Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and the host of a nationally syndicated weekend show on the Talk Radio Network. Show More

When it comes to the widening SAT cheating scandal, the law may be the easy part -- far easier than confronting all the academic fallout.

Can the cheating be proven? Was it a crime? Have prosecutors fingered the right kids?

Answer those questions yes, yes and yes -- and some of those 20 promising young Long Islanders could soon conceivably be trading classroom semesters for lockup time.

The defendants fall into two distinct categories: Fifteen students from good Nassau County high schools -- Great Neck North and others -- are accused of sending in impersonators to take the SAT or ACT for them. And five college-age brainiacs allegedly charged $300 to $3,600 for the unauthorized help.

The numbers could easily grow as the students start talking to authorities. Several of their lawyers are already hinting that the cheating is more widespread than is already known. And Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota is asking superintendents to make sure no kids in his county had similar send-in-the-ringer ideas.

But whatever happens at the Mineola courthouse, the effects on the academic world could be far-reaching and profound.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

If cheating's this easy and college that important, why should it be limited to one affluent swatch of Nassau's North Shore? Aren't high school seniors under pressure everywhere?

And if the cheating charges are proven, the colleges these kids attend will be under huge pressure to expel them. Anything less wouldn't be fair to the cheaters' honest classmates.

Honest students from Long Island may be the biggest victims of all. When their friends at Harvard, Yale or Slippery Rock State hear where they went to high school, isn't a single, unfair comment inevitable? "Oh. Yeah. We know how you got here."



1. "What are those birds so angry about, anyway?

2. "Nook, Fire, iPad -- the only missing word is Book."

3. "This year, you can even buy your bricks and mortar on line."

4. "Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday -- hey, doesn't Sunday have a name?"

5. "Care for some pepper spray with that?"

advertisement | advertise on newsday



You hear that Danny Meyer is bringing his burger-centric Shake Shack to Westbury in late 2012? Given the crowds at the Manhattan originals, you might want to start lining up now . . . What other historic treasures lie behind all that ugly vinyl siding? That hidden 1860s facade at a Riverhead group home can’t be the only under-vinyl gem . . . Does it count as “occupying” the Smith Haven Mall when 100 protesters stand with signs outside?



advertisement | advertise on newsday

Here at last: "This Time of Year," The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, http://tinyurl.com/tiludrop



Last week, we tried to protect you. Protect you from losing your precious family time to expanding store hours. Protect you from Black Friday door-buster sales that flew off the hinges on Thursday night. We failed at all of that. Utterly. So the least we can do is say, "Thank you." I hope you made lots of money this weekend. (Unlikely.) I hope the shoppers were all cheery and polite. (Unlikely.) I hope that next year's round-the-clock, post-Thanksgiving shopping schedule will shrink -- not expand. (Impossible!)

Email ellis@henican.com
Follow on Twitter @henican