Tuesday morning I woke up, made some coffee, and tossed a bagel into the toaster before turning on CNN as I ate my breakfast and got ready for a day of writing, editing, and podcasting.
Dominating the news most of the morning was the story of the now 50 people who have been indicted in a cheating scam centered around SAT and ACT scores.
That list includes two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite Universities, one college administrator and thirty-three parents, according to US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling.
According to CNN, the allegations involve Hollywood celebrities, co-chairman of a global legal firm, a fashion designer, elite college coaches, college prep administrators, and other wealthy individuals.
It also allegedly involves prestigious institutions such as Georgetown, Wake Forest, Stanford, University of Southern California, UCLA and Yale.
The long and short of it is that these people paid a man named William Rick Singer. Some, like actress Lori Laughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are said to have paid a half million dollars to get their two daughters into USC, purportedly to be on the crew team.
The only problem is they never participated in crew.
The scheme had two parts, the first was allegedly paying other people to take the tests for their kids, paying proctors to administer private tests or paying someone in the college prep offices to modify test scores to predetermined numbers.
According to the article, the parents would pay Miller and Miller would pay a handful of test proctors and others within the system to get the scores where they needed to be. One proctor was paid to fly from Tampa to West Hollywood to administer the test for the daughter of actors Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy.
Not mentioned in the article, but talked about extensively on CNN this morning is the fact that Miller is alleged to have had the parents take their kids to therapists to get letters saying the child has a learning disability and needs both extra time and to take the test in private. This allowed the proctors on Miller’s payroll time alone with the students as they took the test.
The other part of the scheme involved setting up fake athletic profiles so the students looked like legitimate college level athletes. Miller or someone on his staff would then contact coaches at the school the parents wanted their child to go to and arrange payments in exchange for the coach giving the student a spot on the team to get them in the door. Yet, once enrolled at the school they never participated in any intercollegiate sports activities.
To me, the ins and outs of the scheme are mostly irrelevant. What concerns me most about this is the example these people, not just the parents, are setting for the kids involved.
The reality is that these kids are learning that if they have money they can be subpar at what they do (in this case being a high school student) and money will bail them out and get them what they want.
I have a twenty-one-year-old daughter and she was accepted to several schools, none of them was anywhere close to elite, though all were good schools that have big name alumni.
Never would I have even considered anything close to what is happening here. Even if I did have the money, which I don’t.
If I bought my daughter’s way into a school that she’s not equipped to handle educationally, what lesson does that teach her? It tells her that her grades or test scores weren’t good enough, but it’s OK because daddy will buy her way into whatever school she wants.
This is NOT a lesson we should teach our kids.
The next thing to think about is what happens when the child starts doing poorly at their university, because, as just mentioned, they didn’t meet the admission standards and thus may struggle greatly with classes.
Will mom and dad try to buy good grades from the professors? We don’t know.
What I do know is that this is a whole new form of entitlement for the wealthy and gives extremely unfair disadvantages to the student of parents with average to below average incomes whose students might have been able to make it into the school on their own.
Finally, let’s not forget about the people not mentioned in the story but impacted just as much as anyone else, if not more.
Athletic teams are assigned so many enrollment slots each year by the school. Each slot that is filled by one of the students that cheated their way into the elite university is a student athlete who won’t get the chance to compete for that school.
They’re the collateral damage in this disgusting scheme and yet, they worked hard enough both athletically and academically to get into that school, only to be left on the bench in favor of someone who didn’t achieve the same things they did.
Where this goes only the Department of Justice and the court system knows for sure. What is known is that a lesson has been taught to a large number of children.
Wealth should not buy you what you want, including an education you don’t deserve.
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