Philip Nobile: New report claims he made unfounded charges

Historians in the News

When Philip Nobile reported in 2004 that the assistant principal of the Brooklyn high school where he taught had ordered other teachers to cheat on the scoring of Regents exams, he was embraced by a powerful city investigator as a whistle-blower.

His charges led to a full-blown investigation of the Cobble Hill High School of American Studies by the city’s Department of Education that backed up his story of failing scores being raised to passing. In short order, the assistant principal, Theresa Capra, resigned; the principal, Lennel George, was removed; and a string of education officials were caught up in questions about a coverup.

But, as it turns out, more than one person can blow a whistle.

Acting on a tip in July 2005, Richard J. Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for New York City schools, began a separate 23-month investigation into what happened at the high school in 2002 and 2003.

It resulted in a scathing 67-page report released yesterday that called Mr. Nobile a subpar teacher with poor evaluations who wrongly accused Ms. Capra of engineering a cheating scheme because she had given him a negative review that could have led to his firing....

Mr. Nobile, in an interview, dismissed the new report. “I was an eye and ear witness to the tampering by Ms. Capra and the coverup by Mr. George,” he said. “I know what I saw, I know what I heard, and I know tampering when I see it.”

He said that the new allegations against him were without merit and that he expected to be reinstated to his teaching job. “There are two Mickey Mouse allegations of corporal punishment,” he said. “In the first case, the boy retracted his complaint because he realized he was being manipulated. Case No. 2 was when I tried to break up a fight and the boy jumped me.”...

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Michael Polidori - 8/20/2010

Anyone reading the report by Condon realizes this was a higher up investigation designed to protect the reputations of higher-ups in the NYC BOE.
Condon admits in his report that cheating did go on in Cobble Hill, committed by teachers, at least one of which admitted the assistant principal handed him a stack of exams to re-grade, with the mutual understanding that grades were to go up.
The State Department of education reviewed Cobble Hill Regent's scores and declared there was an imbalance in scores in the 60-64 range which defied any reasonable explanation other than a campaign to raise those scores rather than score the regent's honestly
Nobile's charges were fully substantiated in the first investigation by Scarcella. The claim that Scarcella was manipulated by Nobile is ludicrous. Did Nobile manipulate a seasoned investigator to go after higher ups outside of Cobble Hill after Scarcella agreed with Nobile based on email records and corroborating testimony from other teachers, and the refusal of the assistant principal (who resigned) to even talk with Scarcella? Of course not.
Condon's NYC mayoral controlled office was created to oversee the NYC BOE to ensure corruption and cheating by teachers was rooted out. But Condon ensured that cheaters received the go-ahead signal to cheat their asses off
That the 2nd investigation was a sham and the 1st got it right is simply truth. But the way these teachers and administrators got into this position is the fault of the state allowing 2 reviews to rescore Regent's exams by the very teachers and administrators who would be affected by the outcome.
This was clearly a directive to cheat so the New York State Department of Education could qualify for Federal funds based on the documented education level of their students. Of course Federal authorities are also to blame putting this carrot in front of State Department of Education officials.
In both the state and federal guidance little to no oversight was mandated. Without federal oversight states are left to cheat to get their share of funds or cut their own throats regarding these funds.
None of this would be necessary if the education systems were funded adequately, fairly and equitably and ways could be found to honestly assess student performance without threats or rewards tied to test scores. To evaluate systems in successful schools and jointly attempt to correct schools lagging behind, recognizing that even in an ideal educational system someone will be at the top and bottom of any system of evaluation
Mr Nobile should never have been punished as a result of this 2nd investigation. I hope this has worked out in his favor. Except for the possible twisted evaluations of Mr Nobile, if they occurred, I don't feel the assistant principal (Ms Capra) or the principal (Mr George) should have been punished in any way either, as they were doing exactly what they knew the State Department of Education was expecting of them.