Thursday, February 14, 2013

GOP backed for profit school caught deleting "failing grades."

Courtesy of Raw Story:  

A for-profit school that was hyped by Republican lawmakers as a solution to Tennessee’s education problems recently admitted deleting bad grades to “more accurately recognize students’ current progress.” 

A December email obtained by WTVF showed that Tennessee Virtual Academy’s vice principal instructed middle school teachers to delete “failing grades” from October and September. 

“After … looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays,” the email says, adding that each teacher needed to “take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress.” 

“If you have given an assignment and most of your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade out.” 

Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson said she was horrified because the school’s instructions amounted to cheating. 

“Does it talk about we need to make changes in curriculum? Does it talk about we need to make changes in our teaching strategy? No,” Johnson told WTVF. “Those changes we need to make are deleting grades from the computer system.” 

“To come in and say ‘everybody who made failing grades the first two months, we need to delete those grades,’ to me that’s a huge issue,” she explained. “To me, this appears like it’s grade fixing.” 

The problem with for profit schools is that if their product, student's grades, is not good enough there will be less profit. So if you cannot delver the goods, you take shortcuts.

Just another reason why capitalism and education shouldn't mix.

There is more on this situation to be found here.


  1. Anonymous2:16 AM

    What a surprise. It is the GOP way after all: if you aren't succeeding, lie and cheat. If you aren't producing, say you are in a loud and angr manner. And thsi is what ALEC intends to do to our entire education system: dumb it down, don't teach, and produce a generation of illiterates who will work for $7/hour with no benefits and be forced to use any remaining government aid in order to survive, THEN they will be denigrated by the very party creating this mess for being 'takers.' The GOP is trying to turn us into a Third World nation, just as Arianna said.

  2. Differing objectives between private for-profit entities and public institutions result in these mis-aligned incentives.

    A public school is a cost center or an investment which is focused on maximizing learning and knowledge for its students by teaching children within a prescribed budget.

    A business entity, especially a corporation, has one primary focus, and that us to maximize its profits, thereby maximizing shareholder. In doing so, it must produce its services at the lowest costs possible which are acceptable to its reviewing authority.

    Whatever money the private entity saves goes into their pockets, not the public's. They have no incentive to add value to their services, but merely to be rated acceptable for their services. Grade fixing is a natural result of a bad fit between education and for-profit private businesses.

    I'd like to hear from the teachers in the Virtual Academy to hear their feelings and to see their credentials. We're not talking about "social promotions or grade inflation" here. This is systemic cheating by a company to make more money without teaching the kids what they are being paid to teach. This is fraud being committed for the comlany's benefit only. These people are crooks, stealing from the state as well as the children.

  3. Randall3:01 AM

    A TRUTH about capitalism:

    If cheating/lying will increase profits, then people WILL cheat and/or lie.

    That's why there MUST be rules and regulations that are ENFORCED.


    IF breaking the rules/regulations is without consequences, then the rules WILL be broken EVERY TIME.

    Those are immutable facts of life, gang.
    And no - I'm NOT a communist: I'm a realist.
    I believe in capitalism - with regulations.
    Capitalism DOES NOT WORK without regulation.

    The history of America was a series of boom-and-bust cycles - until 1933 and Glass Steagall which made it illegal for banks to cheat. We had 50 years with no bust and for the first time in history, a successful middle class that the world had never seen the likes of.

    Then came the '80's and Reagan and Gramm-Leach-Bliley which repealed Glass-Steagall...
    and we had the S&L crises, the dot-com bust, and then the BIG MELTDOWN of 2008 which nearly tanked the economy of the entire world.

    And THAT'S why privatizing Social Security, Medicare, Health Care, Schools, etc.
    Will never work.

    Because if there's profit in it - people WILL cheat.

    1. Anonymous9:12 AM

      Look at all of the cheating that goes on with the Medicare system now, as well.

  4. Anonymous3:18 AM

    Rep. Johnson is correct. When profits are involved, shortcuts will be made. That's why tort law exists, in large part. Whatever "product" is being made must be regulated because greed will trump quality.

  5. Anonymous4:46 AM

    Personal testimony of a parent whose children were in the ALEC backed Indiana Connections Virtual Academy. This is standard practice. Allowing students to redo work ad infinitum until they get a passing grade, hiring freelancers to "design" curriculum, no curriculum oversight, errors in the curriculum that don't get corrected, no way to know if it is the parent, the child or a friend or older brother or sister who is doing the work.

  6. Anonymous4:48 AM

    Oh, and Indiana Connections Academy was originally based out of a small charter school in.... Sullivan County... the homophobe prom place in yesterday's article.

  7. Anonymous5:44 AM

    4:48 AM
    Interesting "coincidence".

  8. Leland5:46 AM

    The problem as it exists - if I may paraphrase - is basically simple. As long as the PUNISHMENT costs anyone LESS than the profit made, there will be cheating and law breaking.

    As long as multi-billion dollar companies (especially including those who make multi-billions ANNUALLY) are slapped on the wrist with multi-MILLION dollar fines instead of of BILLIONS, they will continue.

    That's why I love to listen to the fines ordered by the EU court system. Any fines for cheating or illegal activity are far more severe than here. Not that they are ENOUGH, mind you, but far better than what WE do.

    Enforce the laws we have and back them up with strict punishments that ARE punishments. CLOSE the loop holes whenever they are found. Enact laws making it illegal to knowingly bypass the INTENT of a law even if there are loop holes. Plea bargaining should not be allowed if they include substantial penalty reductions.

    Mea culpa and crying should NOT be allowed as a bargaining chip! (Reminds me too much of Jim Baker and that PIG he had for a wife.)

    There are a lot of things which could be done to improve the way American companies do business. The only problem is the Repube Party is in the way.

    Obfuscation in any form should not be allowed in Government OR business and the penalties should be heavy.

  9. Anonymous5:49 AM

    Tennessee has been overtaken by right wing Republican religious zealots. Both houses have just passed a bill to allow guns to be taken on business or school property as long as they have state gun permits. Oh, and I won't even comment on the don't say gay bill. So far, they have not ventured too far on abortion rights, but I know that will be soon. I would love to say I would move, but the other state where I own property is Texas, which might be worse!

  10. Anonymous6:51 AM

    Homeschoolers, ill-equipped and downright inappropriate purveyors of standardized education are now in-league with private voucher-seeking schools that also don't meet standards or accreditation. They want to divert public dollars to failing and inadequate institutions that mandate their narrow, most-likely Christian view of knowledge and morality, at a great detriment to the greater society. And Governor prayer-hands Sean Parnell, nice-guy Captain Zero is a proponent of all this.

  11. Anonymous8:15 AM

    Oh I believe it! You can tell right away speaking to home schooled kids. I see kids all the time all day long that are now being home schooled. how come each one of these kids get free computers to use and don't have to give them back? That is taking money from public schools( who have only so many computers and use them for yrs. )They never put in the time regular kids put in, being a a real school. If the parents are sick or have something to do no school that day, and they are here and there. That is what is wrong. Children need to be in school to prepare them for a job in which requires 8 hr or so a day. If that education is just as good, why do parents get in trouble for regular kids not going to school. Anything to leech out money from public schools to go to their buddies in the privite sector

  12. Anita Winecooler6:44 PM

    I don't know what's more egregious, the cheating or the administration's excuse, but one thing is clear, it's the students who suffer because the parents don't know any better, and are probably pleased as punch with their kids grades.
    Sorry, I'm old fashioned when it comes to "Virtual schools" especially at the grade school level. It takes a lot of self discipline and good time management to stay engaged with the curriculum. And the kids ARE missing out on learning day to day interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.
    What's truly laughable is the admission that they don't really care about science and math. I hope they get shut down.

    The kids deserve better, society deserves better.

  13. Anonymous1:14 PM

    I seem to remember morality is practiced at health care schools in Calgary.


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