Monthly Archives: July 2011

Atlanta, Georgia school cheating scandal. How a pencil eraser and mendaciouseducators shamed a great city and robbed its students.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The great city of Atlanta and many other Georgia towns are, at this very moment, in the throws of the latest installment of their ongoing school cheating scandal. It’s a scandal that could take place in most any school district, but which is worst in Atlanta, a city that has well and truly lost its moral compass . Here no one, whatever their high titles and educational degrees and licenses, is responsible for anything.

And so I have selected for the music to accompany this article, Chaka Khan’s tune “Ain’t Nobody” (released 1983)… because in Atlanta ain’t nobody educatin’, ain’t nobody learnin’, ain’t nobody leadin’, ain’t nobody truth tellin’… and ain’t nobody cleanin’ up the mess and galvanizing the folks so that Atlanta can hold up its head again… proud of its achievements, not abashed by its lies, deceptions and deceits. You can find Chaka Khan’s tune in any search engine. Get it now… and let its pulse get you in the mood not just for disgust, outrage and indignation but for the hard work of school and municipal reform which must start at once, this very day… And don’t read this article with any smugness at all… for you cannot be sure the “educators” in your town aren’t doing the same things but just haven’t been caught yet.

Who’s bright idea was this anyway?

Investigators and the public may never know the name of the first educator who erased the wrong test answer and entered the correct one, and if there were only one such infraction, or even just a few more, we could simply say, “There are always some bad apples in any barrel.” But this is not what happened in Atlanta… where, at least 178 Public School employees in 44 schools, including 38 principals, all decided, some independently, some working together, to alter standardized test results.

Now think about this for a moment.

Each of these educators has gone through years of (we hope) rigorous training, with degrees and licenses to prove their hard work and diligence.

Each will swear on a stack of Bibles that they believe in education and that they are well and truly dedicated to helping students achieve success through the application of high standards of learning and instruction.

Each would take the most sacred oath that cheating, altering test results, passing off another’s work as your own, and all the other egregious forms of educational mendacity are wrong… and can never be tolerated at any time…. and that educators who perform these deeds should and must be punished and driven out of the Academy forthwith fueled by the indignation of the worthy.

Every teacher, every administrator would, I know, signify in any way requested their adamant belief in these propositions… and yet an astounding, astonishing number of these same teachers and administrators altered test results with their own hands… risking their careers and sacrificing their self-respect and honor to do deeds which all knew were wrong and which each abominates and deplores.

How had so many gone so wrong?

While there is finger-pointing all around, the most digits are pointed at former Superintendent Beverly Hall (1999-2011). Her mantra was “performance, performance, performance” which was what the people wanted…. but which morphed over time to “performance at any cost” with the emphasis on the “any”. In the Hall Administration you got the Superintendent’s eye (and extra bennies and emoluments) by demonstrating improved, increasing, dazzling performance. She, once so voluble, now has “no comment”.

The problem is, education doesn’t work like a machine process, a conveyor belt delivering better product for less. Oh, no, education is not remotely like that. Education is a slow, incremental process, where results today, with today’s students, are determined by what each previous teacher in each grade was able to achieve with each student. There is no activity slower than education… nor one in which so many each have a part to play.

Each and every teacher and administrator knows this… but each one decided that pleasing the powers that be was more important than doing the hard work of focusing on each student, with painstaking dedication, effort, and patience. And thus with a simple pencil eraser did each erase everything each knew to be true, good and necessary about their vocation… thereby shaming themselves, their city, their honorable colleagues, and, of course, the students who were, with each erasure and substitution, bereft of what they needed so desperately, a real education, an education of merit, of high standards set and high standards achieved, and above all of honest endeavor and honest testing and review.

As I said, finger pointing is rampant as everyone scurries to save themselves in an environment where there is now intense scrutiny and a desire to see heads roll and so demonstrate that there is a new broom sweeping clean. Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr. says that the prevailing “culture of fear and intimidation” in his predecessor Hall’s regime must be changed. “People,” he says, “felt that it was easier to cheat than to miss their goals and objectives.”

Not just one incident, but a series of incidents.

Americans, of course, want fast answers to endemic problems. And here is no exception. The people don’t want to believe they were thoroughly betrayed by the very people they must rely upon the most: the teachers, educators, and administrators charged with the sacred objective of lifting their children, one step at a time,to a higher, better place.

But the current scandal is just that — “current”, for the good citizens of Atlanta have been cheated by the cheaters since 2001 at least, and quite possibly longer.

Over the course of the last decade, one cheating scandal after another has punctuated the Atlanta school calendar. All bear a dreary resemblance to each other. High standards are set which cannot be met, though those setting them reap a torrent of praise for such daring and boldness.

In due course, though, the high standards are shown to be too high, unrealistic, overly ambitious. Cheaters enter to bridge the difference between what is… and what could never be. And, in due course, these cheaters, or at least some of them, are caught… to the outrage of citizens and short-changed students.

And so new leaders are brought in, who set unrealistic goals and tell you they have the necessary skills, you betcha, to achieve the objective and make Atlanta proud… yet in due course they, too, fail — but only after reaping educational awards and honors for proclaiming goals too steep to achieve. Thus they, too, are discarded and villified.

And all the while the students of Atlanta are bereft of the education they must have and have every right to expect. They do not get it because their parents, their teachers, their elected officials and bureaucrats at every level will pontificate about education… but will not engage in the slow painstaking business of educating one student at a time… for they want an education to be what no education has ever been: a machine process, an assembly-line activity… and until the citizens of Atlanta know this and demand this these humiliating, demeaning, abashing scandals must and will continue.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. at www.worldprofit.com, providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer http://SuccessClicks.com. Check out Cash Siphon -> http://www.SuccessClicks.com/?rd=bg2fWWL9

An appreciation of the life of former U.S. First Lady Betty Ford,dead at 93, a woman we respected, admired, and loved.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Think for a minute of all the First Ladies we have had since the time of Franklin Roosevelt. Each found a way of serving the nation in her often difficult and always demanding position. Each First Lady invents her job, for it is a station mentioned nowhere in the Constitution but with high expectations, under the constant gaze of her often nit-picking countrymen… who expect a model wife to the president, mother to their children, and a great lady for a great nation. Difficult though these tasks must be, we expect absolutely nothing less.

Eleanor Roosevelt, much more than wife and mother.

The modern First Ladyship started with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933. Born and bred a lady, she was never anything else, but she, like her relative Theodore Roosevelt, came to know how to use the “bully pulpit” of the White House to superb effect. She was there not to serve tea, but instead to advocate for a host of social issues. Men who preferred wives pouring tea were appalled… but, year by year, Mrs. Roosevelt grew in stature as a policy maven… creating a towering model for her successors.

Bess Truman was uncomfortable with Washington, and her mother made things even more difficult by often reminding Harry that he wasn’t good enough for Bess, for all that he was Leader of the Free World. She couldn’t wait to return to Independence… and the nation saw her leave without regret.

Mamie Eisenhower ran the White House like an army post, her white-glove inspections ensuring fastidious order and efficiency. Her relations with Ike were problematic; after all, he had wanted to divorce her and marry Kay Summersby probably the love of his life. Not a good model for future First Couples.

Jackie Kennedy brought a style elegant, alluring, a princess of Camelot. Unfortunately she well knew of her husband’s humiliating infidelities; she was often wary, suspicious and frosty. She’d be First Lady, but on her terms. One looked in vain to Mrs. Kennedy for the kind of joy and the ability to connect which America wanted and deserved.

Lady Bird Johnson, who became First Lady at a period of intense mourning and soul-searching for America was someone liked. But like other presidents before him, husband LBJ found marital fidelity, even in the White House, onerous; he had the perfect political wife, but the nation wondered if he really loved her. He bellowed “Move over, this your president” when sowing wild oats; she sowed millions of wild flowers, which cheered her and the rest of us.

Mrs. Pat Nixon “got” her job in the White House. Even before becoming First Lady, she was a frequent guest in the Executive Mansion. She had sage advice for herself, self-talk of value to any First Lady: this may be the only time in their lives the guest may visit the White House; remember that and greet him accordingly. Mrs. Nixon lived up to her part of the bargain, but she always seemed unhappy. She clenched back her tears rather than show weakness. America would have understood and loved this too little loved woman had she been more open and honest…

… like her unexpected successor Mrs. Gerald Ford, universally known as Betty.

Elizabeth Ann Bloomer was born in Chicago April 18, 1918. She entered the world along with her nation. In 1918 the United States was the only major combatant to emerge from World War I unscathed. America was now the ascendant power, and Chicago, with its access to the greatest granaries on earth, its sophisticated transportation network, and all the beef America and all the world could eat, was its second city, an empire on Lake Michigan.

When she was 2, her well-heeled family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was something of a ham and the theater ran in her veins. She loved an audience even then. At 8 she began taking dance lessons, finding a lifelong passion. At the Bennington School of Dance, at Bennington College, she studied with such titans of Terpsichore as Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, and Doris Humphrey. She moved to New York in 1939 to dance with Graham’s troupe and always retained close, affectionate relations with her mentor, recommending her (successfully) for the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, bestowed by her husband the president.

While in New York, she supported herself with modeling assignments. She was definitely a “looker” and she knew the art of moving so the world looked at her. It was to prove a very useful skill, when millions wanted to see her up close and personal.

The Bloomer’s were a tight knit family and they missed their Betty. They persuaded her to return to Grand Rapids where she got a job in a department store where she worked with the advertising department, modeled and put on fashion shows.

A year later, in 1942, she married the man who was definitely not of her dreams, William C. Warren. In 1947 they divorced. It turned out Betty had bigger fish to fry. It came in the person of Gerald Ford, a college football star and well-known lawyer. It proved to be a match made in heaven.

One thing America liked about the Fords was that they genuinely liked each other — and showed it. This was a real difference from the arrangements, heart breaks and bitterness of too many presidents and their ladies. You could try to fake it and, maybe for a while you could fool some of the country… but not for long. Body language doesn’t lie.

They married on October 15, 1948 and started (it’s not overstated) their lifelong honeymoon, based on true affection and empathy. It made the Fords look old- fashioned, but America cheered and always wished them well.

Ford got himself elected to Congress. Betty proved a virtually ideal political wife. For one thing she was not just wife, but partner. It was the secret of their success. In 1965 he was elected Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives; he wanted to be GOP Speaker of the House, his highest aspiration. But then came Watergate and all its attendant troubles…

After Vice President Agnew resigned in disgrace… President Nixon and the nation both needed a man of integrity as Vice President. And so destiny knocked on Gerald Ford’s door and transformed one of the most decent men in politics into the vehicle to help the troubled nation weather the storm. The Fords had ended America’s nightmare and began a regime of decency, honesty, and sincerely, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Now First Lady Betty Ford, Midwest born, knew her mind and spoke it… about abortion, marriage, drugs… and, in due course, her own addictive demons. The nation applauded her openness and candor. She had the problems millions of her countrymen shared… and, as she openly got help, she helped them ask for it ourselves.

Now Betty Ford is dead, at 93. She excelled at the great game of life… and helped others, now down and out, get up, try again and excel, too. We saw ourselves in her, good and bad… thus her passing diminishes us… But she is with her Jerry now which is where she always wanted to be for all of time to come, together.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. at www.worldprofit.com, providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer http://SuccessClicks.com. Check out Info Cash -> http://khdfshops.cpc100.hop.clickbank.net

’til death do us part. The story of lovely Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita, the boy who loved — and killed — her.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

They were such a cute couple. Everybody said so and everybody was right.

Lauren, mistress of a smile a mile wide, petite, always stylishly dressed (a must for the future fashion designer she wanted to be)… Nathaniel towering far over his girl… a big boy but graceful, track star, football star, a “catch” the other girls whispered… Lauren was lucky. But Nathaniel always knew, and never hesitated to say, just how lucky he was, too. Lauren was a special girl… a girl you wanted be loved by and grow old together. Boys could dream, too… and think of forever.

In the cauldron of high school romances, hotter than hot today, cast off and forgotten for a new love tomorrow, Lauren and Nathaniel were an established couple, a “done deal.” Girls, worried sick that they’d never find the boy of their dreams and fretful, envied Lauren. What was her special sorcery that kept Nathaniel happy, faithful and contented? Lauren would smile when asked… but the secret was hers… and his.

Lauren listened to him. She came from a family where listening was valued. Her father was an elected member of the Wayland, Massachusetts School Committee. Malcolm Astley had a way of looking at you and listening, really listening to what you had to say. Even if he didn’t agree with what you were saying, you felt like you’d been respectfully heard… and that made you feel good. Lauren had that gift, too, and used it liberally as, over time, Nathaniel opened up about the things boys have always sought out women for… understanding, complete, unqualified acceptance, a calm place in a world of uncertainties and imponderables.

Lauren knew Nathaniel’s demons, and, in the special alchemy of her sex, she understood when to be his girl, his sounding board, his mother. So do the women we love insinuate themselves into our hearts and lives until living without any part of them becomes impossible, unthinkable. Nathaniel needed Lauren in just this way… and so sleeping and waking, Nathaniel Fujita was Lauren’s boy…

And so it went as these two lovers lived their busy high school years together. Marriage, of course, was mentioned, how could it not be? But the word that challenged the status quo and changed everything was college. Ardently desired, a word that meant freedom… from parents, from the thrall of the known, shucking off the securities of family and friends… to embrace the glorious, unknown future. College was a magic word, the key to an exciting new life you where you could be something better, different, exciting.

Lauren, more than Nathaniel, lit up when college was mentioned. She needed to be careful now; for Nathaniel college meant separation from Lauren; separation meant the possibility of growing apart, meeting someone new and more ardently desired. It meant the end of what they had. College for Nathaniel meant gambling with the affections of the woman he loved, wanted and adored. Her loss was now possible… and that was unimaginable. His family and friends told him how lucky he was… but he feared the worst.

What the parents said.

Although we do not know, we can guess both sets of parents weighed in with sage advice and insights. Both Lauren and Nathaniel would have been informed, perhaps by both sets of parents, that they were about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of life. Both needed to be free to learn, to grow, to experience. This could be seen as undercutting their unequalled relationship but if their love were real and true, testing it would strengthen it.

Lauren took this traditional parents’ message to heart; she was anxious for what she knew would be thrilling to begin.

Nathaniel was less sure, more wary; it seemed to him all the parents were trying to hoodwink and deceive him, with the result that he became chary, wary, suspicious. To keep what he wanted so much he’d need to be watchful indeed. And now he knew lonely nights, moving from one unnerving thought to another. For now when he saw Lauren’s smile, more often than not she was thinking of college… with everything that meant… with Nathaniel too often the afterthought he dreaded and could not accept.

Change was what Nathaniel feared, but he still had Lauren. On that basis, he’d do what was necessary to keep her.

Then, after the Prom which they attended together just the other day, Lauren delivered her terrible news… that the Prom was the swansong of their relationship, not another celebrated event in the calendar of their love.

Thus she delivered unto Nathaniel Fujida the worst intelligence of all, no doubt as tenderly and delicately as possible. But it was, nonetheless, the single thing he feared most of all. It had now happened, and it was just as bad as he had imagined.

Sick to his stomach, overwhelmed, cast off, lost, his world now unhinged Nathaniel Fujita looked for comfort… and saw only loneliness, rejection, unimaginable pain he could not escape and which confounded and appalled. Oh, God, why me! But God did not answer…

Thus began the descent of young Nathaniel Fujida, swift of foot, strong of body, handsome of face, now desolate at the end of the love he was sure would endure forever, but had not.

On Sunday, July 3, a day before the citizens of Wayland would celebrate their country’s Independence Day, Nathaniel asked, insistently demanded to see his beloved. Lauren probably didn’t want to go; there would be a scene, of course, hot words, painful for both. But Lauren felt she owed this boy, once all in all to her, and loved, the courtesy of listening to him and soothing, if she could.

She drove to his house at 7:45 p.m., spoke to him for just 2 to 3 minutes; never getting out of the car. Did something she said now seal Lauren’s fate.or had Nathaniel already determined on what he must do? We do not and may never know.

But we know what he did, the better to ensure the girl he wanted and devoutly loved should never love another or be loved. He would do that which would keep her to himself, forever.

Lauren, caught unawares, perhaps without a clue how far gone in his special madness Nathaniel had already sunk, had no chance at all of preserving her young life once he had determined to end it. The struggle was brief, unequal, sickening, soon over.

Nathaniel’s strong hands and the weapon he used slashed her neck with a life wound, gaping, significant, horrendous. From here the brief life of beautiful, winning Lauren Astley flowed out, to be soon mixed in the limitless sea, where Nathaniel, his dark purpose accomplished, cast the body. There was a bungee cord tied around her neck, as if he thought he could recall her at will.

The police, of course, had no trouble finding him; he went straight home with the ghastly accoutrements and evidences of his unimaginable night’s work. He had made little effort to clean up… and none at all to flee. He had done what was needful… and was ready for whatever should come.

Lauren, petite, wide-smiled, elegant Lauren, would now love him and him only. And that was what he wanted, the only thing he’d ever wanted.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. at www.worldprofit.com, providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer http://SuccessClicks.com. Check out Google Cash Monster -> http://www.SuccessClicks.com/?rd=tn1llIa4