Who is cheating who?

Remember the SATs? That good four hours of your life that everyone told you mattered more for your future than any other test you have ever taken? How much would you have paid for a perfect score? Two weeks ago, six students in Long Island, N.Y. were caught paying up to $2,500 for 19-year-old Samuel Eshaghoff to take the test for them. Mr. Eshaghoff did his job and scored in the 97th percentile for all of the tests. Unfortunately, the school district found the discrepancy between the GPAs of the respective students and their incredible scores to be a tad suspicious. Upon analyzing the handwriting of the tests, the SAT inquisition found they all came from one source. Amazingly, instead of simply punishing the students, the school board had them all arrested. The students were charged with misdemeanors, and Mr. Eshaghoff was criminally charged with falsifying business records, and providing false identification. Now the torrent of accusations will begin. The parents will blame the school for not having proper security at tests. The school will blame the proctors for not being stringent enough and the students will blame their guidance counselors and teachers for putting them in such a high pressure situation. Yet, nothing productive will be done. As long as there have been tests, there have been cheaters. This cycle is inevitable, so what are the implications? Will airport-like security measures be put into practice during tests? Will the credibility of the tests be brought into question?  The answer, of course is no. The institution will continue to proctor tests, make money off of prep classes and generally make the lives of students miserable. Most incredibly, the students themselves will always be blamed for cheating. This seems the most backward and useless thing to do. If the purpose of an education is to teach you how to behave in society and how to apply the knowledge you are forced to memorize, then clearly the burden of academic honesty truly lies on teachers, parents and the community. If your child cheats on a test, they clearly lacked the confidence or the drive to take it, and that is not the fault of the student but the effect of the pressures being placed upon them by those to whom they look up.  Of course, the students are responsible to an extent, but if cheating has been taken to such extremes, there is clearly a problem with the system, not the students.