Just after the 2013 gaokao, Chinese parents in one small city complained, rioted, saying, "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
There is a drama unfolding even as I write: thirty-five suspects have been indicted in a criminal conspiracy, and only a few of them have surrendered to authorities. They face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The deadline for all to give themselves up is today.
Is this about drugs? Kidnapping? Treason? Securities fraud?
Nothing so alien as that; it is an everyday criminal context: It’s about administrators and teachers changing answers on standardized tests in order to boost their schools’ and districts’ scores
[Originally published in China Daily, November 9, 2012]
If the goal of scholarship is to get published, rather than to contribute in a meaningful and substantial way to the growth of knowledge, then any method is acceptable. Academic life is not usually so lucrative that people enter it to get wealthy. Usually people have some drive to know and learn.
Until this has been accomplished in China through a combination of structural and cultural changes, the fight against misconduct and corruption will remain with us.
Claims have been made recently that China is a meritocracy, not a democracy, because its leaders have risen through examinations and testing.
But like in the US, where SAT and college admission to elite universities tracks almost completely with socioeconomic status, in China the well-off have the means to pay the bribes that ensure school success all along the way.
(Also on Huffington Post)