A disturbing article from several perspectives appeared last week in the Times. Titled “Cheating, Inc.: How Writing Papers for American College Students Has Become a Lucrative Profession Overseas,” it contained one ethically troubling paragraph and factoid after another, such as…
“Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia. Ms. Mbugua felt conflicted.”
“This is cheating,” she said. “But do you have a choice? We have to make money. We have to make a living.”
“Cheating in college is nothing new, but the internet now makes it possible on a global, industrial scale. Sleek websites — with names like Ace-MyHomework and EssayShark — have sprung up that allow people in developing countries to bid on and complete American homework assignments.
“Although such businesses have existed for more than a decade, experts say demand has grown in recent years as the sites have become more sophisticated, with customer service hotlines and money-back guarantees. The result? Millions of essays ordered annually in a vast, worldwide industry that provides enough income for some writers to make it a full-time job.”
- “A Facebook group for academic writers in Kenya has over 50,000 members…
“…It is not clear how widely sites for paid-to-order essays, known as “contract cheating” in higher education circles, are used. A 2005 study of students in North America found that 7 percent of undergraduates admitted to turning in papers written by someone else, while 3 percent admitted to obtaining essays from essay mills. Cath Ellis, a leading researcher on the topic, said millions of essays are ordered online every year worldwide.”
Yes, I’d say that the statistics cited in the article make the 7% and 3% findings risible. What do you think are the real numbers? 15%? 20%? If that large a segment of graduating college students have cheated to get by, why is a diploma trusted as a credential? Would you want to be operated on by a doctor with a 20% chance that he or she cheated to graduate from medical school? Continue reading
Before actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced for her participation in the rigged college admissions scandal, also known as “Varsity Blues”, the leftist website Salon had already pronounced her treatment by the justice system as racist. It said in part,
Back in 2011 Tanya McDowell was homeless and living in her van. She wanted her five-year-old son to receive a quality education, so she enrolled him in Brookside Elementary of the Norwalk School District. He was later kicked out due to a residency issue, so he transferred to Bridgeport schools.
Police investigated McDowell and charged her with fraud. A year later she pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny; for these offenses, she received a five-year sentence. Before McDowell started serving it out, she was charged with selling narcotics to an undercover police officer, an offense that killed her community support. McDowell was ultimately given 12 years, to be suspended after she served five, and followed by five years of probation; the narcotic sentence to run concurrently with a five-year sentence she had already received in the Norwalk school case. All of this story, from the over-policing of this mother to the severity of her sentence, along with everything she did, was obviously driven by poverty, which remains synonymous with “guilty” in our lopsided system of so-called justice.
On the other hand, you have a person like Felicity Huffman, who enjoys the many privileges that come with being a rich “Desperate Housewives” star…and having the resources to expose her daughter to educational advantages that McDowell may not have even been able to dream of: tutoring, unlimited books, technology, a safe learning environment, and even an SAT specialist who helps struggling kids obtain high scores. …[T]he actress was arrested in March on mail fraud and conspiracy charges as an outcome of the FBI’s Operation Varsity Blues investigation, and pleaded guilty to mail fraud, after paying $15,000 to allegedly rig her daughter’s SAT scores. Huffman is scheduled to be sentenced in Boston on Friday — for one month in prison, if the federal prosecutors’ recommendation is followed. Huffman’s attorneys have instead asked for a year’s probation, plus community service and a $20,000 fine.
Let’s begin with the fact that this is unethical and dishonest advocacy. Searching for an admittedly terrible prosecution from eight years ago to contrast with Huffman’s case is contrived racism. The fact that the mother was later legitimately charged with selling narcotics renders the comparison a stretch at best. In the absence of sufficient numbers of cases across the country to make a valid generalization, Salon’s assumptions are just cheap muckraking.
Stipulated: charging McDowell with larceny for trying to sneak her child into a better school district was a cruel and unethical prosecution; charging her with fraud and seeking a significant punishment was not. The idea was to discourage similar deceptions, no matter how well-intentioned they were. That is a valid law enforcement objective, and an important one.
What Huffman’s attorneys proposed as appropriate punishment was irrelevant to Salon’s thesis. Their job is to get the actress as light a sentence as possible, and if possible, no sentence at all. We are not told what McDowell’s attorney’s argued on her behalf, because it is also irrelevant, but, I suspect, it was omitted because their recommendations were not that different from those of Huffman’s case. Continue reading
….Sarah Sanders made one of the best observations in recent weeks when, reflecting on the Democrats running for president, she observed, “I’m pretty sure they don’t even like America.” She’s right. They don’t. For those who are wondering how the Democrats could have produced such a distinguished slate of the sanity-challenged, it is because of radical liberal control of America’s colleges and universities. The Marxist radicals of yesterday became college professors of today, seizing ideological control of much of America….American universities are radicalizing an increasingly large share of America. This is aided by the fact that nearly 70% of kids now go to college, where most of them are taught not to think. Every candidate on stage is convinced that the lion’s share of Democrat primary voters are radical Marxists. Sadly, they’re all largely right, which is why any candidate who sounds remotely reasonable is running about the same percentage of voter support as you. These candidates should know their voters, since every one of them is likely a product of America’s universities. It is hard to overstate the damage this institution is inflicting on America but that outcome was on full display during the Democrat debate.
2. Stipulated: Using PolitiFact as an authority in any political debate is proof that the user is either so biased he can’t recognize partisan slant when it’s right under his nose, or lying. I remember how most of the Ethics Alarms boycotters from the progressive collective, before they turned tail and ran, liked to cite the obviously manipulative fact-check service, the worst of the worst, if you don’t count Snopes. (FactCheck.org, though leftward tilting, is by far the fairest one of all, according to my magic ethics mirror on the wall…) Kudos, then, to Ted Cruz, who took the time to point out in a tweet:
“Just a reminder, when I said it, PolitiFact (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DNC) rated ‘Beto wants to take our guns’ as FALSE,.” “Maybe they should buy one of his new t-shirts.”
Now I’m tempted to imitate Cruz’s tweak with my Facebook friends who indignantly protested when I described their favorite party as the champion of open borders, gun confiscation, and late-term abortion. Continue reading
What an idiot.
On his conservative radio talk show on September 2, Senator Roberts complained about a witness who supported abortion in a Tennessee legislative hearing. He attributed her opinion to the influence of college, and announced that to “save America,” we need to get rid of higher education. “If there’s one thing that we can do to save America today, it’s to get rid of our institutions of higher education right now and cut the liberal breeding ground off! Good grief!” Roberts said.
Good plan! Even if colleges were a true scourge of the nation, and while I won’t go that far, they are failing their mission while over-charging their victims, getting rid of them is impossible, of course. It’s such a ridiculous thing to suggest that it qualifies as irresponsible public discourse, and comes mighty close to signature significance, meaning that only a complete fool would say something like that in public, even once. Continue reading
Welcome, Ethics Alarms readers! It’s time for that exciting game show, “Desperate, Gallant, Or Offensive!,” where the audience judges whether its celebrity contestants have stayed within ethical boundaries!
Today’s contestant is celebrated actor William H. Macy, not to be confused with Bill Macy, who played Bea Arthur’s long-suffering husband on “Maude.” William H is one of the most honored and respected, not to mention versatile American actors. He has won two Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his memorable performance in “Fargo.” Since 2011, he has played Frank Gallagher, the main character in the Showtime adaptation of the British television series “Shameless.” Most relevant now, however, is his 22 year marriage to actress Felicity Huffman, who is about to be sentenced for her participation in the so-called “Varsity Blues” college admission scandal.
Ready to play? All right! Here is what loving husband William wrote to the judge preparing to sentence Huffman: Continue reading
SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) let us know that a study of sex-specific scholarships at 115 of the nation’s largest universities revealed widespread sex discrimination policies. Among 1,161 sex-specific scholarships, 91.6% were reserved for female students, with only 8.4% designated for male students. The analysis was conducted on colleges in 24 states across the nation; there is no reason to assume that studies of the remaining states would yield different results.
Yes, as you probably thought, sex-biased scholarships violate the terms of Title IX, which prohibits scholarships that “On the basis of sex, provide different amounts or types of such assistance, limit eligibility for such assistance which is of any particular type or source, apply different criteria, or otherwise discriminate.” (34 CFR 106.37(a)(1)) Nevertheless, Alabama scholarships show a male-female scholarship ratio of 2 to 81; Florida , 3 to 70), and Utah 2 to 86). Those were the states with the most egregious imbalance; South Carolina had the least, with 12 scholarship programs designated for men and 16 programs for women. That’s still 30% more. Continue reading