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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/20/19

I'm Shocked -- Shocked! -- that Wealthy Parents Love Their Kids Too

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Georgetown University campus from the Key Bridge 2006
Georgetown University campus from the Key Bridge 2006
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In the film version of Forrest Gump (but not, if memory serves, in the novel), Forrest's mother tries to convince the local elementary school principal that her son belongs at his local elementary school rather than at an institution for what we would now call "special needs" students. The two reach an understanding on Mrs. Gump's remarkably squeaky bed while Forrest waits on the front porch.

That scene popped to mind uninvited in early March when fifty parents, test administrators, and college sports coaches were indicted in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

Coaches allegedly took bribes to accept students as fake athletic recruits to get around academic standards. Test prep services supposedly taught students how to cheat on tests and bribed proctors to smooth the way for the cheating. An "admissions consultant," William Singer, is accused of orchestrating the scheme to the tune of $25 million.

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None of which, obviously, is According to Hoyle.

I'm surprised, though, at the vitriol directed at the parents in particular.

I suspect most movie viewers empathized with the fictional Mrs. Gump, who did whatever she felt she had to do to secure the best education possible for her child.

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Real-life parents like actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman the two most famous of the indicted parents did whatever they felt they had to do to secure the best educations possible for their children as well.

The difference, of course, is that the fictional Mrs. Gump was poor, while Loughlin and Huffman are wealthy.

The public heartburn over Loughlin and Huffman seems less about them bribing their kids into good schools than about them being able to AFFORD to bribe their kids into good schools.

Suppose the scandal had unfolded in a different way. What if, instead of rich people writing checks they could afford, it was working class parents scraping together money they really couldn't afford, or trading menial work or even sexual favors a la Mrs. Gump, for illicit "admissions assistance?"

In that alternative scenario, I suspect most would regard the parents as victims, not as evil-doers.

In that alternative scenario, I expect that most parents could see themselves doing exactly the same things in the same circumstances.

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"Let me tell you about the very rich," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. "They are different from you and me." True. But not when it comes to loving their children. I won't condemn them for that.

 

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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5 people are discussing this page, with 10 comments


Neal Herrick

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How about the implicit assumption in the news stories about college corrupton that being able to hit hard and run fast is a legitimate qualification for admission to a university? Actually, it is no more a valid qualification than having rich parents.

College admissions are corrupt largely because of the money made by the TV sports networks who live off the unpaid services of "student athletes". It would go a long way towards cleaning up Div, 1 and Div, 2 admissions to do away with athletic scholarships (as Ralph Nader proposes). I don't think you'll find much corruption among the 350 or so Div. 3 NCAA colleges (known in the trade as the "learning colleges). NCAA rules assure amateur sport programs in Div, 3 by prohibiting athletic scholarships.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019 at 7:17:55 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Reply to Neal Herrick:   New Content

Don't forget the money made by the schools on those student athletes. A quick check says that the school where my wife works -- the University of Florida -- brought in nearly $73 million in football revenue in 2012. And it did so in part by crawling up on top of a pile of the broken bodies of players who hopefully got an education out of it at least, because they didn't make the NFL (or didn't last long there before getting badly injured) and probably have permanent physical and brain damage from their unpaid work.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019 at 8:22:24 PM

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shad williams

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There is another implicit assumption Neal, if one has enough money you can hire a bunch of slaves to entertain you...yes there are implicit contradictions in that statement.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 5:33:38 PM

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Maxwell

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This topic is getting far more coverage than it deserves. I will say that cheating their kids into elite colleges they don't necessarily have the ambition or aptitude to succeed in is a poor way to show love in multiple ways.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019 at 7:34:14 PM

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Oh, I agree that it's a poor way of showing love.


But that's still what it is an attempt to do, at least in most cases.


I suppose it's possible that these parents were doing it to burnish their own reputations rather than out of love for their kids ("see, _I_ have a kid who got into _Harvard_"), but I would bet against that, since they could just as easily have used their influence to swing some TV or movie roles for their offspring or whatever.


I'm going to go ahead and predict that we will see the alternative scenario I mention in the article. As this thing busts more open, some of the same players at the schools will be found to have used their admissions influence to get money from people not nearly as wealthy, and sex or menial labor from people without much money at all, in return for their kids getting in.

Submitted on Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019 at 8:18:45 PM

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shad williams

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Yes the coverage is almost sociopathic.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 5:35:42 PM

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shad williams

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"In that alternative scenario, I expect that most parents could see themselves doing exactly the same things in the same circumstances.

"Let me tell you about the very rich," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. "They are different from you and me."

True. But not when it comes to loving their children. I won't condemn them for that."

Hmmm. Sounds like immoral equivalence and a silent approving nod to breeders.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 5:43:28 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Hmmm. Sounds like gibberish with no discernible meaning.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 6:39:14 PM

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Gene Engene

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To a certain extent, this is not a new phenomenon. Let us not forget the 'Legacy' programs, mostly at the 'elite' private schools. That is, that the children of alums of those schools are given preferential treatment, because those alums donate a new wing on the library, or medical school, or law school, or build a brand new physical 'education' facility, or a huge new dorm for entering students. And - they also pay full, four year tuition up front., which also, by the way, earns them a discount, and a way to avoid any raises in tuition over that four year period. The most recent, well-known example is probably G.W. Bush, who was given 'gentleman's Cs' in many of his classes at Yale. And he wasn't even much of an athlete, as his father was.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 6:58:31 PM

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All true -- there are various "legitimate" ways for the rich to buy their way into schools.


I suppose I don't really care that much about the "private" universities, except to the extent that they do accept government money -- lots of it -- and thereby bind themselves to some standards on fair admissions.


The "public" universities especially I would like to see more strictly bound to either "everyone who wants to go can go," or else some kind of neutral merit system that's hard to cheat or game.


But really, none of that was what I was trying to get across. My point was that I don't find it scandalous that ANY parent would take advantage of ANY chance to advance their kids' educations and careers.


The rich have more options for doing so, which raises other questions, but the MOTIVATION hopefully comes from the same place as the parent who takes an extra job to cover community college tuition for his or her kid. So I'm not especially angry with e.g. Huffman and Loughlin like I am with the non-parents who created this cheat ring.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019 at 7:21:08 PM

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