by Patricia L. Dickson 6/1/15
Patricia has been having an email exchange with the Atlanta school principal in regards to the cheating scandal that Patricia wrote about in Black Atlanta Educators Cheated Kids Out of an Education. She requested that this exchange be shared here. — Editor
Hello Dr. Evans,
I must say that I was surprised and honored to receive an email from you. Before I received your email, I did not know who you were. I did not mention you in my article that you referenced. In fact, I had to google you so that I could get more facts about your case before I responded to your email. I guess I should feel honored because I have been given the opportunity to address you directly. I must confess to you that your email has caused me to have to revisit this entire ordeal (something that I wanted to forget). The more I read about the case, the more angry and sad I become. It appears from the tone of your email, that you feel the need to explain your innocence and somehow correct the inaccuracies surrounding the case (clear your name.):
“But, these are not things the media seems interested in – truth, instead there seems to be a deliberate attempt to paint me as a despicable criminal that intentionally hurt the very children I worked to save.”
What I cannot understand is why you feel that you specifically are being singled out in the cheating scandal. From what I have read about the case, you were not singled out as the ringleader or the one that initiated the behavior. You were simply held accountable for the actions of your subordinates (something, although unfortunate, that is part of leadership). I know very well what is expected of a leader because I spend 21 years in the military. I have not read anywhere so far where you are mentioned specifically as an individual that directed anyone to harm children. What I believe was in the mind of the jurors was that you as a leader knew or should have known what was going on in your school. Because of that belief, I believe the jurors found you guilty (held you accountable).
Now, I would like to address some of the statements you made in your email. You stated the following:
“The three (yes three) teachers that cheated at my school admitted under oath that they cheated without my knowledge and they hid it from me. How do you conspire with someone who hides it from you? They also admitted that they cheated before I got to the school (I did mention I was a new Principal and also new to the school).”
From court testimonies, I believe the three teachers that you mentioned are Derrick Broadwater, Naomi Williams (claimed that you fired her after she told you about being asked by teacher Dessa Curb to change answers), and Shayla Smith (late to work over 100 times). My question to you is although you may not have been aware that these three teachers were engaged in cheating, did you not know that a state investigation found a third of classrooms at your school in 2009 had high rates of wrong-to-right changes on state test answer sheets? According to the testimony of Brian Jacob, students in one fourth-grade class at your school had a one in 288 septillion chance of doing as well as they purportedly did on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. “That’s 27 zeros”. Were you not aware or suspicious of any of this? These are questions that a rational individual sitting on a jury would want answered.
You also stated:
I worked to equalize the academic opportunities for my kids at Dobbs – based on my fundamental belief that they deserved the same quality of education the students from the advantaged school received.
Why do you see the other school (your former school) as advantaged? How did you expect to equalize the academic opportunities of poor black children when the teachers at Dobbs were not competent enough to teach the kids to begin with (you stated that they testified to cheating before you ever got there)? It appears, Dr. Evans, that you did all you could to provide tools (computers and equipment) to improve the children’s learning environment, however without competent teachers, it is impossible for our black children to rise to the level (to become equal) of white children when it comes to education. Money will not compensate for incompetency (although you are quite competent). The very reason it was difficult for you to fire incompetent underperforming teachers is all the public school funding going to the teacher’s union who protect the jobs of these incompetent teachers.
I would like to give you a little of my personal history with education and educators. I graduated from high school in 1984 (over thirty years ago). I started kindergarten in 1970 (unbeknownst to me at the time, the school systems in the south had just integrated). I grew up in a poor working class neighborhood (as well as all my friends and cousins). My parents were not educated (my father made it to the 5th grade, my mother made it to the 9th). My schoolteacher’s salaries were so low that they qualified for food stamps. However, my friends, my cousins, and I received the best education that money could not buy. My teachers were competent and they cared about us (in fact, they would use a leather paddle on our behinds if we came to school without our homework assignments). A section of my elementary school (it was about one hundred years old anyway) caught fire one weekend. We continued to attend that same school (we never skipped a beat) while they built us a new school. We continued attending classes in a section of the school that was not affected by the fire. My high school was also about one hundred years old. During my sophomore year, they began tearing down half of the school and rebuilding a new one. Again, we continued to attend classes in half of the school. Our school cafeteria was torn down. The school system contracted with McDonalds (to our delight) to bring us lunch every day. All of my black friends and cousins graduated from high school and college and are doing well right to this day (praise God). I am telling you all of this because I do not understand why black politicians, leaders, school administrators, and educators keep citing funding as an excuse to why our black children are underperforming. Or, that the state testing is somehow unjust. When I was in the tenth grade, we had to take a state competency test. All but two girls passed it and were able to graduate with our diplomas (if we did not pass the state test, we would not have been able to graduate even if we passed all of our classes). So, Dr. Evans, can you please explain to me why would teachers (not only in your school district) have to cheat in order for their kids to pass the state test? What is preventing our children from learning the information? I believe we all know what the real problem is. It is the lack of a stable family. As I mentioned about my own experiences, although my parents were uneducated, I had two of them. My father worked at the town’s cotton gin and provided for us. They could not help me with my homework assignments (although my father did teach me my ABCs and arithmetic), however; they would whip my behind if one of my teachers told them that I did not complete my homework. Our children are the product of single mothers who themselves are not properly educated. That is not the fault of white America. We in the black community are doing our children a disservice by not addressing the problem of single parenthood and instead blaming white people and society for our problems.
Finally, I would like to address your statement about the commenters under my article:
“After further reading your blog I see that many of your readers don’t really have much respect for Blacks. That is unfortunate because I believe you say you are a Christian, as am I. I will pray for you tonight in hopes that God can help you to understand what Jesus said in Matthew, all of the commandments are hinged on two: 1) Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and 2) ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”
As you should know, I am not responsible for the people who comment on my articles. Anyone from anywhere in the world can comment on any article. I am a contributing writer for different blogs. To question my Christian faith based on strangers commenting on my article is a stretch for someone as educated as yourself. However, because I am a Christian, I will always write and speak the truth (regardless of who I offend). You had to stand before a worldly judge during your sentencing (one that was quite fond of you because you were once his child’s counselor). I, as well as everyone, will have to stand before God and give an account for every word that I speak or write. That is why I do not shy away from the truth. I do not participate in political correctness or race solidarity. I only align with people and causes that support truth. In addition, Dr. Evans, I want to leave you with the assurance that God is a God of forgiveness and mercy. He will never turn His back on those that love Him. I will continue to pray for you and your family.
I John 1:9
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
Patricia L. Dickson
Patricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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