Yesha Callahan

Open Thread: Do You Think The Teachers Involved In The Atlanta Cheating Scandal Will Receive a Fair Sentence?

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.31.52 AM11 Atlanta teachers  and school administrators who were involved in the state-wide cheating scandal have been convicted and could face up to 20 years in prison. But some feel, because 10 out of the 11 are Black teachers, that they will not get a fair sentence.

Last week a prayer meeting was held  in an Atlanta church with clergy and civil rights activists appealing for leniency. 

“We are dismayed and disappointed at the actions of Judge Baxter to handcuff our educators and to haul them off to jail as if they’re hardened criminals,” said the Rev. Frank Brown, president of the Concerned Black Clergy.

Jurors in  case found 11 of 12 defendants guilty last week of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Some were also found guilty of additional felonies, such as influencing a witness, theft by taking, false swearing, or making a false statement or writing.

The judge in the case has set the sentencing to April 13th, for 10 of the 11 convicted educators for April 13. One, who is pregnant and weeks from her delivery date, is likely to be sentenced in August. All of the teachers face a minimum of five years, but the judge also has the discretion to sentence them to probation or suspend the sentences. But from comments made last week, it doesn’t seem as though he’s going to be lenient.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter stated: “They are now convicted felons, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t like to send anyone to jail … but they have made their bed and they’re going to lie in it.”

Most people feel that because the teachers are Black, they will probably end up being sentenced to quite some time, and the calls for leniency are being ignored.

Clutchettes, do you think the judge will be fair in the sentencing?

Image Credit: AP

 

  1. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    damn. 5 to 20 yrs over some damn tests? did these women go “set it off” style to get the answers? they seriously convicted these women under the RICO act??? the one meant to catch mafias, human traffickers, & extortionists? i don’t get it. how many yrs did the bank ceo’s get after they crashed the market in 08? surely they were guilty of a much great organized crime scheme to defraud america. not that i have a whole lot of sympathy for a group of women who basically used their power to make our black kids worse off by falsifying their education instead of teaching them the right way so they won’t have to struggle later in life to get degrees & jobs, but these women definitely didn’t get a fair trial. i highly doubt they’ll get fair sentencing.

    • April 9, 2015 - Reply

      @Me

      I agree that you would have to take the logic to an extreme, but when you think about it, the teachers/administrators were running an organized racket. You just never think that a prosecutor is ever going to charge you with that, and that at the very worse, you would just lose your job/pension, if caught. However, bonuses were tied to the kids’ test scores and lots of those teachers were complaining about being intimidated and threatened into participating. It’s the money involved that makes it more than just a garden variety cheating scandal. Kids caught cheating don’t usually cost the district thousands of dollars in bonus money, not the mention the aid the schools probably would have qualified for had everyone thought those schools were still struggling.

    • April 10, 2015 - Reply

      @Me

      These bishes shoulda just robbed a bank. #SorrynotSorry

  2. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    No. Why would anyone think otherwise in a white supremacist system?

  3. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    Prayer with clergy? They should have prayed before they altered results of standardized tests. They let our children down, let our education system down, they let our public school system down. I have no sympathy for them. I particularly have no sympathy now that they are gathering their spiritual support after the fact. I hate when people do that. Why did you not call on your God before you cheated a bunch of black kids from a fair educational process? Yup, no sympathy. This was all about making their school look good so they could access more money!

  4. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    Up to 20 years? I’d certainly like to see Wall St. execs get this kind of attention. It’s people lower down who receive the full weight of the law. Remember that rich teen who killed four people while driving drunk two years ago? Do you think that he went to jail?

    • April 10, 2015 - Reply

      @Eduardo

      A very rich guy once told me that he and a friend, blew up a freeway pillar when he was 14. He charged the explosives on his fathers credit card. When they saw the FBI walk into the store where they bought the explosives, they ran to a neighbors home (an attorney) to ask for help. In the end, his dad wrote a check and the charges went away. Can you say terrorism???

  5. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    What those teachers did was WRONG….HOWEVER the pressure to pass kids that SHOULD have repeated a grade years ago, pressured to implement a curriculum that a teacher probably knows doesn’t work, lack of parental involvement, kids who aren’t interested due to boredom or distracted by real life situations (no food, no shelter, no protection). A friend that lives in Atlanta told me that the public schools had lost their accreditation years ago, so there’s probably pressure from the school board. They were probably fighting a losing battle that they didn’t even start. So it wasn’t just about “to get money”. They should get jail time but not 20 years. If I had a child in the Atlanta schools, I’d be pissed too, but I should also be pissed off at myself for not being on top of my child’s education.

    Then again, a harsh jail sentence will be an example to keep other teachers and education professionals from trying this mess again.

    • April 9, 2015 - Reply

      @paintgurl40

      You’re exactly right. The teachers should not have done what they have did. We know how unfair the judicial system is. The teachers should be punished, but not for 20 years.

  6. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    It is so easy to express a knee jerk reaction to this story. Then, I did my research and found some interesting things. First, I don’t feel that the convicted teachers should be sentenced to 20 years in prison. That is too excessive, yet they should be held accountable for their actions. There is no excuse for using cheating, which harms the lives of students and disrupts the integrity of the educational institution. Now, this situation is not new. Many states across America have similar cheating scandals. One of the reasons why this scandal existed is because of the futile high stakes testing or the obsession with standardized testing. Many teachers oppose such testing, because it restricts teachers’ creativity and the teacher teaches to the test (instead of unique, exciting curriculum to be established for the students). The only way to radically improve our education is the back to basics approach. There must be the addressing of socioeconomic issues in poor communities. There must be a thriving to have smaller class sizes. There must be the institution of more creative lesson plans and for adequate funding sent to poor communities. Richer communities have schools with computers, swimming pools even, healthier food choices, massive mentorships, strong extracurricular activities, and the whole nine yards. This reality ought to be duplicated in poorer communities.

    The Atlanta teachers who were involved in cheating aren’t the only ones who should be blamed. Also, the ones who orchestrated the whole high tasks testing regime should be blamed for many of the problems in our educational system too. It is hypocritical for Wall Street criminals including torturers to escape prison time (when the Wall Street criminals manipulated trillions of dollars of money & did other actions of financial fraud) while teachers from Atlanta could receive decades in prison. Yes, there must be fairness, yet we have a criminal injustice system (in the system of white supremacy). So, the Atlanta teachers should be punished but not for 20 years.

  7. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    I never really followed this case and so I never did form an opinion as to whether the accused teachers were guilty as charged. If they are guilty then I really don’t have much sympathy for their plight. Cheating our children educationally for personal gain is not something I consider a victimless crime. They were probably the victims of selective prosecution which I do not doubt but if they are guilty they sorely deserve what they get. I suggest that if anyone of those who have been convicted want to ensure a better sentence they explore all their appeal options. Overturned convictions and re-trials are good bargaining tools for reduced pleas and sentencing.

  8. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    To every action there are consequences. Those tea

  9. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    To every action there are consequences. Those tea

  10. April 9, 2015 - Reply

    Because they are black they will be made an example of.

    • April 9, 2015 - Reply

      @Mary Burrell

      Shiiid, in the south they make an example of innocent people. Being guilty and black = maximum sentence.

  11. April 10, 2015 - Reply

    No child left behind is designed to shut down predominately black schools, and force black educators out of work. Somehow, we have got to rework our culture to turn out children who study as hard as the immigrant blacks we read about in Clutch. If that happens, you won’t have teachers resorting to fraud to keep their jobs.

    • April 13, 2015 - Reply

      @Anthony

      The first thing the black underclass can do is speak [standard English] to their children and listen to them, instead of yelling commands at them.

  12. April 11, 2015 - Reply

    Release these teachers. Take their teaching license and let them go home. NO JAIL TIME FOR ATL TEACHERS!

  13. April 11, 2015 - Reply

    As a teacher I really think there should be a national teacher strike. Teachers should just walk off the job and let the bureaucrats who keep passing this facile, asinine education legislation take over the job. They can employ the Teach for America novices but they quit every 2-3 years. That way they can continue using their teaching experience as community service/volunteer work on their résumé before giving up their savior complex and moving on to their real careers, where they may actually have to be certified or have adequate credentials to do the job. Let the bureaucrats teach and try to survive on $1800 a month after working 50-60 hour weeks and still supply pens, pencils, paper, and snacks for 80+ students. Let them work concession stands at games, come early and stay late for bus duty, chaperone field trips on weekends, lead fundraisers, attend workshops on their own dime, supervise clubs, and provide bell-to-bell engaging instruction and still remain cognizant enough to recognize which child is being abused, which has an undiagnosed exceptionality, or which is being bullied and then complete the required paperwork on ALL of it. Then after all of that, tell them they will be fired if student test scores don’t improve……Or a law could be passed that makes it mandatory that unemployment, crime, and poverty rates decrease under each lawmaker;s term and if not, they’re fired..what a novel idea!

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