I want to pull my hair out. I want to scream and stomp my feet. I want people to stop asking me what I think about "those terrible cheating teachers" and do I think that's "typical behavior?"
I mean, a girl can only take so much before a girl punches the next person who asks her in the throat.
I used to be a waitress. Back in my early 20s, cocktail waitressing brought in some serious cha-ching for a budding shoe obsession. If you've ever worked in a bar, you know that there is this weird little subculture of bar folk. (Ever read Waiter Rant?) At the time, I was working on my master's degree and, therefore, well aware of life outside of this particular bar. Yet, before long, filling the ketchups became the bain of my existence, the atypical lunch rush was worth talking about for days and Oh. My. God. Did you hear about how the brunch staff totally shorted the bus boys when it came time to tip people out?! What bar tender worked my shifts, and who made more tips than whom quickly became the center of my universe. More tips meant I was good at my job. More tips meant that I had a certain level of value. More tables meant more tips. Over seating my own section to get more table to get more tips no longer bothered me and the new girl can just suck it. Sneaking in a gratuity charge and not mentioning it to the table in the hopes that they would end up double tipping? No biggie. Who cares? I ended up with more tips, didn't I?
Am I not drawing a clear enough parallel? When you narrow the definition of success and then incentivize people and/or scare the shit out of people by threats of mass firings and nasty labels all of which are connected to this narrow little definition people will do jacked up things. Friends, I lost track of the bigger picture when I was slinging drinks...ya think it could happen to people who are doing their best to educate children in some crazy constricting circumstances?
In a nutshell - stop blaming the teachers! Should the teachers of Atlanta and Lord knows where else have erased children's answers? No. Should we tolerate that sort of behavior? No. But taking a very surface-y stance to this problem is NOT AN OPTION. If you think those teachers were doing their students a disservice by changing their answers, than imagine the disservice that may be done to the education system if the buck stops there.
From the Huffington Post - "The Atlanta report's conclusion that cheating resulted from a culture of fear, one spurred by rising test-score targets, fuels the argument that policies determined by test scores provide perverse incentives that are not in the best interests of students."
Can you imagine the conditions these poor teachers were working under? Can you imagine what it must have been like to drive people to do something like this?
Also from the Huffington Post - "'To be sure, there are lessons to be learned from these jarring incidents, but the existence of cheating says nothing about the merits of testing,' Duncan wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post."
It's says nothing about the merits of testing because THERE ARE NO MERITS TO TEST THAT ARE THIS HIGH STAKES.
Can I throw a "dumb ass" on the end of that last statement or is that too much?
ENOUGH WITH THE TESTING! The thought that these situations have come to light and there are still people who are waving around those freaking ScanTron sheets shouting about the integrity of their precious data makes me want to poke myself in the eye, quit education and go get a job naming nail polish colors.
What about the integrity of education? What about the integrity of the work of teachers? It's amazing to me that politicians can set standards, impose insane amounts of testing in the name of accountability, tell us how to do our jobs and then when it all falls apart, still claim that their way was the right way and take no responsibility.
Is ignorance really that blissful?