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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turn Off Your Irony Meters Before Reading This!!!

Back in the days of newsgroups (last century) the howlers in developed a running joke about irony meters. They were always being fried by outrageous comments from the anti-science creationists. New, more powerful, irony meters were needed every few months.

The following post appeared on Uncommon Descent today: Is this where science fraud begins?. You are about to read an excerpt but I caution you to turn off your irony meter unless it's a Mark IX (beta) version. Even then, I'm not sure it will survive.

Denyse O'Leary quotes from an article published on Defining Ideas: The Death of Honesty by William Damon.
In July 2011, a widely-reported cheating scandal erupted in school systems in and around Atlanta, Georgia. State investigators found a pattern of “organized and systemic misconduct” dating back for over ten years. One-hundred-and-seventy-eight teachers, and the principals of half of the system’s schools, aided and abetted students who were cheating on their tests. Top administrators ignored news reports of this cheating: a New York Times story described “a culture of fear and intimidation that prevented many teachers from speaking out.”

Nor was this an isolated incident. In a feature on school testing, CBS News reported the following: “New York education officials found 21 proven cases of teacher cheating. Teachers have read off answers during a test, sent students back to correct wrong answers, photocopied secure tests for use in class, inflated scores, and peeked at questions then drilled those topics in class before the test.”

With such prominent and recent instances of cheating among students and teachers today, one would expect a concerted effort to articulate and promote the value of honesty in our schools. Yet school programs regarding academic integrity consist of little more than a patchwork of vaguely-stated prohibitions and half-hearted responses. Our schools vacillate between routine neglect and a circle-the wagons reaction if the problem boils over into a public media scandal. There is little consistency, coherence, or transparency in many school policies.
Let's think about the 178 teachers in schools around Atlanta, Georgia. It's pretty safe to assume that the vast majority of those teachers are god-fearing Christians and most of them don't accept evolution.

So, how does Denyse O'Leary explain why unethical behavior among teachers is so rampant?
The most likely reason is that the educators involved do not believe that anyone has made a free choice to cheat or that cheating is an ethical issue.

Chalk another one up to the high cost of evolutionary psychology and related trends.


Nullifidian said...

How's this for a hypothesis: it's been a decade since NCLB came on the scene, and these teachers feel the obligation to help their students cheat because otherwise they'll be penalized under a system that is contrived to hurt public schools and pave the way for privatization.

So claiming that evolutionary psychology is at the root of this not only spectacularly misses the point, but also amounts to making excuses for a right-wing assault on the public school system. But that's merely the DI earning their keep—promoting a far-right ideology is exactly why well-heeled theocrats like the Ahmansons fund them.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I'm not sure that Denyse O'Leary would pass the Gallup test for self-awareness.