee teacher test fraud ).

If you study the DC memos being made public you will see just how hard it is to identify and pursue this kind of criminal activity (if it weren’t for excellent journalists at the Atlanta Journal, none of this would have been discovered).

There is a strong chance that DC cheating will crawl back into the woodwork because of the political pressure to silence it.

I suggest that the issue is more common than we can imagine.

Beverly Hall of the Atlanta school system is about to be imprisoned for a long time for cheating 52,000 students (mostly poor black students) out of a meaningful education.  Michele Rhee appears to be implicated in the DC scandal by recently discovered memos indicating a cover up.  Her hard fought, tough as nails, “tiger mom” approach to life resonated well with a good share of people looking for an educational silver bullet these past few years.

Teachers have taken the brunt of the fallout from failing schools, from overpaid, to under-trained, and just lazy.  Politicians build their careers on these kinds of statements.

America’s love affair with business and financial types has had an equal and opposite (if not hate, disrespect) effect with service providers like educators, day care workers, social workers.

When a baby is found in a dumpster, it is the social workers fault.  When schools fail, it is the teachers fault.

It’s hard to look good where the problems are many times greater than staff and resources can manage (in any field – try being a cop in Flint MI).

Nationally, social workers & educators last in their positions about five years in most states before leaving the profession (until we measure the tough states, like Georgia, DC, and a good number of southern and eastern states where 2, 3, and 4 year tenure is common).  Can you imagine training to be a teacher and leaving after 2 years?  2 years is not uncommon in education, social work, or women’s prison administration.

When I spoke at the UN a few years ago, social workers from New York and New Jersey were very open about the miserable conditions, lack of support, low pay, and huge caseloads that had forced them out the door, even though they had entered the system with great hopes and strong desire to make a difference.

That describes most court systems, social services providers, and schools in our nation today.

Top down cheating to “look good” is just one more manifestation of American institutions creating exactly what they were designed to stop.

We need to support the people doing the work.  It should be a gross misdemeanor for politicians to make their careers on the backs of these people.

America’s problems are institutional and ought to be improved by our politics, not made worse.  Speak out.


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