Convicted of Cheating. Does the punishment fit the crime?
I’m not going to pretend to know the details of the trial involving the Atlanta public school educators convicted of cheating today. Nor do I understand the extreme pressure these educators found themselves under. There are many details and layers behind what would make seemingly upstanding hard working teachers cheat. Yet, they choose to do so and now they will suffer the results of their actions.
This is not a simple case of cheating. These educators made a choice not once but many times to cheat, deceive, cover up and collaborate together. It involves individuals profiting from their actions, lying to investigators, and most importantly harming the very children we trust them to educate and protect.
Let’s not forget each time one of these educators altered a test score, a child’s future education and potential was impacted. Every time this was done parents and students believed they were meeting the standards set by the system. Changing a students failing test score meant a missed opportunities to receive the assistance they may have needed to actually be successful. These professional educators sent a message to their students that it’s OK to cheat as long as you don’t get caught, or you’re trying to “help.”
I believe the judge in this case was making a very strong statement to educators, parents and students by sending these now convicted felons to jail. He was certainly within the law to do so. I happen to agree with his decision to send these educators to jail today. You must remember this is the Atlanta Public School System. So many of these students face the harsh reality of inner city life and struggles daily. They know the result of committing a crime. Is it not right then to treat these individuals as criminals?
Ultimately, will any of the educators see real jail time? We will have to wait and see. Some of these individuals are facing upwards of 30 years in prison. I believe that long jail terms for most of them is harsh and unrealistic for the crimes committed despite the federal charges. However, I believe non of them should receive single dime in compensation from taxpayers in the form of benefits.
I want to remind all of us that every teacher and administrator is under pressure in our current educational system to perform. However, the vast majority do so with integrity. To all those teaching with integrity I say thank you.