Minnesota School fights society's "culture of cheating"

4:07 PM, Sep 14, 2007   |    comments
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Is our sense of fair play drowning in a sea of cheating? One might think so. "Cheating," notes Minnetonka High School Prinicipal David Adney, "is an issue in every American high school and college and just in society in general." University of Saint Thomas Business Ethics Professor Kenneth Goodpaster agrees. "I do think there's more of it today than there has been in the past and that alarms me." From Patriots Coach Bill Belichik to blood-doping in cycling to Barry Bonds "Cream and Clear" performance enhancers, we see cheating, proven and alleged, in professional and college sports. From Enron to Martha Stewart, there have been highly publicized scandals in business. From the University of Minnesota to the military academies, students have been caught sliding on academics. In politics, Republicans and Democrats alike have been caught cheating on spouses. In nationwide surveys, more than 1 in 10 Americans have admitted cheating on their taxes. In fact five percent thought taxpayers should cheat "as much as they can." Moreover, even when the cheaters do get caught they seem to face few long-lasting consequences. Goodpaster thinks something is off-kilter in our ethical balance. "We've started to overvalue, overvalue rewards and forget about the achievements that they're supposed to be the rewards for." Does that mean we are teaching our children, by example, that the ends really do justify the means? We talked with sophomore students at Minnetonka High School. "If you look at it," Brandon Siefert told us, "a lot of people are cheating all over the place, like in sports and college and everything that you were saying." A group of students at Minnetonka got fed up with the deceptions around them. "I have seen cheating going on through different methods," 10th Grader Daniel Sinda said, "but it has decreased through the school." That is not just because passing notes is passé in a computer driven world. Technology, like computers and text ready cell phones, have made cheating easier than ever. Seifert, Sinda and fellow Sophomore Maggie Sandholm helped create a campaign called "On my honor" warning of the dangers of cheating and using videos to expose some of the tactics. "Different ways that people find different ways to cheat through calculators and pens." Last year, Minnetonka Schools got tough. The posters, bumper stickers and videos help. Now, students and parents have to sign off that they understand the district's anti-cheating policies and the penalties. Principal Adney says it is serious trouble for someone nabbed cheating. "Is cheating on today's quiz or today's test really worth having it on your record? Because now we have it on a permanent record." The students say the level of cheating they see is lower because of the "On My Honor" campaign. Brandon Siefert hopes the concept will spread. "You need to raise awareness that this is a problem not only in our school, but all over the place and if we don't put out the message that it's not all right, then who is going to stop it?"

By Allen Costantini, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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