Tuesday, April 2, 2013

21stCenturySchoolLeaders: Atlanta Public Schools and the Kobayashi Maru...Th...

21stCenturySchoolLeaders: Atlanta Public Schools and the Kobayashi Maru...Th...: For Star Trek enthusiasts across the galaxy, the heralded exploits of Captain James Kirk and the famed Kobayashi Maru simulation is somet...

Atlanta Public Schools and the Kobayashi Maru...The No Win Scenario

For Star Trek enthusiasts across the galaxy, the heralded exploits of Captain James Kirk and the famed Kobayashi Maru simulation is something never to be forgotten. This simulation is the final assessment for a Star Fleet cadet in the command track to become an executive office on a starship in the 23rd century. 

The simulation takes place on a replica of a starship bridge, with the test-taker as captain and other Starfleet members, officers or other cadets, in other key positions. In the scenario of the 2280s, the cadet receives a distress signal stating that the Kobayashi Maru has struck a gravitic mine in the Klingon Neutral Zone and is rapidly losing power, hull integrity and life support. There are no other vessels nearby. The cadet is faced with a decision:
  • Attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru's crew and passengers, which involves violating the Neutral Zone and potentially provoking the Klingons into hostile action or an all-out war; or
  • Abandon the Kobayashi Maru, potentially preventing war but leaving the crew and passengers to die.

Thus the no-win scenario. 

James T. Kirk's back-story defines that he took the test three times while at Starfleet Academy. Before his third attempt, Kirk surreptitiously reprogrammed the simulator so that it was possible to rescue the freighter. This fact finally comes out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as Kirk, Saavik and others appear marooned, near death. Saavik's response is, "Then you never faced that situation...faced death." Kirk replies, "I don't believe in the no-win scenario." Despite having cheated, Kirk had been awarded a commendation for "original thinking."

Time warp back to the 21st Century Century, the year 2013, NBC news reports: "A grand jury indicted a former superintendent and more than 30 other educators Friday in one of the nation’s largest cheating scandals that rocked Atlanta’s public schools.
The indictment named the former Superintendent Beverly Hall as well as several high-level administrators, principals and teachers. Hall faces charges including racketeering, false statements and theft. She retired just days before the 2011 probe was released, and has previously denied the allegations.

A state investigation in 2011 found cheating by nearly 180 educators in 44 Atlanta schools. Educators gave answers to students or changed answers on tests after they were turned in, investigators said. "

Seems as though the idea of the no-win scenario is more of a reality than a science fiction TV plot. Cheating is wrong. It is a moral concept drilled into our human fiber since we were young. But, just because that is the case does not mean it is not happening. We are told then by experts that there is bad cheating and good cheating, just as we would assume there are good lies and bad lies. Now we have the no-win scenario, which I feel applies here in Atlanta. 

The Federal government in their meddling in the operations of running education in the US created a mania of testing over instruction at all costs. If your district demonstrates adequate success or improvement in their testing benchmarks, they may qualify for more funding. If not, they will lose funding. In the end the school district would be forced into a Kobayashi Maru scenario tantamount to "Damned if you do, damned if you don't." 

In the Atlanta School System situation, dollars for school funding were on the line. Government leaders and school board members were coercing the administration to improve or else. Administrators pressured faculty and staff to improve or else, and instead of improving something that could not be improved easily, given the socioeconomic issues of the student body and the community, the records were falsified to keep the dollars flowing into the system to prevent people from losing their jobs. Right or wrong? 

It's too easy to condemn the educators who were trying to keep the flow of precious funding from dwindling in their schools. The blame should be on the federal and state governments for creating impossible no-win scenarios that place educators between a rock and a no-win scenario. 

Retired Superintendent Beverly Hall and Retired Captain James T. Kirk were in command situations on their respective ships, so to speak. But, reality dictates that cheating is wrong in any situation. Worse yet, is forcing people into no-win scenarios where they are tempted to subvert the system to begin with. 

Brumback, K. (2013`, April 1). Ex-superintendent indicted in Atlanta school cheating scandal. The Grio. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/jjM1T

Kobayashi Maru. In (2013). Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Retrieved f
rom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru