In Colleen Wenke’s essay “Too Much Pressure”, she examines how cheating in schools has become more prevalent or acceptable and the reasons behind why this is so. She begins by giving the reader cited statistics showing cheating among high school students has raised dramatically during the last fifty years. Upset by this, she initially blames the school system for not instilling proper values in the students. Reflecting, Wenke recalls seeing cheating occur often while she was in high school. The teachers also knew that this went on but did nothing about it. Cheating was and has become the norm. Wenke sees this fact as a reflection of moral decline and the erosion of values but maybe not just in the school system. Although hard to fully accept, she cites Robert L Maginnis theory stating family, school, church, media and government are they key institutions that have failed in instilling morals and values, which in turn contributes to the increase of cheating in the classroom. “The fact seems contradictory. If my parents’ generation had such high morals and wouldn’t cheat, wouldn’t they teach their children the same? … -Wenke
I found this part of her essay to be most intriguing because my dad and I have had similar conversations regarding the role if institutions in the lives of African Americans. We discussed how the key institutions that kept the African American communities strong and together post slavery and during the civil rights era were family, school/education and church. But somewhere along the line these three factors are what are being neglected most in the African American communities today. Families are more broken and divided since fifty years ago so the guidance Wenke refers to is either not there or not being found meaningful, as well as the other interrelated support systems (church and education). As a result, these communities are negatively affected the most by drugs, ill-educated and feel unwelcome by or neglect churches. These communities are worse than ever before and in my view are influenced mostly by media. Not the good media either, the media that rewards lying, cheating, dishonesty, money and the idea to take whatever means necessary to get ahead. “In this kind of society, morals take a back seat to how much you earn and how prosperous you are.” –Menke
I believe Menke could be on to something bigger that just highlighting cheating over the past generations. I believe it is possible to show how institutions, or lack thereof, affect or youth’s morals and values. If we take her idea of stepping back and looking at the broader picture, we might be able to prove just how powerful these institutions are. What do you think?