This morning I was listening to a local Christian radio station when I heard something from one of the DJs that bothered me. He was discussing the Atlanta public school cheating scandal. If you are unfamiliar with it, here is a quote from the article I just linked to:
The product of a two-year investigation, the report concluded that systematic cheating occurred within Atlanta Public Schools — which had been lauded for its quick testing gains — including at least 44 of the 56 examined schools. The report implicated 38 principals, noting that 178 educators pled the Fifth Amendment when questioned. Eighty-two other educators confessed to various forms of cheating, including erasing wrong answers on students’ multiple choice exams and then replacing them with the correct ones.
In order to raise the scores of the 2009 standardized tests, the teachers were erasing the wrong answers and putting in the right answers for the students after the tests were completed.
That is cheating. Period.
This past Friday, the 178 educators that were implicated in the cheating received an ultimatum – resign, or be fired. Here is that article.
What irritated me this morning as I listed to the DJ was where he put the blame. He said,
“We can’t blame the teachers because they were told by their supervisors that they would lose their jobs if they did not comply. The fault here really belongs to the higher ups that demanded the higher test scores. The teachers were just trying to ensure the school received funding so they didn’t lose their jobs. The teachers were just doing what they were told.”
WHAT? Are you kidding me?
Since when does being told to do something excuse the behavior? Like many of us were told as children, “If your friend told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”.
Yes, I agree that the high level educators have a great deal of responsibility in this case and they most definitely share the blame and must face the consequences for pressuring the teachers and ordering them to lie & cheat.
I also agree that the teachers have a hard job. They are trying to teach a classroom full of students every day and to educate them enough to pass the tests for that grade. They are forced to teach “to pass a test” rather than teaching the kids to enjoy learning. They are dealing with a wide range of learning abilities. They have parents who are not educated enough to help their kids with homework, or who simply don’t care to. The teachers end up being teacher, counselor, parent, and friend to many of the kids.
They work HARD. They should be paid more for all that they do. However, that does not give them the right to lie and cheat. No matter who told them to do it.
I realize that it’s hard to stand your ground, but we’ve got to stick to our beliefs even when it’s hard. In the Bible, Daniel was told to comply with the king’s wishes and stop praying to God or be put to DEATH. He did not comply and the Lord saved him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and they were thrown into the FIRE. God saved them too. Paul and Silas were thrown in jail for doing what God commanded them. Jesus was crucified.
Who are we to say that we can’t do what is right because we might lose our job? Find another job. Don’t tell me it’s not that easy. Life isn’t easy, but I’ve seen our God do some amazing, seemingly impossible things!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)