Former DC Whistleblower Principal Adell Cothorne on the Atlanta Verdict
Former principal, DC Public Schools
On April 3, 2015, I posted former DC principal Adell Cothorne’s reaction to the conviction of 11 educators in what has come to be commonly known as the Atlanta cheating scandal.
Cothorne was the whistleblower principal employed under former DC chancellor Michelle Rhee. Cothorne walked in on teachers altering student test scores.
In this post, Cothorne responds to the news of the sentencing.
On April 14, 2015, Judge Jerry Baxter sentenced eight Atlanta educators to a range of one to seven years in jail. Two educators also implicated in the case, agreed to a plea deal and received more merciful sentences. The details of this case have been discussed ad nauseam on social media and both local and national news outlets. Many have weighed in, expressing their disgust that school teachers could be sent to jail simply for “erasing answers”; while murderers are allowed to roam free.There are three salient points I would like to address regarding the Atlanta sentencings.Point #1The act of erasing students’ answers on test sheets has far reaching negative effects that the general public does not consider.As a former administrator who had to deal with staff members erasing student answers in order to create the illusion of continuous student achievement, I know first-hand the far reaching effect this practice has on but the community as a whole. You see, I witnessed a lack of teaching during my tenure as a District of Columbia principal. Yes, some of my teaching staff were ill-equipped to teach students. They simply lacked the pedagogical approaches to implement effective instruction. I supervised another, much smaller, group of teachers who taught stellar lessons and genuinely cared for their students’ success. Then, there were those teachers who were able to teach adequately. Yet, they chose to literally not teach because they knew that the end result would be a picture of improved student achievement due to practices that were going on behind closed doors after school hours (erasing answers from wrong to right).So, when people make the argument these educators in Atlanta should not face jail time, I cringe. When others make the argument that killers are allowed to walk free, while these educators face time in prison, I cringe even more. First of all, comparing what a killer does and what these educators perpetrated is like comparing elephants to apples. Yes, elephants and apples are both living things. That is about where the similarities begin and end. Just as murder and erasing student answers from wrong to right are both crimes; that too is where the similarities begin and end.Please do not think I am downplaying someone who murders another human being. That is a dastardly act which I believe requires punishment. However, these Atlanta educators robbed thousands of children of opportunity– the very same opportunity that these same educators were afforded – a sound education which allowed them to attend college and beyond. A sound education that allowed them to create a comfortable life for their families. A sound education that allowed them to have choices.Let me ask you, what choices does a 15-year-old growing up in the inner city with a functional first-grade reading level have?Numerous people have focused on the injustice in Atlanta. However, I have yet to hear the groundswell of outrage over the students who were affected by the erasures. Where is the outcry of injustice for them?Someone recently asked me what I thought would be a just consequence for the Atlanta educators. I said I would like to see them suffer the same fateFormer DC Whistleblower Principal Adell Cothorne on the Atlanta Verdict | deutsch29: