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It's the investigators who owe DCSS an explanation

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Holy Moses, I have been deceived.

— Elton John

It was rock and roll poet Paul Simon who noted, “A man hears what he wants to hear, and he disregards the rest.”

I thought about those words recently while listening to a group discuss “the latest idiocy of the Dougherty County School Board.” Their conversation related to recent tribunal hearings for teachers and administrators named in a report prepared by a special panel created by former Gov. Sonny Perdue to investigate possible cheating during the administration of Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the Dougherty school system in 2009.

The panel, which included former state Attorney General Mike Bowers, former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson and investigator Richard Hyde, reported that 49 school officials had been involved in test erasures. Their report included the ominous determination: “What we found was an acceptance of wrongdoing, a pattern of incompetence and a lack of will to correct it.”

Now, with several costly tribunal hearings ending in unanimous recommendations that accused school officials should have their contracts renewed and be allowed to return to their jobs, many are pointing fingers at the School Board.

Why, it appears to be the logic, let something like the facts get in the way of taking another dig at the much-maligned board?

Here, then, a few of those facts:

— The Dougherty School System School Board did not recommend that the accused educators’ contracts be renewed. An independent tribunal with no ties to the system voted, 3-0 in each case, to reverse non-renewal recommendations made by Superintendent Joshua Murfree that had been made based on the CRCT report sent to Gov. Nathan Deal after Deal replaced Perdue in the governor’s office. The School Board will, though, make the ultimate decision on what happens to the impacted educators.

— The tribunal’s recommendations to reverse the contract non-renewals suggested by Murfree were based on evidence presented during the hearings. As one person who took part in that process told me, “The evidence presented often didn’t match what was in the report. For instance, the report said that some (teachers and administrators) ‘admitted’ to cheating, and then after listening to more than two hours of tapes of their interviews, there was never any kind of admission.”

— It turns out most of the “evidence” presented by the investigators amounted to charges of using “facial expressions” and “voice inflection” as intent by teachers (and, to a lesser degree, administrators) to encourage students to change answers.

Like most folks, I was originally stunned that so many school system employees were implicated in the extensive — and expensive — investigation. I, too, wondered if the system had reached a new low.

But after reading reports and talking to people involved in the actual tribunal hearings and finding out the “evidence” used to prove teachers and administrators had indeed cheated during the administration of the standardized tests, I was apalled that — in most cases — there was almost no evidence of actual wrongdoing.

I’m well aware that many people in this community have such low opinions of the school system that few want to be fair when it comes to assessing the system’s troubles. But who thinks it’s right for someone to have their career taken away based primarily on words they might — or might not — have stressed during instructions to students?

That’s particularly worrisome when consideration is given to the fact that many of the accusations came from students too young to understand the ramifications of questions being asked of them. I’d venture a guess that many of the students interviewed gave the answers they thought the investigators wanted to hear, kids’ attempts to please the grown-ups.

No, the outrage over this “scandal” that has rocked the school system for the last year-plus is, for the most part, being misdirected. Instead of railing against the School Board or the accused teachers and administrators, perhaps we should be looking at the motivation of the investigators who came into town looking to find the kind of corruption that was rampant in the Atlanta School System.

Were they motivated by the standby “doing what’s right for the children” — children they didn’t know — or were they justifying the no doubt tens of thousands of dollars they were paid to find corruption in a system that was already under fire?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know it would be a great injustice to strip anyone of his or her livelihood based on evidence as flimsy as voice inflection and facial expression, evidence this all-powerful investigative team used to determine intent.

Instead of damning the School Board or most of the accused school officials, perhaps the community and state — and the children — would be better served by having Messrs. Bowers, Wilson and Hyde justify a hugely expensive report that proved virtually nothing.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Fletcher.........there are no words to describe what an intolerable FOOL you are.

WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION FOR THE ASTRONOMICAL NUMBER OF WRONG-TO-RIGHT ERASURES in DoCo that were so extremely uncharacteristic of VIRTUALLY ALL OTHER SCHOOL SYSTEMS IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA??

Was DoCo the only place where teachers told the children "Check your answers! Check your work!" ?? Is there enough time during these testing periods for all the children to go over and over the questions and answers and realize mistakes and make corrections (only in DoCo?) ??

Somebody needs to explain something allright...........somebody needs to explain probability and statistics to lawyers and school tribunal members. Apparently Higher Math has not made it down to these parts yet.

Think about what you are saying and the implications of these results, Fletcher! GOOD GOD A MIGHTEY!!

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 7 months ago

YOUR NEGATIVE OUTLOOK IS NOT WELCOME HERE, TAKE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!

INTERNET POSTER!

YOU LOST, GET MAD AT YOUR DEVIL, THANK YOU JESUS!

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 7 months ago

Speak for yourself, I happen to thoroughly enjoy Sister Ruby's comments. She's got humor, common sense and God on her side. Your comments, however, I will skip over cause they ramble-on, are full of such idiocy, and are not worth my time.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 7 months ago

What God are you refering to, you mean the Devil on her side. You must be from another community also,are you?

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lynn227 1 year, 7 months ago

Higher math still can't tell you, WHO. That's the problem here. You can move on now. This part of the train wreck is over. You're going to need that nastiness for Part II.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

The members of the Tribunal certainly weren't educated legal scholars. They dealt more from the gut than law. They didn't base their decisions on any legal precident. They were just like Judge Judy, rendering decisions based on their opinion of what transpired, not fact. At least she admits she does it because she can. Do you really believe these investigators, trained professionals, were that much in error in their findings? Only in a warped, prejudiced Liberal mind.

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lynn227 1 year, 7 months ago

You don't have be a legal scholar to have common sense. If you look at the Atlanta report, the charges are written, word for word, the same as Albany. You can black out the original Atlanta teacher's name and plug in one from Albany. That especially is true for voice inflection and facial expression. When GBI agent Smalley was asked, why? Why voice inflection and facial expression? She said that was what they came up with in Atlanta and she figured that would be the best reason for Albany. In other words, it was her idea to get someone to agree, their voice or face could possibly be used to make a child alter an answer. It didn't matter that it never happened. All the teacher would have to do is agree it was possible, that became their CONFESSION. Are you kidding? In other words, you didn't investigate people here...you just plugged their name into a paragraph from the Atlanta report. She then admitted in a hearing last week, she did not investigate the Para in the room with the teacher. She did not question other teachers about the teacher in question or interview the parents of her former students. Why? She stated, "The investigation was for only a certain length of time and we were winding down...so I...so we...we just never did." Then you have Coleman say in his summation, "I admit you never heard her say 'she cheated' on this recording. There was no admittance. She did say, it's possible to affect a choice by voice inflection or facial expression" Error in their findings? What findings? I love it when people whine here but have never bothered to attend the hearings or listen to the recordings. If you had been there last week, to hear GBI agent Smalley, it would have been a revelation!

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 7 months ago

Remember what I stated from the onset "NOTHING FROM NOTHING LEAVE NOTHING"

LEAVE THE DCSS ALONE, ALLOW THEM TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN........

listen - WE THE VOTERS BACK OUR LEADERS - 100%

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thedeepend 1 year, 7 months ago

Can you not see Albany is in decline? Is power & control worth ruining the future of children who can't afford a private school? Our public schools are the first major hurdle to getting this city out of a rut, but you, like most of Albany, are too busy playing the race card to one up the other side than do what is best for the town as a whole. This is not leadership, but its representative of where we are as a city and exactly why we are failing to compete with the rest of the state, so lay the blame on your own doorstep.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 7 months ago

What rock have you been under? 100% of the voters do not back the leaders. That is never a good thing either. If this were, then the leaders can do anything they wish to and get away with it. Maybe the state of Georgia needs to cast out Albany from the state because that is the actions I am seeing in Albany. If you do not want to abide by the rules of Georgia, then withdraw and live alone. Was it not Al Sharpton who suggested this?

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 7 months ago

I"M BACK, WHERE OR WHERE IS MY NEGATIVE POSTER? I WILL WORK THIS STORY TODAY.

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ittybittyme 1 year, 7 months ago

I am a voter and I DO NOT SUPPORT OUR PRESENT LEADERS! YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME OR TO ME BUBBAVET. I am disappointed in the black community(most of the people holding political office or school board positions are black). People(white folks) who actually pay the bills, taxes, and hold down jobs are leaving in mass. The black community is starting to see where the money is coming from and the city is going to be worse than Detroit and just another statistic. It can't happen to a nicer crowd or to a person like BUBBAVET. Remember, Karma is a you-know-what.

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lynn227 1 year, 7 months ago

Let them leave! There ought to be a fund set up so they can move, immediately! If all you can see is black/white instead of human condition, they should take their trifling butt on out of here. We who love Albany and all it can be...we will wave "Bon Voyage!" as you sail away. If you think in your twisted mind that whites are the only one who pay taxes, bills, and hold down jobs...run don't walk, over the county line.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Bubbavet_rureel just want me to tell him where I stays so he can come over. Not going to happen. I stays in Dougherty County and that's all you need to know. Quit "lying on me" whatever that means.

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Albanite 1 year, 7 months ago

This editorial is so absurd that Fletcher cannot possibly be serious. Someone please tell me that this writer hasn't completely lost his mind.

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Momof3 1 year, 7 months ago

I just saw the story headline and came straight to the comments .. it's better that way.

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 7 months ago

I do the exact same thing! Very seldom do I go back and read the column, I tried this time, but gave up after the fifth sentence.

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buddy 1 year, 7 months ago

The first sign of a useless rant is when someone uses song lyrics from the distant past to lead off their thoughts. Could someone please give Ole Carl some new glasses so he can see the writing on the wall.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

So tell me something. Once the Corps starts getting feedback from the Marines with children that they don't want to be transfered to the Albany Base because of the Schools. What do you think they will do when it comes up to a choice protecting bases from closing? Afterall, it is a Marine Base, not a Civilian Facility. If you have any hope of keeping the Base, you had best do all you can to straighten up the Schools that are supposed to service the Base. Open your eyes, it is obvious that they have a low opinion of the schools, and have been getting complaints. Look at those attending Worth County, and the request to attend Lee County. That costs them extra, yet they are willing to do it to give their Children a chance. Whether that extra is gas to get them there, or fees they are willing to pay. It tells the true story of the Dougherty County Schools and the distain they are held in..

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lynn227 1 year, 7 months ago

If you are a soldier, you go where you are sent. It's not the Doublegate Country Club. You don't get to pick and choose. If they wanted to choose where they would be assigned, they came to the wrong place, and they signed on the wrong line. That is silly! Do you think people want to move with their family when they are sent to Japan? Germany? That little tornado alley in Oklahoma? Or, Texas? They change their curriculum so much...they're not even sure what they teach. Or, the many other places left of hell, the military likes to send a soldier and his family? As for them choosing how to educate their families? It's done all the time and the bases survive.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 7 months ago

But MCSS is NOT going to survive. And the Maine families whose children go to Germany and Japan go to school on bases taught by federal teachers. There is no comparison to DCSS. And yes, the families do have some imput where they go and BRAC will be listening. There has already been a message, kids on base go to Worth Co. and want to go to Lee Co. Have not heard any wanting to go to DCSS.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

You know when I was in there were dream sheets, and detailers. Many folks I know worked their way around many places. Now it wasn't Junior Enlisteds, but I watched many a Senior Enlisted get what they wanted. Overseas always seemed to have someone standing in line to go there just for the vacation opportunities. The new Military is also far more concerned about Family life and opportunities. Many a base school I know of sprung up because the surrounding schools were poor. I guess you just had a different experience than mine. You can't keep quality people in anymore unless you look out for their family. Especially in critical rates that can easily find a Civilian job. Why do you think re-enlistment bonus is up to $120,000 for a skilled rate?

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chinaberry25 1 year, 7 months ago

I have said this for months. DCSS will be the closing of the Marine Base. Alabama colleges look over DCSS transcripts with a fine tooth comb. Does ASU ever turn someone down?

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ObjectiveEyes 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm convinced, as a squawker suggested last week, that Mr. Fletcher publishes these types of "commentaries" to elicit exactly this type of response. There's no way that he can actually believe even one-half of what he writes. (Maybe if we ignore him, he'll go away...)

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Outtahere 1 year, 7 months ago

Let's move on to an issue where we do have solid facts, like a signature, on a reduced lunch application.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Why? You'll only get the same old BS from the other side.

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AnotherMom 1 year, 7 months ago

I wondered the same thing as Mr. Fletcher as to why so many teachers were being found "not guilty" and returned to the classroom. So I began reading his column with interest only to be thrown a curveball. My thought on the matter is that the tribunal, which was made up of former educators, is where the bump in the road occurred. They may have been a little soft on the accused as they understood the motivation to cheat; i.e., improve scores, make your school look better, get more money for your school, etc.

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lynn227 1 year, 7 months ago

No, they got to listen to the tapes along with the testimony from the GBI agent. They got to hear from the witnesses. They got more than a five sentence paragraph in a flawed report. They got to hear why the GBI agent decided to use the exact same wording they used in Atlanta for Albany. If you had bothered to show up...you wouldn't be saying what you did in your last few sentences about that tribunal. Who, besides those in administration and high places, care about getting money for their schools. Teachers never see that money. It's more likely to be spent decorating the lobby, than in the classroom. Improve scores? The schools that care about that have a foolproof method. They dump their behavior problems and low achievers on other public schools.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

BVR thanks for today’s FUNNY.

It would be so hilarious if not for the fact people like you are the very products of DCSS and ASU you support so vigorously. As you say "NOTHING FROM NOTHING LEAVE NOTHING" I know you say that and have no clue what you are really saying . So I will explain it to you. NOTHING (no knowledge) FROM NOTHING (incompetent teachers and Leaders) LEAVES NOTHING GAINED (children unprepared to compete as MAKERS thus they are DOOMED to be TAKERS). You are so happy to sit in your bliss because you don’t know any better, while those of us who know BETTER want better and are not content to sit ideally by while you and your followers try to drag the world down around us. It is not surprising to see you cry “WE THE VOTERS BACK OUR LEADERS - 100%” because you don’t have a clue as to the possibility of a better life. BUT while you cry for more of the same, some of us will say H3LL No........ We want a BETTER tomorrow for ALL.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

I want a better tomorrow for those willing to work for it, to get their ass out of bed in the early morning, go to work, break a sweat, do more than is expected, exceed customer expectations, and strive for Excellence.

Everybody else can go to Hell. Satan has a real good job for you down there: Standing on your head in a 3-foot deep burning hot pile of $4IT all day.

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mnavie1111 1 year, 7 months ago

Just want to say thanks bubba for telling that fake sister to comment about where she lives. Knowing she lives in Valdosta. And u know who enjoys her comments. Everyone loves a clown in black face. Reminds me of Clarence Thomas.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

Old Democrat trick.....If you can't beat 'em, lie about 'em. Liar.

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TheMember 1 year, 7 months ago

Two things: Carlton is an idiot and must be the moderator of the posts here, because they failed to post my second comment in last weeks pitiful rant by Carlton. The second is Bubbavet_rereel, I keep telling you, is a young white kid trying to get everyone stirred up on racial issues posing as a supporter of all the racial issues. I have to be right, because nobody is that ridiculous with their statements.

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agirl_25 1 year, 7 months ago

Dunno, Carlton...I kinda like Paul Simon's "You Can Call me Al" but the video cracks me up...hahahaha....but you are right......"A man hears what he wants to hear, and he disregards the rest.”

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Roundman 1 year, 7 months ago

Maybe they can fluff up your pillow now too --- AS YOU ARE IN THE BED WITH THEM NOW FOR SURE!! COMFIE --??? PITTIFUL - SAD - BUT NOT SUPRISING!! IDIOT

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