Thursday, March 16, 2006


Great to see my alma mater in the news.
Miami, Florida (AP) -- A growing scandal over teachers who paid to get credit for courses they never took has cost nearly three dozen educators their jobs, and hundreds of others are being investigated...

The Miami-Dade County School Board in Florida voted 5-4 on Wednesday to fire six teachers and accept the resignations of 26 others.

The punishments stem from a scam run by former high school teacher William McCoggle, who claimed to offer continuing-education classes through a private company. McCoggle pleaded guilty to fraud in November, admitting he did little more than sell transcripts, requiring no tests, homework or other academic work.

On Wednesday, dozens of students and parents defended the teachers who lost their jobs, saying that removing them in the middle of the school year would be too disruptive.

Board member Evelyn Greer, who voted against the firings, agreed. "It baffles me, just baffles me, to have disruptions at the class level," Greer said.

Florida law requires teachers in public schools to take the equivalent of six education credits every five years to maintain their licenses. The credits can also get teachers raises and let them teach other courses.

McCoggle, who had taught in Miami-Dade County schools since 1983 before retiring last summer, agreed to serve two years in prison in a deal with prosecutors and must pay up to $100,000 in restitution.

Hundreds of teachers who never took classes are being investigated for buying continuing education transcripts.

Last fall, Ohio's Otterbein College, which has about 3,000 students, revoked nearly 10,000 credits given to 657 teachers. It was one of five schools that prosecutors say provided the course credits through McCoggle's company, Move On Toward Education and Training.
Of course, what do you expect from a "college" that censors performances of that edgy, "controversial" playwright David Mamet. Sad.

(For some reason I just got angry about that again. For those who know me, I've probably told that tale 1,000,000 times. For those who don't, see here.

Actually, I just realized that article is only available on Google's cache. I'll repost here in full, to save it from cyber-obscurity:
This article was originally obtained from http://www.dispatch.com/panarchive/1998-9-16/features/ottfea.html. It is also available in the Friday, October 16, 1998 edition of the Columbus Dispatch.

Otterbein College Theatre, responding to student complaints about racial stereotypes in an upcoming David Mamet drama, will shift the show's venue to a more private classroom audience.

Originally planned as a workshop presentation Nov. 5-7 in the Campus Center Theatre, Mamet's Edmond will be performed instead as a classroom project in response to "real concerns" that a campus protest "could result in violence," Artistic Director Dennis Romer said.

"As a classroom project, it is protected by rules of academic freedom," he said.

Mamet's episodic 90-minute piece, produced in Chicago in 1983 and off-Broadway later, is a dark portrait of an unhappy white man whose frustrations are expressed through self-hatred, misogyny and bigotry.

Eric Dysart, a 24-year-old senior in Otterbein's theater program, was the first to complain "because I found (the play) offensive, I didn't consider it art and I felt, as an African-American, that it exploited African-Americans."

Dysart -- who most recently played the Emcee in Otterbein's Cabaret and a college student in Moonchildren, Otterbein's coproduction with Contemporary American Theatre Company -- asked to be excused from the requirement to audition for all college productions.

Dysart and two other black actors were excused under a department policy allowing students to disassociate themselves from plays that offend them, Romer said.

But Dysart said he wasn't satisfied, and took steps to "stop the play from being done."

Among them: contacting a family attorney, sending a script to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and communicating his concerns to the African American Student Union, an Otterbein student group.

Dysart's actions led to a reportedly contentious campus meeting last week with about 50 people, including cast and crew members, student union members, Dysart and Darryl Peal, a student-union adviser and college staff member.

"We live in a society where people see stereotypes about African- American characters constantly," Dysart said. "They said we were censoring art, and that they had a right to do this no matter who it affected. But on the other side, if you're going to open a wound like racism up, you have to be more responsible.

"Edmond curses, spits on and kicks a pimp who tries to rob him, and a black prisoner rapes and sodomizes him... The title character comes out in the end smelling like a rose when he discovers his own spirituality, but at what cost?... I want (plays) to be a positive representation of my community."

Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (Glengarry Glen Ross), is known for his frequent use of profanity and his stylized portraits of seriously flawed characters, especially modern American white men.

Otterbein's Edmond was conceived as a workshop, rather than a full production within the regular subscription series, because the Theater Department recognized that its disturbing subject matter and profanity would "not appeal to a mainstream audience," Romer said.

At the same time, "We believe strongly that the play also contains a journey of individual redemption and a spiritual awakening that includes... the subsequent shedding of past narrow-minded belief systems," Romer said.

The initial production was planned with "talkbacks" after each performance to encourage discussion of the play's issues, he added.

Professor Ed Vaughan, the workshop's announced director, will lead the classroom project for a "private audience" at a time and location to be announced, Romer said.

Copyright © 1998, The Columbus Dispatch.
Go freedom! Actually, another reason that article makes me mad is because it reminds me how I once had ideals.)
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