School employees tarred with same brush

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Don't doubt yourself When daylight fades and darkness begins ... You're the one who knows where it's at. The rest who think they've got it pat Know nothing.

-- The Byrds

I ran into Brent Fowler, the excellent young assistant principal at Albany's Lincoln Magnet School, this weekend.

After we exchanged greetings, he looked at me expectantly, and I did the same. He was waiting for the inevitable question, and I guess I was expecting a response. Finally I settled the issue: "I'm proud of you," I said.

Fowler, who could turn on a fastball like few of his high school peers a few years back, grinned. All the tension eased out of him like air seeping out of a pinhole in a balloon. He relaxed.

"Thanks," he said. "I figured this would come up. It always does."

"This," of course, is the CRCT cheating scandal that hangs over the Dougherty County School System like a swarm of hungry mosquitoes, always within striking distance. Fowler was not implicated in the scandal, but that doesn't mean he hasn't heard about it.

"I pretty much prepare for it now everywhere I go," he said. "I'm going to a school meeting next week, and I know people are going to ask me about it. That's just the way it is. Everyone wants to talk about it."

While Fowler said he doesn't mind discussing with others the scandal that has made national headlines and has eroded community confidence in the local school system, he said there is one component of the criticism that irks him.

"Like I said, I understand that people are going to talk about this," he said. "But what I don't understand is why no one has defended the other teachers in the school system who did not cheat. No one talks about them. And when people condemn the actions of the teachers and administrators who cheated, they generally talk about the entire school system.

"In reality, though, even if all of the people who were accused (in a report filed by chief investigator Richard Hyde and delivered to Gov. Nathan Deal in December) of cheating did actually cheat, that's really a very small percentage of teachers in the system."

Fowler made the statement with such passion I was momentarily taken aback. He's not a man typically given to such displays.

We finished catching up, said our farewells and went our separate ways. Seeing Fowler reminded me that, despite the claims of its detractors -- the claims that are based on reality and others that are blown way out of proportion by this group and that -- Albany has not "run off" all its promising young professionals. He and others like 2010 DCSS Teacher of the Year Stephen Davis -- another Albany born-and-raised young talent -- are testaments to the promise that is widespread in this city, ready to blossom under the right tutelage.

Even with a full weekend of activities, I kept going back to Fowler's words. The more I thought about his comments, the more I realized how right he was.

This community -- and I'm including the various media that report on it, including this newspaper -- uses any opportunity to denounce the Dougherty School System for what is, you have to admit, an inordinate number of negative issues. And, in general, the complainers have every reason to do so. When you sink your share of $100 million into an enterprise, you expect a better return.

But while we're expressing our disapproval of the actions of some in the school system -- all the way from the classroom up through high-level administration to even the School Board -- we need to remember that each individual is responsible for his or her own actions. And while there is always a level of guilt by association -- it's human nature -- we should remember not to tar every school employee with the same brush.

As Fowler noted, "There are a lot of good people in this school system." Perhaps those good people, the ones who've maintained their integrity while others around them have taken whatever shortcut available, are even more deserving of our praise ... and our respect.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.


LuLu 3 years, 10 months ago

Maybe you should do a feature story on the good ones, then. God knows, we could use some positive press out of the DCSS.


waltspecht 3 years, 10 months ago

Then the DA says the Community suffers from a Culture of deciet, as far as stealing Lunch Money from us Taxpayers. There are apparently so many, he wants to Re-Boot the system instead of persueing the theft, and those responsible. He also stated the problem lies within the system itself, as it's intent is to nurish students, not prosecute abuse. This all just seems wrong to me. The Feds should administer a program and enforce the requirements. The DA shouldn't look for ways to let Crooks get away with it for now, but find a means to assure the guilty are punished. If it is so wide spread, Community Service should have enough folks to actually clean up the whole City.


coachjohnson42 3 years, 10 months ago

The shining light in the DCSS is its Assistant Principals. They hold the schools together and do most of the difficult work. They get hardly any credit and they deserve to be Principals. The same goes for the good teachers who help lead the schools in leadership positions. These people deserve better.


Shinedownfan 3 years, 10 months ago

Like I squawked before... it's embarrassing for employees who have done no wrong, they'd rather tell others they work at McDonald's than for the DCSS. Such a shame.


agirl_25 3 years, 10 months ago

As Mr. Fowler said, "In reality, though, even if all of the people who were accused of cheating did actually cheat, that's really a very small percentage of teachers in the system." He is right of course. A small percentage but hopefully of that group some were not aware of those who were cheating. I would hate to think, as professionals, they protected them. Not living in the city or surrounding area of Albany I am curious as to the general location of the schools involved in the scandal too. I noticed Mr. Fletcher mentioned Magnet Schools. Altho I know what one is they did not exist when my children were in school so I am wondering if there were no cheating problems in this type school? As far at the DA goes...my gosh, where did he go to school.....wait, don't tell me...let me guess....he got a degree in Criminal Justice from ASU for starters...huh?


coachjohnson42 3 years, 10 months ago

If he did, he would be much smarter than what he is....


Cartman 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree Carlton. By the same token, there are many good and decent people employed at Phoebe Putney as well. But that does not vindicate the actions of the higher administration.


Abytaxpayer 3 years, 10 months ago

Not everyone paints with such a broad brush a lot of people in Albany realize that a few bad people cast a shadow over even the innocents. As I posted before “The real shame is there are many good people in DCSS who now hang their heads in embarrassment because of the "49". Instead of calling for swift actions to remove the cancer from DCSS a large number of people made excuses for the offenders and painted people speaking out for improving DCSS as “Haters” The children are the ones paying the price!


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