I’m a long-time fan of the TV show Full House. But I'm not surprised that Aunt Becky is in big trouble–but my lack of surprise has nothing to do with Aunt Becky.
As you no doubt know, Lori Loughlin, Aunt Becky on Full House, is one of the celebrities indicted in the college entrance cheating scandal. Loughlin and her husband allegedly paid $500,000 to get their daughters admitted to USC, as crew recruits. A sport in which neither girl actually participated.
Why am I not surprised by the scandal? Because, as an educator; I am well acquainted with parents who are all too willing to cross the line to help their children. So let Aunt Becky stand—if she can—as a symbol, for the numerous parents who are willing to skirt the rules to benefit their children (supposedly), often at the expense of other people’s children. Loughlin and the other celebrities involved in the scandal are deluxe editions of a phenomenon I see all the time as an educator.
You don’t actually have to have a lot of cash to break the rules to give your child an unfair advantage. It can be as simple as signing off on a reading log, although you know your child spend the time claimed. Because after all, they were out so late at a soccer game; and elementary age students shouldn’t be required to do homework anyway. Or calling the school office to excuse an absence when your child wasn’t really sick. Just up late gaming.
In high school, it can mean allowing your child to withdraw from a course mid semester; because your child isn’t willing to put in the effort it takes, and just wants to enjoy her senior year. This may not seem to have much of an effect on other students. (Though it can teach them that quitting is ok, that making a commitment means very little and that she is not required to see it through.)
At my high school, classes are perfectly balanced according to enrollment numbers. Class size matters, because it is harder for teachers to give personal attention to individual students, or for teachers to manage student behavior when classes are larger. For example, it’s not ideal to have a section of Algebra 2 with 15 students, followed by a section with 30—because students “like” want to change sections. In have had students request to change math sections, because they don’t like having academic classes first thing in the school day. Or because they want to be in the same section as their boyfriends.
One semester, we actually had 3 students enrolled in AP Statistics; who upon meeting their match academically and realized they didn't want to work as hard as the course demanded. Requested a mid semester transfer to another course. Suddenly, they claimed they were really C students who didn't belong in AP Statistics. The school denied the transfer, arguing that the students had been properly vetted and were in reality perfectly capable of doing the work. However, upon producing doctors' notes stating that a transfer was necessary due to “extreme anxiety,” the school had no real choice but to allow them to drop the AP class. Public schools, are understandably fearful of ruinous lawsuits. Schools are rarely willing to challenge a medical doctor, demanding this or that accommodation. It’s too costly. Pushy parents willing to doctor shop, are all too able to find docs who will accommodate them.
The college entrance scam was detrimental to other qualified USC applicants who were turned away to make room for impostors. The college cheating scandal is exceptional, but the reality that there are all too many parents willing to flout the rules on behalf of their kids; cheating on a smaller level is unfortunately all too common. I know because I see it.