Why WCTA Students Can’t Complain

On June 7th, 2017, the teachers of WCTA met with the SOT (School Organizational Team) to discuss solving a problem that ran rampant the previous school year. Within a month this document was signed and adopted by the entire school.

Heavily based upon the Nevada Department of Education Honor Code, the new cheating policy was the topic of talk on school grounds. Students unmercifully criticized the document as if it was the end of their life, and for many dishonest people it was.

The creator and editor of the new policy, Mrs. Heckman, said “I think it’s perfect. When students say it’s harsh I say ‘Oh you don’t know harsh.’” Despite the fact that many will deny it, this statement has truth to it.

When asked about the leniency at WCTA, Mrs. Heishman replied, “What surprised me was not getting an N on the first offense.”

At Helen Marie Smith Elementary, Mrs. Heishman’s previous school, students that are caught on the first offense get an automatic N for citizenship, along with a demerit and loss of field trip privileges.

This was a common theme among schools elsewhere in the valley. Policies were tougher, and tended to result in more than a slap on the hand. WCTA in comparison appears to have a consequences problem, where cheating may be rewarded instead of punished.

Take Coronado High School as an example. In 2009, the second offense resulted in a 10% reduction for the quarter grade. However, between 2009 and 2017, a cultural shift happened across the county.

The shift was rapid, it’s difficult to point where it happened on a scale of time but it’s certainly noticeable. As the years went by, learning something wasn’t as important as the grade you got on a test, or the measurement that defined your transcript.

“The focus is no longer on what I’m learning, the focus is on did I get an A,” said Mrs. Heckman. When asked about whether or not the leniency was due to CCSD’s placement on the national level, the answer was maybe.

Photo Credit: Kyle Collins

It would be easy to assume that the gradual easiness of consequences over the years is due to the fact that CCSD is trying to place higher on a national scale, but it’s also easy to blame the shift in attitude in students. Either way, teachers are no longer feeling the pain.

Students may feel it in the future. Many examples exist in the workplace where people who were caught stealing other’s work lost their jobs. People who held high positions simply kicked off the ladder and left searching with a tainted record.

“Where’s the line between truth and honesty?” Mrs. Heishman asked, “If you have this blurred line since you were young, are you going to be dishonest toward your spouse?”

Another cultural shift needs to happen, one where cheating is wrong, and that can happen if and only if some examples are made. “People are going to have to see there are consequences,” said Mrs. Heckman.

“I always believe that people can self-improve,” said Mrs. Heisman when asked whether or not a cheater may realize their mistake, “The change has to come from them. If it doesn’t, then the change will never happen.”

It’s important to note that if the problem continues, a new policy worse than the current one may be implemented until students learn. History shows that schools are willing to go that route if necessary.

If the problem persists, dishonest students, particularly underclassmen, should quickly reconsider their stance on cheating, or face a future they weren’t expecting. The choice can’t be any clearer.

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