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Long Read of the Week (So Far): “They Had It Coming”

Actor Felicity Huffman leaves the federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 3, 2019.

I don’t really remember taking the SATs back in 1962. And I certainly have no idea of my scores. Still, they must have been okay since I got into the University of California and wound up on the Berkeley campus. But if they hadn’t been okay I sure can’t see my father reaching for his highly-limited checkbook and saying, “OK then, what’s the number that will get my kid into that school past all those Asians and other more worthy still people of color.” Instead, I can see him sitting me down at the kitchen table, as he often did, for a full and frank discussion of my failure to attain at least a “B” in everything including woodshop. To paraphrase Dirty Harry, “A man’s gotta know his kids’ limitations.” This fascinating article, written from first-hand knowledge of how demented the parents of kids are, tells the tale of those who just buy kid add-ons until they get the bragging rights they so deeply desire.

They Had It Coming
The parents indicted in the college-admissions scandal were responding to a changing America, with rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs. BY CAITLIN FLANAGAN

At every parent coffee, silent auction, dinner party, Clippers game, book club, and wine tasting, someone is bitching about admissions. And some of these parents, it turns out, haven’t just been bitching; some of them decided to go MAGA.

And so it was that at 5:59 on the morning of March 12 in the sacramentally beautiful section of the Hollywood Hills called Outpost Estates, all was quiet, save for the sounds of the natural world. In the mid-century modern house of a beloved actress—a champion of progressive values, as is her husband—and two lovely daughters, everyone slept. But at the strike of 6:00, there was the kind of unholy pounding at the door that must have sounded more like an earthquake than a visitor: FBI agents, guns drawn, there to apprehend … Felicity Huffman? Felicity “Congress is attempting to eviscerate women’s health care. Like many women across America, I am outraged” Huffman? For the crime of … paying to get her daughter an extra 400 points on the SAT?

Down, down, down she went in the FBI car, in her handcuffs and athleisure, down below Outpost, down below Lake Hollywood, down below the Dolby Theatre where she had been so many times—in a beautiful gown, with her famous husband, William H. Macy, beside her—to watch the Academy Awards, once as a nominee. All the way down to—my God!—the downest place of all: Spring Street. The federal courthouse! This was where Donald Trump was supposed to go, not Felicity Huffman. …

Let’s back up.

Thirty years ago, having tapped out of a Ph.D. program, I moved to Los Angeles (long story) and got hired at the top boys’ school in the city, which would soon become co-educational. For the first four years, I taught English. Best job I’ve ever had. For the next three, I was a college counselor. Worst job I’ve ever had.

Before each meeting, I prepared a list of good colleges that the kid had a strong chance of getting into, but these parents didn’t want colleges their kids had a strong chance of getting into; they wanted colleges their kids didn’t have a chance in hell of getting into. A successful first meeting often consisted of walking them back from the crack pipe of Harvard to the Adderall crash of Middlebury and then scheduling a follow-up meeting to douse them with the bong water of Denison….

I just about got an ulcer sitting in that office listening to rich people complaining bitterly about an “unfair” or a “rigged” system. Sometimes they would say things so outlandish that I would just stare at them, trying to beam into their mind the question, Can you hear yourself? That so many of them were (literal) limousine liberals lent the meetings an element of radical chic. They were down for the revolution, but there was no way their kid was going to settle for Lehigh.

RTWT @ What the College-Admissions Scandal Reveals – The Atlantic

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aggie April 8, 2019, 9:54 AM

    You know, overall it’s a solid article, except for that interminable bias filter that subverts its integrity: …”These parents—many of them avowed Trump haters—are furious …some of them decided to go MAGA”
    Why is it that an avowed Trump-hater, cheating the system and engaging in illegal conspiracy and racketeering, is now defined as ‘going MAGA’? It’s a Trump HATER! And it’s the Trump administration that conducted the investigation and made the arrests! How frustrating and disappointing.….

  • Vanderleun April 8, 2019, 10:17 AM

    Yeah, I know about the filter. Usually I just bypass article salted with TDS but this one had enough going on that putting up with the virtue farting was bearable.

  • Richard April 8, 2019, 10:24 AM

    When did the SAT become such a big deal? I took the ACT as a junior in high school back when the Earth was still cooling. I remember it being an important part of the eventual college admission process, but I never thought of it as being potentially life altering. Then again, I was pretty hopelessly naive way back then. Seems to me this whole thing has devolved into a huge racket with many ancillary players sucking the teats of what I believe to be an entirely created out-of-whole-cloth industry. Odd how progs relentlessly rant about “equality of outcome” for everyone else but them.

  • Rob De Witt April 8, 2019, 12:20 PM

    I actually find the unexamined liberal bias to be the most illuminating factor; Kaitlin Flanagan, like her audience, like the people and situation she so brilliantly writes about, is so deeply infected with her class entitlement that she apparently has no recognition of her own self-exposure in expressing all this stuff. It’s left to the rest of us, the uninvolved, to notice that her pants are being pulled down in public. By herself.

    The whole thing reminds me of nothing so much as the account by an Atlanta police officer of responding to a prowler call at Jane Fonda’s humble shack. Mrs. Turner answered the door with a gun in her hand, and the cop had the presence of mind to point out that he was surprised that such an ardent anti-gun advocate would have such a thing around. Didn’t she believe in strict gun control?

    “Not for us,” she replied, in a tone that made clear the inanity of the question.

    You betcha, Kaitlin. “Not For Us.”

  • Jeff Brokaw April 8, 2019, 12:56 PM

    What Richard said.

    I took the ACT once, with zero prep because only crazy people did that back in 1976 — the score is supposed to reflect what you actually know and remember, is it not?

    I got into the only colleges I applied to. I moved on with my life. The End.

    It really is a type of insanity, what the college admission process has become.

  • John the River April 8, 2019, 1:55 PM

    I remember PSAT’s. The result of those SOB’s was, “John isn’t working up to his potential”. Wailing and moaning did commence. More homework was piled on.
    Idiot that I am, I later took the SAT’s. The result of those was the irrevocable decision to send me to a Liberal Arts College on an AP program. The end product of that decision was (other than finally getting laid) a distaste for the people, environment and attitudes of everyone I met and dropping out. Soon afterward I began a career in Telephone Work. At which I did well, enjoyed doing and retired at 60 after my job was exported to India. Since which I haven’t worked a day. I only wish I could have gone to a technical training school out of High School and greatly accelerated my career path.

  • Richard April 8, 2019, 2:03 PM

    Oh, and one other thing: After thinking about this obsession with GPAs, high SAT scores, and getting into just the right university; I remembered that when I was a student, the vocational technology curricula in high schools had a bit of a stigma associated with them. Something like you weren’t up to the rigor of the college prep curriculum. That was a terrible pejorative then and I hope such thinking has vanished. As I have lived my life some of the brightest, most articulate, and logically thinking people I’ve met were, 1) Pattern Maker, 2) Tool and Die Maker, 3) Master Electrician and 4) Journeyman Machinist. One of the things you will never find in real life is a live/old “stupid” electrician.

    Two of the most valuable courses I took, lo those many years ago, were a Mechanical Drawing course and a Metal Working course where we actually made tools. Those two courses have served me well throughout my adult lifetime.

  • ghostsniper April 8, 2019, 2:34 PM

    “…how demented the parents of kids are…”

    The gov’t has been subverting the system for so long, injecting people that have no business in college, to where honest people cannot compete any more. So they cheat. They learned what the gov’t knows so well.

  • Skorpion April 8, 2019, 3:48 PM

    Good article, TDS noises notwithstanding. The hell of it is that you know the parents couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the actual quality of their kids’ educations. What’s at stake here is shoring up their own *Elite* status by having their brats attend Ivy schools, and getting them connected with *The Right People* at said institutions.

  • Mike Anderson April 8, 2019, 5:07 PM

    Ever since high school, when I was a Nation Merit Scholar who somehow didn’t receive a penny in merit scholarships, I’ve known that the fix was in for the Connected, who got plenty. Apparently, they were just a little too blatant this time, and got ratted out. The affected universities are down with this exposé since they realized that beaucoup cash was changing hands, and they weren’t getting their slice. So buy your way in through the usually channels, Sonny, or we’re turfing your weaselly little ass out into the Real World, like my alma mater Stanford just did.

  • Terry April 8, 2019, 6:49 PM

    College. I have a total disdain for college. I wasted four years of my life getting a degree from SF State University while communists were allowed to disrupt and destroy the campus. I earned a degree in Physical Geography which I never used. I instead learned the machinist trade and loved it. Still do.

  • PA Cat April 8, 2019, 8:49 PM

    The ever-helpful MSM has come up with– of all things– a “prison consultant” to help these privileged but fragile folks cope with the possibility of doing actual time in the Hotel Graybar:
    “Justin Paperny is a former stockbroker who served prison time for fraud and now works with wealthy clients as a prison consultant. He told CBS News he has been hired by one parent charged in the scheme and is in talks with several others.

    ‘They’re scared and it’s “Can I survive in prison? Am I cut out for prison?” Paperny said. ‘What’s most surprising to me about the first conversation is how many of them didn’t view their actions as criminal.’ Paperny said he is helping them confront their denial while answering their basic questions about prison life, including “What’s it like? What will my job be? Can my family visit? Is there email? Is there internet?”

    But Paperny said the most important conversations he’s had with many are about accepting responsibility, which he believes can lead to a more lenient sentence. ‘I would encourage defendants, any defendants, if they broke the law to own it, to acknowledge it, to run not walk towards taking a plea agreement,’ Paperny said. ‘Those that respond more appropriately should get better prison sentences.'”

    You can’t make this stuff up; see https://www.cbsnews.com/news/college-admission-scandal-wealthy-parents-turn-to-consultant-to-understand-prison-life/

  • Lance de Boyle April 9, 2019, 12:47 AM

    Reinstate the draft for the salutary effects of seriousness.

  • Suzan April 9, 2019, 7:15 AM

    I doubt I would pay for my kids to go to college today unless they were in a STEM major. I’d tell them to get a job and hand them a list of Adler’s Great Books. For every decent, well-written essay on any of these books that they submitted to me and that we had a satisfactory discussion about, I’d give them $1000. College has become mostly a brain-washing waste of time. I noticed some years ago that the longer people are in college the further left they tend to be. They interpret this as indicating that they are leftists because they are more intelligent and educated. I say they are more brain-washed and less able to think independently.

  • Larry Geiger April 9, 2019, 8:55 AM

    I have a BS in Forest Resources Management (long story) and an MS in Computer Science (very useful). My oldest son has a BS in Electrical Engineering. My other son has a BS in Design and an MA in Architecture. Neither could work at their current jobs without their degrees. My youngest brother has a PhD in Chemistry (He’s really the smart one 🙂 ) and he is a researcher and professor. The middle brother has a PhD in Anthropology (oh well…). My mom and my mother-in-law both had RNs from city hospitals (Birmingham and St. Louis). Tough women, both of them. They both believed in education and everyone on both sides of the family have useful university degrees (except maybe the anthropology guy, but whatever).
    University was fun.

  • ghostsniper April 9, 2019, 11:18 AM

    “Neither could work at their current jobs without their (MA in Architecture) degrees.”

    Probably bullshit, because I know people right now that are doing it.
    Architecture doesn’t start in college, it starts in the mind.
    If anything. college moves the goal farther away and when it’s achieved it is watered down.
    Ever notice everything architects design looks like a prison?
    Finally, the greatest architects of all time were not college graduates.

  • Anonymous April 9, 2019, 11:48 AM

    I’ve commented previously elsewhere that I had been setting aside funds to send my grandchildren to the USA for private secondary boarding school and then university; no longer, however. I and my children’s mother are products of that sort of education (60s), as are both our children (80s-90s). We no longer live in the USA and haven’t for many years. Grad school in STEM studies? Yeah, we’ll see. But the grandkids will attend a nearby bilingual (Spanish/English) day school and most likely an Argentine university, public (free) or private, or, if it appears appropriate, a trade school.

    My Argentine dtr-in-law is a medical lab tech who would likely have been a physician if her folks had had the necessary financial/political pull (just like up there!), but she’s an enterprising sort and has a successful photography business while caring for three children of five and three years of age plus a five month old.

    I’ve become a committed productive tangibles (water well drilling, shrimp farm, etc.) investor after a happily “productive” career as an equity market speculator during the 80s and 90s, the best time for such shameful work, but I no longer have confidence that such activity is apt for individuals. Sadly, genuine productivity is no longer the order of the day in the USA, or so it appears to me. As for the “education” (aka leftist indoctrination), well, we here are having none of it.

  • Montefrío April 9, 2019, 11:49 AM

    Previous anonymous comment is mine.

  • ghostsniper April 9, 2019, 6:52 PM

    Hows the weather down there this time of year?
    My neighbor owns property there, forgot where, and keeps wanting me to go down there with him and check it. Small problem, I don’t fly. But I’ve heard good things about the place.

  • AesopFan April 9, 2019, 8:24 PM

    ‘What’s most surprising to me about the first conversation is how many of them didn’t view their actions as criminal.’
    Amply illustrated in Flanagan’s article, although she doesn’t spell it out so bluntly.

    The Jane Fonda anecdote really does sum up the mind-set of the Left, doesn’t it?
    To wit, “Everything is okay in the first person: when I do it. It is only in the third person – when they do it – that it is not okay.”
    (Cribbed from Ben Franklin in “1776”; my favorite go-to flexible quote.)

    I took both the SAT and ACT because of applying to different colleges (ended up at Rice in Houston; that’s a story in itself). The most memorable thing about either was coming out of the testing building at the local college after the ACT and finding that the windshield of my father’s car was completely shattered into little pieces, still hanging on to the center “glue” layer and looking just like the marbles that we baked in the oven for scout crafts, to get the shattered look without actually breaking them.
    Which, Dad explained when I got home, is pretty much what happens when the hot spring sun hits a cold windshield.
    I thought I was gonna get killed, so I was glad to find out that it was just science after all, although not quite Global Warming.

  • JoanOfArgghh! April 10, 2019, 7:44 AM

    BLOCKCHAIN ELITISM. Affirmative Action for rich people means what we’ve always suspected: the elites, politicians, media creatures, and the politically connected scientists are ALL the worst of their class. The Affirmative Action blockchain, rich or poor, ensures that these mental morons will authenticate the credentials of other mental morons and will “otherize” anyone who challenges their shortcuts, nobility, and stupid Socialism reboots. Thus they rise to prominence among us, and their arrogance grows unfettered. We made this.

  • JoanOfArgghh! April 10, 2019, 8:06 AM

    Guessing my comment got caught in the ‘bot filter. It had a naughty word in it, a technical computer word, that must’ve set it off!