Home-town graduation for class of cheaters

Cheaters may not win, but they don’t necessarily lose either

This is a pick-up from RYS (one of my favorite sites) of a story from The Columbus Dispatch. This story is equal parts heartwarming tale of small town folks doing good for their kids and stomach churning example of what’s wrong with education today.

The short version is this. At a small town high school a good half the graduating class was either guilty of cheating on their final tests or else complicit in the widespread cheating. Some enterprising hacker managed to get a hold of the tests and they got passed around. Seems like there might be another interesting story in the background here (a lot of “hacking” just means that some administrator had a criminally stupid password) but this story isn’t about the theft. It’s about the decision on the part of the high school to cancel graduation. With so much of the class implicated in academic misconduct I guess it just seemed like the thing to do. I agree with the decision.

Apparently parents disagreed. So they held their own graduation. Everyone pulled together in that movie-of-the-week sort of way to show the kids just how special they are – cheaters and all. Except the hacker, that is. And really, as far as I’m concerned, he’s the only one who demonstrated any particular ability in the midst of this mess. But like I said that’s another story.

The real issue here (as the good folks at RYS surely appreciate) is that you can’t go around rewarding kids for cheating. Even those that didn’t cheat (and I admit, they got the roughest deal here) were treated to ringside tickets to exactly the last lesson they should be learning prior to any post-secondary adventures that may be in their futures. And that lesson is that cheaters may not win but they don’t really lose either. They may be embarrassed for a bit and have to endure some scolding, but at the end of the day things will work out and all will be forgiven.

I’ll spare you all my iteration of the consequences of academic misconduct at the university level but suffice it to say that the consequences are serious indeed. Students at Centerburg High School may be happy they had their special graduation after all but much like students everywhere they don’t necessarily realize what they most need to learn. One missed ceremony is the cheapest price I can imagine to drive home the seriousness of this issue. If that lesson could have saved even one student from dealing with this down the road that would have been worth it. But there you go. Parents may not appreciate what lessons their kids need to learn either.

Props to the administration at Centerburg High. It’s nice to know that someone is still taking a principled stand.