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Letters: Focus on kids, not tests

April 06, 2013

Re "Cheating is cheating," Editorial, April 3

You accuse us of weakening our condemnation of test score tampering in Atlanta because we also condemned the climate created by policymakers' fixation on standardized tests. Cheating is cheating. It should never be done. On that we fully agree. In fact, it was the Georgia Federation of Teachers that first blew the whistle on the cheating scandal.

We are surprised you would conflate that condemnation of cheating with the other point we were making, a point the Georgia investigators made as well. Their final report said that Atlanta schools had a "culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation" that silenced and punished whistle-blowers.

This is an opportunity to change our public education culture, which makes test scores more important than anything else. Let's acknowledge the complexities and components necessary to educate and excite students and be laser-focused on ensuring that all our children receive an excellent education. So, as we are condemning cheating, let's also condemn the shortcuts. By denouncing cheating and providing children with a rich, well-rounded education, particularly our most vulnerable kids, we will learn the lessons of the Atlanta scandal.

Randi Weingarten, Washington

Verdaillia Turner, Atlanta

Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers; Turner is president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers.


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