"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is What Happens When You Create a Society Based on Credentials...

... rather than real achievement.   A Chronicle of Higher Education story details the substantial industry that has sprung up to write essays, papers, and even dissertations for young people trying to get college and graduate school degrees... documents that the "students" will pay for and then put their names on.   In other words, cheating has become thoroughly professionalized.   And here is the most alarming part:
I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst. I've written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I've written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I've synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I've written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I've completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents. (Future educators of America, I know who you are.)
Instapundit has frequently highlighted the "higher education bubble."   The cheating described in this story is just part of the larger lie -- that "everyone should go to college."   No.  Everyone should not go to college.   People who are below the fiftieth percentile in intelligence -- that is, who have IQs of 100 or so or below -- not only ought not be going to college, it is an incredible immoral scandal that schools take their money (most of it borrowed) and sell them degrees that they mostly won't have earned and which are effectively useless for any career for which they would be suited.   This sounds harsh?  Elitist?   Again, no.  What's a positive evil is to have upper-middle-class and upper-class college administrators and professors living very posh lifestyles based on very little productive work because they succeeded in scamming lower-class and lower-middle-class kids and their parents into borrowing a pile of money (that they'll likely never be able to pay back) in order to sell them a degree that might as well be Greek sovereign debt.   How many kids come out of college or graduate school for that matter, $100,000 or $150,000 in debt, after wasting 4-7 years that they could have used to learn a useful trade?   Do you think they would be better off having worked those years, learned how to be a master carpenter or electrician, and then take that $100,000 and open a small business?   Do you think they'd be happier?

P.S.  Oh, by the way, they have a name for what this "company" is doing.  It's called conspiracy to commit fraud, and it's a crime.  Could a good lawyer frame a RICO suit against the company as a class action on behalf of kids who don't cheat, but whose degrees are devalued because of the culture of cheating that surrounds them?   Call me.  

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