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Teachers Implicated in Memphis Cheating Ring

We’ve seen more school cheating scandals than usual over the past few years, but this is the most egregious yet. A Memphis-area former assistant principal is now under investigation for running a 15-year cheating ring in which current teachers were paid to take certification tests for prospective teachers in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. The New York Times reports:

According to court documents, Mr. Mumford, a former assistant principal and guidance counselor, helped create fake government identification for test takers, and collected fees ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 from individuals who were concerned about passing tests administered by the Educational Testing Service in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The tests, which are taken by people who want to obtain a teaching license or to acquire additional credentials in a specific subject, are known as Praxis exams. They are a requirement for obtaining teaching certifications in 37 states, according to the E.T.S.

Yet these exams are among the easiest in the nation, covering only the most basic information that any teacher would need to know:

“These are pretty basic tests,” said Sarah Almy, the director of teacher quality at theEducation Trust, a research and advocacy group that works to close achievement gaps and that is calling for an overhaul of teacher training in the United States. “The fact that there were folks who felt like they needed to bring somebody else in in order to meet a very basic level of content knowledge is disturbing, in particular for the kids those teachers are going to wind up teaching.”

There are two salient facts to this shocking story. First, the certification tests that license teachers to teach in many states ask for pathetically low levels of knowledge. Second, many people taking these tests are so ignorant and unqualified that they feel the need to cheat in order to pass.

Neither of these facts speaks well for our current teaching corps. But these bad apples shouldn’t tarnish the reputation of teachers as a whole—all the more reason why these should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Instead, we have teacher unions that will fight to the death to make sure that none of these unqualified, immoral teachers can be fired no matter how incompetent they are.

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