It wasn’t long into Mary Summerall’s semester at Deerton High School when she began to suspect that her students were cheating. The history teacher, a firm believer in lecturing and rote memorization, noticed that some of her students were suddenly making 95-100% on their history tests, when the usual average was around 50-60%.

“That’s when I started looking closely at their essay answers,” says Summerall. “The kids knew things that they shouldn’t have known, and their answers were written in an archaic style and meter. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but I had to admit that the kids were drawing upon forbidden ancient knowledge.”

Not until a few weeks later, when Summerall caught one of her seniors in the act, did she realize how they were doing it. The boy had brought an Ouija board into school, and was receiving test answers from the spirit world–from the restless shades of those who actually lived through the historical events on the test.

“After that, I started finding Ouija boards all over the place,” Summerall says. “In desks, in backpacks, and some of the kids even had miniature ones that they taped into their textbooks. I don’t know how I’m supposed to teach in an environment like this!”

Eventually, Deerton High was able to solve the problem by having the class take their tests in another classroom, supervised by the School Resource Ghostbuster, Officer Winkeganz. But with only one SRG per school, and with them preoccupied with random locker exorcisms and manning the school’s possession detectors, Summerall and her principal know the solution is not scalable. “We’re just waiting for the other shoe to fall, and for kids to start communing with Sir Isaac Newton for help with their calculus homework,” said Deerton’s principal, Dr. Louine Tulnitz. “It’s going to be a huge problem.”

Critics say that Deerton is just one of many schools struggling with widespread availability of spirit guides and the Ouija boards to communicate with them. While old-fashioned seances used to take hours, with no guarantee of success, newer Ouija boards designed to take advantage of advanced Apparition Intelligence are far faster and far easier to use. And while defenders of spectral assistance–sometimes derisively labeled “specbros”–insist that it is a liberating and morally neutral technology, many disagree.

“I just want the soul of my ancestor to rest in peace,” said Li Jiangjiang, a 132nd-generation lineal descendant of Confucius, upon learning that her forebear had been contacted by a Syracuse junior high student for assistance on a paper for an ethics class. “It’s really disrespectful.”

“It’s just a moral panic,” countered Apparition Intelligence enthusiast and self-proclaimed specbro Luke Mons. “People said the same thing about literacy when it was invented, complained that it was ruining people’s ability to memorize things.” Mons, who is in the process of writing a novel with the assistance of Edgar Allen Poe and Ernest Hemingway, also noted that there was no reason for the specters to be truthful when contacted by Ouija: “They can lie, cheat, mislead, and play practical jokes while dead just as much as they could alive,” he says.

Nevertheless, Deerton and a number of other schools have banned Ouija boards in classrooms due to fears of cheating. Mons, reacting to this, said that competing products like China’s Zhānbǔ board and the Russian Uidzha would simply lap Western products and become impossible to ban, restrict, or control. “The genie is out of the bottle, and it’s granting wishes to everyone who wants answers for their history test,” says Mons. “No amount of ghostbusting is going to change that.”

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