I’ve addressed cheating in previous articles; however, the recent ruling in Waterbury, Connecticut involving at least a dozen teachers demonstrates the pervasiveness of the problem. It also raises some serious questions about the best way to deal with those involved in unethical behavior. Twelve teachers received no more than the proverbial “slap on the wrist” after their admission of wrong-doing. They either prompted students in grades 3 through 5 to change their wrong answers to the right ones, or they erased the wrong answers and inserted the correct ones. State administrators became suspicious when the Hopeville scores indicated a dramatic improvement from previous years and demonstrated substantial improvement from the other elementary schools in the district.
Loss of twenty days’ pay seems rather lenient. They’ve been “committed” to community service? What organization will be willing to have them as volunteers? Why weren’t these teachers fired? While recent graduates and unemployed teachers struggle to find positions, these individuals are still working. Why was one teacher allowed to retire and retain her benefits rather than leave in disgrace? And how long will it take the Waterbury Board to terminate the principal? Will she go on to another school district? Will she collect a pension? Why aren’t parents demanding that their children be removed from their classes? What is the Waterbury system telling their constituents and the rest of the country? Perhaps some in-service programs on ethics are in order.
These teachers supposed to be role models for their students. Their retention in the school district sends a perilous message to the children: Cheating is bad, but only if one is caught at it!