A Baltimore elementary school needed to raise test scores so badly, it bypassed tried and true methods such as hard work and motivation in favor of an easier technique. Cheating.
State assessment test booklets from students attending George Washington Elementary School contained thousands of eraser marks changing wrong answers to right - a gigantic slap in the face to a namesake's reputation if ever there was. School administrators finally admitted the cheating scandal after the Maryland State Department of Education and Baltimore City Schools conducted a massive two-year investigation. Officials checked erasure patterns, the number of answers changed, and the direction of eraser marks to confirm initial suspicions.
The school is now in jeopardy of losing its status as a National Blue Ribbon School, an award bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. Baltimore City Schools CEO Andre Alonso also revoked the teaching certificate of the school's 2008 principal. Former Principal Susan Burgess was not assigned to a new school and no longer works for City Schools.
Good riddance! Isn't it bad enough the majority of these kids, many from the most impoverished areas of the City, have to navigate a jungle of violent crime, drug abuse, rodent infestation, lead paint poisoning, absentee parents, and who knows what else every day of their little lives? Did reckless and moronic adults entrusted with their care and tutelage have to add to the wear and tear on their self-esteem by plopping them in the middle of a cheating scandal?
And for what? Pats on the back devoid of intrinsic merit? Misplaced parental gratitude? Pupils ill-equipped to handle life in the real world? Most troubling is the message these idiots sent to vulnerable school children. Children looked to them, supposed adults, not only for guidance to navigate everyday challenges, but also for skills to overcome such challenges on their own.
Cheaters never prosper even when they don't get caught. Caring and able-bodied educators taught and reinforced this lesson throughout my school years, and because they did so in such a sensitive manner I have steadfastly followed ever since.
Too bad George Washington Elementary School students won't get the same opportunity.