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Oh, no! not THIS!? Board undercuts teacher who flunked cheaters...

Folks: read it and weep.

This brought to us by that rootin' tootin' sidekickin'
buckeroo...Thank you! Karen Ellis, you CyberCowGrrl, you! ;-}

Subject: [DUC] ARTICLE: Board undercuts teacher who flunked
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2002 17:16:57 -0500
From: CyberCowGrrl <duc@edu-cyberpg.com>
To: DUC <duc@yahoogroups.com>

Board undercuts teacher who flunked cheaters
Kansas case follows others suggesting honesty is a declining
American value.

PIPER, Kan. - High school teacher Christine Pelton wasted no time
discovering that nearly a fifth of her biology students had
their semester projects from the Internet.

She had received her rural Kansas district's backing before when
accused students of cheating, and she expected it again this time
failing the 28 sophomores.

Her principal and superintendent agreed: It was plagiarism and
the students
should get a zero for the assignment.

But after parents complained, the Piper School Board ordered her
to go
easier on the guilty.

Pelton resigned in protest in an episode that some say reflects a
decline in integrity.

"This kind of thing is happening every day around the country,
where people
with integrity are not being backed by their organization," said
Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute of
Ethics in
Marina del Rey, Calif.

Josephson pointed to the Enron bankruptcy scandal, in which an
whistle-blower had warned superiors about the potential
consequences of
energy trader's off-the-books business deals.

Also in recent months, some of the nation's top historians,
Stephen Ambrose, have been accused of borrowing passages from
other authors
without proper credit.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis was suspended
without pay for
a year from Mount Holyoke College after lying to his students
about serving
in Vietnam. Notre Dame University football coach George O'Leary
after falsifying his athletic and academic achievements on his

"It's so hard to keep sending the message that character counts
when you
have officials saying it doesn't count that much," Josephson

In Piper, about 20 miles west of Kansas City, Mo., students got
message loud and clear, Pelton said.

"The students no longer listened to what I had to say," she said.
knew if they didn't like anything in my classroom from here on
out, they
can just go to the school board and complain."

Piper High School junior Brandon Schmalz, 17, agreed. "That was
bad. She
was right, and they were wrong," Schmalz said of the board.

Pelton, 26, resigned days after the board ordered her to give the
partial credit and to decrease the project's value from 50
percent of the
final course grade to 30 percent.

Board president Chris McCord did not give a reason for the Dec.
decision, which was made behind closed doors. He said it was not
by parents' complaints.

"If I had known all the publicity that would have come with this,
I would
still make the same decision," McCord said.

One of the complaining parents was Theresa Woolley, who told The
City Star that her daughter did not plagiarize. Rather, her
daughter was
not sure how much she needed to rewrite research material, she

But Pelton said the course syllabus, which she required students
to sign,
warned of the consequences of cheating and plagiarism.

Rutgers University professor of management Donald McCabe, who has

researched academic dishonesty in high schools and colleges, said
teachers ignore cheating, and the Kansas episode illustrates why.

"Parents are going to complain to principals and the school
board, and
teachers feel there's no reason to believe they'll get support,"
McCabe, whose study of high school students in 2000-01 found that
percent had cheated or plagiarized during the prior year.

What is worse, McCabe said, is that tolerance of dishonesty
other students, who have to compete with the cheaters to get into

"If they see teachers looking the other way, students feel
compelled to
participate even though it makes them uncomfortable," McCabe
said. "The
loss of that sense of fairness is the fundamental reason students

In Kansas, at least a dozen teachers have said they plan to leave
district after the school year because of the episode, said Lee
Quisenberry, a teachers union representative.

"You can get away with anything whether you're honest or not,"
Pelton said.
The board's decision hurt "the honest people, and that's the
worst thing
about it."

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