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I got an email from a student today asking me to do her homework. This is not exactly unusual--the more thoughtful ones provide word counts that I am supposed to hit--but usually they try to be a little more subtle, asking me to "summarize" or "clarify". With the typical conviction of the teenager that adults are total morons who were never young, they expect that I will not recognize the poorly disguised voice of a blurrily photocopied handout peeping out of their request. This one bypassed such subterfuge and threw herself on my mercy.

Having already passed ninth grade, in however desultory a fashion, I find myself unwilling to take on the repeat burden of someone else's homework. I kind of admire the chutzpah of the thing, to be sure, but I am afraid America's students will have to struggle on without my help.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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