Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, August 10, 2012

Post Editors Wring Their Hands Over Stuyvesant Cheaters

The NY Post editors work for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation - you know, the company embroiled in a hacking/corruption scandal that has seen over 60 of its current and former employees arrested on hacking, bribery, conspiracy and/or corruption charges. The latest arrested was a Sun journalist on suspicion of corruption on August 7th. This followed another Sun journalist who was arrested on July 20th on computer hacking charges and made "Employee of the Month" a day after his arrest.

News Corporation is currently enjoying not one, not two, but three different police investigations into its criminal activities in Britain as well as a Parliamentary investigation. The SEC and the FBI are looking into allegations of corruption here in the U.S. and could bring charges against the company for breaking the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Bloomberg News reported on August 1 that News Corp. is also facing corporate hacking offenses over phone hacking.

In addition, the company faces numerous lawsuits from hacking victims in Britain and will soon face at least three suits brought by victims allegedly hacked by News Corp. reporters here on U.S. soil.

The former head of News International (Rebekah Brooks) and the former News of the World editor and aide to Prime Minister David Cameron (Andy Coulson) are both set to face hacking and corruption charges in the case. Brooks also faces charges of corruption and cover-up in the bribery case and Coulson faces conspiracy charges in Scotland relating the case.

News Corporation paid out over $315 million in costs related to the hacking scandal and faces hundreds of millions more the next fiscal year.

The scandal has been so damaging to the company that they have been forced to split into two, relegating the damaged newspaper properties to a smaller corporate entity while the more lucrative entertainment properties will go it on their own.

I give this context as background to note that the Post editors decry the culture of cheating at Stuyvesant high school and are - shocked, shocked - to find out that neither the new interim principal at Stuyvesant nor the NYCDOE brain trust seem all that concerned about the cheating:

Good news, Stuyvesant HS cheaters: Your new principal sees nothing amiss at your school — despite a massive cheating scandal recently that involved 71 students.

And despite reports in The Post from Stuyvesant sources, including students, of a serious “culture of cheating” at the school.

No, obviously, this is terrible news — even for the cheaters. Because if new principal Jie Zhang doesn’t end that twisted mindset fast, she won’t be doing the kids, the school or anyone else any favors.

First, as they say, she needs to recognize the problem. “I have not been made aware or have a reason to believe there is ongoing cheating there,” she says.

Willful blindness? As one source told The Post, “Everybody cheats all the time — on homework, on tests, on everything.”

As recent Stuyvesant grad Daniel Solomon reported on these pages, a school-newspaper survey found some 90 percent of seniors had advance knowledge of test questions and 5 percent ’fess up to cheating on SATs and AP exams.

Either Zhang has some quick learning to do — or she finds the scams tolerable.

Neither bodes well for the school.

Or perhaps she’s just taking cues from the Department of Education, which let off six of the 71 cheaters with just suspensions and the other 65 with no penalties at all.

The DOE wouldn’t even expel ringleader Nayeem Ahsan, who used his cellphone to photograph and distribute a Spanish exam.

It was encouraging that long-time principal Stanley Teitel left after the scandal broke. But what will that have accomplished if Zhang carries on his tradition?

Let’s face it. Eventually, cheating is likely to catch up with kids sometime in their lives, and the school’s sterling rep will fade.

That wouldn’t be a mere scandal — but a full-blown tragedy.

OK, before I get to the hypocrisy of the Posties, let's deal with the editorial itself.

The Post is wrong to say that cheating will catch up with these kids sometime in their lives.

In American culture, cheating is a privileged thing.

The guys on Wall Street do it all the time and nothing - I mean nothing - ever happens to them.

The hedge fundies cheat, the big banks rigged LIBOR rates and so far only one has received a slap on the wrist (but promises of no criminal prosecution!), the Obama administration has refused to prosecute even one person responsible for the financial collapse of '08, former NY State attorney general Andrew Cuomo also refused to bring charges against anyone for the same crimes, and current Treasury Secretary Geithner knew 16 Big Banks were fixing LIBOR rates in order to enrich themselves and make their balance sheets look better than they were and did nothing about it - tell me exactly how the culture of cheating the kids at Stuyvesant are learning won't be rewarded in Big Business, especially on Wall Street, in the future?

Seriously, learning how to cheat and get away with it is an indispensable lesson every member of the American elite must learn before adulthood.

Next, let's deal with the allegations of cheating.

The Post is decrying the whitewashing of the Stuyvesant cheating scandal which involved one school and 71 or so students, and rightfully so, but nowhere in the paper (or its sister paper, the Wall Street Journal) do we see any story of the whitewashing of the massive cheating scandal that took place in Washington D.C. under education reform darling Michelle Rhee that involved over 100 schools, more than half of all D.C. schools.

Erasure rates of answers from wrong to right were so frequent at many of these D.C. schools that statisticians say you would have a better chance of winning the Powerball lottery twice than having all of those wrong answers in all of those schools erased and right answers put in their place by real kids.

Yesterday, the Washington D.C. school system exonerated itself by limiting the cheating scandal investigation to one school, the one with the most egregious erasures and the one focused upon by USA Today when they brought this scandal to light back in 2011.

Yesterday USA Today reported that D.C. officials limited the scope of the investigation because

they believed news coverage of the scandal would limit future cheating — and because schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson handed over "no additional evidence" of cheating or "investigative leads to pursue."

There you have it - news reports of a limited, whitewashed investigation of past cheating ought to discourage future cheating and how can we expect to investigate this thing fully when the DCPS chancellor refuses to hand over additional evidence? Gollee, we just have to go with what we have here, folks.

Clearly there is a cover-up going on in the DCPS and city officials in Washington D.C. are helping, along with officials at the USDOE who don't seem to want to get to the bottom of the matter either, perhaps because an investigation of Rhee's D.C. tenure that found widespread cheating would undercut so many of the "Rheeforms" the USDOE is pursuing nationwide, with D.C. as one of the "models" for where these "Rheeforms" have supposedly worked.

It seems to me this is a much bigger scandal than the Stuyvesant scandal, and while I have no problem with the Posties decrying the cover-up at Stuyvesant over cheating, I do take issue with their refusal to call for a wide and "rigorous" investigation into their education reform darling, Michelle Rhee and her tenure of cheating at DCPS. I understand that the DCPS is not in New York, but since the DCPS reforms and evaluation system have been promoted by many education reformers around the country - including those at the Post - I think it is only fair and honest that the Posties decry the whitewashed investigation of Rhee and DCPS while they're decrying the Stuyvesant whitewash.

Finally, let's look at the hypocrisy of the Post editorial writers, decrying what they allege is a culture of cheating and cover-up at Stuyvesant.

Given that the NY Post's parent company is embroiled in a scandal that stems from a culture of cheating (hacking into people's phones for stories, hacking into people's computers for stories, paying public officials for privileged info about people and using that info in stories, threatening to use damaging info against enemies) and a culture of cover-up (even Rupert Murdoch himself has admitted that News Corporation spent more time trying to make the hacking scandal go away than trying to fix it and right the wrongs done), it sees quite hypocritical for the Posties to write so indignantly about the harm done by the Stuyvesant cheating and cover-up.

After all, it seems to me that these kids who engaged in the cheating can grow up to be very successful businessmen or women, very successful hedge fund managers or Big Bank CEO's, real estate moguls, or even - gosh, we can only hope - journalists who work for ethically-challenged News Corporation.

And therein lies the crux of the hypocrisy in this story.

Even as we say we don't tolerate cheating as a culture, the fact of the matter is, we reward it constantly.

America is not some meritocracy where those who work the hardest and the longest, who are the most forward-thinking and most innovative, are the ones who rise to the top.

America is a kleptocracy where those who are the most ruthless, the least ethical, the most willing to act criminally are the ones who rise to the top.

We see this again and again - from Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase to Michelle Rhee to Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, the most ruthless, the least ethical, the most selfish and (often) the most willing to engage in criminal acts survive and thrive while the rest of us who play by the rules get screwed again and again.

So really, those kids at Stuyvesant have learned the best lesson possible for them.

As members of the elite, they have cheated and gotten away with it.

Just as most members of the American elite cheat and get away with it.

Seems to me this lesson has simply reinforced the reality in 21st Century America.


  1. Getting punished for cheating is only for the little people! Only for the 99%! Stuvesant students are chosen and they aspire to become the left flank of the elect .......the privileged left wing of just 1/2%

    Michelle Rhee is an important icon of the 1 %. Michelle Rhee is allowed to cheat because she is a great leader in their confederation. Her political objective is to libel and destroy teacher's unions using any and all means at her disposal. She will not be taken as a prisoner by the little people or their surrogates. Thus, sweet Michelle is protected under their over-reaching aegis of sovereign immunity. Her cheating serves their higher calling, the destruction of organized labor.Michelle Rhee Is indeed protected by our supreme leader, the AMATEUR, Barack Obama. Don't you get it? The ENDS ALWAYS JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

  2. This is how the ruling class rolls...