Cheating Is Not Just a "Rich Kid" Problem

Recently, Forbes’ Staff Writer, Deborah L. Jacobs wrote a column titled, “Why Rich Kids Are Cheating On Their College Entrance Exams”. Cheating in secondary education has been a rampant problem for decades, but the issue has propagated profusely over the past few months. Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney, opened an investigation, with the encouragement of Great Neck Public School administrators, that led to the arrests of past and present high school students who are accused of participating in a college entrance exam cheating ring.

With criminal charges filed against over 20 students in “affluent New York suburbs,” Jacobs determined it was appropriate to label the scandal as strictly an issue amongst the wealthy and entitled. This is misleading and misinformed. While the article itself makes some very valid points, this inaccurate portrayal irks me. Being acquainted with some of the students involved in the scandal, I can say that this generalization does apply to a few, but in no way is it a fair way of characterizing the root of the problem.

Students nationwide feel the urge and pressure to cheat on exams as a result of our high-stakes testing culture. Yes, a multitude of factors play into how and why a student cheats and to what extent they will go to do so, but this is not solely a problem amongst “rich kids".

As I said in my original column on the scandal:

“If students were offered the ability to cheat and get a perfect score or work their darnedest and get a B, you would struggle to find many students who would not choose the former.”

This is not a “rich kid” problem; it is a societal problem.

If we fail to recognize this then we are failing to effectively evaluate the problem at hand. Without doing so, how can we ever expect change to come?


Zak Malamed

RTN Student Leadership Board Co-Leader