Lying or Stealing – which is worse?
OK, neither on is something you look for in a leader. But it seems we have it anyway. Recently the superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the country was found guilty of lying on an ethics report about $146,000 he received as part of an outside consultant job. As part of the deal with the outside company, he guaranteed that the school district would purchase large quantities of technology. The man acknowledged his guilt and was sentenced to six months in the county detention center and two years of probation. He is relatively young and his career is probably ruined.
Then there are other ways students are cheated and their futures stolen. It happens mostly in school systems where students are struggling to achieve academically and parents and taxpayers are demanding more for their investments. They want to see higher graduation rates and higher grades. So school systems are delivering both. They are doing this by operating a shadow school system. How does this work? As the end of the school year approaches, kids discover that the courses in which they thought they were failing, now they are not. Magically grades have increased as students are asked to do minor projects which advance their grades. These events happen most often in high schools where the pressure for on-time graduation in four years is huge. So kids who have missed up to a third of the school year are still able to pass the course, gain the credit and graduate from high school “on time”.
Shadow school systems don’t just promote and graduate students who have barely attended school or not been proficient in the content. These school systems offer courses that are a mere “shadow” of the real thing. So transcripts show that a student has completed algebra 1 when in fact the content of that course was basic arithmetic because that is all the child is capable of doing. One school system is now requiring that all graduates have a course in physics and chemistry. Physics demands higher order math skills to address the content and to master the concepts. Yet the kids in that school district do not even earn basic scores in math on the standardized tests! How are they going to master the concepts required of physics or chemistry?! Not to worry, the transcript will show the credit. It will not be until these kids get to college that they will find themselves completely unprepared to move on. These school systems are stealing kids’ futures. They are telling the kids and their parents that their children have earned credits in coursework they are lightyears away from mastering. The administrators of these school systems get to brag about the higher standards they have implemented. They get to tout the huge increases in graduation rates. All the while stealing the students’ futures. These administrators will not be brought to trial for their theft and they will not serve jail time.
Lying on an ethics form and steering purchases towards a particular company or stealing a child’s future by lying on a transcript- which is worse? Lying or stealing a future- you decide.