Metaphoric Fiction

kidsIn a middle school classroom, Mrs. Jones is administering a math test. She told the children that they were to do their best work and not to cheat by using a calculator or peering at a classmate’s answers.

The class is comprised of mostly white students (12), one back student and two Asian students. The fifteen students worked diligently, though many struggled to complete the exam. Late in the exam, Mrs. Jones excused herself from the classroom to speak to the Principal in the hallway. One student, Johnny, pulled out his calculator and was able to quickly solve three of the problems that he had been agonizing over on the test. He shared his answers with the students sitting next to him, Amanda and YOUR child, who promptly wrote the answers down as well.

When Mrs. Jones returned, no one said a word. The students all finished their tests and handed them in. The following morning, Mrs. Jones announced to the class that five of the students had perfect scores on their tests. Several other students had scored 80% or better. In fact, all of the students received a passing grade for the exam. This was cause for celebration!

Johnny’s family expects him to get high honors. His family is an affluent and well-known family in the community and his father, who is now the City Mayor, is also an accomplished attorney. Johnny often feels overwhelmed with studying and schoolwork such that he has become extremely depressed and feels isolated. He was once grounded for getting a “B” on his report card and his parents insisted on getting him a tutor and increasing his study time.

Amanda is an African American student who lives with her mother in a small two-bedroom apartment. She often does not have time to study because she helps her mother out in the store next door, sweeping the floor and doing odd jobs to earn an “allowance” from the store owner to help offset the bills. She also takes care of her two younger siblings at home and frequently falls asleep while studying late at night. She too wants to get passing grades so that she can eventually go to college and help her mother and siblings have a better life.

You know the story of YOUR child…

Several days pass until Mrs. Jones announces to the class that an anonymous but very credible source reported that a student had cheated on the exam. She tells the class that she is very disappointed and is willing to forgive the student and offer them the chance to re-take another exam if they come forward by the end of the day. Otherwise, Mrs. Jones stipulates, “Every one of you will receive a failing grade”.

At the end of the day, Amanda approached the teacher and asked if anyone had come forward to confess. Mrs. Jones replied, “Just you”.

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You see Amanda went to Mrs. Jones on the day of the initial exam. She felt so guilt ridden by the end of that day that she could not justify the deceitfulness of her actions. Mrs. Jones was very understanding and assured Amanda that she would omit the three questions Amanda reported she cheated on. Amanda, however, did not report any of the other students to Mrs. Jones.

As it turns out, Mrs. Jones was already suspicious of several students in the class for cheating on exams. She had asked the principal to stop by her classroom at the designated time so that she could appear to be otherwise occupied, but she was actually watching, along with the principal, to see if her suspicions could be confirmed. And they were.

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The following morning, Mrs. Jones announced to the class that since no one had come forward to confess, she was forced to give the entire class a failing grade. She sent a letter home with each student to explain the failing grade to their parents. As expected, later that evening, the school began receiving calls from parents, including YOU, who were outraged about the lack of justice. Two parents alleged that Amanda had cheated, according to their children.

Right away, one of the parents called the local newspaper. The author interviewed several students with the permission of their parents. During his interviews, the reporter shared the allegation that Amanda had been a culpable suspect, based on previous reports from other parents. The students agreed that she was a likely candidate, as she often did not have time to study. The school administration was not available for comment. The News Paper published the story the following next morning with the following headline: African American Student Cheats on Exam: Teacher Fails the Entire Class. Parents Outraged.

The Principal and Mrs. Jones immediately called the reporter to set the record straight. They shared the details of their suspicions, along with Amanda’s initial confession. Though they did not share the names of any of the students involved in the scandal, they did confirm that the “African American Student” had been the first and only to come forward. The following day, the News Paper printed a follow up story with the headline: African American Student Not The Only One To Cheat On Exam.

At this point, YOU and several other parents banded together to determine which other student, if there really was another student, had cheated. YOU are certain that it was not YOUR child. And Johnny’s father is certain that it was not his child either. The two Asian students were scrutinized as perhaps being the cheaters. They always seemed to score perfectly on every exam. It must be them, you all concluded. The two Asian students had recently emigrated from China and spoke very little English. It was too difficult for YOU and the other parents to speak with their parents, not to mention that YOU had all consulted with YOUR children and found their reports to be credible and accurate.

The school board and administration stepped in to investigate the situation in an effort to put the matter to rest. They found this following evidence:

  • The test contained 20 questions.
  • Amanda scored an 85%. She would have received 100% but Mrs. Jones chose to throw out the three questions that Amanda confessed to cheating on.
  • Johnny scored a 90%. He had two incorrect answers.
  • YOUR CHILD scored 100%.
  • Both of the Asian students scored 100%, as they always had in the past.
  • Two other students also scored 100% and did not participate in cheating.

The school board, along with Mrs. Jones and the Principal had to make the difficult phone call to YOU and the Mayor separately, to report that YOUR individual students had been associated with the cheating scandal. A letter was sent home to all parents stating that the investigation was completed and that the parents of the students in question had been notified privately.

There was no follow up story in the Newspaper after this revelation and the matter has since been forgotten.