Within the past few days my city has been rocked by the cheating scandal of an urban charter school. While I would never condone the actions of this school, I can see where the educators came from.
There is a huge amount of pressure on charters in my city. We are constantly scrutinized, poked and prodded until we begin to question our own ability to do our job. There are veiled threats of closing if certain impossible criteria aren’t met. It’s, ultimately, a horrible environment for the staff of any school.
For these teachers to sense that fear and know that they will never achieve the impossible can cause horrible choices. And let’s face it, the odds are stacked against most schools:
-poorly trained support staff and a revolving door of assistants
-low teacher retention as they find more stable jobs
We need to face facts. These schools are not going to succeed. Until the government realizes that nobody really wants to teach in that environment for such a pittance, we will be stuck in the same rut.
Do I have solutions? No. I got out of such a school because of these same factors. The revolving door theory worked both at the teacher level, student level, and administrator level as our principal was released shortly after. He had vision, but there were too many hands in the pot and he refused to be a “yes man.” Thus, he was outed.
So, do I agree with the cheating? No. But I think the deeper problem is why these adults chose to cheat. What would make you put your career, your livelihood, your freedom on the line? To me it screams of desperation and a lack of other options.
My heart hurts for those teachers involved and those who were unaware. To the administrators, for shame. This was an administrative directive, there is no doubt in my mind. But what other option did they have?