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Diploma Fraud Cheats Everyone

In an attempt to boost graduation rates, some high schools are engaging in outrageous tactics ("Student's stunning plea: Why did NYC let me graduate high school?" New York Post, Aug. 2). I've written before about credit recovery, which allows students to pass required subjects by putting in a few hours of work to make up what takes other students an entire semester to do. 

But the latest news is even more disturbing.  An 18-year-old student who rarely attended a mandatory government class was given a high-school diploma that even she admitted she doesn't deserve. In my opinion, officials at William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City, N.Y. were derelict in their duty to all stakeholders.  First harmed was the student.  But she was not alone. When taxpayers read about what happened, their support for public schools is further undermined. They are entitled to know that students are being well educated with their taxes.  Employers are also shortchanged because they assume that the diploma holder has learned certain basic knowledge. That's why Mayor Bill de Blasio may be stripped of his control over public schools in New York City.

I don't know how many students nationwide are allowed to graduate when they haven't met the necessary requirements.  But if we want traditional public schools to exist in the years ahead, we need to demand an end to these fraudulent practices at all levels.  Time is running out. Yet I doubt things will change. Schools are under unprecedented pressure to post ever higher graduation rates ("Teacher on why she passed student who 'begged' to fail," New York Post, Aug. 3). What is forgotten in the controversy are the long-term effects of their caving in.  

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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