College Admissions Scandal

CLP Current Event: April 2, 2019

What should educational opportunity be about? What do the admissions scandals teach us about helping students achieve their full potential? Find great resources in this week’s CLP Current Event.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

News Sources

Elite Colleges Announce Record Law Admission Rates in Wake of College Cheating Scandal, by Anemona Hartocollis & Kate Taylor, The New York Times, March 29, 2019
“Several of the elite colleges named in court papers in the cheating scandal set admissions records this week. Yale’s admission rate sank to 5.91 percent from 6.31 percent last year, or 2,178 students out of a record-high pool of 36,843. The rate was 11 percent at the University of Southern California, the lowest ever, out of 66,000 freshman applications.”

College-admissions scandal is part of an old problem when it comes to privilege, by Tyrone Beason, The Seattle Times, March 18, 2019
“It’s not just that students from wealthier families are better able pay for college. Top schools around the country have traditionally considered “legacy” — having a close relative who is an alum of the school of choice — in deciding whether or not to grant enrollment. And guess what? Legacy enrollees tend to be rich and white.”

30 Fast Facts About The College Admissions Scandal, by Zack Friedman, Forbes, March 18, 2019
“According to the Wall Street Journal, the alleged scheme was discovered through an unrelated case involving an executive being investigated for securities fraud. As part of that investigation, the executive named Singer as being at the center of the alleged admissions scheme.”

Admissions scandal has colleges playing defense, by Nick Anderson, Perry Stein and Moriah Balingit, The Inquirer, March 14, 2019
“In response, Georgetown disclosed that it tightened vetting of athletic credentials after the university in late 2017 discovered “irregularities” in the recruiting practices of tennis coach Gordon Ernst. The coach, who left the university last year, was among dozens of people charged with crimes in the college admissions cheating and bribery conspiracy revealed Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Boston.”

Parents accused in college admission scams could face “serious time” in prison, CBS News, March 13, 2019
“Klieman added that she doesn’t think the accused parents will be able to throw money at the problem like they allegedly did to get their kids into college.
‘No one’s getting out of this,’ she said. ‘There’s too much attention put to it. It’s one thing to buy your way in to education for your children, which I find appalling and disgusting, frankly, but it’s another thing at this stage to just think you can buy a fancy lawyer and get out of this. These parents probably had no thought that at some point they would go to prison.’”

National College Fraud Scheme Highlights Flaws in Admissions Process, by Sasha Jones, Education Week, March 12, 2019
“According to a 2015 survey by Kaplan, 25 percent of college admissions officers said they have ‘felt pressured to accept an applicant who didn’t meet [their] school’s admissions requirements because of who that applicant was connected to.’”

Questions to Consider

  • What is cheating?
  • What is racketeering?
  • What is integrity?
  • What is entitlement?
  • What is a college admission? What is an elite college?
  • What is the value of a college education?
  • What is the SAT?
  • What are the qualifications that allow superior students to gain admission?
  • Should money be the key factor in college admissions?
  • Is this an issue of inequality in the college admission process?
  • How can the admissions process be made more fair?
  • What are the effects of college admission pressure on students, parents, teachers, college counselors, athletic coaches?
  • Should we rethink the entire college admissions process? Should we rethink the role of the ACT, SAT and other companies who provide testing data? Should we rethink the ranking system that punishes some and rewards others? Should there be a school to provide opportunities for all our students?
  • How do we add joy and integrity to this process?

Background and More

Investigation of College Admissions and Testing Bribery Scheme, The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, March 29, 2019

Why The College Admissions Scandal Hurts Students With Disabilities, by Clare Lombardo, OPB, March 16, 2019

The upside of the college admissions scandal, by Ephrat Livni, Quartz, March 14, 2019

Does It Matter Where You Go To College? Some Context For The Admissions Scandal, by Elissa Nadworny and Anya Kamenetz, NPR, March 13, 2019

Lesson Plans

Integrity, Great Expectations
CLP: Multiple lesson plan ideas and quotes; all levels

A Massive College Admissions Cheating Scandal Gets People Talking, Wharton High School
CLP: Use “Conversation Starters” to facilitate a class discussion; middle and high school

What Is Your Reaction to the College Admissions Cheating Scandal?, by Natalie Proulx, The Learning Network, March 13, 2019
CLP: Great questions at the end for discussion; middle and high school

Constitutional and Legal Connections

Responding to College Admissions Scandal, California Lawmakers Propose Sweeping Reforms, by Patrick McGreevy, Governing, March 29, 2019

Oregon Connections

None this week.

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.21 Analyze important political and ethical values such as freedom, democracy, equality and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.35 Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 29: What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 39: What does returning to fundamental principles mean?