Cheating in School Should Not Be Tolerated
Recently, The New York Times printed a front-page article entitled “Stuyvesant Students Describe the How and the Why of Cheating.” Although it appears that large-scale cheating on important tests, such as Regents exams, are rare, the students interviewed for the article commented that lower-level cheating “occurs every day.”
Obviously, not every student cheats, but cheating (even if low level) is so widespread that at Stuyvesant it apparently has become notorious. Moreover, if an environment of cheating exists at Stuyvesant, one of New York City’s elite schools, it is probable that cheating occurs at other schools where the standards are less rigorous.
Why is this occurring?
According to a September 7, 2012 article in The New York Times, “Experts say the reasons are relatively simple. Cheating has become easier and more widely tolerated, and both schools and parents have failed to give students strong, repetitive messages about what is allowed and what is prohibited.” As pointed out “since the 1960s, parenting has shifted away from emphasizing obedience, honor and respect for authority to promoting children’s happiness while stoking their ambitions for material success.”
We all want to succeed. Success in high school is measured, in large part, by the college at which a high school student is accepted. And, acceptance is based, primarily, on school grades and standardized test scores.
As a practical matter, grading incentivizes cheating, especially in an environment in which cheating is tolerated. Moreover, in such an environment, success is measured by test scores and not by the amount of knowledge obtained or how one learns to use such knowledge.
The determination whether to cheat should not be based on the probability of being caught and the severity of the resulting consequences. We have a responsibility to teach our students the difference between right and wrong, and that it is just plain wrong to cheat. Cheating should not be tolerated on any level.
Moral codes should be taught, in the first instance, at home. However, if not taught at home, then it should be the responsibility of the education system to take up the slack. If the Stuyvesant students who were cheating had learned, before they went to high school, that it was wrong to cheat, then the cheating at Stuyvesant may not have occurred, and if it did, then fewer students would have been involved.
By tolerating cheating in school, what will happen when our students become our leaders in science, industry, education and politics? #
Arthur Katz, a corporate attorney, is a member of the New York City law firm Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen, P.C.