The earth-shattering, social media-rocking news about filthy rich people buying their children admissions into big-time universities sent me into a tailspin and not for the obvious reasons.
As someone who vehemently believes in the power of a family’s right to choose the school that best fits their child, my anger from yesterday’s news targeted the privileged parents who work like hell to protect an education system created to benefit their children. I simply had no desire to hear from privileged public school parents, who loudly detest choice, fix their mouths to decry wealthier versions of themselves.
Reading social media posts dripping with righteous indignation, I couldn’t help but think how awful it must be to get this far in one’s privilege only to discover that privilege has no ceiling and in the grand scheme of things you’re actually closer to the floor. That you bought a house in the best neighborhood with the best public schools only to be one one-upped by parents with the means to purchase the souls of America’s most prestigious universities. That with all the exposure, elite tutoring, and enrichment you provided, there are premier public educational institutions still out of your reach because “people with more” stole your child’s spot using cold hard cash as an accomplice.
As I see it, there is little distinction between middle-class parents in the public education space fighting to protect a system that honors and advances privilege and a former Desperate Housewife forking over $15,000 for fake SAT scores. Neither the “pro-public education” parents nor the wealthy college admission buyers are willing to give up even an ounce of privilege, so they do whatever the hell it takes to keep it. It doesn’t matter to the middle-class system protector that the system has failed generations of poor, Black and Brown Americans. It doesn’t faze Aunt Becky that thousands of kids work their asses off to earn what little Becky was gifted.
The system is rigged in favor of those with the greatest means. Just ask the mastermind behind the elaborate bribery ring. That William Singer, the Bribe Whisperer, built a 25 million dollar business on the premise of “help[ing] the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school” is not the thing. The magnificent problem we refuse to acknowledge and change is that from the neighborhood preschool to USC, an excellent education is almost exclusively accessible to the fat check writers. Singer knew it. The parents with the primo zip codes know it.
So let’s stop lying about fighting for an education for those “left behind” by charters and other choice options. Let’s call it what it is, a fight to retain the rights of the haves to keep getting.