The Atlanta public schools cheating scandal has rocked the community and made headlines around the country. Atlanta's public school system has consistently ranked at the bottom of national scholastic achievement tests. It's not that the students are dumb -- it's that their (mostly black) teachers are corrupt and just plain lazy.
I remember the day when a local hospital (which shall not be named) ordered testing for its entire staff of licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The action was taken in response to complaints from patients and RNs.
A shocking number of (mostly black) LPNs failed the tests -- and were fired.
Many of them were distraught after working at the hospital for decades. But the hospital is responsible for ensuring that the medical staff is competent and capable of doing their jobs. In national rankings, this particular hospital consistently ranks near the top among its national peers.
The same cannot be said for the Atlanta Public School system.
Students in the Atlanta Public Schools are angry, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They feel betrayed -- cheated, in fact -- after learning last week that nearly 180 educators in 44 schools changed students' answers on standardized tests in order to artificially inflate APS test scores and avoid losing its accreditation.
It was all about greed -- "to make sure the money is there," said Tucker, 18, a student at Carver school of the arts.
"They're supposed to be helping us, not cheating," said a student who was among more than a dozen students interviewed by the AJC.
"I think they're really taking education away from us," said another student.
Many of the key figures responsible for ordering the mass cheating, and the shredding of evidence, have either quit their positions or retired, including school Superintendent Beverly Hall.
The AJC first called attention to evidence of widespread cheating in Atlanta schools more than two years ago. The governor's special investigators uncovered organized and systemic misconduct within the school district as far back as 2001.
Although the investigation centered on Atlanta's middle schools, local high schools are also affected by the cheating fallout.
Graduating high school seniors, who were products of Atlanta's middle schools, are having a difficult time passing the demanding college entrance exams.
"It's honestly sickening that these people who are supposed to look out for kids took advantage of the students' and the parents' trust," said Ashley Brown, who graduated in May from Grady High School.
The scandal, she said, has created "a perverted representation of all APS students -- and it's revolting."
Photos by BOB ANDRES, BANDRES@AJC.COM