“You know, all those teachers in Georgia getting caught changing answers on kids’ tests? What do you think about it?” The woman addressing me was wearing the same aluminum foil hat my stylist had just plastered on my head. I was willing to bet that underneath hers was some blonde.
I was a bit stumped by the question. How could an ethical person think that the education cheating scandal was anything but disgraceful? “I think it’s a terrible thing for an educator to do.”
“But didn’t you ever feel like doing that when you were teaching middle school? I mean, there’s so much pressure on teachers to have their students do well on those state tests.”
“No,” I answered. “I’m a good teacher and I trusted that my students would do well.”
“Really?” Her eyebrows, coated with dye, would have illustrated her skepticism if she hadn’t had a Botox treatment that rendered her forehead immobile.
“Yes, really. I would never consider cheating like that. It’s wrong!”
She nodded. “Do you know any teachers who cheated at your school?”
“Of course not. Don’t you think that teachers who cheated would keep that information to themselves?”
“So you think that there are probably teachers at your school who changed kids’ answer sheets like those teachers in Atlanta Public Schools?”
“No, I’m not saying that at all. I don’t know of any teachers who cheated.” I was starting to wonder if this woman worked for the FBI or Action News or something. “The teachers I know are ethical people who work hard and care about the children they teach.”
“I think that ethical teachers are hard to find these days,” she sighed. “It’s getting to the point where you’re afraid to send your children to public school.”
“Really? Do people believe that a lot of teachers are cheating?”
She eyed me sympathetically. “Sure they do. It makes sense, in a way. Teachers whose students don’t do well on the tests could lose their jobs. That’s a big deal.”
“You mean that the actions of a few unethical teachers have damaged the reputations of all of the teachers in Georgia? Most of us wouldn’t even consider cheating, and yet the public believes that we are?”
“It must be hard to be a teacher right now.”
“It is frustrating,” I agreed. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been thinking of working as a barista at Starbucks this year. What do you think?”
“I hear that Starbucks has a nice stock option plan for employees.”
I nodded glumly as she got up. “Good luck to you,” she said as she walked away.
“Thanks. I need all I can get,” I mumbled.