The Blog

Don't Blame Teachers for Their Unethical Behavior

...blame No Child Left Behind for insisting on basic educational standards.

1:23 PM, Jul 6, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Today it was reported that a massive cheating scandal among Atlanta teachers was uncovered:

At least 178 teachers and principals at nearly four dozen schools in Atlanta have been implicated in what is likely the largest cheating scandal in U.S. history to date.

The report found that teachers, principals and administrators were both helping students on the state's standardized test, the Criterion-Reference Competency Test, and correcting incorrect answers after students had turned the tests in. Eighty-two educators confessed to the allegations detailed in the report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Calling it a "dark day" for Atlanta Public Schools, Mayor Kasim Reed said the yearlong investigation "confirms our worst fears ... There is no doubt that systemic cheating occurred on a widespread basis in the school system. Further, there is no question that a complete failure of leadership in the Atlanta Public School system hurt thousands of children who were promoted to the next grade without meeting basic academic standards."

So who's at fault here? Note this bit at the end of the Time article on the scandal:

Increasing incidents of teachers cheating has led some to question whether the pressure to score well on the standardized tests required under No Child Left Behind are tempting teachers to cheat as, under the federal law, teachers can face cuts to their salary or even potentially lose their jobs if test scores do not meet certain standards.

Yes, the real problem is not teachers who fail to teach -- but "some question" whether laws designed to enforce basic educational standards are compelling teachers to act in a grossly unethical fashion.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers