Cheating: An Ignored Epidemic?

Cheating among students at levels from middle school through college has been well documented. At the end of June, The Education Portal, a website that explores education topics, provided some grim statistics, maintaining that 75%-98% of college students have admitted to cheating. The report is disheartening:

Cheating typically begins in middle school
Nine out of ten middle schoolers admit to copying someone else’s
homework;
Two-thirds say they have cheated on exams
Cheating most often occurs in science and math classes
The college students who are most likely to cheat are engineering and
business majors.

These results bring up a philosophical question: What is the real goal of a college education? Is it only obtaining a high grade point average as a means to entry into a graduate or professional school? Or should learning and self-improvement be the ultimate goals?

If this situation weren’t bad enough, a cheating scandal rocked Atlanta, Georgia this year. The governor published a report indicating that almost 200 teachers and administrators cheated over a period of a decade. As Constitutional attorney, Phyllis Schlafly, reported, these individuals, “fraudulently raised test scores so their schools would meet test targets set by the district and thereby qualify for federal funds . . . The high scores of Atlanta schoolchildren had enabled Superintendent Beverly L. Hall to collect $600,000 in performance bonuses over 10 years to supplement her $400,000 annual salary. Two national organizations honored her with the title of “superintendent of the year.”

The National Education Association, which held a conference at the beginning of July, did not address the cheating issue at all! Why not?

What message does this example send to students? Is it that only a test matters? Is it a Machiavellian standard that the ends justify the means? Who would knowingly choose to be treated by a physician who cheated on a final exam? Who would hire an attorney who cheated on his boards? Who would travel over a bridge designed by an engineer who cheated to get ahead?

When cheating occurs, everyone loses!Parents are ultimately responsible for teaching their children a strong value system. Effort and integrity are enduring principles.

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