Parents who use wealth and influence to game the system and get their kids into prestigious universities isn’t new, although the depth and breadth of the latest cheating scandal is really disgusting. As one commentator said, it’s hard to imagine that William Singer, star of the latest scandal, is the only one up to no good. The question is how many more college acceptance scams can be uncovered? And we’re only talking about the scams, not the legal ways people of wealth use influence to give even mediocre students an edge.
It’s hard to tell our kids that cheating is wrong when Trump, his adult kids and his smarmy son-in-law are where they are as a result of systematic cheating. Hard to imagine that Trump got into — or graduated from — Wharton without the financial influence of his father, Fred. Jared Kushner, a mediocre student, got into Harvard on the strength of a big donation from his father, Charles. Now Jared, Mr. Mediocre, is in charge of our Middle East policy. Trump will have a taxpayer funded pension and Secret Service protection for the rest of his life, even though he got where he is by being a more brazen cheat than most.
If we want to tell kids cheating is wrong, we can’t tell them cheating is unsuccessful. We have to talk about other things, like a moral code. I know a lot of people, many of them in Panama, who live by a strong moral code but have threadbare lives. They choose to be good, but they certainly don’t choose to be poor.
I wonder how these privileged kids who got into college via a scam feel about the message from their parents: that they aren’t good enough to get in without someone bending the rules. Or, if they aren’t academically talented enough to get into a top college, they’re not worth much.
Lots more to come on this story, I suspect.