The Cost of Cheating

A high schooler's perspective on a recent incident in which a Sequoia parent sued the school district over a cheating punishment.

Cheating is tricky. It exists everywhere, yet the people that do it seem to never face any consequences. It’s frustrating to know that the same time and effort that you spend on an assignment, project, etc., another person is bypassing because they are cheating and eventually achieve the same outcome… or better.

It isn’t fair, but then again when has life been fair? The people that don’t cheat see everyone else cheating and think to themselves that if those people aren’t getting caught, then maybe if they themselves cheat they won’t be either. Then the huge cycle of cheating begins where everyone cheats and everyone points fingers.


I think most of you know what has caused me to bring this up. This past week, an article was run by the San Jose Mercury News about a Sequoia High School sophomore and his parents that are suing the district for kicking him out of ICAP English (International College Advancement Program) for copying an assignment.

Should the student's father have sued the school district over the punishment? Vote in .

When a student passes this course, they will typically move on to be involved with the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. This program has a “zero tolerance” policy for cheating and at the beginning of the year all ICAP and IB students sign an Academic Honestly Pledge for all of their honors classes.

This article has 1,173 Facebook recommends and 191 comments (so far). When scanning the comment thread, I recognize the names of many parents, alumni, and current Sequoia students. I read and saw the discussion people are having about his parents, the school, and what further action should be taken.

One alumnus commented, “I think the sad part about this article is that today's society puts such an emphasis on good grades, test scores, and being accepted to a prestigious school, that a student would turn to cheating. Older commenters might not know this omnipresent pressure that current students have to get into college, with budget cuts, and as more and more schools are being impacted. And can you honestly tell me you never asked to see a problem on someone's homework?”

I have written before about . A lot of us think that because everyone else is cheating their way to the top, there is no way that we can ever get there ourselves since everyone else has a leg up.

Not. True.

Recently, when talking to my teacher about this issue, she explained to me that I didn’t need to get the highest grades, the best GPA, or be a “grade grubber” in order to get into the best college. She told me that my character and integrity will be what gets me in, not straight A’s. She explained to me that the teachers can tell who is in it because they want to learn versus who is in it just to get into a big-name school.

She told me that my letters of recommendation will help me, and that I will end up in the place that I need to be because of who I am, not just what my grades say about me.

Another commenter wrote, “It gets better. His lawyer dad is doing it for the ‘other kids’ - apparently making the world safe for the other cheating weasels. What a noble act.”

I can only wonder, what “other” kids? Cheating is horrible, and it isn’t something a “one man show” can fix… and then again it can never be fully fixed. Cheating is a problem, but it will always be a part of the school and work environment no matter how hard we try to abolish it. Why you may ask? Because there will always be that one kid or adult who asks to see the math homework.

I have English first period. Our tests and quizzes are based solely upon our assigned reading and occasionally reflect on grammar. As soon as I walk out of class, people ask me how the test was. It is an innocent question. It’s simple, like a multiple-choice problem. You can choose:

A. It was easy, but make sure and read chapter four over again.

B. It was okay if you studied.

C. It was hard.

D. Well the first answer was A, the next was (I’m pretty sure) D, and then there were about four consecutive B’s before this really hard question… but I’m sure you’ll do great, especially because I just told you the whole test.

Don’t choose D.

“This program is designed for bright, honest students who deserve to be there. What terrible parents. This student was awarded a place with serious students. He flagrantly disobeyed the rules. What ever happened to discipline - and why doesn't this boy’s parent think he deserves it,” another commenter wrote. “He may be special to mommy and daddy, but he is a cheating student. Shame, shame, shame on the parents.”

It isn’t so much the fact that these parents are hounding after the district that matters, but the fact that on a national level, cheating is being addressed. 

Cheating will never be black and white. There will be scandals where one person’s act will be seen as far worse than another which will reflect in their punishment and so on and so forth. However, it will always exist and be seen to be a vile act that is not to be participated in.

So kids, don’t cheat. The end isn’t bright.

Want to get updates from high school life all week long? Follow Laurel Dearborn on Twitter at @LivingAsLaurel.


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Cara Jack May 04, 2012 at 04:53 AM
For myself and high school seniors, the college season is most stressful. Luckily for students like me there are private universities that look at factors beyond grades. Though privates only educate a small number of students, it is unfortunate that the public system has to use GPA and test scores as their primary basis, which unfortunately can lead to cheating. Referring to my mother's earlier post: apply to colleges that you can see yourself attending for four years and be realistic. It would be fantastic to be accepted into a highly-regarded university that everyone knows, but only less than 8% of those students who applied will be accepted. That is the reason why there are thousands of options for a secondary education that could possibly be better than, say, Stanford. And Mr. Foley, sadly it seems you were never taught to hold your tongue if you have nothing nice to say, perhaps you were too shielded by your helicopter parent(s). I wouldn't know because I don't have one. By the way, I had a 50% acceptance rate and will be attending a prestigious university. Tibi os! (Google will translate this incorrectly. Ask my Latin teacher)
John Foley May 08, 2012 at 06:47 AM
A 50% acceptance rate is a 50% rejection rate----should have marked "the special" box on the applications-----worked for Obama. LOL!!!!!
Sharon Levin May 09, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Again, what kind of person takes joy in this? Who picks on a hard working, successful teen and giggles when she didn't get into some schools? Mr. Foley has no idea what schools Ms. Jack applied to and what their acceptance rate might be. As to the implied racism of the Obama comment - I'll just let Mr. Foley's ignorance speak for itself.
Sharon Levin May 10, 2012 at 12:20 AM
This is not entirely true. The UCs look at personal essays/statements. We know kids who got into Berkeley, but not UCLA and vice versa - so obviously it's more than just grades and test scores.
Georgia Jack May 10, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Seriously, Dude, get a life. Attack me as you do in your comments on my blogs because you disagree with my positions, but my daughter? You insulted her with your comments above and she decided to reply back. There is really nothing more for you to say unless you want to continue to make yourself look like more of a loser. Really. Think about it.


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