During WSB-TV’s 75 year history, we’ve watched history unfold and chronicled important moments in the field of education.
Like Hamilton Holmes Charlayne Hunter. They became the first African-American students to register at the University of Georgia in 1961. Mary Francis Early became the first African-American to graduate from UGA in 1962.
You can’t talk about education in Atlanta without talking about desegregation. Until the 1960s, Blacks went to one school and whites went to another. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed that.
Clark Atlanta University education professor James Clayton Young says the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
“What they did not do is say how would you do that in terms of the practice,” Young told Channel 2′s Tom Jones.
Young says the decision led to white flight in and around Atlanta.
“Rather than to comply with the Supreme Court decision of 1954, it was white resistance.”
Young said Atlanta civil rights icons like Maynard Jackson and Andy Young were great at bridging the divide and working to bring all sides together.
“Atlanta was a city too busy to hate. too busy to hate,” the professor said.
Atlanta made national and international with APS cheating scandal in 2009.
“You had the whole world watching,” Gerald Griggs said.
Nearly three dozen educators were accused of a racketeering scheme where they changed standardized test scores for financial gain, including Superintendent Beverly Hall.
Some went to prison. Several took plea deals and were sentenced to community service. Some educators still have open cases. Griggs represented several of the defendants.
“You had the possibility of your client going to jail for a long, long, long amount of time,” he said.
He says no child was helped by the prosecution of the educators and says the teachers were scapegoats.
“You had low level individuals, some of which didn’t cheat at all or were merely pressured to cheat...ultimately being convicted,” Griggs told Jones.
Clint Rucker was co-lead counsel for the district attorney’s office on the cases.
“I thought it was very important that the community know what was going on in our public schools,” he said.
Rucker says the educators were robbing students and adversely impacting their futures.
“Because they are not achieving at the level these false scores are indicating.”
Rucker says the students didn’t get federal funds to help with tutoring or after school programs. All because of cheating.
“When we looked at those numbers and the evidence it was just shocking to me.”