“Cheating’s not our fault”

It’s not just Ohio where school districts have been caught cheating on standardized tests in one way or another.  Atlanta is another huge culprit, but the responses from the unions involved are less than palatable:  “How can it be our fault, when so much emphasis is placed on standardized tests, and financial incentives are attached to doing well?” (Read article in the LA Times)

What?  So if there are high stakes attached, then it’s OK to cheat?  Where did this mindset come from, and why are more people not outraged to hear it?

Teaching is “the most noble profession,” but isn’t part of teaching demonstrating proper behavior, so our students have role models in addition to their parents and families, demonstrating how to live a good and noble life?  I hope so, and that’s what I hope our Milford teachers provide to our students.  I know my daughter has learned a lot from her various teachers through the years.  She still talks about her kindergarten teacher and aide, her first grade teacher, her second grade teacher (Ex-cel-LEN-tay!)… and this group grows each year she’s in school.

Obviously, there are people who believe cheating in one of its many forms is acceptable – and that is not a blight on the profession from which the person comes, any more than it reflects how humans as a whole behave.  There are honest CEOs and those who are, well, not; the same goes for teachers and every other profession.

What bothers me, personally, about the statement made by the unions in Atlanta is that no one else stepped up, at least publicly, to say, “This is wrong.”  Unions by definition are there to protect their people; but when it comes to cheating, their best protection (for themselves and their members) is to acknowledge that this is wrong, and to encourage other teachers not to choose this road.

The Milford culture is not one of cheating.  I am happy to say that when the state began its investigations of Ohio schools last year, no one in the district was worried.  Our administration was confident in our staff, knowing we expect them to do the right thing.

What do you think?  Is it an excuse to say, “Standardized testing drove us to cheat?” I’d love to hear your comments.

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