Today's indictment of the former Atlanta schools superintendent is an amazing turn of events, but why stop with her? The indictment offers no evidence that ex-superintendent Beverly Hall had ever directly instructed any teachers to cheat on state tests, but bases its case on the "no excuses" culture of "constant pressure" for higher test scores. According to the District Attorney, Dr. Hall "is a full participant in the conspiracy. Without her, this conspiracy could not have taken place, particularly in the degree it took place." This makes sense to me, but it is worth noting that by this logic we should also be indicting a lot of other people: the Secretary of Education, a couple of Presidents, sundry Congressmen.
There has never, as far as I know, been even a single school that managed to get very poor kids to test as well as rich kids. The basic premise of the No Child Left Behind Act was flawed and cynical in its essence. I hope we're starting to realize that, and I hope that what has happened in Atlanta will be seen as an indictment, not only of Dr. Hall, but of our whole misguided system of high-stakes testing and gross inequality.