The images of those Atlanta teachers in handcuffs for the crime of cheating on test data are incredibly upsetting to this career teacher.
On the one hand, they did a terrible thing.
But then there is this.
We have been saying all along that if you set up a massive testing system that uses punishments and rewards – actual punishments and material rewards – based on the results of those tests, then it will corrupt the system.
It will create the conditions for people to do bad things.
This was corruption at its most course.
It included erasing parties organized by the Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, who died last month of cancer, where groups of teachers sat around a table and changed wrong answers on scantron sheets.
But this was not the corruption that exists at the highest levels.
I will tell you that it was way too unsettling to watch a white southern judge in an Atlanta court room literally screaming at the all-Black teacher defendants and displaying way too much enthusiasm for sending them to jail cells immediately.
I’ve seen plenty of convicted corrupt politicians, and the rare convicted Wall Street tycoon, given plenty of time to get their affairs in order before serving their jail time.
What of the claim that poor Black students were hurt – denied needed services – because of the actions of these teachers?
But all the evidence says that we have created a two-tier system of education in this country: One for the poor and another for the rich.
Students of color and of poverty are denied equal education every day by a system – a system run by people in high places.
When do they get the handcuffs?