Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hanover High Cheating Scandal

At the local high school, Hanover High, nine 17-year old students (all males) have been charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and/or criminal liability for the conduct of others, in connection with the theft of final exams in math and chemistry courses. It sounds as if the kids hatched – and implemented – a plot to steal exams before test day, so as to be better prepared. I believe they also gave other students the exams as a gift, which causes one to further question the kids’ common sense (unless they sold the exams, which raises the old economics question of whether you can profit more from information by using it yourself or selling it).

I am sorry for the kids, but it certainly was not a very bright thing to do. And I would have to say that in my ranking of crimes, this is one notch worse than, say, colluding with another student to share answers. These guys not only (allegedly) violated academic integrity by cheating, but they also allegedly criminally invaded school property and stole something. Not good.

But, the most interesting part of this is that, naturally, some of the kids are children of folks we know. I will resist any urge to engage in schadenfreude, for the usual “there but for the grace of God…” reason. However…one of the poor kids is the son of Jim Kenyon, a notorious columnist for the Valley News. This is the guy who never misses a chance to tear into Dartmouth and generally side with the forces of bleeding hearts and evil. His column is one I never miss, and much like Paul Krugman’s, it never ceases to raise my ire. The last one he wrote got me upset because he criticized our local food co-op for having a 60-year old woman arrested for shoplifting (she was later acquitted by the judge). The co-op should have shown mercy on a nice old lady, Kenyon said; my reading was that he has one kind of justice for people he knows and likes and another kind of justice for outsiders and “ne-er do wells”. Nothing like a little discrimination, eh?

Perhaps Mr. Kenyon knew when he wrote that column that his son was being investigated for his own form of shoplifting?

The Valley News had some quotes from Jim Kenyon regarding the incident and his son:

He said Hanover High School’s “high pressured academic culture” leads to widespread cheating.

“The entire community must be willing to take a hard look at how it might have unwittingly contributed to this problem and work together to find solutions.”

Kenyon said the school’s cheating problems “do not begin or end with the final exams now in question.”

Give me a break, please! So we are to sacrifice our academic ambitions because nine kids can’t resist the pressure to steal exams? And this is not mainly the problem of the kids and their families, but of the entire community? Yes, society is to blame, competition is evil, we are not responsible for our own actions, we all have to work together…blah blah blah.


Aviad said...

I feel sorry for a community that accepts excuses for wrong deeds of its members. I believe that in the personal and communal levels, things you accept today will become the norm tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

First, Dean Hansen, why must you equate bleeding hearts with evil?

Second, I completely agree with you on these kids taking some responsibility. This wasn't just stupid, it was STUPID. And if parents are going to spread the blame to the "village it took to raise their kids," well, perhaps they don't understand that at some point they forgot to instill their kid with a moral compass. This is really a disgrace. Well, it's no Fuqua...but still bad.

Robert G. Hansen said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comment. But I have to take issue with you. I don't see logically/grammatically that my sentence equates bleeding hearts and evil: "generally side with the forces of bleeding hearts and evil." By using the plural on force, I have allowed these to be separate forces, linked only in this specific case in that J. Kenyon seems to side with both of them in this case, but I don't see that that implies the two forces are always aligned.

While I may often disagree with bleeding hearts and, I think, always disagree with evil, I would not equate the two. No, definitely not. Bleeding hearts might be mistaken, and wrong, but to say they are evil would be going too far.

I think it is you who have them linked in your mind!


Anonymous said...

Well said Robert, I cannot agree with you more, it is funny when the shoe is on the other foot so to speak. We change our thoughts and comments when it is our children that are the ones doing the illegal things. Did they sell the exams? This should be the next question addressed.

Anonymous said...

I can't agree with your comments about Jim Kenyon more. Why is it the town's fault that Kenyon's son is involved in this? I do agree with Kenyon that cheating won't necessarily stop with this incident, however, I do think that if these kids have a permanent record from their behavior it will serve as a deterrent to others. This is especially true if they are required to complete public service along the lines of informing other students in the surrounding areas about what it has cost them personally.

I do feel for all of the parents but at some point they need to stop bailing out their kids. (I also think it was pretty nervy for the parents to ask the Board to plead for reduced charges. These kids have compromised the integrity of the entire community! It wasn't like they stole a single exam! In addition to whatever charges they face, they should also be expelled.)

Anonymous said...

They absolutely sold the exams! Isn't that why they stole multiple exams? It wasn't as if it was a few people nervous about one tough exam. These students compromised the entire system with no regard for anything but their own profit.

They should be kicked out. Let Kenyon and the rest of the parents send them to private schools.

newbie said...

The School Board should have been discussin what these kids would be doing after they are expelled. Why weren't they expelled for this?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous......send them to private schools???? I do take exception to that. I am the principal of a so called private school who graduated from Hanover High School myself in the early 80's when the pressure to perform, get admitted, etc. was just as high as it is today and no one can tell me differently. One of the reasons I chose an educational career in an independent school for my entire life is because it reminded me of my experience at Hanover High. The classes were smaller, the faculty caring and passionate about what they teach, and integrity and honor were paramount. Please don't send us your cast offs---that's not what independent schools are for. Our enrollment is booming because we hold integrity so dear. Had one of our students done this, they would have been summarily dismissed.

Newbie said...

My apologies. I wasn't suggesting that private schools would want public school cast-offs. I was suggesting that I don't want my hefty tax bill supporting over-indulged delinquents. If these kids don't have basic honesty and ethics, I'd really rather have their own parents foot their entire bill.

Anonymous said...

Agreed....there's no one who can't stand overindulged delinquents more than I. Let's definitely have the parents foot the bill but perhaps we ought to throw in the idea of home schooling... Economically it could be far more painful than independent school. Perhaps Kenyon could start with some writing curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Kenyon jr is now enrolled in KUA. No Hanover High for him. Now Kenyon sr is an elitist Norwich parent sending his kid to private school. Interesting turn of events.

Anonymous said...

I'm an HHS student, and I have a lot of academic pride. HHS was rated as one of the top-ten public schools in the nation, but these punks have tarnished that reputation.

First- these guys are guilty of a criminal offense. No question. They stole keys to enter a locked room/file-cabinet to steal exams when school wasn't in session. They had poster about four look-outs. They deserve what they're getting.

Second- Jim Kenyon is just plain stupid. Cheating is not as widespread as he says it is. It's just a PR thing he's using.

Third- The school is dragging it's feet. The administration hasn't punished them yet because they're afraid they'll suspend these kids and then some "boys-will-be-boys" judge will clear them of all charges. They should just dish it out already.

Lastly- this thing is being overblown in th media. People Magazine, America's favorite trash heap, is doing a story on the cheating scandal.

Just some fun facts for you to chew on.

(Waiting for misdemeanor charges to be passed...)

Anonymous said...

I am a parent of two girls (one in HS and one in college) who graduated from Hanover High in 1976. I now live on the seacoast of NH. I am also a graduate student who understands first hand the pressures the educational environment creates for students.

If there is one thing I detest, that is a parent who makes excuses for their child rather than teaching them to take the consequences of their actions.

Give me a break Mr. Kenyon! Your son broke into the school and stole tests, not exactly on a whim from what I understand. What kind of character are you teaching your child by excusing his behavior and transferring blame onto the community and the pressures of the school? Sure...I understand the pressures these kids endure, but that is not an excuse for doing what they did. They need to step up to the plate and accept the punishment for their crimes...yes, Mr. Kenyon, their CRIMES. Otherwise, you are teaching them that what they did is an acceptable route to take when the pressures of academia, and life in general, get to be too much. Do your job...raise an upstanding member of society, not a criminal.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Hanover High last year, and am now in college. I know how much pressure there is to preform at that school. It actually contributed to my anxiety and depression (now taken care of). But did it ever drive me to commit criminal acts? Of course not, because I have common sense and a little thing called morals. I know who these kids are. They aren't of the best character. Most of them are cocky and self-centered and lack the morality to know that breaking and entering, and stealing is wrong.

And there was not that much cheating at that school. Sure there were kids sharing answers to help a friend on a homework assignment, or the student peeking over the shoulder of their neighbor during a quiz, but this is far and away the worst episode of academic dis-honesty i have seen.

Also, Jim Kenyon can shut up already. His son is one of the most guilty members in this debacle. And you know what they decided to do? His son transfered to a private school and repeated junior year, so he will probably have no ill-affects coming from Hanover, but god-willing will have to face the law.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Hanover High around 40 years ago and am now a college professor. I have always looked back on Hanover High as a formative experience for my own scholarly drive and moral awareness. It was an academically intense, but morally earnest place. I feel sick about this incident; the students' actions were stupid, but stupid in a fairly sophisticated way (future Enron execs?). There goes my little nostalgic dream of Hanover High. However, the incident may be a catalyst for some serious discussion about values and how they are transmitted in the community.

Anonymous said...

Two points: First, call me an (anonymous) cynic, but I believe that any high school reputation is only untarnished because no one has dug deeply enough, and most admissions boards realize that.

Secondly, there are plenty of people with publicly tarnished reputations who have managed to rise to very respectful levels (although not always in a very respectable way). To go right to the top for examples, George Bush has a DWI (I hope), Dick Cheney has a record with the public, if not a public record, for accidentally shooting a man and not reporting it appropriately.

The students broke the law and due process should follow. If that includes a public record, as I believe it should, I think that it will not tarnish Hanover High’s reputation nationwide. However, it is the uncertainty that this is going to happen which is resulting in the local shaming that the perpetrators are experiencing. I don’t think “the village” will ever let it go unless the court takes it up with appropriate firmness, and it seems to me that leniency will ultimately be the worst punishment.

Anonymous said...

From the perspective of an educator, here are lessons learned that will live on indefinitely, not only among those allegedly involved in the scandal, but by all of our children who are witnessing the responses—and lack thereof—from the adults in this community:
• “Innocent until proven guilty” is a sham. One of the cornerstones of our democracy (taught and reinforced throughout their education) has very limited application, if at all. If accused, you will be publicly tried and convicted daily by your teachers, neighbors, parents of your schoolmates, and people who don’t know you (including this blog). This point seems to be missed by everyone, even the educated.
• Adults love to be outraged. In the absence of facts, adults speculate, get angry about their speculations, and then relish making judgmental and vituperative comments about things they know little about.
• Scapegoats are useful if you are unhappy. If accused of doing something wrong, you will be publicly blamed not only for your alleged actions, but for all the consequences that result from the poor choices of other parties, whether they be the police, the school administration, the local and national “news” or the poor choices of fellow students. Those adult parties will let it happen, because their reputation is far more important than your education.
• “We are just doing our job” is a convenient screen for avoiding self-reflection and thoughtful action by adults who could otherwise provide leadership.
• Don’t speak up. If anyone dares speak out about any of the above, they will not only be accused of making excuses, “bailing out,” or accepting “criminal behavior” as the norm, they will be vilified for suggesting that as a community, we should all care for each other.
• You’re on your own. When children are most in need of getting the help they need to be ushered safely into adulthood, their community will write them off and abandon them.

You may argue that these are, in fact, the lessons they should be learning. Were they the ones you taught your own children?

Anonymous said...

I am curious if anyone caught ABC's Good Morning America this morning (9/23) The Hanover Cheaters were the lead-in and a feature during the first half hour. It was very biased and featured no other than Jim Kenyon. He almost went so far as to break down in tears over the pressure his poor son was under and this was was make him feel a need to cheat. I am a Hanover resident with kids in the middle school. The entire thing makes me sick. Punish these kids to the full extent of the law and get on with it!

Anonymous said...

I have read all of the comments. Given this is a liberal New England town comprised of the, as President Bush once said, the "Have Mores", I have no doubt charges will be dropped or plead down to the most insignificant misdemeanor. All in the effort to "save these poor children" from having a criminal record that would ruin their otherwise "perfect" lives. It's parents such as these, who refuse to take reaponsibility for their children's actions, refuse to admit it was them, the parents, who failed to instill their children with morals, respect and dignity. And Mr. Hansen, I respect you but I feel there IS a practical connection between liberals and evil. Just listen to a few of Hillary's recent speeches.

Anonymous said...

I find it astounding that a parent can be as incompetent, pathetic, and ignorant as this Jim Kenyon appears to be. Mr. Kenyon, your son BROKE THE LAW. It was NOT the cheating that got him in trouble with the police, IT WAS THE FACT THAT HE BROKE THE LAW. If you cannot differentiate between the two, then YOU are the bigger problem in this whole matter.

Anonymous said...

As a professor at a teaching-oriented university, I inform my students that cheating *is* a criminal offense. Even if it isn't ever charged, the mere act of cheating is a form of fraud (as you are ascribing that this is solely your work and the product of your studies, as opposed to copying answers illicitly gained by stealing an examination; similarly, plagiarism is fraud as you are stating that this is your own work and not the work of others), which is illegal and a felony. Why aren't students prosecuted for felony fraud instead of the misdemeanor breaking and entering?

Anonymous said...

As a high school teacher, not in NH, I have seen many incidents where students and their parents cheat on tests, projects, and even common homework. When surveyed, most teenagers do not think that it is morally or academically wrong to copy a classmate's homework and turn it in as their own, as they do not view it as cheating. I have received many projects from students that have been done by their parents. It is outrageous that the parent does not think that a teacher is smart enough to tell the difference. They become angry when the student receives a failing grade. They badger the administrators at the school for a grade change, second chance for the student to do the assignment again, and/or the teacher's firing for unfairly "picking" on their child. The parent obviously does not see their part in this drama as cheating either. In these instances, the situation is handled internally. However, it is my understanding that the Hanover HS kids stole keys, broke into the school, and stole the tests from locked filing cabinets. In addition to cheating, they have broken the law. One of the student's dad stated that these boys are children and should not be charged because of it. How would he feel if my 17 year old son broke into his house and stole his TV, jewelry, and car? Would he "work things out" with my son on a personal level, have him do some community service work and possibly donate some money to charity (which he suggested for his own son's punishment)? No, I believe he would call the police and press charges (just as the school did). I also think that the school did not go far enough. In addition to the crimes of breaking and entering and theft, the students violated school policy as well. They should receive a zero on every exam (where they cheated). If it fails them for the course, so be it. If they are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the court system, so be it. These are the consequences of their actions. If I were to cheat on my exams (in college classes required for recertification)and was caught, I would expect to receive a zero and fail. If I broke into a locked file cabinet and stole a copy of the exam, I would expect to be arrested as well. Children need to be reminded that there are consequences for every action they take. If the consequences are not severe enough , these boys will rationalize that what they did was NOT wrong. This is part of the learning process that helps to make children into adults. One last example: I former student was failing my class. He did not take adequate notes during class. His mom asked permission for him to tape record the classes so he could listen to the lecture again and transcribe notes. I agreed. After one day, the mom again called. She was upset that transcribing the notes from the audio tape was too time consuming for HER and asked why I could not possible just give the students a packet of all the information to be included in a lecture ( words, pictures, examples, answers, diagrams, etc). She explained that her son could not listen and write/copy notes at the same time. I asked her if she had plans of sending her son to college? She answered yes. I asked if she expected him to earn good grades and receive a degree? She answered yes. I then asked if she had some magic pill that she was going to give her son that would teach him the skills he needed to become an independent learner, skills that he currently did not have. She said no and asked what I meant by my comment. I explained that her son would never learn to listen and take notes if he never had to do it. After time in my class, he would learn. Since it is a skill needed to succeed in college, he would be better for the experience. On a personal note, I was shocked that he was a senior in high school and had not learned the skill. Mom pulled him out of my class. The next year I heard that he lost his football scholarship because he was failing so many courses. He flunked out of college the following year. What a harsh lesson for the boy. Had mom allowed him to remain in my class, he would have developed a necessary skill. He might not have earned the "A" he got with the easy teacher, but a "C" in a high school course is a small price to pay for a learning experience when compared to losing a college scholarship and flunking out. Hopefully his mom learned that enabling behavior is detrimental to children and I hope she doesn't make the same mistake with her two younger kids.

Anonymous said...

If I may comment on anonymous "From the perspective of an educator" these are my thoughts on your comments.

First, if "innocent until proven guilty" is to live, then the people must be confident that the "accused" will actually stand trial.

You say outraged, I say passionate. We need more people who care enough to be outraged.

Excuses are just as useful when you're unhappy.

"We are just doing our job." Is an excuse and people need to learn how to hold their head up and defend their choices.

One thing that definitely lives is freedom of speech. Speak up! Just don't fall apart when others respond. Stand up for your opinion in the face of ridicule.

Lastly, we are alone. No one is "ushered safely into adulthood". To expect it is unrealistic.

Thank you for allowing me to respond to your comments. I am one of those who know little about those kids, Hanover High or their untarnished reputation. But I know that theft is a crime. I also know that the thought of a crime being committed and no one having enough faith in our justice system to call the police and put it in their hands scares me more than being a little harsh to some unruly kids (who obviously need the reality check).

Anonymous said...

The boys involved in the exam theft at Hanover High School may be many things but "have mores" they certainly are not. Not all of them, anyway. Three boys come from single parent homes. Their mothers work nights to scrape by. Another boy might be considered middle class but just barely. True, some of the boys come from much more comfortable circumstnaces and nothing in a person's background should be used as an excuse, but the idea that these boys will get off because they are wealthy is not supported by the facts.

Another point is that some, perhaps even most, of the parents of these boys are just suffering along in silence. They don't blame the community for anything. Most of them are not trying avoid responsibility and detest any and all media attention. The idea that somehow a group of parents from a fly-speck like Hanover can summon national media attention to help their cause is absurd.

Anonymous said...

the good morning america piece was over the top. kenyon's tearful comments about getting a 2nd mortgage on his house raises the question: how then did they afford to pay the tuition bill at kimball union adacemy for their son?

kenyon's tears were pathetic...right out of the movie "network"....disingenuous does not even begin to describe this sad person.

i predict that the attempts by a few parents will back-fire, and lead to the authorities proceding with the prosecution with vigor, perhaps even having more serious charges filed.

you know, i feel sorry for nick kenyon, his mom wendy and sister madison. their father is making a fool of himself and they are left holding the bag. they deserve much better.

Anonymous said...

in my opinion the shcool's principal and the board failed to deal with the incident from the very beginning. regardless of the written policy on cheating, the administration should have acted forcefully on day one and suspended all the students involved pending an internal investigation. following which some students should have been expelled (yes, expelled) and the rest penalized in some meaningful way. perhaps no varsity sports for a semester would have sent the message. the administration may have failed to act because it was afraid to confront the parents. perhaps with good reason. some of these folks are bullies, and bullies with lawyers. in the event everyone has hidden behind the police - who should never have been involved in the first place. the consequences for the school, the town and the students themselves are already proving much worse than if the principal and board had displayed strong leadership at the time.

Anonymous said...

folks should know that the school administration is ready, willing and able to get to the bottom of the school portion of this matter.

teir hands are being tied by the supt. and the school board who has, i believe, asked them to wait...for what i am uncertain

anything that happens as a result of this delay is on them..not the principal or dean of students. and what has started to happen at the high school is bullying, harassment and threatening behavior on the part of some..some..of the criminally charged students toward other pretty scary...the supt and school board need to take back their school..and now!

Anonymous said...

go fuck yourself you dumb bastard. you are an absolute idiot who clearly has no idea what you are talking about. why don't you try to get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

how did they go to private school...? it's called financial aid you idiots. sure you have never heard of it you rich undeserving pricks.

viagra online without prescription said...

I think these teenagers should be in jail, because they deserve a several punishment for what they did, aren't they?