The Buck for the Atlanta cheating scandal should stop at the President’s desk

Everybody acknowledges the president is the commander in chief of the US Military but in a way he is also the nation’s top teacher too. He sets the direction the nation’s schools go in through his policies and friends he has done a very poor job.

When the president came into office he could have done a lot of different things, he could have called for career and technical training for the students who aren’t going to go to or aren’t interested in college, he could have called for the arts to be taught to all students so they could have a well rounded education and or he could have demanded districts put into place policies that mitigate poverty which, not teacher quality, is the number one measurable item that determines success in school. He could have done any of those things and all would have a dramatic effect on our nation’s schools but he didn’t and instead he joined the blame the teacher/standardized tests/privatize public education bandwagon and because of this we get scandals in Atlanta and all across the nation and friends I guarantee you this is just the tip of the iceberg.

When people’s jobs are on the line or money is dangled in front of them many will make choices they otherwise wouldn’t. Beverly Hall Atlanta’s retired school superintendent is one such person. Her system’s turnaround won her national fame, awards, and more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. One of the awards came from Secretary of Education (who was never a teacher by the way) Arne Duncan himself. She however couldn’t do it alone and so she used her position to cajole and threaten some and to encourage others to get on the cheating bandwagon, a bandwagon which was the inevitable consequence of the President’s policies.

The president has created a system where teachers constantly have to look over their shoulders, where they have been blamed for society’s ills. With his race to the top initiative he has transformed education into a game where there are both winners and losers. He gives lip service to teachers telling they are valuable and important but then promotes high stakes testing and evaluation measures that don’t have evidence that says they work and hurt both student and teachers alike.

So President Obama, when cheating occurs because of your policies the buck stops with you and what you have wrought which will be a generation of kids who can’t think, who can only bubble and marginalized, scapegoated teachers, a profession on the ropes.

None of this is the change what we were hoping for.

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