Combatting Cheating

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beth Fertig, WNYC's education reporter and contributor to SchoolBook, talks about the latest fall-out from the Stuyvesant High School cheating scandal and how the problem is being addressed in other schools.


Beth Fertig

Comments [23]

Beth Fertig

For the substitute teacher who wrote in. I just got this statement from the Department of Ed's press office:

"Substitutes are covered for injuries in the line of duty. In addition, as an employee for the day, the substitute would be covered for any liability claim from the student if acting within scope of employment."

Sep. 10 2012 05:29 PM
Beth Fertig from New York, NY

Cell phones are not allowed in NYC public schools. But WNYC and Schoolbook have reported on how the ban is not enforced the same way in all schools. Here's a link:

Here is the DOE policy on cell phones in schools:

If the school confiscates a cell phone, ipod, beeper or other communication device, the principal/designee must
immediately contact the student’s parent and arrange for the parent to appear in person to pick up the device.

The cell phone, ipod, beeper or other communication device should be maintained and secured by the school until the parent appears.
If the parent repeatedly fails to appear to pick it up, the school should dispose of the item.

I don't know what that means for the substitute teacher who wrote in saying she's fearful of confiscating phones. Are teachers able to confiscate them (full-time or substitute)? Or just principals and their designees? I suppose this could be a gray area but we welcome any responses.

Thanks to all who wrote in, and check out for more education coverage.

Sep. 10 2012 03:31 PM
Renee Levine from nyc

As a former PA President at Stuyvesant - having dealt with public relations and the media involving Stuyvesant for many years- there has always been a
" man bites dog" aspect to the coverage involving this special school. If something wonderful happens at Stuy it is difficult to get any coverage. On the other hand, any hint of anything slightly untoward leaps into the news.

In response to a comment from one of the callers this morning- I think there is some validity to the theory that all the prep courses for the test does admit a number of students who have difficulties once admitted.

Sep. 10 2012 12:28 PM

I think in our society it's important for students to learn how to cheat successfully. As we see in business and politics, it's an important skill for success. In fact, I think there should be a required course on how to cheat and lie effectively. I've suffered considering in my life from being to straight-forward and honest. Also, I think further that young female teacher (I think she was 26) who was having sex with one of her teenager male students did a real service for the student. This young man will have learned how to have a decent sexual relationship. Such knowledge could help hold together his future marriage—as we know poor sexual relationships is a chief cause of divorce. Such a basic human activity and no one teaches it. I learned how to have sex from a book I bough in college. And I'm still not very good at it—to the point where I often avoid sex. My lack of sexual skills led in part to my divorce. If I had been taught how to lie and cheat along and sexual performance, I would have had a happier life.

Sep. 10 2012 12:18 PM
Substitute Teacher from New York


I would like you to discuss how the DOE would like schools to implement the cell phone ban. Who is supposed to ask the student to turn over the phone? As a substitute teacher or teacher, asking me to confiscate cell phones puts me in a dangerous situation and if something were to happen, I am not covered under the insurance plan of the school. The only people covered are security officers, deans and possibly administrators ( not sure- fact check). I have been in many school buildings where students walk right past the security desks with cell phones, headphones, hats, inappropriate dress and no one says anything, much less stops them. There has never been a real plam for cell phones, only on paper.

Sep. 10 2012 12:07 PM
Leo from Queens

Wow!!. Is this true? that only High schools with low income students have metal detectors and that the no cell phone policy is only enforced in these schools, while other schools don't have metal detectors and kids bring in cell phones with no problems?

Why is it that no one talks about the obvious discrimination - not just with this but also - with poor students who get the less experienced teachers, fewer resources and decrepit infrastructure and buildings, while at the same time turning these schools into virtual prisons where the NYPD runs the schools and principals and teachers are cast aside. Shouldn't Education dept head Walcott and Bloomberg go to jail for discrimination, civil rights discrimination and child abuse and endangerment?

Sep. 10 2012 12:02 PM

The ban on cell phones is a joke. My son takes one to school every day with my blessing because I want him to be able to contact me when he leaves school. If you're in a school where there are no metal detectors, they NEVER check the kids and I am grateful for that. When they have tests, however, they should check the kids pockets. When I taught kids in Peace Corps in the Congo, they would try writing the answers on their flip flops -- so I checked their flip flops before tests and learned my third language (Lingala) so they couldn't whisper answers to each other in Lingala.

Sep. 10 2012 12:01 PM
Karen from Manhattan

My daughter graduated from Bard H.S. EArly College in 2010. Many of the teachers there used a an online plagiarism detector called Early at the beginning of every school year students were informed and warned against plagiarism. BHSEC was a GREAT school, I'm just saying that plagiarism must have been an issue that they were aware of as early as 2006 when my daughter entered the school as a freshman.

I also remember being shocked one day waiting in line at a corner deli/grocery store in Tribeca overhearing a girl in front of me (looked college aged to me) talking openly about having hired someone to write a paper for her.

Sep. 10 2012 11:59 AM
m from NYC

My wife is a HS teacher in the NYC public system (but not at Stuyvesant). Several years ago, she told the AP for her area that there were erasures on the Regents that were done after the tests had been handed in. After that the principal cut down the number of students that were taking the courses my wife taught by shifting them to an alternative kind of course, despite the student's preference on their survey forms. After two years my wife was laid off for lack of students in her specialty and had to transfer to another school. APs and principals get money rewards for high Regents pass rates. Clearly, they all cannot be trusted to work against their own financial interests. If DOE is serious they would have an ombudsman's office where complaints can be submitted and investigated without the principal's knowledge.

Sep. 10 2012 11:59 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

@Steven Syrek from Upper West Side


Sep. 10 2012 11:57 AM
Tim from Montclair from montclair

Cheating is Cheating is Cheating.
As a Stuyvesant graduate ('77), and student who has NEVER cheated on a test. I appalled that the students are not expelled. The Stuyvesant name has an important brand in my career which is now tarnished not only by this but the excuses I continue to hear about pressure and teaching to test.

Sep. 10 2012 11:57 AM

I agree with the caller that test preparation and competition really increase the potential for cheating. When I was at UC Davis in the mid 1970s, the WORST classes to take were lab classes with preVet students. They cheated like crazy because it was even harder to get into Vet School than Med School. You actually had to hover over your lab experiments to make sure it didn't get sabotaged by some rogue prevet student. I also DISAGREE that it is not a moral issue. There are some of us who DON'T choose to cheat even when others do.

Sep. 10 2012 11:57 AM

this cheating segment seems related to the previous fact checking segment If adults are not held to the truth in our society, why would kids feel obliged to be honest?

Sep. 10 2012 11:56 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

I'm not surprised. Kids see adults gaming the system all the time and often getting away with it. What do we expect?

Sep. 10 2012 11:55 AM
Steven Syrek from Upper West Side

Why should this be so surprising when the dominant message young people are getting from our society today, especially young people in New York, many of whose parents probably work in banking or finance, is that cheaters win?

Sep. 10 2012 11:55 AM
rob from NYC

this is blown up out of the proportion. students always cheated and always will be cheating. this is part of creativity process. this is adrenaline rush. if they were caught, give them F, and let them figure out how to get better in learning and/or in cheating.
where were teachers who should prevent cheating? they should be punished as well.

Sep. 10 2012 11:55 AM
Curtis Sumpter from New York City

Stuyvesant High School, Harvard University, Lehman Brothers. All of these institutions have one term in common. They are all called "the best and the brightest." What are the ethical implications here? The difference here is that at these institutions Harvard grads are given massive amounts of responsibility at a very young age. What are these institutions doing to teach ethics?

Sep. 10 2012 11:55 AM
Christine from Westchester

How can this be either new or a surprise? Look at the way our politicians behave (didn't we just have a segment on Silver earlier?) And Harvard just was exposed for cheaters. It's not only not new, it's clear that the leaders of this country cheat all the time. The trick seems to be to not get caught or when you do, blame someone else.

Sep. 10 2012 11:53 AM

Even before the cheating scandal, one of the schools I do NOT want my son (who is applying for high schools this year) to attend Stuyvesant. His first choice will be Bronx Science where the kids seem happier and seem to be much more collaborative.

Sep. 10 2012 11:49 AM
Brenda from NewYork City

Looking forward to this discussion. Everything I've heard so far has made it seem as if cheating is 'new' or on the rise. The technology may have changed but it seems to me that the impulse is still the same, no?

Sep. 10 2012 11:46 AM
Sam from Brooklyn

I attended Stuyvesant between 2000 and 2004. During that time it would have been impossible to spend four years at the school without encountering some form of academic dishonesty on an almost daily basis.

By and large, the students who were cheating were good kids and it was not their own character flaw that made them cheat. Instead, cheating was symptomatic of the school's hyper-competitive culture and misguided focus on college admissions. Cheating will continue to be a way of life at Stuy until its culture changes.

Sep. 10 2012 11:40 AM
One of Us from Washington Heights

Society will be ethical when its members are educated to collectively behave ethically. Otherwise we create an environment of us vs. them. The question becomes not "What is the right thing to do?" but one of benefits and costs. In a school, students are then taught to compare the advantage of cheating to their likelihood of getting caught and its consequences. The habits formed by these early lessons stay with them in Stuyvesant and Harvard and Wall Street... Teachers/proctors become the adversaries of students. This is not, in my opinion, an ideal environment for creating ethical behavior.

Sep. 10 2012 11:29 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

First of all, I noticed during the cheating scandal that no mention was made of the proctors. Good proctors circulate throughout the room to prevent cheating.

That said, perhaps the students should follow the same rules as those taking the bar exam. Those students are allowed in the room with a 1 gallon zip lock bag with two #2 pencils, photo ID, pack of tisses. No cell phones or cameras of any kind are permitted.

Cheating is easily preventable if all the parties are interested in preventing it...

Sep. 10 2012 10:52 AM

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