On Friday, actress Felicity Huffman became the first of 15 defendant parents to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit Varsity Blues, which was convicted. Desperate Housewives' Emmy Award-winning star was sentenced by federal judge Indira Talani to 14 days in prison, a fine of $ 30,000 and 250 hours for community service, which you do not have to list in an application for college.
Huffman's jail time dropped between 30 days requested by prosecutors and a public-service proposal made by her defense attorneys. She will have to report to jail for six weeks, which means she can stay free long enough to catch the October 12 premiere of "Operation Varsity Blues," a drama that City and Country predicts they will give viewers "the soap conflict they crave."
Huffman's sentence is closely watched because of a legal debate reported earlier this month by The Wall Street Journal . This debate focused on the issue of any financial harm caused by the actions of Rick Singer and the parents he spoke with. Lawyers for some of the defendants claim that there was no monetary loss due to the scandal and that, in fact, some universities benefited from donations made under the scheme carried out by Singer. There is speculation that sentences with little or no prison time may influence defendants who plan to go to court to plead guilty.
Of course, the argument "no monetary damages, no foul" misses the point. The college admissions process is not just a business transaction, because higher education is more than a business, even if it doesn't always seem like it. Education is a public good, and access to education is access to the American dream. College education is an experience that can transform a person's life, and paying off for a college diploma can be a $ 1
To be successful and effective, the college admissions profession depends on public trust and confidence in the college admissions process. When the rich and famous alternate, whether through illegal means or by purchasing access, the public belief that college admission is based on merit (however difficult to define) and honesty eroded and harmed both the profession, so is society.
Nor is it true that there are no casualties in the Varsity Blues scandal. Selective admission into the types of colleges and universities targeted by Singer and his client co-workers is a zero-sum game. In the hyperselective landscape, for every student who is admitted, there are several qualified candidates who are not admitted. While it is true that the participants in the scandal are disadvantaged with only a small group of candidates who may have won walkers such as rowers, water racers or other sports, there were clearly qualified, deserving candidates free of bribery and corruption  The more obvious victims are the children of those who participated in the fraud. While some were aware or even involved in the conspiracy, others, including Felicity Huffman's daughter Sofia, did not know. Huffman's mild sentence was a function of the fact that she took full responsibility for her actions and had no previous record, but also paid Singer $ 15,000 to change Sophie's SAT responses and her results raised 400 points from his confederate Mark Riedel. When Sofia Macy (Huffman is married to actor William Macy, who was not charged but apparently aware of the fraud), she learned what Huffman had done, she burst into tears and asked her mother, "Why don't you believe in me ? Why didn't I think I could do it alone?
This is the $ 15,000 question that Felicity Huffman will ponder and the broader question for all of us to consider about the Varsity Blues scandal. In my opinion, there were two misconceptions that led OVB's parents down the rabbit hole into criminal behavior.
The first was the belief that parental status, and perhaps parental success, was determined by the prestige of the college your child attended. This is perhaps the ultimate suburban legend, one that US News & World Report is too happy to proclaim and benefits from every fall.
The other is the lack of faith in your child's ability to access college on his or her own. I have always believed that the college process is more difficult for parents than for students. It tests your basic beliefs about college, parenting, and maybe life. Is the college or game admissions process rational and fair? Is it your job as a parent to help your child become independent or to protect and protect them from disappointment?
I learned early on as a parent that I enjoy more of my children's successes and experience more pain from their disappointments than anything in my own life. This is natural. What is neither natural nor healthy does not allow our children to be leading participants in their own journeys.
Earning college admissions should be a monumental achievement for a student. She should test her readiness for the college experience itself. Removing the sense of agent and accomplishment away from the student is a crime. I have certainly met more parents over the past few years who fervently believe that 17-year-olds are unable to navigate the college admissions process. I don't want to believe this. If this is the case, we either need to change the admissions process or change the way we educate and prepare students for college.
Not believing in our children is the real crime committed by parents in the Varsity Blues scandal. This is a terrible message to send to the children, and what Felicity Huffman seems to have learned with the help of her daughter Sofia.
What about the sweatshirts of Operation Varsity Blues star by Lori Loughlin? She is among the 19 accused parents who have chosen to fight the charges. Who would have thought that the Olsen twins were not the only members of the Full House not as sweet or innocent as ever, or that Bob Saggett would prove to be a moral compass on this show? The sequel to Netflix's Fuller House is entering its final season. Will it be the next Complete Repair House ?