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Educational malpractice Pt. 1: fraud, sex and football in Memphis, TN

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“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that covers up gross negligence among multiple Principals and Senior and Junior District Level supervisors who participate in sexual relationships with teachers/employees/support staff whom they supervise, which directly violates Tennessee law and requires revocation of their license and termination from supervisory positions. This is a common and accepted practice.”

With its headquarters located in The Home of the Blues, the Shelby County Schools system has been singing the blues lately, and for good reason.

It was back in June of 2017, when the trouble really kick-started.  Trezevant High School principal, Ronnie Mackin, released a head-turning, six-page resignation letter in which he outlined a series of complaints against Shelby County Schools, including, among other things:

  • grade-changing (which a three-lawyer panel investigation proved to be systemic);
  • sexual improprieties between faculty, staff, and district supervisors (an issue reported in another area high school as well);
  • breaches in security at the school (one incident was later uncovered on surveillance footage);
  • racist conduct by school system administrators, supervisors, and other district officials;
  • financial mishandlings and possible theft of school funds (SCS later opened a separate investigation into this matter);
  • kickbacks;
  • and pay-to-play for certain athletes.

Mackin closed his resignation letter with a series of powerful declarations, several of which I have included throughout this article in italicized form.

Back in August of 2016, Principal Mackin –  brand new to Trezevant High School – approached Shelby County Schools (SCS) district leadership after uncovering wide-spread grade-changes. Students’ report cards did not align with their official transcripts.

Some students’ grades were changed from failing to passing, while others received credit for courses not taken. This, according to Mackin, put 121 out of 145 seniors at risk of not graduating.

“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where it is common knowledge that certain schools have cheated to attain “other than normal” achievement gains.”

Trezevant High School’s 2015-2016 graduation rate was 49%, which improved 16% in the 2014-15 school year which remains well-under district, state, and national averages.

As Mackin later elucidated, “Changing grades from failing to passing, artificially raising graduation rates, and falsifying college transcripts have become part of a big business,” noting the compensation structure within the school system which are “based on a mythical system of accountability,” and which ultimately encourage unethical behavior.

An internal district investigation by Shelby County Schools was begun.

“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that promotes dishonesty, fraud, and misrepresentations of academic progress in order to promote athletic success.”

Because a large number of the grade-changes effected football players, Trezevant’s football team was forced to forfeit all games until the investigation had been completed, which prompted protests from students.

The Trezevant High School football team won the state championship the prior school year.

Over the course of the remaining school year, Principal Mackin’s car was vandalized with racist language (“white boy b**** a**”), and a whisper campaign against him ensued within the community, which according to Mackin’s resignation letter, was instigated by several SCS district officials.

Such incidents included:

  • the implication the Mackin, as a white man, was culturally illiterate and ineffective at his post;
  • a voicemail on a parent’s phone by Mackin’s supervisor encouraging that parent to seek legal action against Mackin “under false pretenses”;
  • and district officials instigating parents to perform a background check on Mackin (which ultimately found nothing).

“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where district level supervisors are not only allowed to bully and harass school level Principals, Teachers, and Support Staff, they are encouraged.”

The district’s internal investigation had concluded in October of 2016:

“We have identified 131 students currently enrolled in the district whose transcripts were altered by a staff member of Trezevant . . . All these students were previously enrolled at Trezevant at some point during their time in high school. 92 of these students are still enrolled at Trezevant, 44 of whom are seniors. The remaining 39 (of the 131) are now enrolled in 22 different high schools. Of these 39 students, 15 are seniors. (Other schools will be contacted as needed.)”

Shelby County Schools maintained the stance that the grading discrepancies were isolated to Trezevant High School. The school secretary was fired and the head football coach was suspended for 5 days.

The incident was settled and swept aside.

But not for Ronnie Mackin.

“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that allows District Leadership to collude, interfere, and influence DUE PROCESS in order to protect employees tied by long standing acquaintance, sexual relationships, and fraternal/sorority affiliations from being disciplined fairly and according to policy.”

After Mackin’s fiery resignation letter was made public, a full 10 months after he had first uncovered and reported the grading discrepancies to the school district, SCS appointed a panel of lawyers to investigate the incident.

Now, the panel’s findings have been released, and the picture painted by the findings is bleak.

As the Commercial Appeal reported:

“At least 53 students graduated from Trezevant without earning their diplomas, according to findings from the report released Tuesday. That increased the graduation rate 14 percent over a four-year period from 2012-2016. During that time, 461 grades at that school were changed from failing to passing.

Kirby High had 582 failing grades changed to passing grades.

After Trezevant, Raleigh-Egypt High had 429 such changes.”

The report called for even further investigations, indicating Trezevant was merely the tip of the iceberg; a recommendation which the SCS board subsequently encouraged. Eight different schools are now undergoing audits.

The state Department of Education also urged the district to investigate further, ordering expansive audits for all Shelby County Schools for the next three years.

In addition, the State has requested the names of all who were involved in altering students’ grades.

“The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office is investigating Trezevant at the request of Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. Those investigators have the freedom to expand their investigation as necessary,” the Commercial Appeal reported.

Shelby County Schools accreditation is even on the line. As Fox 13 Memphis reported, it’s the damning findings found in the panel’s report “that now has AdvancED, the agency that issues and oversees important school accreditations, wondering what’s going on inside SCS?”

The board has also moved to fire Trezevant’s head football coach, who had since been moved to a different area high school.

In a January op-ed in the Commercial Appeal, Mackin put the practice of grade-changing into full perspective:

“Students have become commodities (priced at around $11,500 per student) to some educators who are willing to promote them and get them out of school in hopes for big returns in the future.

This is child exploitation and abuse.”

“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where students are the last priority…”

Had it not been for the actions of one brave (and royally ticked off) principal, a man who chose to sacrifice his own 19-year long career for the betterment of our community’s youths and who has continued to speak out, the improprieties within the school system would have never been uncovered, nor addressed.

We may never find out the degree of rot within the adult culture of Shelby County Schools, or just how many bad actors we have employed.

It has only been a few years since Memphis schools were rocked by a teacher licensing-exam “cheating ring” that spanned three states. The mastermind was a 23-year employee, having served as a teacher, an assistant principal and a guidance counselor for the school system. Multiples teacher were indicted.

Dorsey Hopson, who serves as the superintendent of Shelby County Schools, said at the time, “It would be unfair to let what may be 50, 60 or 100 teachers who did some wrong stain the good work of the large number of teachers and administrators who get up every day and go by the book.”

Sadly, there is one thing of which we can be certain: where there is one bad actor, there are many.

Fallen apples don’t rot far from the tree.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Lee

    February 7, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Interesting report. Sadly, not surprised. I would wager there are more instances of this sort of behavior going on across the country in similarly-positioned school systems.

    • Paige Rogers

      February 7, 2018 at 10:44 pm

      I’m afraid you may be right.

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Education

DeVos: Lack of civics education, competing ideas to blame for rise in approval of socialism

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DeVos Lack of civics education competing ideas to blame for rise in approval of socialism

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was interviewed by The Daily Signal recently. One of the questions they asked regarded the rise of socialism as a popular idea among young people. Could the education be to blame?

According to the Secretary, it is. She said there needs to be better civics education throughout schooling. She also noted that a lack of competing ideas and debates prevents students from hearing more than the perspectives of their teachers, most of whom lean left.

DeVos discussed improving higher education, accreditation, school choice, and parental involvement as ways to fix education, but the question about socialism stood out.

Why Do Millennials Like Socialism? Betsy DeVos Cites Lack of Civics Education

https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/10/16/why-do-millennials-like-socialism-betsy-devos-cites-lack-of-civics-education/DeVos: I think it’s really a combination of things. I think, No. 1, students aren’t getting the kind of foundation in civics and government that I recall getting as a student in K-12 education. And they’re coming then into higher education without the background to even know and understand competing ideas, and then without the ability to discuss and debate them.

I recall visiting a classroom not too long ago where one of teachers was wearing a shirt that said, “Find Your Truth,” suggesting that, of course, truth is a very fungible and mutable thing instead of focusing on the fact that there is objective truth and part of learning is actually pursuing that truth.

So roll it back, there is a very important need for students to know the foundations of our country and the ideas around which our country was formed. And to then have the ability to discuss and debate those ideas freely on their K-12 campuses and on their higher ed campuses.

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Education

Students who attack teachers should be harshly disciplined regardless of race

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Students who attack teachers should be harshly disciplined regardless of race

It’s hypocritical to call for equal rights on one hand, then distribute discipline differently based on a student’s race. As crazy as it sounds, that’s a thing nowadays and efforts to reverse course from the Obama-era educational abomination have been thwarted at nearly every turn.

Walter E Williams at The Daily Signal pointed out the problem by highlighting how it negatively affects students:

Obama’s Anti-Discipline Policies Set Our Students Up for Failure

https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/10/03/obamas-anti-discipline-policies-set-our-students-up-for-failure/President Barack Obama’s first education secretary, Arne Duncan, gave a speech on the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers who were demanding voting rights.

Later that year, as a result of widespread support across the nation, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Duncan titled his speech “Crossing the Next Bridge.” Duncan told the crowd that black students “are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers,” adding that Martin Luther King would be “dismayed.”

Let’s take it a step further and highlight that this will have a tremendous negative impact on teachers, present and future. Who wants to get into a career where over 5% of teachers are attacked by the children they’re trying to help? Discipline is the only way to safeguard teachers and students. It’s not the teachers’ fault if more African-American males are committing the attacks.

Race should not be an issue here. If a student attacks a teacher, they must be punished. They cannot be allowed to have free rein over the classrooms they attend simply because a study concluded they were being punished more than others.

Read Williams’ article and ask yourself this question: When a student attacks a teacher, does it cause any less pain if the attacker is a certain race?

Teachers should not be put at risk to satisfy a leftist talking point.

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Culture and Religion

PragerU Video: Who Is Karl Marx?

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PragerU Video Who Is Karl Marx

He produced horrific results from ideas that were already several centuries old in his day – isn’t it time we rejected them?

Born in Trier, Germany in 1818, Marx didn’t invent communism. But it was on his ideas that Lenin and Stalin built the Soviet Union, Mao built communist China, and innumerable other tyrants, from the Kims in North Korea to the Castros in Cuba, built their communist regimes. Ultimately, those regimes and movements calling themselves “Marxist” murdered about 100 million people and enslaved more than a billion.

This is a man who spent a lifetime trying to popularise the societal slavery of socialism, presenting ideas that were already centuries old when he arrived on the scene. Even though these ideas had already failed in the American colonies, he tried to sell them to a new generation with horrific results. Despite the repeated failure of these ancient ideas, the Left continues on insisting that they’ve never been tried before. This video eviscerates that Leftist lie on Marx’s societal slavery.

Socialism’s fundamental flaw

The fundamental flaw of socialism is that it defies human nature, therefore it requires force to function. It doesn’t matter what it’s called or who is in control, it can never work. One cannot take ‘From each according to his abilities’ without the threat of force. If one’s property is under claim by the government, there is no incentive to produce more and the system falls apart.

That is why this form of government needs a secret police apparatus, concentration camps and the ‘pedagogy of the wall’ as Che Guevara put it. Most of all, it requires falsehoods and lies to sell it’s societal slavery. This is why the Left spends an inordinate amount of time lying about it’s base ideology. It has to do this because no free society would ever choose to enslave itself. These lies range from trying to pretend small, homogenous welfare states are ‘socialist’ to making the absurd claim that Leftist, authoritarian socialist dictatorships are supposedly “right-wing”.

One last point on due process

One last point, the video quotes the man whose face has launched a million T-shirts sales as saying: “I don’t need proof to execute a man, I only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him!”. Isn’t that the sort of due-process-free mindset that is disturbingly close to the nation’s Socialist Left at this point in time with Kavanaugh confirmation?

Something along the lines of ‘this is La Cabaña prison, not a court room should alarm everyone interested in the cause of Liberty.

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