Jury verdicts do not put the APS scandal behind us

Eleven of 12 defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools testing scandal were found guilty today by a jury of their peers, handcuffed and taken into custody immediately. Sentencing has yet to come, but prison may loom for most if not all.

Another 21 defendants had previously pleaded guilty in the case, accepting only probation and community service. The contrast in potential punishment between those who chose to admit guilt and those who were convicted today is stark and may seem unfair to some, but it is not unusual. From the beginning, Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter had warned defendants that they were risking “severe consequences” if they chose to fight the charges against them, and now those consequences are about to get real.

Still, I don’t think it’s possible to claim that justice has been fully done, or could ever be fully done. Moral responsibility for this scandal ripples far into the community, reaching many who were never indicted or charged. The consequences of it extend even farther, touching thousands of lives.

Beverly Hall

Beverly Hall

And I’ll admit, it’s hard not to have sympathy for at least a few of those convicted today. Thanks to the former APS superintendent, the late Beverly Hall, these teachers and administrators were placed in a no-win situation, forced to choose between cheating on standardized testing or losing their jobs. But that sympathy has limits too, because when they made the choice to cheat, those they cheated most were the schoolchildren whose futures had been placed in their hands.  They then compounded that bad choice by deciding not to plead guilty and not to take responsibility for their mistakes.

And no, these verdicts do not mean that the Atlanta Public Schools can at last put this scandal behind it. It will be and should be part of the district’s legacy for a long, long time to come. It stands as a warning to those in the business community who preferred not to see what was really happening, and who preferred that others also not see it. It is a reminder for leaders in every field of endeavor that when they decide what should be measured, what should be rewarded and what should be punished, they decide almost everything. It demonstrates that a system founded upon perverse incentives, as the APS bureaucracy clearly was, will inevitably produce perverse outcomes.

Personally, I still have a hard time shaking the memory of one-on-one conversations with Hall in which she obstinately, repeatedly refused to concede that anything had gone awry with the system’s testing system. As I wrote back then, her denials were downright stunning and in hindsight even Nixonian. By sheer force of will, she had created a world in which her distorted version of events was the only one that mattered, and all who lived and worked within that world were forced to abide by its strange rules.

As we learned from testimony in the trial, some subordinates adjusted eagerly to that distorted world and were just as eager to reap rewards for that subservience; others merely did what they felt forced to do. Only a relative few were strong enough to challenge the system directly, and they were quickly identified and removed. It can be hard to do the right thing, but then again, it’s the role of the justice system to make it even harder to do the wrong thing.

In that regard, this outcome is appropriate.

Reader Comments 0

734 comments
ATL_born
ATL_born

Child molesters, rapist, and 2nd degree murders faced lessor sentencing SMH

ATL_born
ATL_born

So shouldn't you write an article on how our entire state government of GA has robbed our kids of the HOPE scholarship and not appropriately distributing funds in all school systems...also why do you choose to not write about the entire 191 school systems in GA that each were found to have evidence of cheating?????

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

"...those they cheated most were the schoolchildren whose futures had been placed in their hands."  Oh please, spare me the hand-wringing.  Who were cheated were the teachers who DIDN'T cheat and their kids got exactly the score they earned.  Those teachers were vilified, reduced in prestige, made to crawl under tables to get to their seats plus much more.  The kids that "passed" by cheating had nothing done to them.  They didn't get an accurate measure of their learning, and were passed onto the next poor teacher who now has to deal with their poor skills.  Blame only the ones at the top.  The worst you should say to the poor class-room teachers is, "You're weak minded."  They're not criminals.  If some one came into "the hood" and held guns on them to make them the front man for a robbery, they sure wouldn't have to plead guilty to any crime.  They were victims.   BTW, the tests aren't that hard, kids that fail the test do so on their own.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

It appears the discussions over the Iranian nuclear program have succeeded.  The Iranians don't want the details made public.

I, for one, take that as a hopeful sign.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@Nick_Danger excellent . . . now everyone can start leaking and no one will know what the deal is . . . everyone can raise funds off of it!

JamVet
JamVet

Progress?

Ain't it delicious? 

It's all good. This mad, religious bigotry gives the nation a chance to see the difference between progress and perpetually stuck on stupid...

It’s hard to overplay the cultural influence of Walmart, the ubiquitous global retail giant that also happens to be America’s largest private sector employer.

So, today’s decision by the company to publicly stake out a position urging Arkansas’s Republican governor to veto a bill that critics say will result in discrimination against gays and lesbians marks something of a turning point in a controversy playing out across a number of US states.

Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

Spoiler Alert-  do not read if you want to continue to believe cops are the main problem in the US-  it is not my right to alter the color of the sky in your world

If one is against (gun) killings it would be only logical to go after gangs then cops.  The obvious conundrum is how to go after gangs without our well established "killing machine".  I suppose ME can sing in by saying baking her world famous apple pie should do the trick. 


Source from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf

Here's what it says:

a staggering 80% of gun homicides are gang-related. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), gang homicides accounted for roughly 8,900 of 11,100 gun murders in both 2010 and 2011. That means that there were just 2,200 non gang-related firearm murders in both years in a country of over 300 million people and 250 million guns.

specifically: "80% of gun homicides are gang-related"

.

Edit: The verdict is that it's 80% of homicides in CHICAGO, i.e. "gun-free" utopia. See here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/29/chicago-homicide-rate-new-york_n_2378073.html

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Cupofjoe

Is this another one of those dumb "see, if a city has anti-gun measures that PROVES they only make murderz worse!" posts?

Or is "gang" just your dogwhistle for "n----r"?

(I realize both can co-exist)

Please to explain. 

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@Cupofjoe so we can blame Ollie North and his band of merry men for the crack epidemic which dramatically increased organized crime in the inner cities?

JamVet
JamVet

The electorate made abundantly clear what they thought of West.

One and done.

Oh well, talk radio is always an option...

td1234
td1234

@JamVet Only because the FL RINO's gerrymandered him out of his district but do not let the facts get in the way of your narrative. 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@td1234 @JamVet 

If there are a majority of "RINOs", as evidenced by that fact that they could gerrymander out their opponents as you assert, doesn't that mean that, in Florida at least, the "RINOs" are the true representatives of the republican party?

td1234
td1234

@JamVet @td1234 It is not an opinion it is a fact. If you had not heard there is a battle going on within the GOP as to who will control the party between the Conservatives and the RINO's. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@td1234 @JamVet "Only because the FL RINO's gerrymandered him out of his district"


If he was such a great guy, then shouldn't he have been able to win in ANY district?


JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 @JamVet 

No young man.

Of course I know about the Florida redistricting, and yes that redistricting is a fact.

Your opinion is that that was the ONLY reason that the roundly derided clown was not reelected.

This is not a very difficult concept to understand.

YOUR opinions vs. your facts.

You are not logical much of the time though...

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

57 grand for those Indiana pizza shop proprietors in just a few hours?

It ain't Duke Lacrosse shakedown money, but... not bad! 

Nicely played. And I take back those "simple folk" comments I left earlier. You guys can likely grift with the big boys.

td1234
td1234

@fedup52 I doubt it. Almost every Social Conservative that lives in the area has already marked this place as a place to eat at in the future. 

fedup52
fedup52

@Visual_Cortex I would keep my mouth shut and kept the pizzaria open.  I would more money that way.  In the long run the guy is going to loose.

td1234
td1234

@Visual_Cortex I said this would happen yesterday. Just like when the progressive tyrants went after Chick fil a and they had record sales. The silent majority sends its own messages. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex

The silent majority

Not a majority, but think what you like.

I do think it's funny as can be that you guys cling to Chik Fil A as some big victory when, in fact, the LGBT folks basically got what they wanted from the management.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex

Actually, what the CFA brouhaha showed was that rational, reasonable, decent people can do the right thing, all the while remaining true to their faith.  Real, god-fearing Christians don't have hate and intolerance as one of their central planks.

kitty72
kitty72

@td1234 @Visual_Cortex 


I read this morning the pizza place with the big stupid mouth...who wants pizza for a wedding???....may not even reopen. Free market has spoken.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@td1234 

Prior to this publicity they were getting bad reviews for their pizza.

If social conservatives want to eat crappy pizza that is certainly their prerogative.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Friends of Science!  Why would anyone refer to them by that incorrect name.  It is actually Friends of Science Denying Oil Interests.

JamVet
JamVet

The B1G Championship, the NCAA FInal Four and others.

Indy is gonna learn what religiously driven bigotry and an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behaviors that differ from theirs ultimately gets them.

The same thing it did in the 1960s - boycotted and hurt the only place that matters to them - in the pocketbook...

td1234
td1234

"I find it ironic that we are so tolerant of a religion that kills Christians, gays and lesbians, yet we are punishing businesses in America for their Christian religious beliefs. It seems this Easter weekend we are reminded that Christian persecution has risen to a disturbing level."


Allen West

td1234
td1234

@consumedconsumer Unless it is Christians that do not approve of Gay weddings or abortion and then that religion must be done away with. 

td1234
td1234

@Tuna Meowt It would be the same commander that cared enough about the men under his command to do whatever it took to make sure they were safe. The American troop hating progressives forced him to resign for protecting his troops. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Visual_Cortex @Tuna Meowt @td1234 He accepted Article 15 non-judicial punishment rather than a court-martial (which he could have requested) and pretty much had to retire.


A Lieutenant Colonel who gets Article 15d isn't going *anywhere* else in the military.  At that point, you might as well retire if you have your 20 years in.  If not, better hope they let you re-up long enough to make it. or else your years of service go to waste as far as retirement's concerned.


Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@td1234 @Tuna Meowt "It would be the same commander that cared enough about the men under his command to do whatever it took to make sure they were safe."


Yeah, he explained that to his CO during the Article 15 proceedings and still got punished.  Looks like the Army saw it my way, not yours.


"The American troop hating progressives forced him to resign for protecting his troops."


No, US Army culture forced it.  If you're an O5 and get Article 15d, your career is OVER, Pumpkin.  No CO is going to want you in his unit after that.


LeninTime
LeninTime

@td1234 @Tuna Meowt 

The American troop hating progressives forced him to resign for protecting his troops

***

Progressives forced him to resign? How'd that work exactly?

LeninTime
LeninTime

@td1234 

It seems this Easter weekend we are reminded that Christian persecution has risen to a disturbing level

***
One thing about the fascistically inclined is their almost incessant persecution complex.


consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 yeah, we're all about snuffing out religions here in the USofA. Give it a break man.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@LeninTime @td1234 

They have been assigned the role of "victim" by those that lead them, and they're actually quite good at the role - credit where it's due.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@td1234 Would that be the same Allen West who was forced to retire from the Army for disobeying orders in a theater of war?

kitty72
kitty72

@td1234 @consumedconsumer 


No one is putting a gun to your head or threatening to kill you to do this. Free market. Don't like it, state that you won't serve "those people" and let the market do the talking. That is really all I want. Discriminate all you want. The younger generation doesn't abide by those beliefs as much as you old farts.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@td1234 @consumedconsumer "that religion must be done away with."


I haven't seen any reasonable person call for doing away with your religion, burning your churches or anything like that.


Thou doth protest too much.


kitty72
kitty72

@Tuna Meowt @td1234 


td isn't for listening to your CO if it hurts your fee fees. CO's aren't particularly fond of that move. Can't say I blame them.