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Student cheats, gets caught -- and his father sues. What gives?

April 27, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • The push to impress colleges means that some high school students resort to drastic measures, including cheating.
The push to impress colleges means that some high school students resort… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

Kids -- and their parents -- are so intent on the most glowing high school records that almost anything goes. Professional tutors and counselors galore. Cheating by so-called honor students is at mortifying levels, and it doesn't end once they get into that name college. Professors report unending grade-grubbing by students, to the extent that the parents leap in to defend their darlings. And then we wonder why these supposed young adults are unable to cope with the real world after graduation?

According to an interesting story in the San Mateo County Times, this trend has reached something of a peak at a high school school where a father is going to court to keep his son from facing the school's discipline for cheating. No one is denying that the boy broke the rules, copying essay homework from another student, but the father's argument is that the punishment -- throwing the sophomore out of the English honors course -- is too harsh because a regular English course doesn't impress colleges as much as the more rigorous class. The teen will still be allowed to enter the schools advanced International Baccalaureate program in the fall, and the cheating will not show up on any records sent to colleges, according to the newspaper.

The school points out that the students sign an honesty pledge at the beginning of the school year that includes wording that cheating will result in expulsion from the honors class. A parent has to sign too. But the father says that the school has a conflicting rule on cheating that calls for no punishment until the second time a student is caught. He suggests that his son should atone through some other measure, perhaps by helping as a teacher's assistant after school.

But his arguments aren't finding a sympathetic audience among other parents -- including me. The family should feel lucky that this was unearthed so early, before the kid was kicked out of the International Baccalaureate program and really wrecked his record. Now he knows better, and that's not something that would likely happen by having him help a teacher grade papers during detention. Yes, dishonesty can have real consequences, ones that count.

A sophomore in high school isn't too young to learn that, and neither are the students around him who will see that adults occasionally do more than engage in an endless series of threats to punish while never carrying through -- another parenting style that seems especially popular these days.

What about you? Would you fight in court to have your children given a second chance after a cheating incident, or figure that they would benefit from a life lesson?

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