Open Phones: Stuyvesant Cheating Double-Standard?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Standardized test (dieselbug2007/flickr)

70 Stuyvesant High School students will have to take their state exams over again after an investigation found they cheated on their tests last month using their cell phones. Six students will be suspended, and one other may have to switch schools. Tell us: how widespread do you think cheating is, and does this punishment fit the crime? Do you think there’s an academic double-standard? Call 212-433-9692 or post your comment here!

Comments [48]

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Jul. 23 2012 01:28 PM
Reuven from Washington Heights

Perhaps Major Bloomberg will now phase out Stuyvesant High School, a school with "a culture of low (ethical) expectations and excuses" where "the people who were supposed to be in charge either pointed fingers or looked the other way, and replace it with one of high standards and accountability." Or is cheating a "[skill] New York City's children [will] need to compete in tomorrow's economy and live out their dreams"?

The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared
for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, July 31, 2011
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“New York City’s children deserve the best. The best teachers. The best principals. The best schools. It’s their greatest shot at graduating high school with the skills they’ll need to compete in tomorrow’s economy and live out their dreams. But for generations, our city’s school system simply failed to deliver – and the people who were supposed to be in charge either pointed fingers or looked the other way.
“Not any more. Since gaining control of our schools, we’ve taken a culture of low expectations and excuses and replaced it with one of high standards and accountability.

Jul. 16 2012 05:12 PM

There are 4,000 + students at Stuyvesant. Most of them worked hard to get into the school and were good, hard-working students in earlier grades. (Many people talk about test prep, but most of the students I know who got in did not do any test prep.) The students come from families of modest means who value education. There's no excuse for the cheaters and stringent actions should be taken, but it would be unfair to characterize all students at that or any school for the misbehavior of a relative few.

Jul. 12 2012 06:09 PM
sandra from the bronx

As an educator this is such a fascinating topic that I'm back with yet another comment!

To "nkh from nyc": Stuyvesant is not meant to be an "ordinary" HS where facts are simply shoved down your throat. I'm sorry you had such horrible experiences in your past. It is a school that is suppose to nurture and develop future genius, one hopes. These are the students who will hopefully become the lawmakers, judges, doctors, scientists, engineers, business people, professors, etc etc etc...that will guide our future country and generations.

Thinking, creating and UNDERSTANDING are top priorities NOT memorization. A Spanish exam with pure memorization should be a CINCH for these kids. So why the cheating??? It is just a bold maneuver to "beat the system"--and THIS should be rewarded and go unpunished?

What will they do if they manage to cheat their way into a truly prestigious college such as Princeton where they will be surrounded by real brilliance and a strict honor code? In these institutions, the professors place the exams on the table and simply walk away!
Will they dare to defy these guidelines also?

It was done to me also when I was at Columbia U. Our take home exams all had Honor Codes and cheating was a sign of weakness & dishonor. Perhaps THAT is why China, Korea & Japan that have strong honor systems are now SO FAR ahead of the USA in all of the STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) subjects?
Sure they have pressure, but don't we ALL???

Jul. 12 2012 02:47 PM
JohnG from West Harlem

I don't care what their excuses are or were. These students have not learned and will never learn the most important lesson in life. Your integrity is the most valuable thing you have. If one will cheat on a relatively unimportant exam (has anyone ever asked to see a Regents score?), what won't that person cheat on?

Jul. 11 2012 03:22 PM
Joe from new jersey

This segment appalled/infuriated me. I'm no bible thumping puritan - far from it, however, in the entire discussion the elephant in the room was ignored. These kids are first a reflection of their parents and their upbringing. I didn't hear any parent declare the most important message they give their own kid is the ultimate value of integrity, of honorable, ethical behavior - that their child must strive honestly within his/her abilities and the child will be loved regardless of which univesity accepts them, and conversly any achievement gained dishonestly will be worthless, imparting that same characteristic to the child as well. Of late, I have been dismayed by the pervasive cheating and "gaming" of the system, evident throughout American life. From daily observance of drivers calmly cruising through red lights with a "these rules are for lesser drivers" attitude, to last night's TV news story about rich Americans renouncing their citizenship to avoid their tax obligations, I do fear for the future of our society and our country.

Jul. 11 2012 02:41 PM
sandra from the bronx

And you ADVOCATE that behavior Margaret? Hmm...I suppose that's why it will never go unpunished...
I guess you won't mind when another Bernie Madoff takes all of YOUR retirement money!

Jul. 11 2012 12:10 PM
Margaret from New York

Why should they be punished? We have plenty of people in corporate America who have not been punished for the crimes they have committed. Actually, their lives are going on just fine, probably even better.I can count on my fingers how many corporate thieves have served time for their offenses. As your caller said, it does not seem like a crime when you are at Stuy. That is the same logic in Wall Street- it is not a crime, it is a way of doing business on Wall Street.

Jul. 11 2012 11:59 AM
sandra from the bronx

The ADULT students in my school have the additional pressures of work and family. They try their best and are PROUD of their achievements. The Stuy KIDS are suppose to setting the bar for the rest of us. They are just spoiled brats that will grow up to be spoiled adults. They need to learn their lessons NOW so they don't screw up our educational system even more...

Jul. 11 2012 11:57 AM
Midwood H.S. 1956 from N.Y., N.Y.

I cannot allow for any justifications for cheating. It is wrong. And the
mealy mouthed comments excusing wrong behaviors seems to lend to the climate of sterility and a lack of dignity in the schools. Winner or Loser - the feeling of being a part of a larger honorable struggle has been missed here. The "achievements" are without honor.

Jul. 11 2012 11:52 AM
William from Manhattan

Such silliness. We asked our Stuy grad (2010) about this via Skype, and got a signature eyebrow raise and cynical "Cheating at Stuyvesant? Oh my!" Getting serious, our grad said he had never cheated and none of his friends cheated but of course they knew lots of students did. Basically, we're fortunate to have a kid who doesn't care about the game-playing dishonest part of school, career and life, and gets along fine at a top private university where hardly anybody gets As ("If we wanted to get As we would've gone to Harvard"). I think our grad is representative of a solid core of Stuy students and youth of today. There have always been nogoodniks, and always will be. Just forget about them, work hard, be kind. Bottom line, our grad concluded with "Why on earth did they cheat on the Regents? It's so easy."

Jul. 11 2012 11:51 AM

I'm a alum of the NYC public schools and there has ALWAYS been a double standard towards Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant is the darling of the NYC public schools and the DOE will do whatever it takes to protect it. Even the construction of their building on Chambers Street was a double standard - Stuyvesant's new building got cushioned auditorium seats, a multi-million dollar technology lab and a fully equipped gymnasium during the recession of the early 1990s when the rest of the school system suffered greatly from the budget ax.

Jul. 11 2012 11:51 AM
ethan from bk

i can't believe your caller is commenting about how "tough" it is for stuyvesant kids who "only get so many slots reserved for them" at ivy league schools. guess what? all of us who went to "normal" public schools and excelled there aren't guaranteed any "reserved" spots whatever. i attended a brand new public school which had none of the reputation of stuyvesant or choate; as a result, irregardless of the quality of the students, we didn't have a single person admitted to an ivy league school for the first six or seven years of the school's existence.

honestly, the nerve.

Jul. 11 2012 11:50 AM

Regents classes & exams are high-stakes in public high schools though the state of NY:
When I was in high school in Rockland County in the 1980s, if your Regents exaj score in a subject was higher than your final average for the course, then the Regents score became your grade. So if you were flunking a class (or only getting a B+) you could get a score of 100% on the Regents and that 100% would be the final grade for the class.
This makes a big difference in class rank, etc.

Jul. 11 2012 11:50 AM
sandra from the bronx

I am sorry Oscar that you are EXPECTING ALL of your bankers, accountants, doctors, lawyers, retailers, friends...
etc etc... to cheat YOU! I suppose you never heard of Professional Ethics?
It must be a very difficult world for you to live in!

Jul. 11 2012 11:50 AM
station44025 from Brooklyn

Here's a novel idea: try punishing the administrators of the school and parents of the students when cheating takes place. I bet there would be sudden new-found urgency in preventing cheating from taking place if the stakes were raised, and I but the kids would be much less inclined to place their parents at risk.

Jul. 11 2012 11:49 AM
LF from NYC

Of course they should be penalized. They should fail the test. I am a teacher.
The problem here is that many of the models for success in the News are cheaters and liars: the Banks and Corporate culture is based on aggression, gambling and victimization.

Jul. 11 2012 11:49 AM
MrD from NYC

Pressure is NO excuse. All of these excuses only reinforces a rationalization that will be kept with them for the rest of their lives. Should cheaters in the financial industry be treated with leniency because there is a lot of pressure in that field?

As for the punishment, make them wait a year to take it again.

Jul. 11 2012 11:48 AM
snoop from Brooklyn

These kids go to school really close to Wall Street. Can we blame them for taking the lessons of the bankers cutting corners and cheating to heart?

Jul. 11 2012 11:48 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The kid that was caught copying the tests should rightly be expelled. The kids that received the texts have to be punished.

Stuyvesant isn't known for its basketball team, if its students can't get through an academic test without "cheating" - then what's the point.

Jul. 11 2012 11:48 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The current caller has a good point. Tests are not what they appear to be. They short-change all.

It's like what I've said about technical interviewers -- they ask questions as if there is only one type of intelligence and one way to come up with solutions -- instantly.

It doesn't allow for more thoughtful thinking and different styles & approaches.

Jul. 11 2012 11:47 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

To station44025 from Brooklyn - sadly, I think you've got it right.

Jul. 11 2012 11:46 AM

I was in all honors and AP classes at my high school in New Jersey, and cheating was something done in classes where the students did not respect the teachers, by students who were lazy and who did it only because they knew they could get away with it. It had nothing to do with pressure from family and everything to do with a personal sense of arrogance and entitlement to good grades without doing the work.

Jul. 11 2012 11:45 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Hmmm...I personally don't think the penalty is enough. If you cheat and get caught you get punished. If you cheat and don't get caught at least you are a good cheater. Let's not get too high and mighty over it though...Look at Enron, LIBOR traders, Bernie Madoff, Dick Cheney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and on and on and on.

Jul. 11 2012 11:43 AM
Gianni Lovato from Chatham, NY

Listening to the justifications, explanations and rationalizations for cheating by parents and teachers makes me despair for the future of the Country.
It would appear that, indeed, the end justifies the means.
Should the punishment be limited to the pupils who cheated? Why?
How does the (rare?) person who does not cheat and his parents and his mentors feel?

Jul. 11 2012 11:43 AM
nkh from nyc

This is hardly a big deal. I did similar or worse things in high school and it didn't really have a negative impact on my life.
High School and school in general is not where you go to learn things. It's where you go to memorize stuff you don't care about and to follow the herd to get by in society. Leave those kids alone.

Jul. 11 2012 11:43 AM
sandra from the bronx

This is a society of instant gratification and high status symbols. We covet big names and don't care about the process. Movies like "21" glorify cheating and the high lifestyle rather than true intellectual genius.

It so sad that America is now ranked 26th in The World in Mathematics. I teach math ACROSS the street from Stuyvesant and I do NOT tolerate cheating and monitor students closely. I emphasize the joy and value of learning and I hope my students have picked up some of these values during their education rather than just memorizing the quadratic formula!

Jul. 11 2012 11:43 AM

I think it is up to the school to make sure that the rules are strict enough to prevent cheating. In college you would have graduate student monitors during exams and any sigh of cheating was taken into consideration immediately and the consequences were from failing the class to getting expelled.

Jul. 11 2012 11:41 AM
station44025 from Brooklyn

We live in a cheat-ocracy. Winners cheat, and losers lose. Wall street geniuses who are smarter than you get bailed out, and people who choose not to be "the most productive members of society"--as defined by income--by doing something like teaching or social work are punished. America is the land of opportunity and freedom for anyone who wants take, exploit, pillage, game the system, take advantage, crush opponents, and dominate.

The metrics of reward in our society are disconnected from the results we actually want as a society. Kids will do what it takes to achieve what is being asked of them, including high test scores, high salaries, high status, ivy league admission, etc.. We ask, they do.

Jul. 11 2012 11:41 AM
Mr. Person from New York

Regents exams are WAY easier now than they were 100 years ago.

High School used to have to pass subjects like spherical trigonometry, which a typical PhD would fail nowadays.

There is no excuse - these kids should be all expelled - and 200 kids had the nerve to sign a petition demanding a weak punishment for the offenders.

Maybe they are not so great at thinking for themselves - one teacher there told me that many passed the entrance test due to using summer school cram schools, and he wasn't uniformly impressed by the student quality.

Jul. 11 2012 11:41 AM
Tim from Nyack

Oh these poor kids and the pressure of the Regents exam. Boo hoo. Creating is cheating. Perhaps the difference between right and wrong should be taught in the school. In the long run good character is more important than the grades you got in high school.

Jul. 11 2012 11:40 AM
Dorothy from Manhatttan

Everybody cheats, so it's OK? Let's hope when you have chest pains that the cardiologist didn't cheat on his coronary anatomy exams.

Jul. 11 2012 11:40 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

It's so depressing. I don't think anyone cares anymore about anything but test results, regardless of the supposed quality of the school. The pressure starts at the top with the politicians which trickles down to superintendents to principals to teachers to students - starting at a very young age. I fear our children are doomed in the current "educational" climate.

Jul. 11 2012 11:40 AM
cynthia from work

Sorry - it is and has been a privilage to go to this school and you take a standardized test to get in. I went through this when I was in JHS. We then were assigned to Bronx Science, Styvesant or Brooklyn Tech. And as I listen to the caller sorry its not the only school where it counts. I went to Music & Art (now Laguardia) and all my regents tests went towards my grades BUT it wasn't the ONLY factor. Even in this HS we had kids that would lobby for hours with teachers to get a quarter point. The kids know from day one its a competative school-thats why they applied. Given all that I am tired of these excuses - WRONG IS WRONG - Amen to your current caller who is a teacher.

Jul. 11 2012 11:39 AM

The answer to why high achieving students cheat is in the book by a guest of yours from several years back - Mindset by Carol Dweck. These kids' identities are completely tied up with academic success. They'll maintain a high class rank at any cost because that's how they measure their self-worth, much more so than by something so unrewarding as honesty.
It's probably more widespread than it used to be, though, because of cell phone technology.

Jul. 11 2012 11:39 AM
DC from Chelsea

Most of the specific information in these tests will be forgotten and never needed again.

The skills that they develop or don't develop whilst taking the courses and tests are what will serve them or hinder them in the future.

Jul. 11 2012 11:39 AM
Mark from New York

I think the cheaters should be expelled. After all, how do we know they didn't cheat on the test to get into the school? It's not a crime with no victims. If these cheaters get higher scores than they deserve, they take seats from more deserving students - both at Stuy and at competitive colleges.

PS I am a Stuy grad (1970's) and I don't remember any cheating amongst my friends, just the pressure to succeed.

Jul. 11 2012 11:38 AM
Brenda from New York City

There's really nothing new about cheating or the pressure to get good grades. What's changed is the technology its ability to expand the web of cheating exponentially. We need to look at methods rather than motivation I think.

Jul. 11 2012 11:38 AM

Oh Please!!! Every student in NYC experiences this pressure. Why are the excuses sounding so defensive towards these students. Cheating is cheating in a low performing school and in a high performing school.

What else will these student do in the future to get ahead.

Jul. 11 2012 11:37 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Speak for yourself Oscar...

Jul. 11 2012 11:37 AM
Clif from Manhattan

This is what happens when everything has become corrupted! Are we surprised? Wall St. has been cheating for a long time now and it almost destroyed our economy.

I think that once we get our priorities straight here in America, a lot of these problems will work themselves out.

Jul. 11 2012 11:36 AM

By pure coincidence, just last night a caught an episode of South Park where Cartman, the devious fat kid, takes over the class and teaches everyone how to cheat. His philosophy in life is, the only way to get ahead in life is to cheat, but not get caught. You're only a cheat if you get caught :) If you don't get caught, you are a highly respected, successful human being :)

How true.

Jul. 11 2012 11:36 AM

tie this to the bigger culture, like what is happen on wall st

Jul. 11 2012 11:35 AM
John A

Oscar, so some high income types are going to blow you away by Buying a complete other student to take their test for him/her, as in other news. No, justice has to remain a focus.

Jul. 11 2012 11:34 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Oh it's not just the students. "High achievers" are often propelled by such desperate submission to base instincts. The canyon of "stars" is littered with backstabbing, money-grubbing cheaters...This should really be studied and duly noted.

Jul. 11 2012 11:34 AM
oscar from ny

Hyprocrites!...everyone absolutely everyone in this world has cheated or will cheat some day in their lifetime...its a human condition..

Jul. 11 2012 11:09 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

1. Brian - in answer to your question, why do high achievers cheat: maybe they cheated to be percieved as high achievers...

2. Why has no one mentioned the proctors in these cheating scandals? You mean no one monitoring these exams noticed a student taking pictures of the test paper during the exam? Students should be held responsible for their behavior, but proctors are there to prevent that behavior and apparently did not do their job.

Jul. 11 2012 11:06 AM
uscdadnyc from queens ny

A few months ago a friend said that some kids could "text" on a cellphone while both the Hand and Cellphone was in a Pants Pocket. I could see why this would be a necessary talent. Now I do. AAR While I never cheated while at SHS (class of 69), I knew some that did. I was low in Class Ranking(s) that it was not worth the Risk of getting caught. But some in the Top rankings admitted to cheating. "Risk versus Reward"is the name of the Game.

Jul. 11 2012 10:24 AM

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