Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheating ISTEP Teachers...Do They Get Sent to the Principal?

The following was submitted by a Plymouth, Indiana citizen who asked not to be identified since there have been more allegations of death threats against those who are bold enough to speak out against corruption in their hometown.

 “Merit Pay” for public school teachers will not be successful. Based on  real-life experience, one too many judges (school administrators) of the teachers’ merits appear to be too susceptible to corruption to determine unprejudiced payments.  Sadly, this is a fact of our sinful human nature.  None of us can judge righteously except for Almighty God. All of us are inclined to being biased, influenced, and blind to sound reason.

As noted in the media, more than one Indiana teacher has committed serious ethical violations in ISTEP protocol, thus diminishing test results, cheating students, and causing THOUSANDS of public dollars to be wasted. IDOE Superintendent Tony Bennett has publicly stated these teachers COULD have their Indiana Teaching Licenses revoked---a punishment echoed by the ISTEP+ Program Manual.
 No severe punishment being administered  for these ISTEP violations negates the very future of ISTEP. If no severe consequences are enacted, few teachers would not be tempted or succumb to the pressure to positively influence their students’ ISTEP test results in order to increase their own merit pay .  For example,  if a student received a good grade by snitching a teacher’s answer sheet ahead of time, and the teacher learned of his theft and did nothing,  more students will begin to covertly help themselves to future answer sheets. Because of  enabling students' to cheat by permitting this act to pass without a severe consequence makes it hopeless  for the teacher to ever teach students  lessons about integrity—a foundation of any successful society.

According to the ISTEP+ Manual, there should be severe consequences for a teacher either knowingly or carelessly violating ISTEP protocol. The consequence should ALSO include superintendents, building administrators and even IDOE officials who “knowingly or carelessly” violated protocol by allowing teachers early access to test manuals or by publishing test questions in error on the internet that then showed up on the actual exam. If administrators either at the local or IDOE level have violated the protocol, then they should man up and take responsibility for their errors rather than blaming isolated teachers.

Necessary punishment for those responsible is not apparently happening in Plymouth, Indiana. PCS Superintendent Dan Tyree and his school board members did not even address this troubling issue at their 5/17/11 meeting. Instead, they approved the summer school contract for the teacher who reportedly “knowingly or carelessly” violated ISTEP protocol. She is reportedly back in the classroom after a paid suspension. The IDOE ISTEP+ Manual clearly declares these abuses of ISTEP protocol are most serious ethical violations. Yet, seemingly, no serious consequences were enacted. WHY???  Friendships? Political correctness?

The IDOE implies severe discipline is the responsibility of the local school, and the local school says it is the responsibility of the IDOE. Thus, the buck is passed back and forth, and the offender receives an unexpected paid vacation with a hand slap, while our students and entire educational community, including tax payers, suffer the consequences of these serious ISTEP violations.

This inequitable treatment  is especially troublesome when other former PCS employees (believed to be about 20 in number)-- the past few years have been pressured  to resign or been fired for minor or imagined infractions by the same Superintendent who now turns his head to this particular teacher’s serious wrong. These teachers-techies-coaches-custodians’ violations typically violated no PCS policy or any  law, Unlike the still-employed female teacher who committed this far-reaching ISTEP violation, these prior PCS employees’ alleged infractions typically involved no students and cost taxpayers nothing--not even a paid vacation! Their wrong was to dare to question or disagree with the superintendent’s wishes. Public schools are to model democracy, not dictatorships, to our students. That is not happening in Plymouth.

Why would a teacher choose to cheat on ISTEP?  Merit pay has a huge impact...Sadly, some school personnel chose to gain MERIT by believing they are bigger than the rules!  All parents want their children to do their best. Should we  not expect—even demand—the best from our children’s adult leaders? Of course!  Should these teachers be sent to the principal?  No, they should be sent home with no pay.  

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