Bob Franken


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Actually, the college admission bribery case, where rich, doting parents bribed their underachieving offspring into elite universities, is a possible scandal within a scandal. It is true that the U.S. Department of Justice indicted several wealthy individuals, including movie stars, for allegedly paying a fixer and athletic coaches, among others, to help their kiddies cheat their way into various prestige schools. But go back and reread the list of affected institutions at the highest levels of higher education. Notice which one is not mentioned. That’s right, Trump University is nowhere to be found.
How could that be? Is there some hidden chicanery involved? Did the Trump administration’s Justice Department just turn a blind eye to please the boss? An inquiring mind wants to know. Oh wait, isn’t that similar to “An Enquiring Mind Wants to Know,” which was the slogan for the National Enquirer back in the days when it was “catching and killing” stories about Donald Trump fooling around? That’s still reverberating today, still being probed. Should Bob Mueller sic his investigators to determine if there was any collusion involved in the exclusion of Trump U?
Or is there an innocent explanation, like the fact that T.U. is now defunct (D.T.U.?) Or that it wasn’t ilisted in the U.S. News and World Report’s catalog of colleges even when it was still funct, unless U.S News had a scam category. Then again, the magazine also didn’t include Deep State University.

Dabbling in seriousness for just an instant, can we consider the possibility that these charges of the rich using their wherewithal to game the system and get their unqualified sons and daughters into high status schools are relatively minor mischief? Even in those cases where the accused coaches would allegedly agree to put them on phony lists of athletes to give them a leg up — to the extent that they’d edit their head onto the picture of a real jock — that might really be a small-time outrage. After all, as many others have pointed out, it is perfectly legal for Daddy or Mummy ante up some big bucks on a university that just so happens to accept their lunkhead offspring who finished prep school but weren’t intellectually qualified enough to turn that advantage into meritorious admission at a socially acceptable college.
Jared Kushner is frequently cited as one example of such favored treatment. In Kushner’s case, his father coincidentally contributed $2.5 million to Harvard at the time that Jared, with his mediocre scholastic record, was nonetheless accepted. Of course it was his father-in-law who later got him into the White House.
By now, most Americans have angrily concluded that the concept of upward mobility in the United States is fiction. Billie Holiday wrote and performed “God Bless the Child” back in 1939:

“Them that’s got shall have,
Them that’s not shall lose,
So the Bible said, and it still is news.”

It’s old news 80 years later. In the U.S. of A. The economic caste system has been cast in concrete. A recent Equality of Opportunity Project study showed that more of the entrenched 1 percenters enrolled their children in elite universities than the lower 60 percent.
It’s a combination of factors. The wealthy can afford to enroll their kids in private kindergartens through high school, where an education can be pounded in most of their young heads, while us riffraff must struggle with public schools that often are deficient or overwhelmed with society’s problems. Those fortunate heirs to great fortunes either start with that advantage or benefit from rich parents who are willing to pay the price of success their young ones haven’t earned.
So the bribery story involving some celebs, coaches, etc., is really kind of chintzy and pales in comparison with an education system that fails overall to serve our entire population, part of an economic structure that keeps out all but those who are already prosperous. That’s the real scandal.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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