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When good men do nothing

 

Ralph Thomas

Columnist

  When I brought my computer out of its nightly sleep, I was greeted  by the headline, Feds: “Teachers embroiled in test-taking fraud.”

  My interest was aroused because of the recent and shameful publicity about widespread cheating on tests in several school systems surrounding our county. I was proud that the Henry County School System was not implicated in this scandal.

  Because I have high regard for our school system and great respect for the teachers therein, most of whom are worth much more than they are paid, any indication of wrongdoing would immediately raise a red flag for me. At a time in our society when many parents have expected teachers to instill values, manners and morals in the minds of their children instead of doing it themselves, we need to be even more alert for wrong-doing in our educational system.           

  Parents, as well as teachers and school administrators, must have had reasons to be suspicious about the school cheating scandals long before they were exposed by the media. In other words, it was allowed to continue for any number of reasons. I have often thought the biggest problem in our public school systems is parents, not teachers. Parents have a responsibility to closely monitor the educational process to which they have submitted their children. Unfortunately, many parents have not been involved in their child’s educational process. But, there is a larger problem.

  In this morning’s headline, it has come to light that for 15 years, teachers in three Southern states (Georgia was not one of them) have paid someone else to take tests they must pass to qualify them to become classroom teachers. Why 15 years? I find it hard to believe that having to pay between $1500 and $2000 to have a professional test-taker, using falsified documents to perform such a criminal act, would go unnoticed. How could someone not know this was taking place? Or, the larger and more important question might be, why wasn’t it reported and  . . .  if it was, why wasn’t action taken to root out the cheating teachers and the professional educator who was behind this scheme to defraud children of a quality education?

  Perhaps we have become immune to dishonesty. Many times dishonesty involving small things is overlooked as not being worth the trouble of addressing. However, when dishonesty, even in the small things, is allowed to occur it eventually becomes the accepted way of doing business.  I think most readers will agree our current economic crisis is due in great part because dishonesty became the normal way of doing business. Because dishonesty became the accepted way of doing business, those whom we thought were tasked with the responsibility of protecting us failed in their obligations and we are now suffering the results.

  “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing” is not an unfamiliar saying. So, why do we allow the evil of dishonesty to continue  . . .  especially in such an important area as a public school system? Tens of thousands of students have been harmed academically because good people did nothing  . . .  for 15 years. Has our unwillingness to address dishonesty been worth it? I don’t think so. What kind of explanation can be given to our children when they learn their teachers could not pass the required tests to qualify them for the classroom?  And, what kind of example have we set for our children when we did nothing to safeguard their educational process? Eventually, we will experience the results of our lack of addressing dishonesty in the educational process. Not only will our children suffer, but our society will suffer as well.  I don’t think overlooking such dishonesty is worth the price we will have to pay.

 

  Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun. ralph_thomas@bellsouth.net

 

 

 

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