In truly unexpected news, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, along with dozens of largely unknown people of wealth plus college athletic coaches, were indicted for their roles in a college admissions conspiracy.
Their charges include conspiracy to commit mail fraud, honest services mail fraud, while William “Rick” Springer, the mastermind and contact, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
The fraud consisted of cheating on SAT/ACT tests and lying about students’ athletic history by claiming they had an athletic record which would allow them to be recruited for a college team.
I’m not surprised that this level of gaming the system exists, because I am all too aware that the system is already set up to give the children of the wealthy an almost insurmountable advantage.
These children’s advantage start almost from the moment they are born. Their mothers can either stay home with them or pay for quality child care, which is no small thing in this day and age.
Private preschools lead to private elementary schools or, if it is a public school, it is one in an area where the school is well-funded.
Having the ability to move to an area with quality schools is a decided advantage. Wealthy parents can pay for numerous extra-curricular activities, tutors and standardized test coaches.
They can pay to have the necessary testing done to have their children given extra time and/or special testing accommodations, when they take those all-important tests.
They also are more likely to have graduated from a prestigious university, which means their children are regarded as legacies and given preference. None of this is illegal.
It’s one reason I don’t understand why these parents and coaches broke the law in order to give their children yet another advantage.
Yes, I understand wanting the best for your children, but how does buying your child a place at a university do that, especially if your child isn’t academically qualified, and will struggle?
Not only that, but if your child finds out how they got in, wouldn’t they wonder why mom and dad didn’t have faith in their ability?
Worst of all, these students will have missed out on the chance to weather possible disappointment, resulting in the kind of modern adult we decry as being unable to cope with life’s inevitable setbacks.
I have seen some try to defend the actions of the parents, stating they were only trying to help their children. This makes me nauseous.
These same people applaud the jailing of parents who lied about their residence in order to place their children in a better school than the one they were zoned to, and even more appalling, gleefully support separating parents who sought asylum in the United States from their children.
They also think cutting funding for programs through the Department of Education that benefit the economically disadvantaged is just fine.
This type of short-sighted behavior means that we are willing to perpetuate an aristocratic system which runs counter to everything our forefathers fought for in the War for Independence.
It means that we are willing to turn our back on the idea of our country being a meritocracy.
It means we are failing our best and brightest, who might not be able to get the education which would allow them to achieve.
I hope this high-profile case gives college admissions and parents alike something to think about, then it can result in meaningful change.
I personally don’t think athletes should be given preference for admission to an educational institution.
The damage the emphasis on athletics has done to colleges is a topic for another day, but here we see one big downside to it.
The take-away for the helicopter and snow-plow parents out there should be let your children grow and mature, and deal with setbacks and disappointments. They’ll be the better for it.
CHRISTINE BARR is an educator, mother of four and former Henry County resident who now resides in Texas. Her email address is email@example.com.