December 2, 2002
An editorial in The Oklahoman reports that cheating at the University of Oklahoma has doubled in the past two years. Also cited was a USA Today column by Rabbi Gerald L. Zelizer, who wrote that a national survey of 12,000 high school students showed that 74 percent had cheated on a test!
Zelizer says 68 percent of the students did not consider plagiarism "serious cheating."
One wonders why the cheating comes as a surprise. During the Clinton presidency, these students heard much about lies, and politicians in high places defending them. They learned that half the U.S. Senate thought that lying on national television, committing perjury, and obstructing justice in office were excusable.
Moreover, what are students to think when teachers and school officials regularly support morally bankrupt politicians? And when schools won't allow students to sing the name "Jesus" in a Christmas play, what moral guideposts are left for students to steer by?
Messages of morality become more confusing when schools deny the existence, or ban the mention, of God and things that are foundational to truth as taught in homes.
Such an environment is not conducive to students learning that cheating is wrong, or why it's wrong. Nor are they likely to hear that cheating is wrong because of God's commandments: "Thou shalt not bear false witness," and "Thou shalt not steal," and "Thou shalt not covet."
Students need to hear the rules of morality. And they need to learn to think about their actions. What satisfaction can there be in merely copying someone else's work and calling it their own? It's theft!
What achievement and sense of self-worth are realized when answers are copied and passed off as the students' own? It's lying -- and Clintonian quibbling over "what the definition of 'is' is," doesn't change it.
The worst aspect of cheating, however, is the irreparable harm it does to the cheater's own values. If the tainted mindset is carried into adulthood, the cheater may never know the wonder of creativity and the satisfaction of original thought.
The University of Oklahoma is considering an honor code to enforce academic integrity. It would supplement high school programs set up in some schools to "teach character." But both are doomed to fail, if they are based on secular concepts of honesty and character.
As long as schools are extensions of political entities, in thrall to liberal anti-Christian agendas, there's little hope that students can learn ethics after high school. Exceptions to this gloomy outlook are those educational bright spots provided by Christian home schools, secondary schools and colleges.
And it's because they have more to work with in developing study habits, ethics and a sense of right and wrong.
Public school students are less well equipped. Too many schools have worked to ban any mention of a spiritual basis for truth, or the One Who puts within us His Spirit of Truth and a desire to live by His Commandments.
Cheating in schools is a measure of the decay of moral values in society. The decay will stop only when we've overcome the opposition to the Three C's of Character: the (Ten) Commandments, Christ, and the Cross.
Cheating keeps the mind from becoming all it could be, and thus society suffers a loss. But in the end, the biggest loss is that cheaters cheat themselves. They lose the chance for intellectual growth, real achievement, and, most important, self respect.