The Whiff of Scandal

Ah, Spring is in the air!  But it’s not all flowers we smell.  No, something is beginning to really stink down at the Department of Education and the rotten smell seems to be wafting upwards towards the governor’s office.

Today’s article by Joey Garrison in the Tennessean on the “delay” in TCAP scores has set the political and education worlds ablaze today.  Garrison did not relay any particularly new insight to the controversy.  He largely confined himself to regurgitating the jargon-ladened bureaucrat explanations delivered up by the Department of Education.  But the excuses offered by the DOE only served to raise even more questions about the motives and reasons behind the non-delivery of TCAP scores to schools across the state.  Here are the more salient quotes (emphasis added):

“The unexpected 10-day postponement will mean a four-year-old law designed to give more meaning to standardized tests won’t be applied to many students.”

“State officials decided to complete a process called post-equating before releasing test results this year.

“Normally this happens after early scores are released, but because of changes to the test this year, officials say they decided to do it before releasing scores.

“The test was narrowed to remove portions that don’t align with new Common Core standards. Classrooms across the state have been phasing in the standards for three years, but the state has not switched to a test designed to match those new standards.”

Translation:   “Narrowing” sounds like “erasing” certain questions and “post-equating” sounds like their version of “post-dating” a check.  Taken together they sound very much like cooking the numbers.  By eliminating certain questions after the fact, Huffman & Co. will be able to take out those questions where students consistently got wrong answers, thereby lifting the student’s overall score.  The state asserts they made the decision to do this before this week, but they conveniently leave out Who made the decision and WHEN the decision was made.  They also do not tell the public who will be making the decisions to “narrow” (i.e., take out) certain questions.  Who decides?  Pearson consultants?  Huffman lackey’s?  Who?

So now that we have established a Method, how about a Motive?

Here is where it gets really interesting and raises possibilities of scandal, cover-your-ass politics and even possible criminal activity.

In politics timing is everything.  So the question must be asked, WHAT was the reason the state deliberately refused to inform schools about their “new” methods?  WHAT was occurring at the precisely the same time the state DOE was  making their last-sceond announcement about not delivering TCAP scores?  If the unaltered, un-narrowed, un-post-equated TCAP scores were really bad, and were released as required by law earlier this week, what would have been the result?  Here is your answer:

 “Arne Duncan, Bill Haslam to address education writers at Vanderbilt”

by Joan Brasher

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be featured among a rich menu of panels and presentations from industry innovators at the upcoming Education Writers Association’s annual gathering, May 18-20 at Vanderbilt University.

The governor and Huffman were hosting 400 education writers and the Obama secretary of education in Nashville earlier this week — the exact time TCAP scores were supposed to be delivered to the schools.  Can you imagine how embarassing it would have been if 400 education writers from around the country were exposed to horrible test scores from Tennessee’s much-claimed Common Core “success”?  The governor and Huffman would look like fools AND liars.  And the public may have caught on to their scam.  And that, ladies & genetlemen of the jury is what you would need to convict someone of mis-feasance, mal-feasance, stupid-feasance and bend-over-here-it-comes-feasance.

Think RTP is over-stating the case?  Check out these recent examples of falsifying, altering and manipulation of standardized test:

“Former Atlanta schools superintendent reports to jail in cheating scandal”

By CNN Staff
updated 10:00 AM EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
Beverly Hall, the former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, was among the 35 former educators indicted in an Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. They began turning themselves in at the Fulton County Jail on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

In 2009, Hall was named the National Superintendent of the Year by the Schools Superintendents Association, which at the time said her “leadership has turned Atlanta into a model of urban school reform.”

According to the indictment, Hall placed unreasonable goals on educators and “protected and rewarded those who achieved targets by cheating.” It also alleges she fired principals who failed to achieve goals and “ignored suspicious” test score gains throughout the school system.


“Why not subpoena everyone in D.C. cheating scandal — Rhee included?” rhee1

April 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm
(Update: New cheating confirmed in D.C.; AFT President Weingarten calls for new probe and D.C. Council hearings)
Several investigations into suspicions of widespread cheating by educators in D.C. schools on student standardized tests during Michelle Rhee’s tenure as chancellor turned up precious little, but two new developments warrant a new probe — this time by investigators with subpoena powers.

 With the indictment of former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly A. Hall and 34 other public school employees in a massive cheating scandal, the time is right to re-examine other situations of possible illegal behavior by educators. Washington, DC, belongs at the top of that list.
Michelle A. Rhee, America’s most famous school reformer, was fully aware of the extent of the problem when she glossed over what appeared to be widespread cheating during her first year as Schools Chancellor in Washington, DC. A long-buried confidential memo from her outside data consultant suggests that the problem was far more serious than kids copying off other kids’ answer sheets. (“191 teachers representing 70 schools”). Twice in just four pages the consultant suggests that Rhee’s own principals, some of whom she had hired, may have been responsible.

Wow, that second example hits very close to Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman  Michelle Rhee, the person suspected of involvement in a standardized test cheating scandal, is Huffman’s ex-wife and mother of their two children.   Concidence?  You decide.

Advice to the folks working for Erin O’Hara Block and Kevin Huffman:

Do not destroy the orginial TCAP results and related materials, memos, etc.  To do so might be seen as obstruction of justice.  And more than one bureaucrat has gone to prison for less.











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