Has cheating gone mainstream in America?

posted at 11:00 am on March 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I tend to think that concerns about declines in moral values relate more to the access we now have to information than a real shift in behavior — but stories like this make me wonder.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that students will try to cheat their way through tests, even college entrance exams, even though that’s rather self-destructive.  What does surprise is that cheaters have apparently turned it into an industry in New York:

[Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen] Rice has charged 20 current or former students from a cluster of well-to-do, high-achieving suburbs on Long Island with participating in a scheme in which teenagers hired other people for as much as $3,500 each to take the exam for them. The five alleged ringers arrested in the case were accused of flashing phony IDs when they showed up for the tests. All 20 have pleaded not guilty.

If you believe that the teenagers had $3500 in cash to pay off ringers without their parents’ knowledge, I have some swampland in Mineola to sell you, too.  In my column for The Fiscal Times, I channel my inner curmudgeon and wonder what the parents were thinking:

On one level, cheating is an understandable impulse. Entrance exam scores can make a big difference in winning coveted slots at prestigious and more exclusive colleges and universities.  Parents – who presumably foot the bill for hiring these ringers – feel tremendous pressure to give their children the best odds they can for gaining admission to Ivy League schools, where success would mean better prospects for future careers.

What does it matter that the cheaters will keep more worthy students from getting the access they have earned? Actually, it means a lot – and not just for altruistic reasons, either, although those should come into play. We want the best and brightest to achieve the most, because at some point, we’ll need to see a doctor about a health issue, or perhaps an attorney to plan an estate or even to keep us out of jail.  Even just for purely selfish reasons, wouldn’t we prefer to get the attorney who didn’t need to cheat to get into Harvard Law and then cheat his way through the bar exam? I feel safe in assuming that the parents of the people charged in this case will insist on getting the best possible legal representation for their offspring.

Even on a selfish plane, though, cheating on entrance exams doesn’t make a lot of sense, either. The principle underlying these exams is to make sure students don’t get into an academic situation that they can’t handle – a sure path to failure. Unless a parent wants to put the ringer through college, at some point their own high-school graduate will have to keep up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or other storied halls of learning.

Those who cannot take their own SAT or ACT will likely fare very poorly in those environments, wasting everyone’s time, money, and resources. Cheating in this case only cheats the student who pays someone to do their work for them as well as rob a more prepared student of the opportunity to excel.

These incidents always result in higher public costs, whether through lost opportunities for better-prepared students, or more directly by making goods and services more expensive.  That’s certainly going to be the case with the SATs and ACTs:

The millions of students who take the SAT or ACT each year will have to submit photos of themselves when they sign up for the college entrance exams, under a host of new security measures announced Tuesday in the aftermath of a major cheating scandal on Long Island. …

Students have long been required to show identification when they arrive for one of the tests. Under the new rules, they will have to submit head shots of themselves in advance with their test application. A copy of the photo will be printed on the admission ticket mailed to each student, and will also appear on the test site roster.

School administrators are “going to be able to compare the photo and the person who showed up and say that’s either John Doe or that’s not John Doe. They didn’t have the ability to do that before,” the district attorney said.

The photo will also be attached to the student’s scores, which, for the first time, will be sent to his or her high school, so that administrators and guidance counselors can see the pictures. Previously, test results were sent only to the student.

Terrific.  It’s not as if schools are so busy with administrative mandates that they’ve already become top-heavy, taking resources away from children who need to prepare themselves for future success.  Oh, wait …

The real problem in this isn’t a lack of security for the ACTs and SATs.  It’s a lack of respect for what had been considered classic virtues — honor, integrity, or even rational self-interest.  Instead of succeeding on one’s own merits, we have arrived at a place where we reward — heck, even expect — people to game systems for dishonest advantage.  It’s not just college tests, either, but marriages, as the success of the cheating website Ashley Madison attests.  Dishonesty and infidelity have been around as long as human nature, but until recently, they hadn’t become profit industries.

Perhaps I’m just hearkening back to an idyllic time of old-fashioned values (full disclosure: I grew up in the 1970s, so this is unlikely), but we really do seem to have lost our moral bearings.  I don’t need a politician to impose those, nor a prosecutor to force college-boards services to provide security to account for the gap.  We need parents that teach that honor and integrity should be more highly valued than an SAT score, and a culture that lifts those values on its own.  That’s something to consider when we engage the culture in the future.

Update 3/30/12: The media relations director of ACT Inc. writes to tell me that ACT will not be raising its prices as a result of the increased security protocol.  However, it still means more administrative work for the schools and time costs for everyone involved.


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I’m not angry and I don’t cheat!
angry mike

KOOLAID2 on March 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Students have long been required to show identification when they arrive for one of the tests. Under the new rules, they will have to submit head shots of themselves in advance with their test application.

Just as long as they don’t have to in order to vote.

Drained Brain on March 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Nassau County gives the rest of us Long Islanders a bad name.

blatantblue on March 29, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I still would like to see JugEars transcripts…and he’s 50!

KOOLAID2 on March 29, 2012 at 11:04 AM

When I first read the article title, I thought this had to do with marriage.

In my column for The Fiscal Times, I channel my inner curmudgeon and wonder what the parents were thinking:

It’s pretty simple. Throughout history, there have ALWAYS been those who think they can buy their way through/out of every problem. This is just one of many manifestations of it.

Doomberg on March 29, 2012 at 11:05 AM

The problem as I see it is the focus on GRADES and not KNOWLEDGE. When I studied overseas, all exams were oral…making you form arguments based on the knowledge you had gained through the course. You can’t cheat through that. A 50 question true/false or multiple choice, however not only can be cheated (and often is) but also shows that a student can regurgitate factoids and that’s about it. I just think that our form of testing, like much of our education system, is crappy and, thusly, churns out inferior students.

search4truth on March 29, 2012 at 11:08 AM

The real problem with cheating isn’t the short cut or the fact that they are taking the spot of someone more worthy.

The real problem is the fact that you have to ask yourself… Do you want a doctor who cheated on his exams and may lack critical knowledge of something operating on you?

Do you want a lawyer who took a short cut working for you, and possibly not knowing something in court that hurts you…

Do you want someone who cheated on a financial exam working for you and doing your CAP EX analysis, when they might cost you millions…

This goes on and on. There are REAL economic negatives for the masses when cheating is incentivized.

Washington Fancy on March 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Unless a parent wants to put the ringer through college, at some point their own high-school graduate will have to keep up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or other storied halls of learning.

No, they don’t have to keep up, just look at our current president. It’s not about learning these days, it’s about making connections. And apparently that starts in prestigious kindergartens now.

rbj on March 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

What, one actually needs an ID to take the test?! I thought it’s more or less like voting.

Archivarix on March 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

So let me get this straight….

You need an ID to take a test.

You don’t need an ID to vote.

Yeah, this makes perfect sense. No wonder these kids are so confused. The moral standards seem to be quite flexible these days.

goflyers on March 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM

The problem as I see it is the focus on GRADES and not KNOWLEDGE. When I studied overseas, all exams were oral…making you form arguments based on the knowledge you had gained through the course. You can’t cheat through that. A 50 question true/false or multiple choice, however not only can be cheated (and often is) but also shows that a student can regurgitate factoids and that’s about it. I just think that our form of testing, like much of our education system, is crappy and, thusly, churns out inferior students.

search4truth on March 29, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Oral exams are too prone to personal bias. I’ll take the grades and the multiple choice exams as the lesser of two evils.

Archivarix on March 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM

I thought schools like Harvard weren’t failing ANYONE.

TexasAg03 on March 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM

You know, I can’t help but think a lot of this started when we took the Ten Commandments out of the schools, and they became places where teachers and administrators were charged with top-down control rather than teaching an internal code of ethics and morality.

The thing is, you see this same thing everywhere:

1) Marriages and families falling apart because someone “felt” like cheating.

2) Application inflation

3) Sex whenever and wherever you feel like it–with no personal responsibility at all.

4) Even the mandate was put in the healthcare law so people didn’t “cheat” and only get healthcare after they need it.

Wake up, America! There’s a reason we were founded on the principles of the Ten Commandments and a reason we are falling apart. And no, the government (and schools) can’t make up enough laws to force everyone to act morally although by goodness, they are giving it a very good try!

UnderstandingisPower on March 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

search4truth on March 29, 2012 at 11:08 AM

In America’s public education system, dominated by unions and other liberals, tests such as these would result in teachers rubber stamping the exams to push the student along. I wouldn’t trust the results without an idependent observer there to make sure no one is faking the results.

DRayRaven on March 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Ed, cheating is no worse now. Remember the days when entire teams threw the world series? Of course you don’t. That was in 1919. Today, that would never happen. Kids may cheat more now only because they have the information as to how to do it. Youtube has many videos showing kids how to cheat.

But you yourself cheating in writing this post. You took that photo from wikipedia but did not attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

;)

keep the change on March 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM

I often say “Common Ethics, aren’t.”

Via, we live in a world where an orange oompa-loompa has a TV show of her own. Why should people think that honesty, decency, and honour are virtues?

The_Livewire on March 29, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Culture of Corruption. The standards have been set at the top. Who wants to be the chump that works hard?

Kenosha Kid on March 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Senator Kennedy would have been shocked. Shocked I tell you.

tommyboy on March 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Honor, integrity, and rational self-interest now passé?

They call is being Progressive nowadays.

HotAirian on March 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Even on a selfish plane, though, cheating on entrance exams doesn’t make a lot of sense, either. The principle underlying these exams is to make sure students don’t get into an academic situation that they can’t handle – a sure path to failure. Unless a parent wants to put the ringer through college, at some point their own high-school graduate will have to keep up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or other storied halls of learning.

Ed, perhaps the parents are hoping their kid can do as Barack Obama did and simply charm his way through life.

radjah shelduck on March 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM

What, one actually needs an ID to take the test?! I thought it’s more or less like voting.

Archivarix on March 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

I see dead people.

Shy Guy on March 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM

How can you blame college kids for cheating (I’m not saying it is right) , they’ve been told their whole lives “you HAVE to have a degree to get a job”. It doesn’t matter what the degree is in , just get the degree. I’ve seen it in my own industry , people that have 20+ years experience “training” their boss to be , just because the kid has a degree.

TXChas on March 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Has cheating gone mainstream in America?

posted at 11:00 am on March 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Yeah. Just ask Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich.

Archivarix on March 29, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I steal Bishop’s ascii emoticons. -_-

Paul-Cincy on March 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM

“….at some point their own high-school graduate will have to keep up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or other storied halls of learning”.

So Ed, is Afiirmative Action cheating by other means? (aka by government sanction, not unlike the mortgage debacle and ensuing collapse of the housing market,etc,etc ?)

I wonder if our Affirmative Action President would regard this as a slap in the face?

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Why not? The whole system “cheats” through affirmative action and racially-based admissions. When there’s no integrity at all in the social underpinnings, why should we expect any from our citizens who are subject to the regime? It’s like asking an Italian (living in Italy) to pay his taxes–Perché?

exlibris on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

I would have to say, since my days in school, violence is up. WAY UP! But, alas, cheating was, is and always will be high.

MaiDee on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

What kind of cheating is this about? I thought students contraception costs 3k a year, and there has to be a lot of cheating going on, cause you cant use that much contraception in a monogamous relationship.

anikol on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

The culture of anything goes means anything goes. If it feels good, do it. If it feels good to cheat, go ahead.

Liberalism has consequences.

angryed on March 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Used to be performance was the main thing, and only certain jobs needed much in the ways of formal qualifications. Now every little thing demands a spotless record and some kind of certificate. People are cheating in response to that.

Good for them. Screw society.

That is all.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:26 AM

CORRECTION

“….at some point their own high-school graduate will have to keep up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or other storied halls of learning”.

posted at 11:00 am on March 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

So Ed, is Afiirmative Action cheating by other means? (aka by government sanction, not unlike the mortgage debacle and ensuing collapse of the housing market,etc,etc ?)

I wonder if our Affirmative Action President would regard this as a slap in the face?

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 11:24 AM

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 11:26 AM

So let me get this straight….

You need an ID to take a test.

You don’t need an ID to vote.

Yeah, this makes perfect sense. No wonder these kids are so confused. The moral standards seem to be quite flexible these days.

goflyers on March 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Given the arguments made against voter ID, it seems like someone is being racist regarding access to college…

Peri Winkle on March 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM

People have always cheated. But I do think that today’s mass media and scientific PR has more people confused about the difference between appearance and reality.

Real learning takes work.

jodetoad on March 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM

YES

It’s gotten so prevalent that those of us who do not cheat are thought to be “old school” or quaint.

IMO

Bogeyfre on March 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Cheating, mainstream? Wait until you see the payoffs to the death panel folks by the old folks who’ll have nothing to lose by bribing someone with their pre-inheritence money…

We haven’t begun to watch the underground economy in action -though Tide has become the coin of the inner cities already.

I’ll trade you two Tides for letting me park here officer….

Don L on March 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM

I tend to think that concerns about declines in moral values relate more to the access we now have to information than a real shift in behavior…

I came to the conclusion about 30 years ago that a very significant and growing number of people lived by the credo that anything they could get away with was acceptable. In other words, the amoral and the immoral were growing in numbers. If anything, over the years the trend has strengthened.

Is our society based on the fundamental belief in the general trustworthiness of our fellows? And if enough people decide to dishonestly exploit their fellows instead, what are the consequences for our society? (I suggest an examination of Middle Eastern cultures to see where societies based on the principle of “screw thy neighbor” wind up, corrupt, brutal and bloody.)

Are we approaching the tipping point?

Or have we already passed that point, and the direct result of too many amoral and immoral people is the disastrous economy and the metastasizing cancer that is our federal government?

If the problem is that amorality and immorality of the people has grown to the point where they threaten the foundations of our society, changing the players in DC isn’t going to get us off the road to ruin.

novaculus on March 29, 2012 at 11:32 AM

In the 1960′s they took God out of the public Schools;
In the 1970′s they took Discipline out of the public Schools;
In the 1980′s they took Moral Values out of the public Schools;
In the 1990′s they took Sexual Restraint out of the public Schools;

Today they cannot understand why they have Godless, Undiciplined, Self Centered and Promiscuous students coming out of the public Schools.

Hey, go look in the mirror!

jaydee_007 on March 29, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Keep the faith. There are plenty here who want to look themselves in the mirror and take pride in their accomplishments. My middle daughter’s C average shows me how hard she worked to bring it from a failing grade. I’m so proud of her. Oldest took the SATs 5 times (yikes) to improve on her grade and….she studied. Shame on the parents. I find out my kid cheats, whatever punishment came from the school would be the LEAST of her problems.

redmama on March 29, 2012 at 11:33 AM

you can tell a cheater, they write stuff on their hand

hanzblinx on March 29, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Way back when I was in high school in New York in the mid-1970s, they had a major cheating scandal on the Regents tests, which were the exit tests New York State gave in various categories and that students had to pass to graduate. Someone was able to access the answers by stealing copies of the Regents tests in (IIRC) math and physics from Yeshiva High School, and as a result, the state was forced to cancel both tests for that school year.

So it’s been done before. The bigger question is how many people today would see nothing wrong in doing this, or might help their child do this. Probably less on something as straighforward as an academic test, but when it coes to cutting corners in politics, there are definitely more people today who take an ends-justify-the-means attitude.

jon1979 on March 29, 2012 at 11:34 AM

On one level, cheating is an understandable impulse.

So is stealing and so, on occasion, is killing. However, in a civilized society we’re expected to abstain from these activities. Why is that so complicated?

morganfrost on March 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Greek Socialists believe in high taxes to pay for their entitlements. Greeks are also prolific at cheating on their taxes. Two ideas that go great together. Welcome to Libthink.

Cheating is perfectly acceptable to the Lib so long as they are the only ones doing it (as in Obamacare waivers). Never mind the ramifications.

HotAirian on March 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM

It’s not that hard to get out of most exclusive universities; the hard part is getting in. Parents know this. How many employers looking at someone with a Harvard or Princeton B.A. bother to ask for the transcripts?

rockmom on March 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM

It crtainly is better organized, but it is not new. Edward Kennedy was involved in a cheating scandle at Harvard and Martin Luther King plagerized some of his thesis. Neither seemed to suffer consequences.

burt on March 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

So is stealing and so, on occasion, is killing. However, in a civilized society we’re expected to abstain from these activities. Why is that so complicated?

morganfrost on March 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Because humans are complex, far-from-equilibrium, stochastic dynamic systems who don’t make decisions in a simple way — our brain is composed of competing parts — analyzing risk vs. reward, harm vs. benefit, and don’t simply make simplistic decisions as if following some conservative woman’s pet yes/no flow-chart.

We’re biological animals not computers with I/O switches.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Martin Luther King plagerized some of his thesis. Neither seemed to suffer consequences.

burt on March 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

He also banged the babes who weren’t his missus and who pocketed coin so they could buy bling, blow, and bread.

Which is fine.

Just sayin’.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Not too long ago, I received a full scholarship to an excellent institution of higher learning (as did my younger brother one year later) thanks in large part to performance on the SAT. That test was one of the precious few opportunities available to folks like myself – poor kids from single-parent (by death, not choice) households who don’t have the time or financial resources to load up on stat-padding extracurricular activities, summer camps, and other lah-dee-dah experiences these kids likely take for granted. (Having grown up in a somewhat wealthy part of the country it was my experience that these things were somewhat common. My experience might not apply to other areas.)

This sort of thing frustrates me in ways difficult to describe in a polite manner. Competition is only increasing for the few coveted spots in prestigious universities and merit-based qualifiers like the SAT/ACT are among the few options available to those who aren’t as well off to stand out in the crowd. Take those away and you take away the best chances for kids like me to realize their dreams.

Ah well.

Aquarian on March 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I thought schools like Harvard weren’t failing ANYONE.

TexasAg03 on March 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Ever heard of Adam Wheeler? Before he finally got caught by chance, he almost succeeded in Cheating his way thru Harvard. 2010.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/12/16/harvard-wheeler-college-guilty/

Former Harvard student Adam B. Wheeler pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to all 20 counts against him, admitting that he duped the Harvard admissions office and defrauded the University out of over $40,000 in grants and prizes.

Upon pleading guilty to 20 misdemeanor and felony counts of larceny, identity fraud, falsifying an endorsement or approval, and pretending to hold a degree, Wheeler was sentenced by Associate Justice Diane M. Kottmyer to 10 years probation. He was also ordered to make restitution of $45,806 to Harvard University and to continue the psychological treatment that he had begun since his arrest.

In Middlesex Superior Court, Wheeler conceded today that he dishonestly gained admission to Harvard by fabricating SAT scores, falsifying letters of recommendation, and forging high school and college transcripts. He also admitted to plagiarizing essays and a research proposal that earned him a Hoopes Prize, Sargent Prize, and Rockefeller research grant while he was a Harvard student.

Del Dolemonte on March 29, 2012 at 11:51 AM

This is news? The fat slob Teddie Kennedy was expelled from Harvard because he had someone take his Spanish test for him and got caught. Daddy cut a big check to the alumni fund and Teddie was able to reenter a year or two later.

That was 1951.

slickwillie2001 on March 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I’m center-right in how I vote and think, but the center part — and a commitment to truth for its own sake — allows me to keep a foot in the real world.

Of course Democrats and liberals and leftists commit many crimes and misdeeds: every one you could name and then some.

But the idea this is a left/right thing is just daft. You read this on conservative websites all the time, from those with small imaginations and mediocre cum-inferior minds.

The data doesn’t support your dumb prejudice:

** Red States Have Higher Crime Rates Than Blue States **

I don’t know how great the difference is, but there simply isn’t evidence that liberals commit crimes/dishonesty and conservatives don’t. This is an issue that “cuts across all human hearts” to quote the previous President. Whatever his faults, he wasn’t a retarded simpleton about that, which many in the conservative commentsphere seem to want to be … as if it’s a badge of sacred honor.

If you want to try “real world” again, say, “People with all sorts of backgrounds cheat if the temptations and rewards are high enough. How do we reduce this age-old problem?”

Instead many, not all, of you make yourselves into charactertures.

Cheating is perfectly acceptable to the Lib so long as they are the only ones doing it (as in Obamacare waivers). Never mind the ramifications.

HotAirian on March 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Others here respond reasonably and maturely. Since you claim to value those qualities, join them.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Way back when I was in high school in New York in the mid-1970s, they had a major cheating scandal on the Regents tests, which were the exit tests New York State gave in various categories and that students had to pass to graduate. Someone was able to access the answers by stealing copies of the Regents tests in (IIRC) math and physics from Yeshiva High School, and as a result, the state was forced to cancel both tests for that school year.

jon1979 on March 29, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Same thing happened more recently in the Atlanta school system.

Another classic example came from a few years back, when students at the Columbia University Journalism Grad School were caught cheating on a test.

It was a take home exam. Open book.

The course? “Journalistic Ethics”.

Del Dolemonte on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Students are no more inclined to cheat today than they were in the past.

bluegill on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Part of the problem is that students understand themselves as consumers of education, rather than seeing education as a value and essential part of citizenship. Its not just “anything goes” that leads to cheating its also this logic that says “I’m paying for education, therefore I deserve to get a benefit out of education, whether I apply myself or not.” This extends to public schools because of the way conservatives are constantly talking about public education as a drain on individual income. It gets worse at the college level, where both Democrats and Republicans have gutted state contributions to higher education, increasing the financial burden on students to pay for tuition. In the 1970s, the state of IL paid 75 cents of every dollar spent on tuition. Now they spend 15 cents of every dollar spent on tuition, who makes up that difference? Students. And students have begun to think of themselves as education customers who DESERVE a good grade, rather than having to EARN a good grade.

The move towards charter schools, to end public education and put everything in a private model is only going to exacerbate the situation.

libfreeordie on March 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

It is not just the students doing the cheating. They are merely following the example set for them by their teachers.

Just A Grunt on March 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

PHOTO ID FOR TESTING IS RAAAAAAAAAAAAACIST!!!!!!111!!!!11!!!!111

Marcola on March 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM

We need parents that teach that honor and integrity should be more highly valued than an SAT score, and a culture that lifts those values on its own. That’s something to consider when we engage the culture in the future.

The most important business in this Nation–or any other nation, for that matter-is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don’t think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child’s mind the moral code under which we live.

The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.

If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.

- President Harry S. Truman

ITguy on March 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Two reasons why students get away with cheating so often in school:

1. Teachers risk exposure on themselves and innocent students if it becomes a big deal. If a student unknowlingly helped someone cheat, the hammer can come down on them. If a student knew someone was cheating and did not report it and this fact comes out somehow, the hammer comes down as well. All of this can reflect poorly on the teacher as well, even if there’s no realistic way the teacher could have known one or more students were cheating short of searching their person (which they can’t and shouldn’t do obviously). This leads to #2.

2. The burden of proof falls squarely on the teacher in most cases. If a teacher suspects a student of cheating but can’t come up with very concrete evidence of it then the teacher can do nothing. At that point bringing it to the attention of administrators serves no point other than to make the teacher look bad. If the teacher tries and fails to produce concrete evidence (sometimes even if he does produce it) the ****storm that may be caused by embarrassed staff and faculty, and the parents of the student in question, can lead to severe consequences on the person who would be blamed in the first place, the teacher. In other words, if it’s not overtly blatant, and you don’t have tenure, best to let it go and only risk trying to threaten the student into good behaviour.

I know this doesn’t exactly apply to standardized tests (except when teachers and administrators cheat on behalf of their district scores), but the point is the same. Particularly as a college student I saw it as endemic. I did my best to stay clear of those who were a little to obvious in their cheating, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to say anything. All they needed to say was I was involved in some way in order to put my whole academic career in jeopardy. In college you were guilty by association, and so everyone keeps their mouth shut.

Blacksoda on March 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Students are no more inclined to cheat today than they were in the past.

bluegill on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Agreed. It’s just a lot easier to do these days with a myriad new technologies (and the Internet) at their disposal.

Good Lt on March 29, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Students are no more inclined to cheat today than they were in the past.

bluegill on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

SparkPlug on March 29, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Same thing happened more recently in the Atlanta school system.

Another classic example came from a few years back, when students at the Columbia University Journalism Grad School were caught cheating on a test.

It was a take home exam. Open book.

The course? “Journalistic Ethics”.

Del Dolemonte on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Now that is funny.

SparkPlug on March 29, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I thought the left believed that being forced to show photo ID was RAAAAAAAAAACIST!?

I’m confused.

wildcat72 on March 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I am continually amazed that the “scandal” in Georgia of teachers changing the answers on student’s standardized tests isn’t getting much traction. And the apparent support for the teachers by the parents. Crazy world.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Instead of succeeding on one’s own merits, we have arrived at a place where we reward — heck, even expect — people to game systems for dishonest advantage.

It’s the entitlement generation. Everyone is supposed to get a trophy, win or lose. As long as they “try” a little bit, they should be rewarded.

And that is the source of the OWS crowd, they want, or actually expect, a good life to be given to them.

This generation needs to experience a little (or maybe a lot of) failure. Without that, success has no meaning.

iurockhead on March 29, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Cheating on the SAT is for losers.

Lying about a PhD and manufacturing a convincing and impressive work history? Now THAT is genius…and economically beneficial. :)

JasperBallbaggins on March 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM

And that is the source of the OWS crowd, they want, or actually expect, a good life to be given to them.

I agree, and this was my problem with OWS. They were white, middle class kids who had been taught their entire lives that capitalism was going to work for them. Meanwhile it hadn’t been working for lots of other, less privileged people for decades (if not longer). So their sudden awakening was shallow and really late. Their whole mantra was “this shouldn’t be happening to US” I was grossed out.

libfreeordie on March 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

No one has a monopoly on bad behavior but your link just encourages we Southerners to blame it on all the damn Yankees moving down here.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Part of the problem is that students understand themselves as consumers of education, rather than seeing education as a value and essential part of citizenship.

Very true, I admit to having that attitude in college. Most people were there to get their degree and get out. And despite realizing this, I could not change my attitude. Every time I didn’t get the schedule I wanted, or admistrative offices made me wait on them instead of the other way around, I got annoyed and thought about how I was paying for a service at an institution without a customer service department. Whenever I hit a roadblock, my feeling was that it was the institution itself that should move out of my way and not the other way around.

I know, at least factually, that’s not how it should be.

That said, am I wrong to feel that way? When I really think about it, given the current system…no, I don’t think I am. I did the work that was asked of me, and I did it without a smile on my face or any real sense of accomplishment.

It didn’t help either that I was an economics major, and saw the cold hard numbers of the cost of education verus earning potential exactly as an economist should.

Blacksoda on March 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I thought schools like Harvard weren’t failing ANYONE.

TexasAg03 on March 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Yes, once you get in , you are almost certain to graduate, 90% with honors. Even Lawrence Summers, when he was Dean at Harvard, complained about grade inflation.

mydh12 on March 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Cheating is perfectly acceptable to the Lib so long as they are the only ones doing it (as in Obamacare waivers). Never mind the ramifications.

HotAirian on March 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM

So again I ask, is Affirmative Action cheating by other means, aka government sanction, depriving others, who by merit, have earned a coveted place as Aquarian so skillfully stated?

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Decades of dumping guilt, responsibility, right and wrong, and stuffing undeserved self-esteem into little heads, takes its toll.

Don L on March 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM

I am continually amazed that the “scandal” in Georgia of teachers changing the answers on student’s standardized tests isn’t getting much traction. And the apparent support for the teachers by the parents. Crazy world.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Nobody wants to admit that because these were primarily minority students and teachers that they should be allowed to “get away ” with this because of their skin color.

This is what happens when standards become subjective and is also good argument to shut down the DOE.Doesn’t cheating diminish the raison d’etre for Affirmative Action ?

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Our current entire government system is modeled on cheating and dishonesty. From the justice system to the tax system to the military and job system, honesty is punished while dishonesty and witholding information is rewarded. Others call it by another name: “Gaming” the system.

Durka-Durka on March 29, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Decades of dumping guilt, responsibility, right and wrong, and stuffing undeserved self-esteem into little heads, takes its toll.

More or less true for many, I was told my whole life I needed to graduate college to get a job. When I did, damned if I didn’t feel at least a little entitled. When I did get a job, well, then it felt worth it…but not until then. Should we feel entitled? No. Did I? Yes, at least a little as long as I’m being honest.

Blacksoda on March 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM

If you believe that the teenagers had $3500 in cash to pay off ringers without their parents’ knowledge, I have some swampland in Mineola to sell you, too.

I dunno…apparently they have enough money to fly porn stars in for their proms.

Blaise on March 29, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Obama lied every time he opens his mouth.

The land is represented by the biggest cheat, ever.

Schadenfreude on March 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Why would anyone be surprised at this? Who controls the education system – liberals. Who then, by default, is instilling their values (or lack thereof) on children – liberals. Who then is at fault for the decay of ethics and morals – liberals – liberal teachers and administrators, and liberal absentee parents.

The corrupt liberal ideology is to blame for most of the social ills our nation is experiencing. This ideology exists only through lies, corruption, deception, brainwashing, and the empty promises of a free ride for all at the expense of someone else.

AttaBoyLuther on March 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM

The move towards charter schools, to end public education and put everything in a private model is only going to exacerbate the situation.

libfreeordie on March 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Clearly if what you said were true the issue wouldn’t be affecting public schools as much as it has as precedent has proven. This problem is endemic to public schools and now is exploding into an epidemic. If anything you make a good case FOR charter schools.

On the other hand, perhaps you were home schooled.

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM

DevilsPrinciple on March 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM

In the end precious education is wasted or never attained. I worked at a public alternative school and I was amazed at the behavioral problems that stem from lack of basic skills and the attempt to hide it.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I tend to think that concerns about declines in moral values relate more to the access we now have to information than a real shift in behavior — but stories like this make me wonder.

Ed, there has been a huge decline in moral values. I’m shocked you don’t realize this.

UnderstandingisPower on March 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I agree. A standard of behavior was expected, and our teachers were not beyond taking a entire class to task over one or two students. I still remember the stinging rebuke of my 8th grade math teacher over what was considered at the time to be scandalous behavior. I don’t even know if anyone in that class was guilty. My teacher have an adamant lecture about standards.

When I was in high school we actually had a student organization called an Honor Court. Yes. Really. I think its design was to promote and defend honor. Yes. Really. One of its functions was dealing with students who cheated. Guess what happened? Along about 1970 or so the student body voted to abolish it.

INC on March 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

AttaBoyLuther on March 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Exactly.

Gary Hart had to drop out of the presidential primary race because he was accused of adultery.

Bill Clinton OTOH was guilty of perjury and had been credibly accused of sexual assault.

Start thinking of Congress, the WH and D.C. Things that were kept under wraps because they knew the general public would be outraged and call for heads to roll are now common knowledge.

INC on March 29, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Nobody wants to admit that because these were primarily minority students and teachers that they should be allowed to “get away ” with this because of their skin color smaller brain size and lower IQ.

At least be fair, accurate, and precise.

Skin color is irrelevant. Intelligence isn’t when it comes to who’s cheating on academic tests.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Why would anyone be surprised at this? Who controls the education system – liberals. Who then, by default, is instilling their values (or lack thereof) on children – liberals.

Yep. I predicted this would continue. Can’t stop dumbarses from being dumbarses.

Just shows that the Bell Curve is alive and well among all groups, including “Hotarians”.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:21 PM

The sad reality is those doing it, in many cases honestly don’t think what is clearly cheating is cheating. We have a society that know rewards kids for their feelings or just participating (look at how schools are now ranked….not how their kids do on exams, but just simply how many take them) and this is one of the by-products. Create an entitlement society like we have and many of these kids do not know how to study and earn and learn, they just expect. Also this is also a result of simply throwing more tests at these kids. All we do is test, test, test. And the more you test, the more there will be cheating. It really is Atlas Shrugged in the education world these days.

arizonateacher on March 29, 2012 at 1:24 PM

The sad reality is those doing it, in many cases honestly don’t think what is clearly cheating is cheating.

Ugh. I don’t know why people can’t see the obvious. Everyothing you say may be true, but you’re still missing the bigger factor. Good Lt. and at least one other person above put their finger on it: technology.

It is not only easier to cheat because of this, but the widespread available of what would have been reams of bulky, costly data in previous generations, all available at the touch of a few buttons and installation of a bittorrent client or similar, has fostered and attitude where the rules are different regarding information and physical objects. That comes down to economics essentially.

It was only this morning I was reading conservatives at Ace’s site talk about bittorrent clients and the like. Where getting all this info for free is culturally acceptable (the technology changed the culture, not the other way around), it isn’t hard to understand how allegedly bright moral edges on other aspects of treating information would slip. Yes, they’re not exactly the same, but they’re close enough that this is a huge cultural factor (affecting left and right and everyone in between).

How many religious, otherwise moral women and others do I know that wouldn’t think about “stealing”, DO in fact steal all sorts of music and info and software? Tons. Wouldn’t have been possible before.

Here’s the start of your slippery slope.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

You linked a story about

crime

being higher in Red States while rationalizing cheating with burgeoning technology. That’s interesting.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Ed, there has been a huge decline in moral values. I’m shocked you don’t realize this.

UnderstandingisPower on March 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I agree. A standard of behavior was expected, and our teachers were not beyond taking a entire class to task over one or two students. I still remember the stinging rebuke of my 8th grade math teacher over what was considered at the time to be scandalous behavior. I don’t even know if anyone in that class was guilty. My teacher have an adamant lecture about standards.

When I was in high school we actually had a student organization called an Honor Court. Yes. Really. I think its design was to promote and defend honor. Yes. Really. One of its functions was dealing with students who cheated. Guess what happened? Along about 1970 or so the student body voted to abolish it.

INC on March 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

You are speaking the truth here. How could anyone be surprised to see that the ethical standards of the general public have been going steadily downhill in this country for decades when you look at the messages sent by presidents like Wilson, FDR, Johnson, and Clinton? We are witnessing upclose the culmulative effect hypocritical, pandering, socialistic leaders have on societies.

Anyone who believes that cheating is no more tolerated today than it was in years past is probably silly enough to believe that the out-of-wedlock birthrate has remained constant in the US since the 1800s, and that 1965 NYC blackout had the same rate of crime that the one in 1977 did.

Bizarro No. 1 on March 29, 2012 at 1:41 PM

It’s a pretty easy choice to make. You are a parent and you want to send your child to college. The cost of college has skyrocketed. Sending your child to a public university, out of state, can run over $20K per year. I sent my daughter to WVU, I live in PA, and the cost was $23K. So, for parents that don’t have that kind of money they will buy a ringer for their child to escape the financial burden themselves. Like you said, the children don’t have $3,500 in their pockets to plunk down on a ringer. Not only do the parents need to be seriously punished, but they need to examine who was awarded scholarships and force them to pay the school’s back.

djaymick on March 29, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Well that went terribly wrong, what a crime.

You linked a story about crime being higher in Red States while rationalizing cheating with burgeoning technology. That’s interesting.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM

You shouldn’t generalize, I don’t steal, physical or intellectual property.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM

being higher in Red States while rationalizing cheating with burgeoning technology. That’s interesting.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Apples and oranges. The first shows that perfidy isn’t a left/right issue. There’s plenty to go around.

The second wasn’t “rationalizing” cheating with technology (I rationalize it, if anything, by the fact that so many formal qualifications are now required for even the most basic jobs, that it can be necessary for some if they want to compete economically). I dislike intellectual property theft, and see no difference between it and physical property theft — and I’m clearly in the cultural minority there.

As far as technology goes, there’s a difference between what “is” and what “should be”. Conservatives get so caught up on what “should be” if only people felt/thought like them (at least, like they do publicly).

“Should” people be cheating from an ethics perspective? Well obviously not. “Does” technology make it easier to cheat, and also because of the ease and widespread cultural acceptance — since while it costs time and money to produce, there is virtually no ‘unit cost’ for downloads and therefore people see it, falsely in my view, as a victimless crime — of stealing information; reduce stigma surrounding it?

Yeah. It does.

You’re confusing is with ought. It’s an old mistake.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:48 PM

You shouldn’t generalize, I don’t steal, physical or intellectual property.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM

What are you talking about? Did I accuse you of either?

Meaning no offense, you’re having trouble separating things. You’re the one who is overgeneralizing. My saying that cheating and crime isn’t a left/right issue isn’t accusing you of cheating or stealing or what have you. I have no reason to think you steal any more than I have reason to think Jennifer Aniston does.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:51 PM

. It’s an old mistake.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Well, I am old, so cheating is cheating and stealing is stealing. I don’t see much gray area.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 1:53 PM

I also, Cindy. As I said, I don’t see a moral difference between stealing info (songs, software, papers, etc.) downloaded than I do in stealing other things. I’m just pointing that, my thoughts on it notwithstanding, the cultural — including from a lot of conservative young people — is vastly different.

As I said above, was on Ace’s site today and saw a discussion on how most bittorrent downloads are actually virus free, etc. It was clear the people talking about this both voted GOP and downloaded others’ intellectual property without compensation.

That’s my point.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I’m not saying the culture should accept cheating and stealing. I’m saying etending it’s a “liberal issue” isn’t much in the way of a solution. It’s self-delusion masquerading as superiority. It’s the ultimate red herring.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:59 PM

*pretending

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 1:59 PM

As far as, “It’s a liberal thing,” you could say that about any crime. It’s nonsense and there’s no data to back it up. Even if there is for a specific crime, there are other crimes for which the opposite is true. Crime and cheating are associated with certain things such as lower intelligence (and both the left and right have higher and lower intelligent people in their ranks), but not liberalism per se, except incidentally.

Liberalism is associated with socialism, yeah, more regulations, sure, but not more crime and dishonesty as such. It isn’t even associated with lower IQ on balance.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I understand what you are saying but when a whole ideology is based on what is “fair” and sees no problem with taking from producers to give to non-producers, we don’t even start from the same place. All of us should be contributing to cover constitutionally mandated government spending, everything else should be handled on the local level.

Cindy Munford on March 29, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Post-modern moral relativism, the idea that there’s no absolute truth, and that moral values are relative, is the problem here. It started in the 60′s and 70′s, but it did not take hold of the mainstream culture as it has now. When moral values are relative, who is to say what is cheating? What if in cheating that person was trying to right a perceived wrong? Isn’t going to college and being the best a good thing, and if so, isn’t cheating to achieve those goals somewhat justified? This is what the Occupy Wall Street morons were immersed in when they were going through their formative years. And this is what our kids believe. This sort of thinking will bring doom to a civilization.

And, this post-modern moral relativism is not new. In Genesis, Satan, in the form of the Serpent, asks Eve, “Did God really say…?” Satan is the first ever post-modern moral relativist. Probably why Saul Alinsky dedicated his book to him.

oddjob on March 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM

the idea that there’s no absolute truth

There is, in science and physics. QED is hinting at some real truth.

But there is no absolute moral truth that cheating is wrong or right. It works or it doesn’t. It’s true that being free from the illusion that there’s absolute moral truth changes behavior.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM

As far as, “It’s a liberal thing,” you could say that about any crime. It’s nonsense and there’s no data to back it up. Even if there is for a specific crime, there are other crimes for which the opposite is true. Crime and cheating are associated with certain things such as lower intelligence (and both the left and right have higher and lower intelligent people in their ranks), but not liberalism per se, except incidentally.

Liberalism is associated with socialism, yeah, more regulations, sure, but not more crime and dishonesty as such. It isn’t even associated with lower IQ on balance.

Mitchell Heisman on March 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Do you believe the % of vote-cheating is anywhere close to 50/50, when comparing Rightists to Leftists? How about when it comes to violent crimes – do you believe that % is anywhere close to 50/50? Saying that liberalism i.e. Leftism itself doesn’t cause criminality doesn’t address why Leftists are so much more likely to commit certain crimes than Rightists, does it?

You don’t see a moral difference, but what’s your explanation for why a lot of illegal downloaders on the Right would never be tempted to steal their neighbors’ personal, physical possessions, even if they believed they could get away with doing so?

Bizarro No. 1 on March 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM

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