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Of Helicopters and Snowplows...

Cartoon by Daryl CagleI don’t really know how to feel about the current college cheating scandal. Don’t misunderstand me, the fact that wealthy people can buy their way into or out-of anything makes me angry and sad. I’m more concerned with the students. Lori Laughlin’s you-tube exploding daughters notwithstanding, I wonder how many of the students involved in the scandal knew what their parents were doing.

Having had a little experience being a parent, I know how you ache for your kids when they suffer a disappointment. But the ache usually turns into joy as your kid bounces back, works harder or pivots to something else. A little disappointment is a healthy thing, I think.

The media reports of the scandal talk about “snow plow” parents. You may have heard of “helicopter parents” who hover over their kids watching every move they make. You may have heard of “Tiger Moms” who relentlessly push their children to ALWAYS DO BETTER! “Snow plow” parents push every obstacle out of the way even before the student has a chance to succeed or fail on their own. Apparently Lori Laughlin & her husband and Felicity Huffman & William H. Macy fall into this category. This part really distresses me. I love William H. Macy. He’s got Chicago connections to the St. Nicholas Theater. He’s absolutely shameless in “Shameless” and his character, Jerry Lundegaard, in “Fargo”….brilliant!

Photo courtesy of MGM StudiosWhere was I? Oh yeah, parental overreach! And the plight of the student.

Whether or not the students knew about the scam, apparently, doesn’t matter. “When you fill out an application, you assert the information is accurate and true,” Jim Jump, past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, told Town & Country, a lifestyle magazine. “If you are caught falsifying that, that would put your admission in jeopardy.”

Again according to Town and Country magazine, “parents had to send $200,000 to Singer [William Singer, a key middleman in the scandal] through the Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit he controlled, for each daughter, plus $50,000 per kid to USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel."

So I am back where I started. I feel badly for the students who weren’t involved and have no sympathy for those who knew. I also think that this, at least shallowly, proves the value of a college degree. It’s $250,000 per kid.

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