The Barometer knew it was bad, but even she was shocked by new levels of cheating at colleges and universities revealed in â€œThe Shadow,â€ by Ed Dante ( thankfully , a nom de plume) in the November 12, 2010 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article was also reproduced in The Readerâ€™s Digest and passed along to the Barometer from a teacher who was stunned and outraged.
Mr. Dante confesses to having written 12 graduate theses and 5,000 pages of essays, term papers, and all manner of academic assignments for â€œEnglish-as-a-second language students, hopelessly deficient students, and lazy rich kids.â€ He worked full time from 2004 through 2010 at a company that employs a staff of 50 writers to do college-level writing for desperate students. And, by the way, he, like the Barometer, has seen â€œdesperateâ€ spelled in ways that would embarrass the science of phonics. His article is a great read â€“ an eye-opener, but for a surprising reason to the Barometer. Sure, the cheating, including by a large client base of seminary students, is appalling. But, in compliance, we always need to look for the root cause. Why so much blatant cheating?
Cheating may not be the problem, but, rather, a symptom. This is the kind of cheating we cannot fix through honor codes, expulsions, and shame. From Mr. Danteâ€™s article and the Barometerâ€™s experience, there are too many students at colleges and universities who have no business being students at colleges and universities. In short, the national goal of giving (or at least the providing the you-might-or-might-not-have-to-pay-these-back loans for) everyone a college education finds us with two problems: (1) there are a great many students in colleges and universities who cannot do college- and university-level work; and (2) a shortage of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen. Not everyone wants to study Chaucer, but put them in a welding class and their work is as inspirational. Many a plumber hated pre-calc, but please donâ€™t ask me to inhabit a world without them and their skills. In the one-size-fits-all world we, through our demands for and pressures of â€œget a college education,â€ have created monsters that cheat unabashedly. Asking young people to suppress their true talents in order to have them pursue an elusive goal because we have predefined a singular path to success finds more students turning to a Dante for everything written, from college admission essays to case analyses for business degrees.
We are trying to stop rampant cheating through spotty enforcement, occasional outrage, and the use of computer programs theoretically designed to detect differing writing styles, and on good days, maybe catching prose lifted from others. Perhaps our time would be better spent guiding young people toward their skills and passions. When one of the Barometerâ€™s sons registered to take a shop class, another mother in the neighborhood sniffed at her son when he asked if he could join in on the shop fun, â€œShop is for losers.â€ God bless the losers who framed my home, installed my cabinets, built my desk, and fill in what you will here. I canâ€™t get through a day without acknowledging what a carpenter has done to make my work possible. And, of course, there was one carpenter back in the day who did change the world just a tad. Indeed, he was a carpenterâ€™s son.
Discount these proud professions of skill as being for naught, vestiges of the pre-Apple era, and you will find professions with discounted values. Indeed, you will find a group of pseudo-educated brats who are achieving on the backs of the truly educated who toil in term-paper sweatshops. We are producing a class of, at best, mediocre college graduates who will be living, quite helplessly, in a world that lacks talented and trained individuals who know how to pound a nail, unclog a drain, install a gas line, and fix electrical lines. We made them all go to college. What a waste of resources. Thereâ€™s your outrage.