Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hold Your Son Responsible, Sir

I've had enough of parents protecting their precious little snowflake children when the kids are obviously in the wrong.  Kids are going to make mistakes when they grow up.  Most likely, given the scope of a lot of regular teenage mistakes, they'll be fine.  Maybe not always great, but fine.  And even if they're not great, it's highly unlikely that it's because of ONE mistake that they made as a teenager.  (The exceptions to this sweeping generalization are obviously things like pregnancy and felonies.)  But the point here is that if they do something wrong and they admit to doing it wrong, what you as a parent are not supposed to do is then turn around and sue the school district because the school kicked your kid out of an honors English class because he cheated. 

And according to the San Jose Mercury News, that's exactly what happened.  It would seem that Jack Berghouse's son was caught cheating in his honors English class.  Now, at the beginning of the year, all of the students had to sign an "Academic Honesty Pledge.  Not only that, but his mother signed it as well.  Said pledge explained that if a student was caught cheating (among other offenses) that they would be removed from the honors English class and placed into a regular English class.  Berghouse's son got caught cheating.  He was expelled from the class.  That's when Berghouse sued.  


Mr. Berghouse claims to be concerned about his child's future and says that his expulsion from this particular honors English class could make it so that his son doesn't get into the college of his choice.  I'm kind of wondering at this point how many choices the kid is actually going to have once the colleges that he will apply to get wind of this fiasco.  Oh, yeah, I'm sure there are plenty of colleges out there just a-clammorin' to have a student with a lawsuit happy parent.  Sure there are!  Come on in, son!  Aside from being completely baseless, I have the feeling that this lawsuit is going to end up doing more harm than it will good. 


Mr. Berghouse, who is a lawyer, said "I'm getting a lot of hate calls at my office.  I had no freaking idea this would happen."  Really?  You had NO idea that people would be mad as hell that you were coming to the defense of your son who admitting to cheating in a class?  You had NO idea that people wouldn't take well to your suing the school district to get your son reinstated into a class that he got himself kicked out of?  You had NO idea that people would be angry that you don't teach your son to accept responsibility for stuff when he messes up?  NO idea at ALL, Mr. Berghouse?  I have a difficult time believing that.  Did he actually think that people would be on his side?  The kid signed a pledge not to cheat!  He cheated!  And Mr. Berghouse thinks that the school shouldn't follow through with the stated consequence that was outlined in the pledge?  Wow.  OK, then.  The only time I've ever been that delusional is after several bottles of wine.


Mr. Berghouse went on to explain "There is the possibility this will cause permanent harm. What university will it keep him out of? Will that have far-ranging consequences in what kind of job he can get?"  He's right.  This could cause permanent harm.  I doubt that it will, but he's right that some colleges might not want a student who is a cheater.  (Go figure!)  Regardless, that's why there are measures in place to discourage cheating.  Funny how they didn't work on his son.  Gee, with his attitude, I can't imagine why.  Hmmm....Well, he also said, "He knows it's wrong...You cannot imagine the mental and emotional penalty that has been inflicted upon him. We've offered several penalties, anything other than being kicked out of the English program."  But...but...a punishment isn't a punishment if it's something that you WANT to DO!

He signed a pledge saying (essentially) that he would not cheat.  The pledge specified that if any of the things outlined in the pledge were not adhered to that the student would be removed from the program.  The kid signed it and his mother signed in.  And now they're upset because he cheated and the school followed through?!  They want a DIFFERENT penalty?  Why would that even work?  Could you imagine if our justice system worked that way?  ("Uh, your honor...I know that my client admitted to embezzling millions of dollars and squandering the funds on an alpaca farm just outside of Toledo.  But if you send him to jail, that will really affect his ability to make any money in the future.  Therefore, we'd like to suggest a different penalty.  Perhaps picking up trash or reading to the blind.  We just don't think that jail is the right thing, even though my client knew he was committing a crime.") 

I'd like to ask Mr. Berghouse what he would say to all of the students in his son's class who did NOT cheat.  See, they didn't cheat and they're allowed to be in the program.  Doesn't it devalue the hard and honest work that the other students are doing to allow a cheater to come back to the class because of his daddy is afraid it will ruin his future?  I'd be mad as hell if a kid that had been caught cheating was allowed to be in an elite class with me when I had spent the whole time NOT cheating.  That's the thing.  The rules for staying IN the class are quite simple.  Don't cheat.  And really, if the kid couldn't grasp that concept, should he really BE in Honor's English to begin with?  He doesn't sound all that bright. 


Wouldn't it be great if the consequences from this are EXACTLY what they should be?  I mean that sincerely.  Wouldn't it be extremely just if some kid who did not cheat ended up with the spot at college where Mr. Berghouse's son would have been if he didn't cheat?  I think that would be perfect.  Granted, I don't think that's going to happen because I think that Mr. Berghouse is overreacting and that his son's entire academic future does not hinge on this one SOPHOMORE Honor's English class.  I'm pretty sure that he'll be OK in spite of the asshattery that he displayed by cheating.  It's not like he killed someone.  Though if he had, I'm sure Mr. Berghouse would come up with a reason why he shouldn't be punished.

I hope that Mr. Berghouse continues to get angry phone calls at his office.  They don't need to be hateful.  They don't need to be mean or threatening.  But people like Jack Berghouse are responsible for the dumbing down of America.  They're also responsible (as ironic as this is going to sound) for people not taking responsibility for anything that they've done!  Your child is not a precious little snowflake that should be exempt from all consequences for his poor choices!  And you don't get to choose your punishment, either!  Is that becoming a thing?  I think I remember writing about that recently.  Something about someone else who got caught doing something illegal and was upset because they were being charged even though they offered to right the wrong that they had been accused of.  That's not how this works!  And if things go the way that they should go, that's not the way that it will ever work! 


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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you - well said!! I can only hope that Mr. Berghouse reads your blog.

Mare said...

Hey, Anonymous.

Since I tend to screech a lot about personal responsibility around here, I highly doubt that Mr. Berghouse is a fan of my work. I do wish he'd read it, though. I'm dying for an answer to what he'd say to all of the students in the class who did not cheat.

Thanks for reading!

~ Mary

Anonymous said...

The irony of the situation is that if ol' Jack had kept his mouth shut and let the school perform the punishment, his son would be better off for it. Better yet, by suing the school, his name is all over the internet that can be easily found by any college researching his son's admission. The stain of cheating will last on his son for a long time.

Poetic justice.

Mare said...

Hey, Anonymous.

I totally agree. Let's hope it turns out that way. It did say in the article that even though he would be expelled from the class that the mention of cheating would NOT be on his record. So really, the colleges wouldn't have known. Until this. I, too, hope for your poetic justice to deliver the appropriate consequence.

Thanks for reading!

~ Mary