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Thanks...and An Update on the New "Math War"

In a previous MathLint and last week's Math News, I ranted about an objectionable act-- via a web site and ebay ad, someone was offering for pay to help individuals cheat in on-line math courses. Again, the ebay ad offered to do on-line assignments while the web site Do My Algebra Assignments offered to even take the on-line tests.

As mentioned, I sent several e-mails to the person behind the offer..."Selena1Powell" from Richland, MS. Below is a copy of our recent e-mails:

  • My e-mail: As a teacher, parent, and math-doer, I find your ebay ad and your website morally objectionable. The audacity to offer to do someone's algebra work on-line is cheating, nothing else. And your blatant offer to even take someone's tests is criminal! Is this what on-line society has regressed to?

    You are not a tutor...you are both a cheater and an enabler of cheating. Because of the blatant offer (and your stated 10-years of experience), I realize that my comments will have no effect on you.

    My one hope is that both your ad and your website are a psychological test to see how people react....and I reacted.
    Jerry Johnson

  • The eventual response: I am doing a statistical experiment to see just how many students would respond to this website. I am collecting data and analyzing my finding. I wasnít going to let you in on it until I have completed my study, but I feel I should say something before it gets out of hand. It is wonderful to know that there arenít as many dishonest people in the world as we imagined. I do have to let you know that I wasnít getting that many responses from students until you all started emailing me. Iím not sure if it was you all or if it was actual students, but thanks for your commitments to making sure no one will get away with something so immoral. I will be wrapping up my thesis in a few weeks and then the site will be gone.
    Thanks, The Algebra Tutor
  • My next e-mail: Before ceasing my efforts....
    ...First, I showed your reply to several colleagues...they did not believe your claims, in that they were in line with several of the e-mails sent to you.
    ...Second, you have not identified yourself....saying "The Algebra Tutor" is of little value.
    ...Third, can you tell me the name of the university you are attending...and the name of your major advisor for this dissertation study. If said person (via a response to an e-mail from myself) can confirm your study, then I will curtail my requests that you be sent multiple e-mails.
    ...Fourth, this could have all have been avoided if you had responded to my earlier e-mail; I first wrote to you, with no response over a week's time. So I proceeded with further action, as I take mathematics education, honesty, and integrity very seriously.
    ...Fifth, are you aware that what you are doing is illegal in a PayPal environment (and possibly e-bay as well)...study or no study?
    Jerry Johnson
  • And her final resposne: I don't have to explain myself to you or anyone else. Continue to waste your time if need be.
Given the negative tone of the last e-mail (unlike any dissertation student I have worked with), I decided to "continue to waste" my time in her eyes....This is my New "Math War"!

Since that last e-mail, I have asked Mike Shaughnessy, NCTM President, to send an e-mail...which he did. And now he is passing the matter unto the NCTM Excecutive Board.

Also, I know that many of you sent e-mails, as you sent me copies. Some of you even protested to ebay/PayPal. Thanks for your help.... yet, I am again asking for your help, assuming you agree that the offer is objectionable. Please send "Selena1Powell" a concerned note! In fact, ask your colleagues (and students) to do so as well....to the address powell3t@gmail.com.

With all of your help in this new "math war," we may have some positive impact, let alone continue to clog her mail box so students (those looking for an easy route) can not contact her.