Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2004/ 4 Adar, 5764

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Of cheating, trees and their acorns | The acorn never falls far from the tree. A month ago I described my experience of being booed while speaking about cheating at a high school located deep in urban sprawl. I was against it. In this era, one must clarify. The students were not interested in free copies of my book on ethics. They were not interested, period.

The response to that column has been discouraging. I remain ever the realist when it comes to cheating levels in academic endeavors, but ever the optimist that young people can be reformed. My optimism wanes because virtue hasn't a prayer, as it were, in homes and classrooms with attitude. I shall allow the words of the teachers, students and parents from this school to speak for themselves. In the words of the great Dave Barry, "I am not making this up."

A senior wrote, "People are going to make choices for themselves. I don't blame the teachers, or parents, or anyone else. Students who cheat do so on their own terms. Of course there has been no penalty, but they know there is a risk, and apparently it seems like it's worth taking. According to the U.S. News & World Report article 'Exclusive Poll: Cheaters Win,' which I provided a link to at the end of this letter, just about everyone is cheating in some way or another. This includes lawyers, politicians, and the media, among many, many others. It is a common thing among society that is seemingly accepted. Obviously, in college (or any other institution), many of these people were never caught, or never penalized for their actions. I am not supporting cheating, but this just goes to show that we live in a world where it is prevalent."

Roseanne Roseannadanna's logic finds me sleeping with the lights on.

Another student, who was in the calculus class when the debacle in which no penalty was assessed against students who had the final exam and answers in advance, wrote, "As a peer of the corrupt calculus students, I can tell you that the punishment our teacher handed out may not have been public, but it was poignant. Many of my guilty peers begged their teacher for the "F" in place of the actual punishment: facing their parents. After speaking with several of them, I can say that their parent's disappointment was thorough enough to discourage any future indiscretion."

Donate to JWR

Perhaps we could try this penalty on the Enron executives.

Ah, but this same student explained to me that business causes cheating, "You say not to blame 'the rich, the Republicans, Halliburton, or greed,' but those factors seem to constantly favor capitalistic ventures over education."

I missed the economics lecture that followed the "guns vs. butter" discussion, to wit, "capitalistic ventures vs. education." They are mutually exclusive? Antithetical?

From a teacher, "I feel the problem starts with the parents. The students that are caught cheating, the parents do everything they can to get them off. 'The teacher never said they could not do this, or that,' is the common phrase heard. Do administrators pick battles? Yes. Should they pick a battle everytime [sic] a cheating incident occurs? Yes. Do they? No."

Another teacher wrote, "Parents are allowed to run buckshot over teachers and grades are inflated. Cheating is done on a daily basis and there is little effort to curb it. Kids will ditch class by having their parents excuse them during the period they are to take the test, and then the kids find out from their friends what is on the test. I have called kids on it and have been in trouble with administration. The new camera cell phones are now being used to take pictures of tests and also they are using instant messaging to cheat."

But, the parents see it differently. "A Proud Asylum Parent," (Mark Henning) wrote, "As the double Doctorate in the audience put it so succinctly, 'I was enrolled in one of her classes for 2 weeks and I had to get out before I was bored to death.' Maybe some soul searching is in order before you are so quick to criticize. From the student with a 4.00 GPA and quadruple fines arts letters, 'I have never heard a more boring speaker in my life.' And the list goes on. . . . You were a miserable failure. The Bataan Death march was actually a celebration from the execution of your speech. Yes, the debacle was yours, but you are too blind to acknowledge it. Keep the book."

I have been called many things. I am unable to list them here because, well, this ain't half time at the Super Bowl. "Boring" has yet to emerge. But, I'll give Mr. Henning his point. That I am a total bore does not address nor change the problem with cheating at the school his two daughters attended.

There was one sincere note; "I apologize for the few bad seeds that ruined it for everyone. I would appreciate it if you could return and hopefully bring a few signed books for the few receptive students here . . ."

Not a chance, unless the parents come too. Their acorns could use some guidance.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

Marianne M. Jennings Archives


© 2004, Marianne M. Jennings