Today, the Daily News published the Op-Ed, “Why smart kids cheat” by Melvin Jules Bukiet about Stuyvesant and the testing culture, and another article (print edition only) called: “Lesson Pans: Competitive nature fueling cheating, say experts & kids” by Ben Chapman. That piece reported: “Cheating is so widespread at Stuyvesant that school staffers used temporary metal detectors in 2009 to detect banned cell phones during exams.” One Brooklyn principal said, “Kids are so desperate, they make the wrong decision.”
Really? Imagine that there are teenagers who make wrong decisions. In both articles, so-called “high stakes” testing and a competitive academic atmosphere are to blame. The rational human being is absolved of all blame because the devil (i.e., the testing culture, parents, teachers, peers) made them cheat. Hooey!
Whether a test (or a contest) counts for a little or a lot, some human beings will make the wrong choice to cheat. When they do, they get caught and they deserve punishment. They don’t deserve an essay blaming the institution or the “high-stakes” testing culture.
I’m a Bronx Science graduate and the competitive fires were equally apparent in the 1970s. I knew kids who transferred rather than resort to cheating in order to keep up. I have a talent for test-taking so tests don’t unnerve me. But I’m sure that there are many others who looked for edges and found them. That’s human nature.
Look at our sports culture. Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong, Jose Canseco, and Lyle Alzado are but a few of the athletes who found ways to complement their natural talents. In the media, SF nerds celebrate ‘s Captain Kirk’s overcoming a no-win situation by altering the parameters of the test (and giving the Kobayashi Maru test his middle finger). Your classmate Jim gave that math test the middle finger by answering the hardest question only. We make our own decisions in response to life’s situation. If we cheat, we deserve to be caught and punished. Rules exist and society arose to rein in the excesses of our competitive nature.
Why do you think “smart kids” cheat? Have you say below.