When executives of corporations are caught aiding and abetting criminal behavior of their employees, the executives are prosecuted and the businesses are destroyed.
It’s time to do the same with the Department of Education.
The DOE’s unconscionable high-stakes testing through Bush’s “No Consultant Left Behind” and Obama’s “Slog To The Bottom” have produced millions of dollars for consultants, tedious hours of “data training” for teachers who would be more effective actually teaching and compelled hundreds of teachers to cheat for profit or survival.
At least 178 teachers and principals are involved. Superintendent Beverly Hall is being prosecuted as the ringleader, allegedly raking in half a million dollars in bonuses for “excellence in academic achievement.” That “achievement” was changing the answers on students’ CRCT tests to reap millions for her district.
The 65-count indictment accuses Hall and 34 others of racketeering along with other crimes including theft by taking, making false statements or writings, influencing witnesses or false swearings.
Not all of the teachers involved were necessarily greedy opportunists working the system created by the DOE. As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, one of the teachers said she was afraid of retaliation if she didn’t play along, saying Hall’s district was “run like the mob.”
Boss Lady Hall was a superstar of the Obama DOE, hosted at the White House by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as 2009 Superintendent of the Year.
The Atlanta teachers cheating scandal is only one of many. What makes it unusual is that the district attorney chose to prosecute the ring. Where there is no prosecution, there is no crime.
Columbus, Ohio, students who blew the whistle on teachers who gave them test answers were ignored and a teacher who supported the students’ accusations said the principal took away her classroom piano, unaccountably locked her room and took other actions that led her to take a disability leave. According to the L.A. Times, she said other teachers and many parents are convinced that the coaching occurred, in part because principals who show improvement get cash rewards of as much as $1,000.
An investigation is underway in Washington, D.C. where big money bonuses followed alleged school test improvements.
Claims of cheating have surfaced all across the country from West Virginia to Los Angeles. Potentially thousands of teachers have aided and abetted the federal government in robbing children in the poorest of school districts from an education that could lift them out of poverty.
There would be no opportunity for these crimes without the corrupting influence of the Department of Education. If the department was to be eliminated as a cabinet position and the organization of educators was returned to an association instead of such a political entity, there would be no DOE to exert such influence and corruption.
You may ask, “Don’t we need the DOE?”
Why? It was created by President Jimmy Carter in return for the 1976 endorsement by teachers’ unions. Its budget has grown to about 78 billion dollars a year and seems to reward administrators and consultants more than teachers.
But what of poor districts that need money?
Create a system wherein districts apply and compete for federal largess based on need with no federal strings attached.
Let the teachers teach and return control to the local school districts. Allow the principals and superintendents to find and implement meaningful ways to teach our children.
The existence of top-down, high stakes testing larded with millions of dollars in bonuses for “improved test scores” provides the incentive for criminally-minded administrators and teachers, demonstrating to your child that the majority of honest teachers are “chumps.”
This model also puts too many honest teachers in fearful survival mode, either cheating to save their jobs under a greedy, tyrannical administrator or to save their jobs due to test results of slacker students.
The very existence of the DOE and its top-down meddling with your children is a corrupting influence that needs to end.
Rick Jensen is Delaware’s Award-Winning Conservative Talk Show Host on 1150AM WDEL and 93.7FM HD3, Streaming live on WDEL.Com from 1pm – 4pm EST. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter@JensenVoiceover.