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.