Editorial: Privileged cheat education system

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If there is one thing that these volatile times have taught us it is that the powerful will do anything to boost their own status with little regard for the people they crush below them.

And we must not stand for it anymore.

While it is true that many parents will do anything to ensure their child’s success, cheating well-deserving students out of a higher education is not the way to do it.

The college admission scandal has brought attention to some of America’s biggest flaws and exposed the underbelly of a system that poor kids always suspected. The belief that the rich and powerful can pay their way through life while the less fortunate have to fight is one that is reflected in every aspect of our society, from housing to the criminal justice system. The fact that wealthy parents who are caught cheating the system will get off with a slap on the wrist does not come as a surprise but it will embolden others. And the American education system can not go on with this level of blatant favoritism for the privileged.

“A mail and wire fraud are punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years and a fine of not more than $250,000,” states a report by the Congressional Research Service.

Although a maximum sentence of 20 years may seem excessive to some, the sentences given in this case so far are painfully provisional. Most of the parents who pleaded guilty were given sentences ranging from a couple weeks to five months and fines ranged from $9,500 to $250,000.

Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy for paying $15,000 to William “Rick” Singer, the ringleader of the scandal, to have her daughter’s SAT scores altered. Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison, 250 hours of community service and one year of supervised release and was fined $30,000. On top of a miniscule sentence, she was released from prison after only 11 days. Huffman’s husband, actor William Macy, was not charged as an accomplice despite his evidenced knowledge of the crime.

Of the eight universities involved USC, UCLA and UCSD were included. These are universities that participate in transfer fairs at Riverside City College. These billionaires have willfully aided in a culture that cheats students like ours out of their hard earned spots at these universities.

Those with power must not be emboldened to influence an already flawed system to push their own child up the ladder that others struggle to climb to get half as far, often with other responsibilities tied to their backs.

It is even more appalling that the parents involved in the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal “donated” to a fake charity aimed toward helping underprivileged children to give their upper class children a shortcut to prestigious universities while also getting a tax break in exchange for their atrocities.

According to an NBC Bay Area report money from federal fines tends to go to the U.S. Treasury “for general use.” Therefore, none of the money that these high profile parents are guaranteed to contribute to actual resources for students seeking an education.

The guilty should not be let off the hook until they made a demonstrated effort to create an education system that centers on student equity. Education is not a product for the privileged, it is a cornerstone for a thriving democracy and it ought to be treated as such.

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