A Maryland foundation plans to continue to invest in Atlanta’s school system despite a Georgia state investigation which uncovered evidence of widespread cheating involving principals, administrators and teachers in city schools.
According to Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV, institutionalized cheating was found in 44 of the 56 schools examined, with some 178 teachers and principals involved. Despite the findings, the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation said they still believe in the Atlanta school system.
“The reason we’re investing in this set of neighborhoods is because these are the kids that need and deserve the most attention,” said Gail Hayes, director of the foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site.
Since 2005, the organization has partnered with the school system and established an Early Learning Center connected to Dunbar Elementary, one of the schools under investigation, according to WSB-TV. The organization said it has implemented additional testing to ensure cheating does not occur at the center.
“At the beginning of the school year, we’re doing baseline assessments,” Hayes said. “Then throughout the year, we’re doing benchmark testing to see how they’re doing, so that we really know how kids are doing.”
“The conversation that we need to be having as a city is a conversation about how do we make sure that our kids are going to be successful in school, and that we’re launching successful adults,” she said. “Really, the future of Atlanta depends on this.”
Beverly Hall, the ex-superintendent of Atlanta schools, has been at the center of the cheating controversy but will keep her “superintendent of the year” award for now, according to USA Today.
The American Association of School Administrators gave Hall the award for her ability to turn Atlanta into a “model of urban school reform.”
Hall told USA Today that she “absolutely knew nothing about cheating” during her tenure as superintendent.