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Secretary of Education 'stunned' by scandal

8:13 PM, Jul 6, 2011   |    comments
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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

ATLANTA - US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he was "stunned" when he heard about the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

"I've been briefed by both the mayor (Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed) and the governor (Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal) over the past couple of weeks," Duncan said in an interview on Wednesday. "When you hear about cheating in basically 80 percent of schools, you have a cultural problem. And you do a great disservice to children when you do this - you really cheat the children."

Deal's report, released Tuesday night, showed that 44 of 56 schools examined, showed cheating by teachers and administrators on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests administered to students in elementary and middle schools.

Duncan was asked about the pervasiveness of cheating in other cities, like Baltimore and Washington, both of which have had similar scandals, neither of which apparently were to the degree of Atlanta's.

"I think this is very isolated," Duncan said. "In Baltimore, there's two schools and they dealt with it. This (Atlanta) is an easy one to fix, with better test security. As always, in any profession, you have a few people who go the wrong way - we don't ever condemn the profession. The vast majority of people do things the right way. What was different here was this was not an individual or a school - this was clearly systemic. There's never been anything like it, and we hope there never is again."

Many people have pointed to the No Child Left Behind law in connection with the scandal, insisting it was a reason for what happened, and Duncan indicated that the law itself was a good one.

"We want to fix the No Child Left Behind law," Duncan said. "We're working very hard in Congress to do that right now."

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