Why Was Atlanta's Beverly Hall Indicted For Racketeering While Michelle Rhee Won't Be?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Atlanta's black former school superintendent and 34 other black teachers and administrators have been indicted for “racketeering” in a cheating scandal. Why aren't others like former DC Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and her team indicted? Should we be rallying the racial wagons around Dr. Hall and the other 34? No way.

Why Was Atlanta's Beverly Hall Indicted For Racketeering While Michelle Rhee Won't Be?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last night former Atlanta superintendent of schools Beverly Hall, along with 35 teachers, principals and others, were indicted for racketeering. The core “criminal” activity alleged is that teachers, principals and test administrators, either under Hall's explicit direction or thanks to a “climate” that endorsed such behavior altered the results of hundreds, or thouands of standardized tests given to Atlanta's public school children.

In the political climate of Georgia, where black and white elites have been campaigning to demonize teachers, discredit the very notion of public education, and ultimately privatize it to get their hands on its multibillion dollar assets and stream of tax revenue, Fulton County's black district attorney has been able to convene a grand jury and morph cheating on tests into criminal racketeering indictments. Why is this happening?

Since the advent of No Child Left Behind in the early 1990s, schools districts have been forced by federal law to take up large portions of the instructional year giving standardized tests, and publishing ranked lists of the schools by test scores, with the lowest ranked schools branded as “failing.” The remediation for so-called “failing schools” is chiefly teacher firings, more tests, tying teacher pay and jobs to test scores, more tests, firing principals and administrators, budget cuts and still more tests, and finally, closing the school. Closed schools are generally replaced with privately owned charter schools, often with free or nearly free leases in the same buildings as the former public school which are largely exempt from many of the requirements of public schools like hiring qualified teachers, paying them a living wage, and accepting all the local students who apply.

Since scores on standardized tests, of course, track to income levels, and in the US, where residential segregation along racial and economic lines is the rule, majority black and Latino schools consistently get the lowest scores, are most often labeled as “failing” and the most frequently closed and replaced by favored charter operations. In this climate of fear cheating has become a national epidemic, with reports of industrial scale test manipulation in Los Angeles, Houston, Washington DC and elsewhere.

Dr. Hall pretty much implemented every misguided, corporate-inspired “reform” that the business and privatization-oriented consultants brought to her --- closing public schools in favor of charters, excessive testing, even purchasing the tests from firms with connections to the consultants who recommended them. Hall even helped Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin divert over a hundred million dollars a year in tax revenues which should have gone to Atlanta's public schools into a real estate and gentrification boondoggle called the BeltLine. Hall was in every respect a loyal asset to the forces who have been demonizing teachers and dismantling public education.

At some point, the Chamber of Commerce, Invest Atlanta and other local elite representatives realized that while Dr. Hall was perfectly willing to give away the store in return for her six figure salary and perks, something as radical as the utter privatization of public education needs a crisis --- and crises need villains, with mug shots and orange jump suits, preferably with waist and ankle chains. So after getting as much as they could from Dr. Hall, they cheerfully doused her with gasoline and set her on fire. The grand jury's lurid accusations, dribbled out to the eager corporate-owned media over the last two years have created a pervasive atmosphere of crisis, in which the Chamber and its allies can get far more than any superintendent could have given them.

Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of DC's public schools enjoyed a reign of terror over a couple years in which she fired hundreds of teachers, and a number of principals, and handed over public school properties to her favorite charter schools, and ceaselessly berated parents and educators. There are widespread allegations that she too fostered a “climate of fear” under which teachers and administrators knew that if scores on expensive, irrelevant tests did not rise, their schools would be closed. But DC is not Georgia, and Michelle Rhee remains the darling of the White House, corporate media and even cruise missile liberals like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. Rhee has made herself into the permanent propagandist of the privatizers, from her stint at Teach For America (her former boss at TFA succeeded her as DC schools chancellor) to her one-person organization, Students First.

Georgia's elite has long been uncomfortable with the inclusion of blacks in its own ranks. The current Republican governor had to personally intercede with formal and informal bodies to get Atlanta's black mayor a seat at the table, for instance, in discussions over regional transit, even though nobody could be a more loyal servant of the one percent than Kasim Reed. Atlanta's black elite may be invited to some of the meetings, and share some of the spoils, but they don't own local corporate media outlets, where the constant association of black faces in high places with embezzlement, scandal and fraud is a daily news staple.

Would Beverly Hall be under indictment if she was white? Maybe not, but this is NOT an occasion to rally the racial wagons around her and the 34 indicted teachers and administrators, not a white face among them. Dr. Hall was no friend of public education and no champion of Atlanta's public school children or teachers. If Hall had real integrity she would have spoken out years ago, and resisted the imposition of unfair “standards” and the reliance upon standardized testing as the only method to evaluate school and teacher performance. Dr. Hall could have spoken up when Shirley Franklin diverted hundreds of millions in school revenues to repay a bond issue aimed at gentrifying Atlanta. Dr. Hall had plenty of chances to stand up for Atlanta's school children in her decade in the top office. She put her career and perks first. Hall has been indicted to create lurid headlines for a “crisis” that will get the privatizers even more than she could have given them. The same goes for the teachers and administrators under her.

Just because her enablers have turned on her doesn't mean we should turn toward her. As Roland Martin found out when he made noises suggesting that black people should protest to get him his CNN commentator's job back, it doesn't work that way.

Teacher heroes are teachers who resist the turn to excessive testing, like the teachers in Seattle. Teacher heroes are the thousands of Chicago teachers who struck last fall in the face of Mayor Rahm Emanuel carrying out Barack Obama's Race To The Top program, and who are resisting the closing of more than 50 Chicago public schools this year, the largest wave of public school closings in US history. We need more heroic teachers, like some of those who are occupying the Department of Education later this month. Dr. Hall is no hero.

Michelle Rhee for her part, is a bigger villain on a bigger stage than Dr. Hall's, and with better friends. If her fortunes since being dismissed from DC are any indication, she has a long and lucrative career ahead of her.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.


Hall and Rhee

make me sick.  America is done.  There is no way out.   The empire is devouring itself.  

In the fifties we had a great, I mean great, white public school system.  Did it fail because blacks are lazy and stupid?  No, hell no.

It failed because of white flight, racial discrimination and the stupid hatred of blacks by whites.  It is in their DNA.  If you are unfortunate enough to have one drop of white blood, you have the distinct chance to become a vicious, hateful, non-christian person, that will turn on its own race.

It's typical racist double standard

Blacks would be better off creating their own institutions and realities than trying to assimilate.  Assimlation is suicidal.  How many more of us must do fed time before it's clear there is a double standard?

On a different but related subject, all of the super-rich White Businessmen who bribed Kwame Kilpatric in Detroit are sleeping well and making more millions, while Kwame's set to do fed time. (It's like arresting the prostitute and letting the john go free)  Look at what they did to LeVan Hawkins (of Checker's fame) for doing what wealthy white businesspersons do routinely.  White politicians typically wait to get OUT OF OFFICE before the big payback/payoff.  Blacks have the audacity to think they can play the same game.  Every federal corruption indictment is a reminder:  "When you're Black, get back."

No one will talk about Obama's role in this.  His bullshit Race to the (Bottom) coercion is front and center in this travesty.  Did he talk to Arne Duncan before they authorized the US Atty to indict?  No US Atty indicts 30 something Black educators w/o running it up the chain of command. Bet you those Black teachers and administrators don't blame Obama one bit, do they?  Perhaps they flunked "read'n and writing" they damn self???

p.s.  Didn't former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford make a comeback the other day?  When you're White your Right.  Imagine a Black man dipping his wick where it didn't belong.  Feds would have accused him of using campaign funds illegally to meet his mistress in the Motel 6 (vs. a tony dig in Buenos Aries).  Keep f***king around thinking you're White., and you will keep getting reminders you ain't.

Also diversionary

You make excellent points, as does Keith, but another reason is also because they always try to focus on the little people (financially speaking) to redirect attention away from the two major stories of the super-rich and their klepto-plutocracy:

(1) The dismissal of the LIBOR case against the 16 banks by the federal judge; and,

(2) Obama's signing the "Monsanto Protection Act" granting Monsanto extensive legal exemptions from the courts for their GMOs, etc.  (And does anyone really know who owns Monsanto?  With illegal cross-stock-ownership of companies, by companies, the actual ownership of the majority and minority stock holders is well hidden.)

Racketeering by Educators

Excellent article by Bruce Dixon and very informative comments. From what I have seen, experienced and read, our educators were set up nationwide. I was a substitute teacher in Fulton County Schools and saw the lack of resources are children and teachers are forced to live with. The playing field is uneven yet, we are expected to obtain some arbitrary standard imposed by others who deprive our schools of resources. It was very enlightening to learn of the millions of dollars taken away from our schools in Atlanta for a 'so-called Beltline.' For educators to be charged under the 'RICO' Racketeering act is overkill.

I got some RICO for you

It's the sons-of-b***ches running No Child Left Behind and Race to the (Bottom) that should be brought up on RICO charges.

Institutionalizing the racist practice attendant to the Bell Curve and extracting public capital from public education is racketerring at its best.

"Overkill."  You are being way to kind.  "Gangsta" is more appropriate term.

Just like Mr. Dixon opined, this is a "setup" to make anti-public education propaganda more palatable/marketable.  It's like allowing the cartel to ship tons of cocaine into the "hood" but arresting the small time hoodlums selling nickel bags.

Yes, America is hopeless.

The Crackdown Continues

The overclass has been on the warpath since the late 1970s, and making education a sinking ship is part of the effort, as always.  All this testing sh#t is just that.  Zerobama is just as bad on this issue as all his predecessors.

Obama Revives Frühmenschen

On Jan. 27, 1988, Rep. Mervyn Dymally (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, entered an affidavit into the Congressional Record, from an Atlanta attorney and FBI informant named Hirsch Friedman. Friedman provided an eyewitness account of a secret and illegal 40-year, ongoing FBI program, known within the Bureau as "Operation Frühmenschen" ("Operation Primitive Man").

Friedman described Frühmenschen in graphic terms: "The purpose of this policy was the routine investigation without probable cause of prominent elected and appointed black officials in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States." FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and other top Bureau officials, Friedman explained, believed that African-Americans were incapable of serving in high public office, and took it upon themselves to railroad countless African-Americans from elected office, through trumped up charges, and worse.


Another black indicted in corrupt NY:


1) Black mass incarceration in the American gulag's
2) Operation Frühmenschen for the Black sellout class
3) ICC: International Criminal Court for prosecution of black people.

"Cheating" in business is as American as apple pie, so corporate

driven testing is a fertile field for all kinds of manipulation, just based on the importance being made of  testing as having calamitous results.

I have thinking about that idea since the "scandal" of a kid taking tests for other kids at a special high school in NYC.  Students have taken SAT tests for other kids.  Students have sold/bought research papers at the college level.  The U.S. Military Academy at West Point periodically has a scandal about "cheating".

Several pols in good old NYS, starting with the (perhaps) last guy who'd not yet been indicted for something in the leadership of the NYS Senate, the leader of the NY Senate, Smith,(Dem who was Republican-friendly), just get arrested for getting caught in a federal sting bribing his way into getting certificates from Republican leaders so he could run as a candidate for NYC mayor (even though he's a registered Dem.. 

      The corporate business model is "cheating" only it's got other labels.  Taxes.  Regulations skirted around and on and on and on.

The bottom line is the

The bottom line is the current system is failing.  It is not only failing students of color. It is failing all students and our country.  As long as public, private, charter, and non charter schools are run as adult jobs programs instead of for the children, they will fail.

In the San Diego Unified School District, charter schools are public schools not private school run by corporation. The biggest difference between charter and non charter public schools is parent involvement in their childs education.

Any individual who thinks the way to wealth is operating private schools needs a new financial advisor.

Cheating & Michelle Rhee

Mr Dixon is correct that we should not rally to the defense of Dr. Hall for her wrong doing. Too often the African American community circles the wagons around a Black face in a high place no matter what they have done.  Prior to them getting in trouble with White people these high up Blacks ignored the needs of the Black community.

Although I reside in NYC I was born in DC and visit family there perodically.  Consequently I have beeen able to stay in touch with some issues in DC.  Michelle Rhee was a disaster. She needs to be indicted for malfeasance. When she ran DC schools she did not have a degree in education and did not bother to get one.  In fact she was persuing a masters in government while running DC schools. She closed down advanced placement programs and other high standard programs in DC high schools. Prior to her tenure several DC high schools were highly rated nationally. That status was losed during her rule.

Admittedly some Black parents in DC thought she was doing the best she could do. A few of the Black educators in DC spoke out against Rhee, but not enough. The Newsweek picture of her at the top of this article is the first photo of her without a hostile pose.  In the every other photo of her I have seen she adopts the facial expression of a prison warden or guard.  This woman has no regard for education or our children.

Entire white controlled congress should be locked up 4 bribery

2 more blacks indicted for engaging in the democratic process:



Cover PHOTO of NY Daily News shows money being passed on to what appears to be an African American's hand. Title: WANTED - An Honest New York Politician bombshell new corruption bust!

Do you think the fbi will be investigating this?

"Rich Congress- Poor constituents"

Nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires or multimillionaires, while only 1 percent of Americans reach that standing, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. While members of Congress have mostly gained back their financial losses from the recession, Americans are still feeling the effects of the economic collapse. 

There’s been little analysis of congressional wealth before the last decade, but political scientists agree that generally, wealth in Congress has always outstripped that of the average American. 



Report: 237 millionaires in Congress


As Americans Get Poorer, Members of Congress Get Richer


Federal Judge Orders Michelle Rhee Suit to Go Forward

"A US federal judge has denied a Motion to Dismiss by former DC Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee in a wrongful termination lawsuit over the mass firings of DC Public School teachers back in 2009. Case to be amended to add concealment and fraud claims against Rhee and her CFO Noah Wepman. "

"The suit involves Willie J. Brewer Jr., a 53-year-old teacher who worked for DCPS for 28 years before being terminated in October of 2009 due to “budgetary constraints” under a RIF (Reduction in Force). Under this circumstance, the pecking order of teachers to be terminated as determined by Rhee, were first those with poor performance evaluations. However, Brewer claims he was an instrumental music teacher and that his RIF competitive standing was erroneously governed by the standards for a vocal music teacher, a position that required a skill set different from his own. As a result, Brewer claims he scored a poor evaluation and was terminated."

Source Link: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10586920.htm