Cheaters' helper doesn't prosper

Newsweek publishes the confessions of a ‘tutor’ who wrote high school and college term papers for lazy, rich kids.

For three-hour workdays, the ability to sleep in and the opportunity to get paid to learn, I tackled subjects like Dostoevsky while spoiled jerks smoked pot, took naps, surfed the Internet and had sex. Though some offered me chateaubriand and the occasional illicit drug, most treated me like the help. I put up with it because I feared working in an office for $12 an hour again.

Cheating for others ruined her self-esteem, she writes. Well, that’s too bad.

It amazes me that parents will spend $75,000 in high school tuition and $120,000 for a private college, and then pay even more to ensure their child doesn’t learn anything.

Some commenters mention today’s front-page New York Times story on private companies competing to sign up students eligible for tutoring under No Child Left Behind because they attend low-performing schools. Tutors may not be qualified or effective, the Times reports. Sure, but there’s a lot of competition to provide tutoring, so the companies that satisfy parents are likely to survive. (I do think allowing signing bonuses is a bad idea, since some parents may choose a company for the goodies not the tutoring.)

About Joanne


  1. Bluemount says:

    It’s not just the lazy rich kids, or parents who can’t buy help for their children.

    Some companies don’t feel guilty at all.

    Propelled by the No Child Left Behind law, the federally financed tutoring industry has doubled in size in each of the last two years, with the potential to become a $2 billion-a-year enterprise, market analysts say.

    In one incident at the Spry Community School on the West Side of Chicago, six Platform tutors did not show up for work one day, and about 70 students wound up watching the movie “Garfield” instead of studying reading and math.

  2. This story should be distributed to everyone who has anything to do with hiring people, so that they can put impressive-sounding college degrees in the proper context.

  3. hardlyb says:

    Considering that the story is in Newsweek, I wonder if it’s actually true. That is, while I expect that the column was written by someone that did some tutoring, I wonder whether the incidents related really occurred as described. And I certainly don’t feel sorry for the write — to the extent that she isn’t a liar, she’s a whining loser.

  4. I think the author of that Newsweek essay could use a writing tutor.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    More often than not, a degree is an indication of status, like the bound feet of Chinese girls. I have always advocated giving a job to anyone who applies, then busting them if they don’t perform. Of course, you need someone who knows what “perform” is.

  6. Her experiences sound a lot like those of the guy who does tutoring in Tom Wolfe’s new book.

    The U.S. is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on education, both K-12 and “higher ed.” To a very significant extent, we are being scammed.

  7. The Newsweek article looks mostly like whining about the soul-ravaging effects of catering to the the young, rich and aimless. Sounds like a description Paris Hilton’s personal assistant’s job.

    The NYT article though, was a different kettle of fish. I wasn’t aware that the NCLB, in all its perfidiousness, provided money to try to save what ought to be mercifully dispatched.

    From what I can gather from the article – I don’t believe it’s ever made explicit – the NCLB has funding for tutors for schools that are considered to be failing and are in danger of being shut down. Of course, these tutors aren’t doing their tutoring for the love of education and because of the purity of their souls. They’re doing their tutoring for filthy lucre. Money. So naturally the NYT writer describes in detail the uniform failure of the roving gangs of tutoring thugs.

    Without a trace of irony, Patty Sullivan director of the Center on Education Policy is quoted in the article,”We’re pouring a lot of money into it (tutoring), and we’re not sure it works.”

    Just as a point of interest, the non-partisan Center on Education Policy was founded in 1995 by John F. (Jack) Jennings who was the general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor from 1967 to 1994.

    I suppose it would have made the article a bit too long to let us in on the fact that the source of so much of the article was founded by a man who spent twenty-seven years as an employee of the Democratically-controlled House.

  8. Brian J. says:

    She doesn’t sound like she’s doing too badly at it; I remember a story in one of the slicks in the mid 1990s about a woman who wrote the papers you buy from the paper mills. She was spending twelve hours a day in the library for substinence wage, but she liked learning things….

  9. mike from oregon says:

    From the story – “Tutors may not be qualified or effective, the Times reports.”

    And I’m sure that’s true, on occasion. When I was in college (oh so long ago), because I had done well in math, part of my work-study job was as a math tutor; heck it sure paid more than other work-study jobs.

    By the ‘standards’ that they measure teachers and tutors now, I doubt that I would qualify. However, my students improved their grades. I was hired outside the college by a doctor to tutor his high school senior for her upcoming SAT tests. She was a hard nut to crack and I really wasn’t sure how I was doing with her. In the end, she raised her math SAT score (from the score she got as a junior) by almost 200 points.

    I’m sure I would not be considered a tutor or a teacher today, but I’m also fairly sure that I could be more effective than an easy 25% of those that we presently call teacher.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Mike – did you teach her anything else [wink wink]?


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