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Author Topic: My friend was threatened expulsion.
TheSeeingHand
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My friend's been trying very hard to get into a certain Ivy League school (University X, we'll say) for some time. Like, psychotically hard. She's all kinds of crazy things, from first-chair oboist in symphonic band to editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Only a few months ago she was accepted into the school she wanted with much jubilation.

Now, all seniors need to pass a Participation in Government class to graduate. This includes the class's requirement of 20 credits (hours) of community service. My friend had 38.

Someone in her class (who I don't think she even knew that well) was failing. She tried to help by giving him 2 of her own credits. Unfortunately, she was caught. She was asked to go to a certain administrator's office, which is where the 'bad kids' go for, y'know, mouthing off, getting into fights, etc. Now, they said my friend was cheating but that's a litte ridiculous since she was helping someone else, not furthering herself.

Anyway, he threatened to tell University X about it and get her expelled. He told her not to tell anyone, but pretty soon the whole social studies dept. seemed to know about it, so she told people about it anyway. One teacher actually came up to her and said something like "Don't worry, I went to University X, and you're not University X material."

I can understand why they're angry about it, but threatening to get her expelled? And again, she didn't cheat to get where she is; she was trying to keep someone from failing. I think these people are actually angry because, despite my friend's being so successful, she's not the stuck-up they all are and dislike the fact that she actually tried to help someone in need.

Your thoughts please!

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Will B
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Well, she *did* help someone cheat, and she covered it up. It wasn't like she told the teacher, "I'm giving Y 2 of my credits."

And it *was* cheating. Often in cases of cheating you have someone writing someone else's paper or something -- that is, someone helping someone else deceive the system and get undeserved credit. (Like shoplifting a CD that a friend wants -- it's still shoplifting.) If someone thinks that's not so bad, I don't want that someone at _my_ university, or my bank forging signatures to help others, or my house, stealing things that their friends want. I want people whose word I can trust.

I think we should give high schoolers a lot of leeway -- it's a time in life for youthful mistakes -- so I hope that they don't involve the university, and she gets in. And that this experience shows her that she never wants to do it again.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Now, they said my friend was cheating but that's a litte ridiculous since she was helping someone else, not furthering herself.
Why?
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quidscribis
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Um, yeah, no. Helping someone else to cheat also amounts to cheating.
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Blayne Bradley
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I think the snottiness of the people's reaction is a lil' harsh especially when there is so much cheating in the world that largely goes unnoticed.

But then again I used to write essays for people so I'm probly not one to talk.

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Rakeesh
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Still clearly, undeniably cheating. Maybe it could be said it was cheating for a good cause-not really, though, since the person short credits should've, y'know, done their own service-but still cheating.
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ClaudiaTherese
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Cheating is an issue because it is breaking rules. Not just arbitrary rules in this case, but rules of a more contractual nature: "if you accept these benefits, you will abide by these restrictions" sort of thing. And getting a degree from a given institution is a benefit, not to mention the information and training you get along the way.

It's just as much cheating if you don't directly benefit. (But there is generally a benefit, such as keeping this other person as a friend, or not being ostracized as a goody-two-shoes for not getting involved, etc.) And this young woman is going to face pressures to cheat from friends and acquaintances in just the same way when she attends University -- it would still be wrong there, and it would still be cheating there.

That being said, I don't think she should use her University slot over this. She should, however (IMO) have to understand why this is a problem and why it is treated so seriously. Again, she's going to face those same pressures in the university environment, and she needs to deal with them more appropriately than she did.

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Teshi
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Giving someone free school-related help of the "I'll do your work for you" kind is not helping them, it is cheating.

Universities take cheating very seriously. I don't hope she doesn't get in to the university she wants but I hope she takes away from this experience not that "teachers are snotty" but that she shouldn't cheat.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by TheSeeingHand:
She was asked to go to a certain administrator's office, which is where the 'bad kids' go for, y'know, mouthing off, getting into fights, etc.

TheSeeingHand, your friend is a "bad kid" insofar as any kid is a "bad kid" for doing something, well, bad.

Those kids aren't fundamentally different from you or your friend. They aren't different than you in the way that mushrooms are differnt things than tigers. They are kids, just like you, who also happened to do bad things. As your friend did, in this case.

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AvidReader
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While what your friend did was wrong, I think the principal handled it badly. Wouldn't it have made more sense to start with, "I know you think you were helping, but the other guy needs to learn responsibility and time management"?

Being totally biased again school admin types, it sounds to me like the principal assumed she was an idiot and treated her like a child too small to understand what she'd done. He was going to scare her straight.

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cmc
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I agree with the people saying what she did was wrong. It IS wrong and if she'd done it at college, she very well could have been kicked out.

At the same time, someone pointed out (sort of) that High School should be a place to be able to make mistakes with a little more 'give' than the world that comes after HS... I think if your friend's a generally good kid who doesn't do this thing all the time - she should be cut a break. Not that it just be swept under the carpet - but I think a firm talking to with emphasis on the fact that it was a big deal that could have gotten her into a lot of trouble will benefit her more than trying to take something away from her that means so much. You make her seem like a pretty smart individual - I'm pretty sure she'll get it.

Hope it all works out for her (and the person she tried to give the credits/hours to, too)...

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PrometheusBound
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Cheating is, well, cheating. School is a sort of game and giving people points they didn't score isn't fair.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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While I agree with the general sentiment that this is indeed cheating, I am a little surprised by the threat of expulsion, especailly for a first offense. In my HS one instance of cheating would result in automatic course failure; more than one would trigger much harsher punishments (eventually expulsion). I suspect the same is true for most others. (Is this a private school? That may be relevant here.)

I suspect -- and I'm just speculating here -- that the administration threatened expulsion because they didn't want to fail such a bright student. I'm not sure which university she applied to but I'm fairly certain that she'd have to explain the failing grade. Many schools now require a year-end transcript.

So they may have been trying to help her, in a perverse way, by keeping the incident under wraps.

--j_k

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
So they may have been trying to help her, in a perverse way, by keeping the incident under wraps.
I don't think so, as they threatened to tell University X about the cheating.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
So they may have been trying to help her, in a perverse way, by keeping the incident under wraps.
I don't think so, as they threatened to tell University X about the cheating.
That's kind of what I mean -- they threatened to tell the university, but there's no indication that they actually will. Then, they told her not talk about it. Failing the student would have been tantamount to telling the university anyway.

Of course, if

1) she did fail the course, or
2) the university doesn't require a late transcript, or
3) this is an incident-in-progress (meaning, the student was told not to speak of the issue because the school hasn't yet decided what to do, and may choose to tell University X later) or
4) the discipline policy at this HS is radically different from the one at mine

then the point is moot and you should just ignore me. It's probably (3) because I had assumed that the incident had been settled, but that's stated nowhere in the original post.

--j_k

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BlueWizard
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First, I'm not sure what you mean by "...giving him 2 of her own credits". If that means she allowed this second person to take credit for 2 hours of her own community service, while definitely wrong, I don't think it was that bad.

It is not like the second person in question wasn't trying. They did, based on my assumption of 'credits', have 18 hours of community service. Now, if the second person had only 10 hours of service, and the first person transferred another 10, that would be a very big deal.

Don't get me wrong, the first person shouldn't have transferred the credits. I agree that is a form of cheating, but these things have to be kept in perspective.

Next, let's face it, high school teachers and administrator are essentially powerless. Because of this, they will mightily wield any weapon they can get their hands on. The weapons for grade school students is usually 'your permanent record'. By the time you are in high school, you have realized that no employer in the history of the world has ever looked at anyone's permanent record. No, in high school, it is - be good or I will totally screw up your college applications.

I can sympathize with those teachers and administrators, they have an extremely hard job to do in a world of increasingly more sophisticated and independent (not to mention self-centered, arrogant, and extremely annoying) students.

Yet, I think the administration handled this situation very very poorly. I am especially angry at the teacher who made the "..., I went to University X, and you're not University X material" comment. That was unnecessarily cruel and uncalled for. It is not the job of this teacher to determine who is and is not 'University X' material. That is the University's job, and they seem to have made their decision.

I think I would be half temped to contact University X's admissions board, and give them my own tearful, heartfelt, and regretful account of the events. I can't imagine that if the knew all the facts, this event would be sufficient to keep the student out of the University, especially when the 'cheating' was not to enhance her own grades which seem legitimately far above average.

The purpose of doing this would be to take away the petty power of the school to threaten her. Though, I'm quite sure a vast majority of the students would be more likely to keep their heads own and hope the whole thing blew over by the end of the year.

I think both the school and the university should make a distinction between cheating to enhance your own grades, and helping another student cheat to scrape by in a course.

To some extent, in this case, I would like to know more about the student that received the help. Is he a general loser relative to school work, or his he generally a good student who had legitimate reasons why it was difficult for him to complete his community service? Maybe he has a job that eats up most of his time, and maybe that job is not just for petty spending money but is important to his family.

Again, the full extent of the situation should have been considered by the administration. Likely if this was a good student who was genuinely trying, it he had gone to the teacher, it might have been possible to make some arrangements. The student did manage 18 hours of Service, maybe two additional hour could have been completed after the school year, or perhaps if the particular community service performed by this student was very demanding, 18 hours could have been considered enough.

Let's face it, most student, even those who fulfill the hours, are 'resume builders'. The community service is irrelevant as long as their college applications looks nice. Consequently, they are looking for easy community service. Regardless of the specifics, it is possible that this shortfall could have been resolved through proper school channels.

Just one man's opinion.

Steve/BlueWizard

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pH
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I don't understand how she "gave" the two hours to someone else. But I think if it happened at my school, they'd wave expulsion over your head and then make you do more community service and lots of detention or something. I went to private school.

We had to do 120 hours of community service, though. Fortunately, it makes the 30 hours required for my masters seem like a cakewalk.

-pH

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Samuel Bush
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Sometimes I fear for our country. It seems that way too many people have certain values skewed. I’m talking about the increasing tendency to have the punishment way outstrip the crime. Here is an example of what I mean:

Several years ago the teenaged son of one of my coworkers pulled a prank on a guy. He took a couple of pads of blank stickum notes and stuck ‘em on the outside of the guy’s house. The teenager ended up serving jail time and had a misdemeanor malicious vandalism conviction on his record.

This was an inexcusable overreaction to a harmless prank. And it was harmless. There was zero damage done. If it had been my house, my coworker and I would have been sitting on my porch the next day drinking a couple of cold cokes while his son cleaned off my house and mowed my lawn or something. He would have learned his lesson, someday this will be funny, end of problem. (And I would have got a little free yard work done in the bargain. [Evil Laugh] )

(Of course these skewed values sometimes swing to the other extreme where really heinous crimes are laughed off with a jolly old “boys will be boys, ha, ha.” and a slap on the wrist at worst.)

So anyway, I’m willing to agree that the subject of this thread can be technically classed as “cheating” but, come on, it’s not a crime. It’s not even a very serious peccadillo. It looks to me like the school way overreacted.

Whatever happened to “let the punishment fit the crime,” for crying out loud? Maybe some folks are just too damn lazy to think of creative but appropriate punishments anymore.

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erosomniac
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It's like getting a $200 ticket for jaywalking--it sucks and it seems unfair because it's so minor, but, well, you broke the rule for which that punishment was an option.
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Will B
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What discipline, pH?

It's a little odd. Volunteering is great, but in my schooling, we were supposed to learn. Volunteering was our own business. If there's a lot of community service now, maybe we could cut it and get people graduated more quickly.

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pH
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I'm working on my MBA. It's a Jesuit school; everybody who goes to grad school has to do community service. It doesn't take any extra time. My 120 hours in high school didn't take any extra time, either. It just meant I got less time to sit on my butt on the couch in the summers. I mean, 30 hours? I can do that in the week-long break between spring and summer semesters.

-pH

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Samuel Bush
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erosomniac:
quote:
. . .you broke the rule for which that punishment was an option.
To which I would rely: True. But just because a proscribed punishment option was on the books does not always mean it ought to be used. What if the violator were a single mom trying to eke out a meager living at a minimum wage job and she could ill afford the $200 fine. Wouldn’t a more compassionate punishment be better, depending on the circumstance. Say, spending some community service time teaching school children the dangers of jay walking. I can think of several other types of punishments.

True it takes a little effort for a judge to think up these types of things and then to implement them. And maybe the judge wasn’t lazy. Maybe he or she was just too swamped. Who knows?

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PrometheusBound
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"Fortunately, it makes the 30 hours required for my masters seem like a cakewalk."

You have a community service requirement for your masters? Is it an M.Div. or something like that?

[Edited to add] whoops, you already beat me to it.

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PrometheusBound
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Actualy, expulsion does seem way over the top. My school would probably have just required a few extra hours of service if this were a first offence, which I take it it was.
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BlueWizard
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To Samuel Bush -

I do agree with your post above, it seems sometimes that the world is cascading out of control. On one hand we have Zero Tolerance and on the other hand we have the High School Jock/Gods treading the halls with impunity.

To me, Zero Tolerance has always meant zero brains, zero effort, zero responsibility, zero logic, and zero reason. When a school impliments a Zero Tolerance policy, they are essentially saying, I'm willing to make zero effort to do my job. It is an attempt to push the responsibility for running a safe stable school off the people who we hire to hold that responsibility and onto anyone and everyone else.

As to the 'privileged' Gods of the school who roam the hall with impuntity. That is an invitation to chaos. That is an invitation to some hopelessly frustrated and oppressed underclassmen (in a whole new sense of 'under class') to lose it and come to school one day with an AK-47. I have no sympathy for kids who do this, but I have great sympathy regarding the forces that have brought them to this state. Imagine the pain and hopelesness that a young person feels who is driven to this point. There has to be something behind those feeling. There has to be a source, and that source can not be tolerated in a well administered school.

So, my point is that a school is doomed, if not to overal failure of purpose, then doomed to make the lives of their students miserable. Schools need to be administered with common sense. They rules need to be fair and just, and that justice as well as punishement must apply to all. Having football practice should not get you out of detention and more than being in chior, band, or on the debate team should get you out of detention.

This is all something of a tangent, but I agree that things are becoming polarized. It's all or nothing, and the common sense middle ground seems more hopelessly lost every day.

Steve/BlueWizard

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Samuel Bush
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Well said, Steve. And I’m not saying that just because we agree with each other on this. I especially like what you said about the harassment stuff.

Some of my children had to put up with quite a lot of harassment by fellow students. My wife and I tried to get it stopped. The school administrators and teachers either could not or would not stop it. So we ended up yanking my children out to public school and home schooling them instead. Too bad they missed out on all of that valuable socialization like how to live with abuse, bullying, and belittlement and other important social skills like that. They also missed out on a lot of learning how to become abusers and bullies themselves by missing out on the full 12 years of watching how it is done. But at least they got to spend a lot more time around adults who had learned to become civilized.

Ok. End of rant.

But about another matter. I made the mistake of thinking some more about my post about the $200 jay walking fine so it dawned on me that my hypothetical comments about the judge were irrelevant and maybe even border-line stupid. It dawns on me that it is unlikely the case ever went before a judge. It has been my experience, with the one or two or half dozen minor traffic violations I have been fined for, that I had the option of paying a preset fine or going to court and then probably paying an even worse fine (since I was guilty as heck each time). So I just opted to pay the fines and get it over with.

So my comments on that were kind of dumb and I withdraw them. But I do stand by my sentiment that there needs to be more compassion (and yes, common sense too) and that people’s circumstances and intentions ought to be taken into consideration before punishment is meted out.

I don’t remember who said this but it’s pretty good anyway:

“Justice is what we deserve. Mercy is not getting it.”

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Elmer's Glue
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Dorks that care WAY too much about school and do things just because it will look good on an application to college are horrible people. It seems like this is a good thing to have happened to her.

And she probably isn't University X material if she doesn't realize that cheating is cheating even if it isn't for you.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Elmer's Glue:
Dorks that care WAY too much about school and do things just because it will look good on an application to college are horrible people.

I really don't think I'd go that far. I do think that it's sad when students miss out on un opportunities because they take an entire week to study for next week's test and refuse to even go see a movie with their friends, but I don't think TSH described his friend that way.

-pH

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Samuel Bush
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“horrible people. . .” ?

Allow me to disagree with you on this. I hardly think they are horrible people. I think they are people who have learned to play the game in order to get an descent college education. They didn’t set the rules but it sure seems that years and years of corporate greed and academic snobbery have engrained a system where getting that degree is all important if one is to be considered a worthwhile and valuable citizen. Not to mention getting a decent job that pays a living wage.

Under existing conditions one can hardly blame a person for trying to get the best college education they can.

I wish I had played the game a little better than I did instead of being such a rebel and iconoclast.

I personally think that a person can become highly educated and become highly creative without ever setting foot inside a formal school. Be I don’t make the rules. And those rules are clearly this: A corporation, government bureaucracy, or school will not even look at you as a potential high level employee if you don’t have a college degree - often even a PHD.

So the really successful people learn to play the game. Some of them actually get a pretty good education too.

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Storm Saxon
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quote:

Now, all seniors need to pass a Participation in Government class to graduate. This includes the class's requirement of 20 credits (hours) of community service.

I feel for your friend and I hope she gets into her school. It sounds like she was just trying to be nice at the wrong time.

Just out of curiosity, though, is the community service at least related in some fashion to something in the government? Or can you get your learnin' regarding 'Participation in Goverment' through, like, picking up litter?

I guess it would be something of a thread derailment to say that I am somewhat ambivalent of what amounts to compulsory community service. I hope whoever is overseeing the program is at least trying to match interests to the service or something.

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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by BlueWizard:

on the other hand we have the High School Jock/Gods treading the halls with impunity.

What sort of messed up high school did you go to? This wasn't my experience at all during school.
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Zophar
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How can you do 120 hours of community service without it taking any extra time? That sounds like real cheating to me. I'm confused.

And I agree that to even threaten something that will make a 17/18 year old think you will ruin their future over this is an over reaction.
Yes, punish them internally (within the confines of the school they are in) so they are clear they've done wrong, but to scare them beyond that seems incredibly cruel.
Everyone makes mistakes.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Zophar:
How can you do 120 hours of community service without it taking any extra time? That sounds like real cheating to me. I'm confused.

How does that sound like cheating? 120 hours is 20 hours a week for six weeks. You can do that over one summer in your sleep. And that's if you really must do it all at once.

-pH

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blacwolve
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I wish my school had required community service. If I a. knew how to get started and b. was in the habit I would probably be doing a lot more community service today.
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Storm Saxon
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Zophar
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quote:
120 hours is 20 hours a week for six weeks. You can do that over one summer in your sleep.
I'm generally awake when I do community service, which I do not for credit (too old to need it)
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pH
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[Razz] You know what I meant.

-pH

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MidnightBlue
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I had to do 20 hours for my high school politics class, but it was 20 hours volunteering at the Democratic or Republican Headquarters for our town. You could pick which one, though if the number of students interested in one exceded the number the party was able to take, they would do a lottery. People who didn't agree with either party just had to pick one, but it was mostly answering phones so it's not like you were really campaigning unless you wanted to.

As far as what punishment is appropriate for loaning hours, it defintely is cheating, and I think that the punishment should be whatever the class's/teacher's/school's policy is. Most likely this would be to get a zero on that assignment, which may or may not result in failing the class. If this person didn't realize that what they did was wrong (which I highly doubt), then they really need to learn that. I dislike people who help others to cheat far more than I dislike people who cheat for themselves.

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Zophar
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I like the sound of Community service hours in HS (not sure about being forced to work for Dems or Repubs, though...what about Greens or others? )

We didn't have to do this at my highschool (rural PA, graduated 1980). Is it widespread now?

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Liz B
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Back to the original post:
quote:
I think these people are actually angry because, despite my friend's being so successful, she's not the stuck-up they all are and dislike the fact that she actually tried to help someone in need.
I can't imagine a teacher who dislikes a student for being successful and nice! Hint: Teachers like nice, hardworking kids. Teachers LOVE the kinds of kids who get into Ivy League schools. Teachers are very disappointed when nice, bright, hardworking kids are dishonest. And what this friend did was dishonest and against the rules of the school--e.g. cheating. I get angry when kids cheat and plagiarize in my class, just like I get angry when kids lie to me. (I don't share that emotion with the child unless it seems like it'll make an impression, though. Still, it's how I feel, along with the sadness and disappointment.)

I don't know why the school handled it the way they did...seems to me like she should've just failed the requirement, which is the usual first level punishment for academic dishonesty. Maybe this school has a different policy.

And of course, perhaps the teacher who made the nasty comment really is jealous. There are some rotten teachers out there who feel threatened by smart & successful kids. It just seems unlikely to me that there's an entire school & administration full of them.

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Will B
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Right. There are a few teachers that despise certain students, but I've never actually met any who hate the smart polite ones!

blacwolve, it's not too late! What would you like to do, and who would you like to do it with? Wherever you are, there have to be lots of opportunities.

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MidnightBlue
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quote:
Originally posted by Zophar:
I like the sound of Community service hours in HS (not sure about being forced to work for Dems or Repubs, though...what about Greens or others? )

We didn't have to do this at my highschool (rural PA, graduated 1980). Is it widespread now?

The reason you had to work for either the Dems or the Repubs is because they're the only ones who actually have official HQ. Since most of the work was just calling people to ask if they would be voting on election day, it didn't really matter what your affiliation was. Also, my town in mostly democrats, but they were only able to take half of the class, so a lot of people ended up working for the party they didn't want to any way. I don't think any of the kids in that situation felt like they were being forced to represent ideas or attitudes they didn't believe in.
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ClaudiaTherese
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There is something I still don't understand about the original post: it doesn't sound like the young woman in question was helping out someone in need. Not really.

I mean, if it was only two hours, then couldn't the person who "needed" the credits have just gone out and done them that afternoon? Or, if graduation was imminent, even that very morning?

If it was such a little thing to do wrong, then why wasn't it just such a little thing to do it the right way? What was the point of the cheating?

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Megan
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One thing the teaching assistants I've worked with over the course of grad school have all agreed on is that if kids spent as much time actually studying and doing their work as they did trying to figure out how to cheat, they'd probably actually learn the material and do much better grade-wise in the bargain.
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Belle
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In my opinion the answer to this is pretty simple. She should suffer the consequences of her action. Expulsion is a little extreme, but I'm sure school policy includes that anyone caught cheating in a class should fail the class - that's how it is in most schools. So, fail her in the government class, and then if University X chooses to take that failure into consideration and refuse to admit her - that's their business. No threats, no overzealous punishment. The student who cheated gets just punishment - the failing grade - and the consequences for her are exactly what is merited in the situation. It may prevent her from getting into University X. If so, then she's learned a pretty valuable lesson. It may not prevent her from getting into University X - if so, I hope she still learned a valuable lesson.
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Dagonee
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quote:
The reason you had to work for either the Dems or the Repubs is because they're the only ones who actually have official HQ.
I was far more likely to actually support a Republican candidate back in high school, and I still would have protested this decision in a major way.

Service at an elected official's office, I can see, even though that would force association with a political party someone might agree with. Maybe something like "work for a candidate or a political cause." But with the actual engine of one of only two parties - not the government? No way.

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rivka
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Yeah, but we all know you're a troublemaking agitator.

*wanders off humming But, Mr. Adams*

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Olivet
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Wow. I was never required to do community service, though I did volunteer at a political party headquarters on my own innitiative. I had no idea it would look good on a college application, and I cannot remember if I mentioned it or not. Hm.

It's cheating to help someone, no question. I think she was threatened with expulsion to drive home that point. At least, I hopoe that was the intention and thatthey don't follow through on the threat. The effect being to scare a basically moral, good student into realizing cheating to help someone is still cheating, so she doesn't end up ruining her college career over a similar incident after she is studying at University X.

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Geraine
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I dont agree with what she did, however it was horrible that the administrator told others about what she did. In fact, they may have violated some of her rights as a student, and she should look into what the local laws say about student confidentiality.
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erosomniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Samuel Bush:
erosomniac:
quote:
. . .you broke the rule for which that punishment was an option.
To which I would rely: True. But just because a proscribed punishment option was on the books does not always mean it ought to be used. What if the violator were a single mom trying to eke out a meager living at a minimum wage job and she could ill afford the $200 fine. Wouldn’t a more compassionate punishment be better, depending on the circumstance. Say, spending some community service time teaching school children the dangers of jay walking. I can think of several other types of punishments.

True it takes a little effort for a judge to think up these types of things and then to implement them. And maybe the judge wasn’t lazy. Maybe he or she was just too swamped. Who knows?

Rules are made to be enforced strictly, selectively tempered with mercy.

The reason we have standard prescribed punishments is because examining each case individually would be time consuming. If PB's friend feels she's being treated unfairly, she should ask to speak to a disciplinary committee. Unlike a judge, the disciplinary committee likely has a lot of leeway with regard to how it treats offenders. If PB's friend makes it plain that she understands she did something very, very wrong for which she should be punished, she may be able to influence the form the punishment should take.

But let's not kid ourselves: she helped someone cheat, one of the most serious academic offenses. The law and the rules do not exist for compassionate interpretation. They exist to be adhered to.

It's also difficult to judge what the most "compassionate" interpretation would be. In your example, for instance, you would consider forcing a single mother to do community service as opposed to paying a fine. I don't see how this is necessarily more compassionate; time is a much more valuable commodity to many single mothers than cash is. When you consider that almost every state gov't offers a payment plan for fines for unusual circumstances, your punishment sounds downright cruel compared to a fine.

In the case of the girl in question, it may be a more valuable lesson for her to feel the full extent of the consequences for her actions. It may not be; I don't know. All my first post said was that if she's punished to the full extent, it will be neither unfair nor undeserved.

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