"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
Standing in front of the Government Center on Thursday, former NAACP president and community activist William Wright decried the investigation into teachers accused of changing answers from wrong to right on the 2009 CRCT exams as nothing more than a “witch hunt,” saying that “these teachers were trying to give lower-income children a degree of hope. We’re not talking about right and wrong.”
Wright’s statements couldn’t be further from the truth.
At its very core, the CRCT investigation is about right versus wrong. If the teachers changed the answers as alleged by a report compiled by state investigators, their acts were not only morally wrong, but were devoid of any shred of ethical decency and could be legally questionable as well.
In many ways, teachers are like police officers and firefighters in the eyes of the public.
They are expected by the communities in which they serve to be beyond ethical or moral reproach. They are entrusted with the education of our youth.
Modern-day teaching is as much about what’s not taught in the curriculum as what is. Students, especially the younger ones who take tests like the CRCT, are acutely aware of teacher’s mannerisms, personality, body language and tone.
Our future as a society is too important to allow teachers and administrators to tacitly send the message to students, “Hey, don’t worry about the rules and regs. If you run into a problem or are faced with a challenge, don’t rise above it, or bother doing all that work to overcome it. Just find a way to bend the rules. It’s easier that way.”
To paraphrase John Kennedy, American society became strong because we challenged ourselves. We didn’t take the easy path. And, when given the option, we chose the tougher path because we knew if we made it through it, we’d be all the better for it.
And, Mr. Wright, as much as you’d like to believe that there are some racial undertones to the investigation because, as you point out, “all the teachers involved were black,” that dog just won’t hunt.
The investigation centered on the schools where there were higher-than-usual numbers of wrong-to-right erasures. From that point, the investigators interviewed throngs of teachers, staff and administrators to drill down to the various classrooms where there was a prevalence of erasures.
Mr. Wright, are you honestly shocked that, in a system whose teachers are predominately black, that a sampling of those teachers would also be predominately black?
The teacher of the year for 2012 was black. Is the community to follow your logic and assume that there was some nefarious racially-motivated scheme to put her ahead of the non-black teachers? Absolutely not. It’s beyond ridiculous, as is your assumption.
The 2012 teacher of the year got there on her own merits, as did the 26 teachers and administrators who found themselves on the CRCT cheating list.
Email J.D. Sumner at firstname.lastname@example.org.