A Queens lawmaker has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate “deep-rooted fraud” in the city Department of Education, The Post has learned.
Citing a “widespread problem” in the DOE, Councilman Robert Holden is calling for a federal probe of grade-fixing — possibly under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — which covers wrongdoing conducted as part of a criminal enterprise, such as Mafia families.
“Due to the apparent pattern of conspiracy to cover up such deep-rooted fraud within the DOE that has likely been going on for many years now, I have been advised that this could constitute a federal RICO investigation,” Holden’s wrote in a Oct. 25 letter to US Attorneys Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan and Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn. Both did not comment.
Holden contends the DOE does not tackle academic fraud aggressively because it inflates the graduation rate and other data.
“They’re doing it to make their bottom line look good. That’s the definition of organized crime. That’s what the DOE has turned into,” he said.
David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center education professor, found the “conspiracy” charge too strong.
But he said, “It does appear that the central DOE is happily complacent in its oversight. They’re complacent because they can enjoy the fruits of the corrupt data.”
This piece is not shocking to anyone who reads this blog and/or works in many New York City schools. Is it organized crime? Will the UFT get caught in this? Will teachers and administrators be in legal trouble?
The likelihood of teachers who comment here being arrested who admit they pass undeserving students is not that great unless a RICO investigation truly catches fire. However, a little integrity and backbone can really help teachers and now you have a City Councilman supporting you. You might want to give your principal and chapter leader Holden's letter (see below) and stand up for yourself. When you are pressured to pass a student with 20 absences in a 25 day marking period who has done no work, show them the letter and tell them you refuse to be a part of a possible racketeering fraud that the Feds are being asked to investigate by an elected official. If your next evaluation is developing or ineffective, blow the retaliation whistle. If you continue to be complicit in the fraud, there is a chance that this might not end well.
Back to the Post article:
Applauding Holden’s request is Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank who specializes in education.
“There should be a RICO probe,” Eden said. “School and district officials face essentially no accountability or consequences for fraud. When it comes to making sure that school officials follow the law, the prospect of a bad news article is nowhere near as strong as the specter of handcuffs.”