A major test-taking scandal that implicated 35 educators in Atlanta, Georgia has drawn accusations of racism from the community.
The teachers are charged with changing test scores and giving the correct answers to students in order to boost their job performance reviews. Math scores at one middle school increased from 24 percent proficiency to 86 percent proficiency in just one year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The alleged ringleader, former school superintendent Beverly Hall, faces 40 years in prison if convicted, according to The New York Times.
On Tuesday, only seven of the defendants came to court on time for their bail bond hearing. One of the teachers, Theresia Copeland, was accused of racketeering, theft, and making false statements. Her bail was sent at $1 million.
Her lawyer claimed the amount was excessive.
“Al Capone, I understand, didn’t have to post a $1 million bond,” he said in a statement. “I don’t think a Cobb County grandmother needs $1 million to secure her.”
Most of the accused educators are black, prompting accusations of racial bias in the case.
“Look at the pictures of those 35. Show me a white face,” said Timothy McDonald, a local pastor and spokesman for Concerned Black Clergy. “Let’s just be for real. You can call it racist, you can call it whatever you want, but this is overkill. We have seen people with much deeper crimes with much less bond set.”
The American Federation of Teachers blamed the scandal on America’s obsession with standardized tests.
“Tragically, the Atlanta cheating scandal harmed our children and it crystallizes the unintended consequences of our test-crazed policies,” wrote AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement.
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