Actually, journalism students at Pittsburg High School in Kansas didn’t have to work all that hard to discover that their incoming principal (salary close to $100,000) had diploma mill degrees. They just did what the people in charge of educating Pittsburg’s high school students couldn’t bother doing: They checked her out online.

“If students could uncover this, I want to know why the adults couldn’t find this,” said their journalism advisor; and in response UD says: Check out the credentials of the people who were supposed to check her out. Public education (with charter schools right behind) is a notorious dumping ground for frauds who bought their degrees. This blog used to cover such cases, but there were so many of them, and they were so redundant in style and content, that I stopped doing that. Now I only cover fun diploma mill stories like this one, where students had to do the work of the the superintendent, and everyone else in Pittsburg pulling down a good salary to do due diligence on behalf of public school students.

Worse, the local superintendent ignorantly and indignantly defended the diploma mill grad… Until he couldn’t anymore, presumably because of the outcry from parents, teachers, and students.

Now it’s a big national story.


… Robertson was unable to produce a transcript confirming her undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa …

UD thanks Janet for sending her this very detailed Washington Post account.

Back when she followed stories like this closely, UD always used to say that you could probably get away with buying or fabricating all of your degrees if you kept your head down. By which UD meant that modest diploma millers, content with anonymous mid-level employment in the military, the fire department, or public ed (America’s three big milltowns), will probably live out their lives quite comfortably, drawing reasonably good salaries on the basis of having spent five thousand dollars on a totally bogus BA and MA. It’s only when they rise enough in the world to merit the slightest degree of vetting (and even there, as the Pittsburg case, pre-journalism students, demonstrates, there probably ain’t gonna be much vetting) that diploma millers run a risk of exposure.

I don’t mean to suggest that America is overrun with diploma mill grads. Pakistan, yes. Saudi Arabia, definitely. Once Hungary finishes pushing Central European University out of that country, it will certainly have made itself a much friendlier home for diploma mill grads.

Most countries are chockful of bogus degree holders, from the president on down, and no one cares. No one in a position of responsibility in the public schools of Pittsburg Kansas cared. But UD will say this: America has fewer bogus degree holders than probably any other country; and America even occasionally unmasks and removes bogus degree holders. That is a remarkable, distinctive, fact about UD‘s homeland.


You just can’t keep a good story down.

And that photo!


Explanatory Update: Why, you ask, has UD said nothing about those other two immense stretches – as far as the eye can see – of American diploma mills?

Why has she not even bothered mentioning here our profuse and hilarious online godbots, grinding out bogus preachers?

Why has she failed to discuss our equally pious high school diploma mills, whose function is to grind out plausible transcripts which allow schools like today’s scandal-plagued darling, the University of North Carolina, to admit their extraordinarily physically fit graduates? He got all A’s at Glorious and Merciful Supreme Master of the Playing Field Prep!

Why should ol’ UD waste time on these structural elements of modern American culture? We couldn’t have Touchdown Jesus without them.

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9 Responses to ““They worked very hard to uncover the truth.””

  1. Alan Allport Says:

    It’s hard to know what stands out most: the school board’s incompetence, or its gracelessness in acknowledging its incompetence.

  2. Greg Says:

    The photo successively breaks, then lifts, my heart . . . Those kids, then Bannon, for example. Homo sapiens — It’s too early to tell, but it’s quickly getting late.

  3. charlie Says:

    maybe it’s just me, but when i want someone to work on my car, wire my house, fix my plumbing, i’d like them to know what the hell they’re doing. maybe have a few years experience, worked an apprenticeship, have a better business bureau imprimatur.

    but this kansas school district hires someone so stupid that they can’t phony up a resume well enough to fool high school kids. it doesn’t seem to matter if dr. robertson is making budget decisions which may cost millions. naw, let’s get some hack that will do just about anything that’s asked of her so that some rich people can get wealthier off the public teat….

  4. Dr_Doctorstein Says:

    About ten years ago my school hired a new chair, an oily schmoozer to whom I took an instant dislike, for the Business Department. I never saw the guy’s vita, but the bio on his personal website, and the college’s sunny PR stories about his hiring, mentioned that he’d published “three books” and “more than 150 articles.” I searched for the books online and found no trace of them. The “articles” turned out to be short posts on a blog run by a small rural state’s chamber of commerce. I brought this up, quite politely, with a colleague in the Business Department, who seemed totally unconcerned. I brought it up, quite politely, with the college president, who seemed mildly concerned and even promised to look into it. Nothing was done. The guy has since been deposed as chair, albeit for reasons that have nothing to do with his “publication inflation.” (Well, I guess one could say he was demoted because of the general dishonesty of which his fake publication record was a symptom.)

  5. JackOH Says:

    Our Podunk Tech has a senior staffer who’s claimed authorship of ten books in a campus we-love-us newsletter. No titles given, no subject matter given. My sleaze-o-meter may need recalibrating, but, given the staffer’s occupation, I’m guessing the “books” he’s written are computer-related documentation required by his job.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dr_D, JackOH: My favorite variety of publication inflation comes from the med school, where faculty members routinely claim hundreds (sometimes thousands) of papers.

  7. Janet Gool Says:

    Can I apply for a position on a university faculty and cite my comments on your blog as “publications”?

  8. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Janet: LOL.

  9. theprofessor Says:

    We have had job candidates, including some at a senior level, who list editorials written to their local papers as “scholarly papers.”

    @Janet: this is coming to certain humanities and social science departments. Just make sure that you are signalling your virtue in an approved manner.

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