Friday, March 17, 2006

Florida Teachers Caught Cheating Are Fired--But Just Barely

According to AP,
The Miami-Dade County School Board voted 5-4 on Wednesday to fire six teachers and accept resignations from 26 others.
The teachers had all purchased continuing education credits from a former teacher who operated a transcript scam. That teacher has plead guilty and has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Florida requires credentialed teachers to complete 6 credit units of continuing education every five years. These units sustain their credentialed status and, in some cases, qualify their for pay increases.

Ohio's Oberlin College has voided 10,000 credits received 657 teachers who supposedly earned them through the scam program that had contracted with the College.

The biggest surprise in this story is that the Dade County School Board's vote was not unanimous. The decision to fire the teachers only passed by a vote of 5-4.

The strongest argument against the firings came from parents and educators who said that the terminations would cause discontinuity in the student's education. I suspect that a likely difficulty in finding qualified replacements for them was also a factor.

Personally, I support the firings. What message does it send to young students if teachers caught cheating on their own education were allowed to continue teaching and being paid for it? Perhaps those teachers who gained financially by receiving pay raises for their fake credits should be forced to pay that money back to the school district and be fined for contractual fraud in addition!

The best teachers are not only good teachers but good role models for their students. A teacher who teaches Social Science well but also tells her students that it's OK to smoke pot has disqualified themselves from the privilege of working with young students in the classroom.

Teachers who cheat on their own education have committed an even greater crime: They have undermined the integrity of the very vocation that they were hired to represent.

Hopefully these teachers' students will learn a valuable lesson from all of this. Perhaps they will learn that "cheaters never prosper." Perhaps they will also be reminded that the very purpose of education is to actually learn something.

The four Dade County Board Members who voted "No" should be required to write, "Cheaters never prosper" on the blackboard 100 times each.