Mercy Given To Convicted Atlanta Public School Administrators

Earlier today Judge Jerry Baxter reduced sentences for the three Atlanta Public School convicted administrators that he gave the longest prison sentences. Originally, Tamara Cotman, Sharon Davis-Williams andand Michael Pitts were convicted of racketeering each given a 20 year prison sentence to serve seven years, 13 years probation and a 25,000 fine two weeks ago.

With national attention, local outrage, local protests, and a huge media frenzy with various education and legal experts theorizing why the sentences were so harsh for these non-violent, first time offenders; Judge Baxter held aa revised sentencing hearing today. The new sentences for each of the three administrators is a ten year sentence to serve three, seven years probation, 2,000 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine.

As many in the packed Fulton County courtroom sat anxiously waiting for the new sentences, Judge Baxter seem to ramble along during his remarks mentioning he thought a lot after the original sentencing. And, kept thinking that something was wrong with the original sentences and decided to re-sentence the three and give a fairer punishment.

I still believe the punishment should have not wasted tax payer money with actual prison time. These jails are so over crowded that there often is not enough room for violent offenders to the point that there is an early release program in place. Instead of actual jail time, Baxter could have sentenced all eleven defendants who went to trial two to five years of teaching reading, writing and math to prison inmates.

With 70% or more of inmates who do not read, that would be a more appropriate punishment that actually fit the crime/conviction with no fine. Some, if not all of the APS teachers and administrators accused in this cheating scandal have already been ruined financially, lost their homes, their right to vote, and may even lose their pensions. Why pour salt in the financial wound?  What purpose does it serve?

What do you think would be the most appropriate punishment and why?

Have Mercy on the APS Teachers

The entire country is waiting for the sentencing of eleven Atlanta Public School (APS) teachers and administrators who have been found guilty in the APS cheating scandal. Though they were scheduled to be sentence yesterday, the judge decided today to take another day to consider some alternatives to prison time as the public cries out for leniency for these defendants who are also victims.

Yes, these APS teachers and administrators are victims just as other teachers and administrators across the country are caught in the same trap. Yes, the trap is the No Child Left Behind Act signed into law by President Bush in 2002 that said all children will be taught the same way and take the same tests.

Well, obviously the federal government does not know that children learn differently…and that a single test may not be a good predictor of what a child knows and has learned, etc. With all the pressure nationwide to make sure children passed the tests, there was enormous pressure from the top down to make sure scores were good. It is unbelievable and possibly unethical that APS and districts across the U.S. would get incentives/bonuses for good test results.

Whether the school Superintendents knew cheating was going on is irrelevant.  When you are a leader, you are recognized when great things happen and take the fall when crap happens on your watch. Leaders are chosen to lead and take responsibility for the good, bad, and the ugly. Therefore, if you do not know what your people are doing, you are still held accountable. Period!

Without getting further into the weeds of this “very preventable” cheating scandal, I pray that the judge is lenient in sentencing these APS employees. They have already been taken to jail (right after the verdict), humiliated, and had their careers taken away.  That is more punishment than many real criminals get. Sentencing them to jail time would be overkill.