Education & Children's Issues

May 1, 2019: Was There Ever A Meritocracy: Thoughts on a Scandal

Posted on May 01, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Lying, cheating, bribery, fraud, money laundering. No, not allegations against the current administration but accusations against about 50 people who have been charged with “conspiracy counts of racketeering “ in the college admissions scandal. These folks were using a so-called “side door” to get their children enrolled in several prominent colleges. Following a pied-piper of sorts who pedaled “college counseling” and a phony charity, families were assured admission to various institutions of higher learning not for good grades, nor superior athletic abilities, nor hours of community service but in exchange for money. Who knew that in America money would be the ultimate “affirmative action”? 

What were these people thinking? What values informed their decisions? On the surface, these families were affluent and connected enough that they could drop $40k to $1.2 million in an attempt to ensure a space for their children. These “contributions” were then used to bribe college testing officials and athletic coaches. Students were often admitted to schools via athletic teams even though most of them had never played that sport. Under the guise of a nonprofit charity, these  contributions were then deducted from the parents? taxes. Why did these parents feel their children deserved admission to these schools, no matter how they got in? Entitlement? White privilege? Perhaps displeasure in seeing other children, maybe less deserving in their eyes, obtain admission to college on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, social class? Were these parents merely “bull-dozing” down perceived obstacles on the path of success for their children? What about the children? Did they know what their parents were doing? Many students do apply for college on their own with some parental assistance but not the lying and cheating these parents displayed. 

What mixed messages did these kids receive? Not smart enough to get in on your  own. Rules don?t apply to us. This is your birthright.

Is this a microcosm of our current society where the end justifies the means? A society with no ethical behavior, no moral compass? Are we witnessing the destruction of yet another institution, purportedly built on trust and honesty, but fixed and rigged from the start and crumbling under the weight of deceit and corruption?

Though the questions abound, the answers seem especially dire.

—Dianna E. Washington, PhD, Chair, Education and Children?s Policy Task Force

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