A blast from the past: going through old papers I find the following letter, sent to the Christian Science Monitor on 16 May 1990. I have no record of whether it was published, but my guess would be no.
To the Editor:
Among the high school survey results Rushworth Kidder finds disturbing [Childrens Moral Compass Wavers, 5/16/90] is the fact that a high percentage (47% according to Kidder, 45% according to the chart) place their own experience above parents, religion, science, and the media as the most believable authority in matters of truth.
I am far more disturbed by the fact that Kidder finds this statistic disturbing. Surely we want to raise a generation of independent thinkers, not of sheep who passively accept the dictates of authority; so we should find this statistic heartening. Thomas Jefferson would certainly have been pleased.
As for the willingness of high school students to cheat in an exam, its difficult to know whether this is a bad sign morally. After all, students are legally compelled, often against their will, to attend high school and to take exams there. In this context, its morally problematic to claim that students have an obligation not to cheat. (Do slaves have a moral obligation not to disobey their masters?)
As long as our nation, defying the Constitutions ban on involuntary servitude, tolerates the institution of compulsory education, high school exams will be given in an atmosphere that is morally tainted from the start.
Roderick T. Long
Ithaca, New York