Reporters waited outside the Fulton County Jail to give a chronicle as each person surrendered to law enforcement officers. These people were indicted (a total of 35) by a special grand jury regarding the Atlanta Public Schools cheating episode. There is interest in exposing all named in the indictments. I fully believe in a basic principle of our rule of law, that being, “a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” This column is not to address guilt or innocence in this issue.
The issue first came into public view when a group of reporters began noticing the scores in the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests or better known as CRCT. This measuring instrument is a tool used to determine the competency of students in the teaching-learning process. Upon study, it was learned that test scores were beginning to go upward when there was no parallel evidence being seen in students being able to excel in their abilities as they advanced to higher grade levels. I will leave the balance of the report to the law enforcement community to be able to put forward their evidence concerning the charges that have now been made public for the entire nation to hear.
The greater issue, for me, is that which seems to have happened to our culture where cheating, cutting corners, getting an unfair advantage or whatever else one wants to call the malady that is engulfing our culture. We hear of sports figures shaving points. We read about so-called “white collar” crimes in the business world. We view reports of break-ins at businesses and homes. We know of the scams occurring almost daily with senior adults being the target of those who will take advantage of them in order to separate them from their money. The religious community has its share of cheating issues and charges.
It is difficult to constantly read reports in the media of a culture of corruption that has taken over our society. There are more questions than answers to this issue. What happens that makes us want to excel by taking advantage of someone else? Why do we think that no one else will ever know? How do we come to a place to think we can explain the wrong we commit is not our fault? Is it a total loss of respect for self, authority, and the rule of law that propels one to go forward with a plan involving cheating? As I say, there are more questions than answers. Often, it is discovered that a person is involved way beyond the point of no return in a cheating episode. They believe that they must continue down the wrong path in order to cover up their dishonesty.
While it is true there are corrupt people with plans to take advantage of others, I believe the majority of people are not like that. From where I stand, before passing judgment may we let the evidence show guilt or innocence?
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr
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