It’s one of those news stories that just gets more depressing: the cheating epidemic that hit Baltimore earlier this year has moved on to Pennsylvania, where a whopping 89 schools were flagged for possible testing improprieties. (28 of these were in Philly, a city with 257 schools; in the Baltimore scandal, 2 out of 56 elementary schools were implicated.) As a New York Times story notes, “Never before have so many had so much reason to cheat. Students’ scores are now used to determine whether teachers and principals are good or bad, whether teachers should get a bonus or be fired, whether a school is a success or failure.”
The Pennsylvania story is much like the one in Baltimore, which was similar to a previous scandal in Atlanta: School districts have little incentive to call foul on fellow educators; cramped newspaper budgets mean that damning reports sit gathering dust on reporters’ desks. When the news finally breaks, everyone wrings their hands for a little while, but ultimately not much changes.
The New York Times reporter concludes that we need a top official with the clout and political will to make a real investigation happen — and to make sure the cheating doesn’t recur. What do you think — does that sound like a likely prospect for Baltimore?
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