28 February 2008

Ethics and Pressure in American Schools

The cheating scandal at the prestigious North Hollywood private school Harvard-Westlake has my mind ticking. Six students were expelled from H-W for stealing world history and Spanish exams. Dozens of more students face punishment for looking at the exams.

What has become of our nation's youth?

While so many kids fall behind at inadequate schools, the lucky ones who get a top-notch private education cheat. Isn't this country supposed to be moving towards a more liberal, ethical, and educated future? Shouldn't kids be valuing what they're learning and upholding the highest ethical principles?

Either these kids haven't developed a sense of ethical responsibility or they're choosing to ignore it.

It's called....pressure.

I could write a dissertation on the absurd amount of pressure put on today's youth. From sports to grades to extracurriculars to standardized tests, these kids are getting crushed!

College is everything. If these students don't get accepted to a top-tier school, they can essentially kiss their lives goodbye. (Not really, but that's how they see it.) The college admissions process has become increasingly intense and competitive. In order to stand out to the admissions committee at a "good" school, students have to be involved in every area possible with the best grades and the best recommendations and the best GPA and the best test scores.

So really, it's no wonder students feel like they need to steal tests! It's for their own success! Failure isn't an option and they're willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, including abandoning all ethical principles.

While this is just one of the many problems with education in the US, it is still important to address. We need serious reform in K-12 education as well as in higher education. I don't necessarily have the answers.

Maybe Barack Obama does.

1 comment:

Jim H. said...

Interesting story in the Minneapolis paper this morning on how teachers in Chaska, MN feel about the No Child Left Behind act. They hate it. Their schools always meet the benchmarks (hey, it's a fairly wealthy, fairly homogeneous suburban district), so they've never been punished by NCLB, but they still hate it because they feel all they are doing is testing, testing, testing.

Some researcher from the U of M pointed out that the NCLB law was passed when Democrats controlled congress, so neither party can claim they saw this disaster coming.