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When the Will to Succeed Outweighs Academic Integrity: MomTalk Q&A

Are we forcing our children to cheat? Controversy at Sandburg High has moms talking.

The pressure to succeed will forever weigh heavily on the shoulders of ambitious high school students. Couple that with after-school interests and the combination can make the temptation to "fudge" on tests and homework even more appealing.

One of our moms, Felicitas Cortez, brought up a valid point after attending a meeting for School District 135 in Orland Park. During the meeting, Sandburg High School's student-run academic integrity board was introduced. The board was formed following the discovery of a cheating ring that involved more than 70 students in an advanced placement physics class.

"I was surprised, not only at the level of cheating done at school, but at the nerve it struck with parents," Cortez wrote. "The problem, it seems, does not stem only from the students doing all to get a better grade (without studying!) but also with the number of parents willing to overlook or deny their child is at fault."

So she asked:

How far do we go to make sure our child stays at the top of their class? Do we apply so much pressure to succeed, our child is then forced to cheat?

Here's the view from the Patch Moms Council.

Mary Langer, New Lenox

"For my own family, our goal was to raise good upstanding citizens. I was not ever driven to have the best students, just good kids.  I do know of people raising children today though that have put this stress/focus on YOUNG children. I know of a few kids that are still in grammar school and they are already thinking about where they will attend college. The thought process is to engrain the importance of good grades and scholarships in the child when they are very young. Unfortunately this also makes kids afraid of bringing home a report card that doesn't live up to those expectations, for fear of disappointing their parents. If a child cheats in our district, they are automatically not allowed to graduate on stage, no exceptions. This is something that is a part of the freshman student/parent meeting. I think this is a perfect start to curbing the temptation to cheating to get a step ahead. There are some people that have a need to live vicariously though their kids in every way including scholastically. There should be a fine or punishment for the parent if the child is caught cheating."

Nicole Yaniz, New Lenox

"Parents can encourage academic success and self-reliance by simply understanding their child and asking them and encouraging them to try their hardest.  When I was growing up, we received two sets of grades - letter grades and effort grades.  My parents were more pleased when they saw better "effort grades" than letter grades and more upset if it showed I wasn't trying as hard as I could and they knew I could apply myself more. I know of some parent's that determined in 3-year preschool that they were going to wait to have their child start kindergarten so they have an 'advantage.' As our children enter into school, we have to learn that while we still have a huge part in their decision making process, we have to let go a little as well, not to mention that we as parents need to learn that we aren't in 100 percent control anymore but we just do OUR best to instill in them good beliefs so they make good decisions. Unfortunately, cheating happens.  But it is important for YOU, the parent, to teach your child that while the child may get that sought out A, he/she still fails... because integrity is lost and they didn't learn as much from cheating." 

Ann Jenks, Mokena

"I don't expect my kids to be perfect but I do expect them to try their best.  I always tell them if you try your best you won't feel as bad if you don't succeed the first time. As far as cheating, I tell my kids it will catch up with you eventually.  I also tell them that the amount of work that goes into cheating could just as easily be spent doing the work the right way and you will feel better about yourself when you are finished."

Kitty Vancina, New Lenox

"This group of contributors particularly interested me because I see so many young parents afraid of parenting!! What's happening at Sandburg is a good example of that.  The parents should be behind the teachers in their desire to rid the school of cheaters, not threatening law suits! And we wonder why some kids have poor values! I understand babies come without a manual, but sound basic ethics and a strong backbone can grow a good kid. C'mon parents ... do your job! It's the most important one you will have in your life!"

Next week's topic: Are you responsible for the safety and well-being of a neighbor's chronically misbehaving child if you're the only adult present? 

Patch's Moms Council addresses issues on the minds of parents, debates the pros and cons, and offers advice. Look for MomTalk Q&A every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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