Students were 'dumb as hell'

A former fifth-grade teacher caught in Atlanta’s wide spread cheating scandal says she did so because the students were “dumb as hell.”

According to a former coworker, Shayla Smith allegedly admitted to helping students fudge the answers on a math test because they were unprepared.

CBS News Atlanta gives more details:

Math teacher Shayla Smith was accused of offering students the answers to a test they were taking at the time. She had reportedly been responsible for supervising them while the tests were being completed.

Schajuan Jones, who taught a fourth-grade class across the hall from Smith’s former room, overheard her talking to another teacher about the test.

“The words were, ‘I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell,’” Jones was quoted as saying about the interaction between Smith and the unidentified third teacher.

Smith was apart of a massive investigation prompted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution that implicated 180 teachers in Atlanta and found evidence of widespread cheating.

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  • lola_z

    I have to say, when I first read this article, I laughed too. But the issue is, I have 2 little babies now and if this is the “culture” that they are going to be exposed to in the near future, I shudder.
    I remember my daddy telling me when I was a little girl that his father was a cook in some hotel and his mother was a homemaker. They lived in a remote village somewhere and had no running water. Yet, my father and all his siblings went on to complete their tertiary education and therefore broke the cycle. This is not an uncommon story for many people and my mother’s story was not much different from that of my father growing up in the West Indies.
    While my grandparents might not have been able to give my father a scholastic education, they were more than willing to allow teachers to do their job. ALLOW TEACHERS TO DO THEIR JOB.
    I am not a teacher and by no means do I think that I have the cajones to be one. But for Pete’s sake, let these teachers do what they do best: TEACH!!!
    My best friend has been a college professor at an HBCU for 2 ½ years and the stories are literally preposterous. I remember being at her house recently and watching her prepare for one of her classes. She was trying to find “simpler” synonyms for certain words; she was trying to use analogies that referenced rap music and the Nicki Minajs of our time. I sat there in shock, my mouth wide open. After about 30 minutes of hearing her talk to herself about what she can and cannot do, I had to stop her. I could not understand why my educated, well rounded friend was “dummying down” her course. These were college students after all!
    She explained to me that the level of education coming through the doors was not up to par and she had to do this to grab their attention. As someone said above, she is their mother, father, friend, guidance counselor, psychologist and THEN TEACHER. I asked her why she doesn’t fail those who aren’t ready to move to the next level – because when she passes them, it is also a bad reflection on her teaching standards. She explained to me that the University gets funding based on the number of students enrolled and the number of students who graduate and the Dean of Students has “reminded” her of that.
    I felt like I had opened a can of worms and she had been looking for someone to talk to about her frustrations for a long time. She went on to explain that some of her students didn’t even know why they were there, but they just knew that it was safer than being “on the block”. Now she did not call her students “dumb as hell” but by no means, did they sound like a smart bunch. Recently, I asked her if things had gotten any better; and her silence said it all. I asked why she doesn’t leave, go somewhere else where she can actually teach. She said she somehow feels responsible for the students now. The look on my face said it all and her only response was “I KNOW”. I felt like this was describing a bad marriage to me and instead of leaving, she was making excuses for her significant other; I just didn’t get it.
    If this is what some colleges are dealing with, I can only imagine the pressure that public high schools are getting to keep students enrolled in order to ensure funding. The issue is higher up than the teacher. The system on a whole needs to change!!!!

  • Gail

    Its sad. I mean think about who these kids will become. These are our future politicians, bankers, pilots!! (hell no), presidents, and more. Once this younger generation grows up they are supposed to be filling our shoes to run the world. This scares me more than anything. I don’t wanna get on a plane where some kid who was too distracted playing Words with Friends or Angry Birds and barely passed to receive his pilots license flying me anywhere. My mom is a substitute teacher and its amazing how she even gets in trouble for disciplining kids for being rowdy and getting in the way of the few kids who actually want to learn. Some teachers she says are even more concerned about being popular with kids than making sure they are meeting goals and making a difference. When she points it out to them, they get mad at her and say she is stiff.

    We need focused kids who understand the value of an education and they don’t. Most do enough just to pass class and forget everything they learned once they take an exam. Most kids don’t even know where their local library is and think Google and Wikipedia are the best research tools for school. This is why Oprah went overseas to build a school and didn’t do it here in the US. Because education is more highly valued there. But now even overseas, kids are becoming more attached to their iPhones and electronic gadgets than school. The basics of learning, research and preparation for the real world is evaporating.

  • Pema

    In a past life, I was a NYC teacher in an underserved district. Those who have not taught in the classroom have no idea what is going on (but ironically they have PLENTY of advice). A lot of these kids are grade levels behind. Many of my junior high school students were illiterate and violent. When I tried to fail them the principal changed their grades (her job was contingent on keeping test scores up). Teachers are underpaid, disrespected,and face insurmontable obstacles. I left the profession after four years and have never looked back. The virulent anti-intellectual and reactive culture that plagues poor black neighborhoods is creating a permanent black underclass.

  • The result of no child left behind. When parents stop rewarding mediocrity and begin celebrating excellence in academics, things will get better.