A letter to the rich folks nabbed in the college admissions cheating scandal:
I’m delighted you were caught spending hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, cheating the system to get your children into major colleges in the country. It says a lot about you, that you believe your wealth puts you and your children above the rules.
It may also be an indicator that you have been using dollars and no sense while raising your children.
And I don’t buy law enforcement’s comment that so many of your children haven’t been charged because they probably did not know what you had schemed. They knew and you know they knew. Law enforcement knows they knew.
Now, don’t get me wrong — my wife and I have done everything we could for our children. That’s what parents do. But we never considered paying people to take our children’s tests or photoshopping our child’s face onto someone else’s body.
My guess is that you would cringe knowing how people like me were able to get to college.
I borrowed $600 from Louisiana National Bank to pay for my freshman year (remember, it was a long time ago) to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge.
As my freshman year drew to an end, I was scared. I wasn’t going to borrow more. Repaying the $600 seemed insurmountable. So I, and others like me, didn’t go to our parents or relatives and put them in an even tougher spot. That summer, I worked from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at LSU’s printing office.
By 4:01 p.m., I was out the door walking about a mile or so from the campus to Jim Dandy Fried Chicken to sling thighs, wings, drumsticks, breasts and some great clams from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Both of those jobs were Monday through Friday.
I know you rich cheats are holding your noses, recoiling at the idea of someone’s child actually working like that to reach a goal. But there were many like me.
By summer’s end, I had bought a car, paid the insurance and the fall semester’s college tuition. What’s more, I dropped those two jobs, then went to work stocking shelves from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and half a day on Saturdays at Globe’s Supermarket.
But I was not the only one. There were older guys stocking groceries with me who were married and attending college. I guess you rich, buy-off-the-system folks find that abhorrent.
Later on in college, I got paid working on the school newspaper, and that called for at least two late nights getting our weekly edition out. I would leave the campus at 10 or 11 at night, sometimes later, try to do homework, sleep for a few minutes, and then head to Globe’s.
I bet you rich cheaters see me as some kind of glutton for punishment. Nope. There was a car note to pay, insurance fees, gasoline, car repairs and clothes. I wonder: Do your kids know anything about time and financial budgeting? At 19 and 20, I knew it well.
I know, I know. A few of you may have struggled early in life, and you didn’t want to see your kids have to go through what you faced. I get that. But what kind of example do you set by buying their way into the front, side and back doors?
During part of my last semester, I worked a third job. Trying to get my foot in the door at this newspaper, I got hired to cover high school football games on Friday nights. It would have been great to have someone pay someone to take my class quizzes and exams.
Let’s put it like this: Your children have and will enjoy all of the greater things in life. I don’t have a problem with that. But the lying and cheating by you and your ilk, I have nothing for.
What about me as a parent? My two children worked jobs in high school and while they were in college. We didn’t force them to do it. But they understood it was a good thing to do.
You know what, rich frauds? For most of you, I would take my hard work and the education I fought tooth and nail for over your crappy idea about life any day of the week.
On the morning of my college graduation, an old couple, who seemed like they were straight off the farm, walked up to me. They looked lost.
The old man wore overalls and an old sports coat. He asked, “Is this the place they graduate?,” pointing to the gymnasium. They wanted to see their daughter get her diploma. Rich cheats, they top you any day of the week.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.