When the news of the college admissions scandal hit my phone, I, like everyone else was intrigued and sadly not that shocked.
I live in Silicon Valley, my middle child was a scholarship student at one of the top private schools in the area. So the concept of rich parents purchasing their children's way into college was not a new concept to neither her nor I.
Don't get me wrong I found it to be as disturbing as everyone else. It was another disgusting form of elitism. I had been dealing with this in some form or another ever since my daughter had started to go to private school. Her four years in high school gave me a front-row seat to the disparities between the classes.
America's Unbalanced Playing Field
The United States doesn't have an "official" caste system, but we definitely have an unofficial one. It shows up in so many areas of our everyday life, that we don't even know it's there. It presents itself in the way we go about our lives such as the lengths we go to throw a birthday party for our children, the kinds of vacations families take, it's even more than obvious on Instagram. This elitism even creeps into how our children build their careers.
Take unpaid internships, for example, they are a wonderful stepping stone on the career path of a young college students choice. It can open doors that have been jammed shut for many. But what we don't pay attention to, is, the students who qualify but can't afford to take one.
For most of these students, they have bills at home to pay. Student loans and college payments to manage. In some cases, they have families to support. Being able to work for free is a luxury that the wealthy and upper middle-class take for granted. But the poor and the middle-class know is more often than not out of their reach.
The problem with this kind of division is, it creates another pothole on an already imbalanced playing field.
It is situations like this that highlight the obvious disparities between the classes. It illustrates how lopsided the opportunities are for low income and middle-class students.
Many of those who were involved could have walked past you and me on the street and we would have never taken notice but in their circles, they were very important. A lot were coaches, teachers, college prep instructors, and lest we forget; parents.
Obviously, the two most notable people are Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Unless you live under a rock you either know their names or have seen something they were in. At one time they were our Aunt Becky or a poor beaten down housewife that we could relate to on a weekly basis.
What felt the most shocking for myself and the people I have talked to is the weird kinship we had with the above actresses.
Over the years they have presented themselves as, above the fray kinds of individuals. You have never heard anything negative about them. When they are spoken about in the media it is always positive. They come across as everyday people who just managed to get lucky. They do not flaunt their wealth like a Kardashian, they do not grab media attention like Justin Bieber. They are as close to regular people with awesome jobs as most celebrities get.
And this is why it was so shocking-
Aunt Becky?!!?!?! The sweet, upbeat reporter with got to marry Uncle Jessie? "Have Mercy!"
Lynette Scavo ?!?! The overworked and undervalued stay at home mom?
They were so relatable that we felt let down. No one was surprised when some tech guy from the Bay area got caught, or the wine guy from Napa; their duplicity was expected. We were definitely thrown off guard when these lovely ladies names got thrown it to the ring.
How they handled it - Lori vs Felicity
I had expected to hear a plea of guilty from both so I was not surprised when Felicity stepped forward and said -
Felicity Huffman issues an apology over college admissions case
"I am pleading guilty to the charge brought against me by the United States Attorney's Office.
I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions.
I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.
My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions, and in my misguided and profoundly wrong way, I have betrayed her. This transgression toward her and the public I will carry for the rest of my life. My desire to help my daughter is no excuse to break the law or engage in dishonesty."
her issuance of an apology and the fact that she took responsibility for her actions seemed to be what we had expected of her. It didn't negate the fact that she had done a terrible thing. Nor take away the fact that she had never thought about the far-reaching consequences for the families that got looked over because of her actions. But she seemed to genuinely accept her part and the upcoming punishment.
Now Lori, on the other hand, decided to not accept responsibility for her and her husbands part in the scandal and instead they both chose to plead not guilty.
These two choices, I'm sure where not black and white and had a lot of legal advice behind it. But for the common man, none of the mitigating circumstances seemed to matter.
It was night and day. One woman was willing to stand up and own her part in the undermining of an educational institution. Another woman boldly refused to admit her defeat regardless of how she looked to those she had harmed.
Lori Loughlin pleads not guilty in her first response to the college admissions scam
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to two conspiracy charges in the college admissions scandal, according to federal court filings entered Monday.
They also waived their right to appear in court for an arraignment on a money laundering charge, according to the signed documents.
To all of the families out there whose children were denied entrance into one the schools caught up in this, Lori and her husbands reason why does not and will never matter. All it is; is a slap in the face. This decision reeks of privilege, just the fact that they can be caught dead to rights and then, with a straight face say they didn't do it, screams of the all mighty dollar.
Their privilege isn't so much color, which has a part in this but it speaks more to how removed from most peoples everyday life they are. I can hazard a guess that they don't understand why this is coming down the way it is. For them, this is how it's done. If you can afford to do it, you move forward with the action regardless of how reprehensible it is.
The ends justify the means......
How It Affects Your Family & Mine
Do I know for a fact that this particular scandal has directly affected my daughters' inability to get into the college of her choice? Absolutely not, but it's not just about my daughter.
If there is one thing we know for a fact it's that because of their actions someone's child missed out.
There are children out there who worked their asses off, did everything they were told to do, missed out on many high school rights of passage, so that they could have a shot at the college of their dreams. And this most definitely shot those dreams to hell. Sadly we will never know who these children are, I'm sure the colleges if they really wanted to, could find out who they passed over. But only if they wanted to. And that's what makes it all the more sad. I highly doubt the colleges look at their admissions and extend the missed opportunities to the actual deserving parties.
I have spoken to my daughter and I don't know what's more disturbing; the fact that she sees this as just something that happens or the fact that for all I know these types of backdoor moves could possibly be the reason why she didn't get into a college of her choice.
Because let's be honest this is only the tip of the iceberg, this isn't the first time nor will it be the last time it happens.
Ever since she was little and I mean a little girl. Roughly five or six, she had always spoken about going to Stanford. I was never sure where that came from but that's where she wanted to go.
She tested into a special immersion school early for kindergarten. Dealt with a move across the country with grace. Kept her grades up even as she was settling in. Managed to be at the top of her class while I couldn't seem to get my shit together. Took another move in stride while once again still managing to get good grades. Skipped 5th grade altogether. She had turned 10 when she entered the 6th grade and wouldn't turn 11 until the tail end of the school year. But she weathered this with humor and fortitude. In 8th grade, she managed to earn herself a coveted spot at one of the top high schools in not only the bay area but also the country.
She knew she would be going into a predominantly White, incredibly wealthy environment but she jumped in feet first. Not only was it a culture shock but it was her first experience with wealth and privilege. Even though she had been dealing with it her whole life, like most people. This was the first time it was blatantly obvious.
Everything was different, what the children valued, how the children were valued. For most, money was a side conversation, not the whole conversation, as it had been her whole life so far. Her school was full of entrepreneurs, wannabe actors, actresses, musicians, engineers, STEM kids, app developers, a concert pianist. Was that different than public schools in the more economically challenged areas? Absolutely not but what made the difference was the money. The kids at her new school had access to it in ways that the friends she had left couldn't even imagine. With that money came opportunity, a level of opportunity most kids and parents couldn't even fathom.
She made friends with children of Billionaires, pro ball players, diplomats, tech giants and all around wealthy elite. She learned how to play the game and she also learned that when you have money you have schools that afford you so many more opportunities that public schools could never have.
She also learned the struggle of trying to keep up with children that had spent their lives with access to the best education tools available. Previously she was used to being the smartest kid in the room and now she was middle of the pack. All those years of private schools and tutors that these children had access to, had given them an advantage that was hard to compete with. But still, she never gave up.
She never took her eyes off the prize what she forgot to factor in was that the prize had been moved. It had been moved by wealthy parents willing to go to any length to get their average child into a school they would have never gotten in to on their own merits.
Even though she was very aware of the fact that these parents routinely bought their children seats in colleges, she had become accustomed to the obvious ways that it was done.
For Example -
Build a library; your child gets into school. donate a ridiculous amount of money; not so smart Stewie gets to be an incoming freshman. Slap your family name on a brand new set of dorms and that daughter who never wanted to go to college is on her way.
But this scandal was a way of doing it that the majority of us never knew about. It was a new set of rules for the wealthy that the rest of us could never compete with. It has left us wondering where our children's' place in higher education really is. How low on the totem pole are they? In order to get into college these kids have so many hoops to jump through and to top it off, and then this situation happens. It leaves many feeling angry and despondent.
Here are My Questions To You
1. How far would you go for your child?
2. Should college be this difficult to get into? Shouldn't a child's dream and hard work be enough to guarantee them a seat at the table?
How would you change the college admissions system, if you could?
I really want to hear back from you, I'm not doing this just because I love the sound of my own voice :)