By Nakia White | April 5th, 2013 - 3:30pm
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Newarker at heart of Atlanta Cheating Scandal Some might say education is the new moniker, replacing real estate investments for educational investments, particularly in urban settings. National organizations and hedge funds are cashing in on what has been coined the “New Civil Rights Movement”-but have children in urban areas reaped the benefits? That question is up for debate. 

Atlanta happens to be the latest in said ROI scheme.  Former Newark Public Schools employee Beverly Hall faces a career ending cheating school scandal.  Hall was paid 500K in bonuses for improvements in test scores. Bonus was given to Hall and some administrators as a way to encourage improved academic outcomes.  However, greed gave way to cheating –both resulting in assured jail time.

Hall and other Atlanta officials now face tough questions and possible jail time. However, the toughest area Hall will have to face is accounting for the selling of Atlanta’s children education.

Hall was not the only Newarker to hop to Atlanta-as destiny would have it, another Newarker would cross paths with Hall-forever altering the both lives.

Khaatim Sherrer El, a Newarker who attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, would later join the Atlanta School board and act as board chair, who currently works for Foundation for Newark’s Future (The Zuckerberg Fund).

Khaatim gloved-up early in his political career, notably challenging Mayor Kasim Reed in a fight over the legitimacy of his chairmanship. 

However, that is not what makes this story interesting.  Both Hall and Sheer El, both from Newark-working in Atlanta paths crossed in an inextricably devastating chapter in Atlanta's history. 

A year before the media took hold of the Atlanta cheating scandal- Khaatim sounded the alarm, noting that there were several inaccuracies in the scores, lack of transparency and that politics played a featured role instead of education. 

While no one is charging misdeeds here, Newark School Board members shared some of the same concerns about Newark’s current superintendent, Cami Anderson, whose recent 2013 nearly $1 billion-dollar budget got voted down by the board 0-9. Board members cited a lack of transparency and lack of information as a reason for their ‘no-vote’.

There is no question that Khaatim was under enormous political pressure.  He challenged the status quo and perhaps was the light tower in exposing one of the biggest cheating scandals in Atlanta’s history. 

Khaatim was forced to resign. During his resignation he tearfully announced that he failed the children of Atlanta.

Two years later Khaatim still feels the sting of the scandal. Writing on his Face Book page “it was the most challenging time in my life yet. Thousands of children who needed the public schools the most were cheated the worst.”

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