The message from Atlanta: Don’t cheat. Never. Don’t erase answers. Don’t do anything to violate professional ethics, no matter how you may be threatened or offered bribes (merit pay, bonuses) by higher-ups.

Eleven of twelve Atlanta educators were convicted of racketeering. One was acquitted. Others who were indicted made plea bargains. Superintendent Beverly Hall, who was accused of rewarding principals and teachers who got high scores and punishing those who could not raise scores, died a few weeks ago; her terminal illness prevented her from ever going to trial.

A reader asked me to contrast Atlanta with Washington, D.C., where an investigation by USA Today uncovered widespread cheating, as well as evidence of many erasures changing answers from wrong to right. The difference is that the Governor of Atlanta put together a serious investigative team and broke open the scandal. In Washington, D.C., the investigation was limited and cursory. The cheating happened, during Michelle Rhee’s tenure in office, but no one was ever held accountable.

The bottom line: don’t cheat and don’t permit students to cheat. Period.