Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you have seen this college admissions scandal play out across your newsfeed. When I first saw the likes of Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin among some 50 other wealthy parents being accused of cheating to get their kids into elite universities, I promptly rolled my eyes and moved on. I think it’s fair to say that most of us are not very shocked that there are parents willing use their money and social status to take full advantage of an already unfair system setup in their favor. However, as the details began to roll out about to what extent these parents went, I think the shock and anger quickly grew among the masses, myself included.
The college admissions process can be a high stakes, anxiety causing endeavor for any parent. And I can totally understand wanting to do everything in your power to ensure that your child has access to every possible advantage. Call me naive but never did I imagine that while I am trying to fight fair other parents would actually lie, cheat and steal to game the system for their child to get the upper hand.
I was having trouble believing what I was reading as I scanned my social media feeds, so I took it upon myself to read the affidavit filed on Tuesday. According to the affidavit, a man named William “Rick” Singer used bribery and fraud to secure admissions to elite universities such as Yale, UCLA and Stanford for kids from wealthy families. But here is the part that made me seethe with anger… clients were “instructed to seek extended time for their children on college entrance exams … including by having the children purport to have learning disabilities in order to obtain the [necessary] medical documentation…”
Once the extended time was granted to the student, parents were told to request testing at specific locations that were “controlled” by Singer with bribed test administrators that allowed test to be corrected or for proxies to take the test in place of the student pretty much guaranteeing ACT and SAT scores that would secure spots at prestigious universities. As Singer so eloquently puts it, “All the wealthy families that figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test. So most of these kids don’t even have issues, but they’re getting time. The playing field is not fair.”
“All the wealthy families that figured out that if I get my kid tested and they get extended time, they can do better on the test. So most of these kids don’t even have issues, but they’re getting time. The playing field is not fair.”
Excuse me while steam explodes from my head. WTF?!?!
As a mom of 2 black boys with learning disabilities, I am outraged. And yes, this is personal for me because I have both literally and figuratively banged my head on a wall out of frustration more times than I care to count. I have cried buckets of tears, questioned my parenting abilities and literally screamed out for help. I lose sleep fretting over how to communicate with teachers and school administrators and what else I can do to support my kids and be sure their needs are being accommodated. I am highly offended and angered that someone would use a fabricated learning disability to offer their privileged child yet another door to undeserved advantages when I feel I have to fight for my boys to get justifiable access.
There are thousands upon thousands of parents like me who struggle, advocate and fight for their kids with learning disabilities day in and day out to get the accommodations they need just to have equal footing with other students. And there are so many children that feel stigmatized, labeled and often want to hide the fact that they have a learning disability.
So to the parents that have the audacity to illegally take advantage of a system that parents of children with actual learning disabilities struggle with…How dare you!!!
How dare you make people question the validity of these very needed accommodations!
How dare you undermine what parent of kids with learning disabilities fight for every day for our kids!
How dare you turn our daily struggle into an advantage you can pay for as if it is some commodity that can be traded off when it no longer serves you!
How dare you!
And I know I am not the only one feeling angered, betrayed or disappointed.
I write this for every parent that has ever felt defeated after sitting in a meeting with teachers, counselors and/or administrators. For the parents whose stomachs drop when they see the school calling in the middle of the day.
This is for every parent that has fretted over what to do, what to ask for or what to say to get what their child needs. For every parent that has had to struggle with whether they should hold their kid back a grade or change schools or maybe has even gotten to the point where traditional school is no longer a safe or supportive environment.
I write this for parents that have spent hours and hours on the phone with insurance companies asking questions and arguing over benefits. For parents that have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on therapist, tutors and specialist to help your child feel successful.
I write this for every parent that has had to convince their child they are not stupid or less than. For every parent that has comforted their child while they cried tears of frustration, anger or disappointment. For every parent that has wanted to give up out of pure frustration.
And this is especially for the parents that have gotten the point where they feel as if college may not really be a viable option for their child.
Maybe it isn’t necessary to take this so personally, but I fear that this college admissions scandal could undermine the needs of students with learning disabilities. Moreover, it makes me feel as if everything I am doing for my boys is in vain and won’t make any difference. But as a parent of kids with actual learning disabilities, I don’t get the luxury of walking away from their diagnosis or giving up and my kids don’t get the luxury of living a life unaware of their challenges or perceived shortcomings. So yes, I am outraged, and I think every parent of a kid with a learning disability has a right to be.
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and four step-kids…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper and founder of The Mom Forum.
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