by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World
The day after July 4th, an Atlanta state investigation uncovered serious systematic cheating on the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) scores. Governor Nathan Deal is the one who brought these findings concerning Atlanta’s public schools to the attention of the public. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette says that “Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called the release of the investigation ‘a dark day for the Atlanta public school system.’ The cheating, he said, showed a complete failure of leadership that hurt thousands of children.”
Interestingly enough, the person upon which this fiasco hinges is the woman who was named 2009 National Superintendent of the Year. Pittsburgh Post Gazette notes that this woman was also “considered one of the nation’s best at running large, urban school districts.” This woman is former Superintendent Beverly L. Hall. Ironically, she was able to duck out of office just prior to the governor’s public announcement of the cheating scandal. She retired at the end of June leaving on Tuesday headed for her Hawaiian vacation.
Ms. Hall presided over the Atlanta district since 1999. During that time, the struggling district showed noticeable improvement. This is interesting because the investigation shows that the cheating began in 2001. According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “‘clear and significant’ warnings were raised as early as December 2005. Ms. Hall’s administration punished whistle-blowers and hid or manipulated information and illegally altered documents related to the tests, the investigation found.”
Results from the investigation revealed that this cheating took place at 44 schools and that nothing less than 178 teachers and principals were active participants in the scandal. According to Gov. Deal, approximately half of the latter have already confessed, and he has no doubt that they will suffer the consequences of their actions. Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. and the school board members say that there will definitely be dismissals, and it is likely that there will also be criminal charges.
Ayvaunn Penn is a spoken word artist and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. For more of her witty-word works click here. To have your original poetry featured by Ms. Penn on Your Black Poets, click here.