From an editorial in the Chicago Tribune on Thursday:
Children learn what to do – and what not to do – by watching adults. Nowhere is that truer than in the classroom.
Eleven former Atlanta Public Schools educators were convicted Wednesday of racketeering for their roles in one of the most brazen and pervasive school cheating scandals ever uncovered. Teachers inflated students’ test scores to make it seem that the school district was excelling. It wasn’t.
Trust is so basic to the function of public education that we don’t talk about it much – whether teachers are evaluating students fairly, whether parents know the testing process is fair, whether administrators run their districts with integrity.
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Atlanta’s educators demolished that trust – and in the process deprived some students of honest evaluations of how their educations were proceeding.
Those educators then lied to the nation about Atlanta’s supposedly superior school system – but more important, they lied to those children about their academic progress.
There’s no undoing the damage inflicted on untold numbers of children here. Those students can’t be reimbursed for their lost opportunities to learn.
But at least today’s young Atlantans learn a different lesson: If you cheat, you can demolish your reputation and your career. You cheat no one more than yourself.