From William Damon, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, “The Death of Honesty” ( Defining Ideas, January 12, 2012),
… many teachers, in order to avoid legal action and other contention, look the other way if their students copy test answers or hand in plagiarized papers. Some teachers excuse students because they believe that “sharing” schoolwork is motivated by loyalty to friends. Some teachers sympathize with student cheaters because they consider the tests that students take to be flawed, unfair, or too difficult. Such sympathy can be taken to extremes, as in the case of one teacher, observed by an educational writer, who held that “it was the teacher who was immoral for having given the students such a burdensome assignment…” when a group of students was caught cheating.
Incredibly, some teachers actually have encouraged students to cheat; and some have even cheated themselves when reporting student test scores. 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. …
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.
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.
See also: Red wine researcher fabricates masses of data …
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