Earlier this year, a story broke about a college admissions scandal where wealthy parents were accused of bribery to get their children into schools. I never really understood the outrage about the bribery because the wealthy have been bribing schools for years to get their kids in. Donations and endowments are just a fancy word for bribe. Two of the families caught up in the scandal were Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin, two actresses. Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to her crimes and she was recently sentenced to 14 days in jail.
In 2011, a homeless mother named Tonya McDowell enrolled her soon in the neighboring school district of Norfolk, Connecticut. She also had prior drug charges due to the sale of narcotics. She was charged with first-degree larceny in relation to her sons’ school enrollment and sentenced to five years in prison.
Even though it’s been almost 70 years since Brown vs Board of Education ended segregation in our public schools, we still find that schools are separate and not equal. New York City has the most segregated school district in the country. Many minority children are forced to go to schools far from where they live because their neighborhood school is not properly funded and is lacking resources.
For a homeless woman to be sentenced to 5 years of prison time for enrolling her child in the wrong school district and another woman to be sentenced to 2 weeks 1 in jail for bribery is unacceptable. It’s no surprise that our justice system is far from just, but this admissions scandal further highlights the inequalities in our education system. A system that is built for the wealthy and the white but was never intended for black and brown people. A just world would never have sent Tonya McDowell to prison. The love of a parent often knows no bounds, but the limits of that love are not exclusive to white parents. Our justice system and our education system should reflect that.