Learning To Cheat

Another Way Amerika Self-Destructs
Another Way Amerika Self-Destructs

Guess who America’s new role model is? Her name is Beverly Hall. She is Atlanta’s former Superintendent of Schools. She is dynamic – a mover, a shaker, an achiever and a total and utter fraud. On April 2, 2013, her deception came to a final end. She and 34 other co-conspirators have been indicted for rigging the standardized test scores dating all the way back to 2001.

Not only has she destroyed the trust and honor in the Atlanta School System, she has obviously spawned copy-cats. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia’s municipal schools are also rife with cheating conspiracies. Here is the latest in brotherly love and deceit.

Former Philadelphia School District principals Barbara McCreery of Communications Technology High School and Lolamarie Davis-O’Rourke of Locke Elementary both voluntarily surrendered their administrative certificates in lieu of discipline last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education said Wednesday. Both confessed to cheating, an official with firsthand knowledge of the investigations said. According to state records, McCreery erased and changed students’ answers, created an answer key, and manipulated student data; O’Rourke also erased and changed answers and gave students answers.

The two states in question, Georgia and Pennsylvania have attempted to stamp this out. Georgia went so far as to use racketeering charges to root out a vast conspiracy. Over 150 separate school officials were investigated for activities that spanned an entire decade. The level of dishonesty and complete contempt for the rules is staggering. It is worse in the context of people who stand in front of our kids and lecture them on honor.

People learn what we teach them. Today we teach them to cheat to get ahead. Just get the score, never mind the actual knowledge. We need numbers here. This, of course, runs into a brick wall called reality.

Employers want people who can actually do the things a diploma implies. They want literate, numerate, reliable, socialized human adults to hire. They don’t care too much about numbers. They will not hire numbers. They will hire competent individuals when the labor laws allow them to.

The result of this collision between dishonest, underperforming schools and unsentimental, bottom-line driven employers is a predictable collateral damage. Young people graduating with dubious credentials and non-viable skills are not in demand and frequently don’t find jobs.

The Graduate of a Cheating School
The Graduate of a Cheating School

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically (NSA) for June 2012 is 12.8 percent. The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.735 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by BLS because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs. If the labor force participation rate were factored into the overall 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.8 percent (NSA).

So who really gets cheated by cheating teachers? The students they educate. These people are taught to cut corners and pencil-whip. They are taught to hit numbers rather than really do the job. Just focus on the metric and don’t care whether it actually relates to the mission or to real world success. The children end up jobless. It’s almost as if they’ve been left behind.