Philadelphian Dave Tomar writes in the New York Times that he was shocked, shocked to learn of standardized test cheating scandals in so many public schools...after spending 10 years as an "academic ghostwriter," often "helping" aspiring teachers and principals. He doesn't teach in the Philly schools, but he seems to have a good handle on the crisis:
I live in Philadelphia, where the school system borders on a post-apocalyptic Blade Runner-like reality of violence, blight and decay. I have a friend who works as a public school teacher here. She tells me the students have named some of the larger and more charming cockroaches with whom they share classroom space. This year, after a budget shortfall of $304 million forced the school district to cut nursing staff by some 40 percent, a 12-year-old girl died of an asthma attack.
To say that Philadelphia’s students aren’t getting what they need is an offensive understatement. But blaming teachers for the fact that students perform poorly under these conditions is like blaming the weatherman for an umbrella shortage.
In 2010 and 2011, Philadelphia had its own wrong-to-right teacher cheating scandal. What happened when the school districts cracked down? The most notable effect was a terrific drop in scores, in one case by as much as 70 percent.
Yet some people do blame the teachers...you may meet a few of them in the comments below!