Friday, December 2, 2011

Exam Cheating Scandal on the Gold Coast of Long Island

An article I read this morning in the New York Times, titled, "Exam Cheating On Long Island Hardly A Secret," by Anderson & Applebome, is one of many articles I've read about the problem of cheating that was exposed at Great Neck North High School in Great Neck. The town of Great Neck was made famous by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his famous novel, "The Great Gatsby." The novel was set in the 1920's on the wealthy North Shore of Long Island. Today Great Neck and neighboring North Shore towns, (often referred to as the Gold Coast), are still very affluent.
Apparently some young, misguided young people thought that money can buy just about everything, even high test grades. Young men from influential and prominent Great Neck families have been accused of cheating by taking tests for others, using fake ID and charging large amounts of money to do so.
Students who were obsessed with getting high scores on SAT and ACT tests were willing to pay thousands of dollars to very intelligent test takers who could guarantee a high score, making access to a good college possible. Competition to get into a prestigious school is fierce and getting worse every year. (It puts incredible stress on students as well as their parents.)
In the end it comes back to greed. The deadly sin, that seems to take root in every age and culture. The desire for prestige and future wealth clouds common sense, decency and good ethics.
According to the article, "In Great Neck, a place where the high-achieving schools are the center of public life and where high-priced tutors and admission consultants are routine advantages for the wealthy, educators and parents are mortified that the community's reputation could be muddled by the SAT scandal. "
Only a small percentage of students cheated, but it apparently was well known in the community that it was taking place.
Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County district attorney said that, "We have to put accountability into the system and there is none right now....If we can't teach 16-,17- and 18 year-olds that cheating is wrong, shame on us."
So true. Young people have to be taught that money cannot buy everything, some things come with hard work and study. And sometimes we can't have it all or be the best or get into the most elite college. Simple truths that eluded some bright students, who had much.