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Crumbling public schools and a college admissions scandal: We’re slipping toward oligarchy

Crumbling public schools and a college admissions scandal: We’re slipping toward oligarchy
Actress Felicity Huffman, who was arrested in connection with a college admissions scandal, is seen inside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles on March 12. (David McNew / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Reading about the parents who allegedly bribed and cheated to get their children into elite universities has been fascinating, not for what it revealed about wealthy and corrupt tiger parents, but as a reminder of how much wealth still determines educational opportunity in our society.

I went to an Ivy League school. I got in partly because a client of my mother’s skin care business decided to put me through eight years of an elite prep school in Cambridge, Mass.

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My benefactress bought me the scholastic intensity, resources and connections that increased my chances of admission. My friends from public school who were just as smart and hardworking didn’t get in.

Our system of underfunded, crumbling public schools with woefully underpaid teachers is paving the way to oligarchy. Until we devote reasonable funding to our children’s education, our society will never be a true meritocracy.

Alexander Rivkin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Though unfair and probably illegal activities have likely been going on since the founding of “elite” universities, it is nevertheless good for them to be exposed.

When wealthy parents give their children unfair advantages to gain admission to the nation’s best schools, we all suffer as it cheapens the value of an elite education. It also prevents truly talented and hardworking students from achieving their potential.

For the sake of resurrecting faith in our nation’s elite institutions, I hope that all people suspected of being involved in this scandal are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Excellence cannot be bought; it must be earned.

Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nev.

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To the editor: I keep hearing people say the purpose of an education is to get a good job. A commentator recently said that these rich kids don’t need an education, because their parents can get them good jobs and they will be set for life.

The reason K-12 schools are paid for by the government is because we need an educated electorate. Voters need to understand the issues that affect us all. Education helps us understand our world. Whether it’s science, math, English, social studies or the arts, learning is never wasted.

Bribing your child’s way into college, on the other hand, only teaches young people to lie and cheat.

Lake Nofer, Woodland Hills

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To the editor: The rich and famous needn’t worry for a moment about charges of rigging college entrance. They will feed on the publicity, get a Judge T.S. Ellis III and a slap on wrist, and all will be forgotten.

Play it right and they may even get amnesty.

Cary Adams, North Hollywood

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To the editor: You don’t suppose that some of the people who allegedly participated in these schemes oppose affirmative action programs, do you?

Tony Castañares, Hollywood

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To the editor: Wait a minute — no one tried to bribe anyone to get into my alma mater, the Harvard of the west, San Diego State University?

I’m one outraged Aztec.

Ronald O. Richards, Los Angeles

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