The Kids Aren’t All Right

And why should they be?

One of the problems with elite universities is that they accustom students to a sense of prestige that’s both superficial and inhibits a certain kind of risk-taking and genuine nonconformity. Obviously that’s not universally true but it is hard to move off the beaten path when the one before you seems well-lit and glittering. It’s also a truism that failure is life’s great teacher, and whatever else the beneficiaries of the cheating may get, they are being deprived of something ultimately more valuable.

The larger question is whether this scandal exposes how rotten the entire enterprise of higher education has become. I personally think the four-year college model is crazy — it should be three years, as it is in England. And that’s just for starters. We need to reinvent the model root-to-branch. That’s one of the reasons I’m against making college available to all: You are merely funneling more students into a system of increasingly dubious value.

Gail: Kids who can’t afford to go to college and who would benefit from college should get government funding. But the loan system is a different question. It’s worrisome. I’ve always wondered if high school graduates should have to work a year or two — volunteer programs count — before they can commit to an expensive education.

Bret: Agree completely. Frankly every 18-year-old at any level of income would benefit from a year of service of some sort. I know I would have, and I’d love to see my children take a gap year or two before college.

Gail: Our current government loan program is terrible. It helps schools grow by building up unnecessary programs and of course encourages kids to take out huge debt they’ll be dragging around for half their lives. The for-profit schools are the most egregious offenders. Many of them rake in a ton of money by making promises they can’t deliver on — great high-paying jobs that never materialize. I’m not sure students should even be able to get federal loans for for-profit schools. What do you think?

Bret: I don’t share your profound skepticism regarding for-profit schools, but I think you’re right on this point. The federal government should not be indirectly subsidizing for-profit entities, period, especially when they have a questionable track record of achieving the results they promise. Then again, I’m skeptical of federal student loans in general, because I think they help drive up the cost of tuition, exacerbating the problem they’re intended to solve.

.. Gail: What we need is so simple — strong background checks on gun purchases, a ban on rapid-fire weapons that make it easy to mow down dozens of people. But I wonder sometimes if we could up the ante. Require that everybody who buys a gun has to be able to demonstrate both an understanding of gun safety and a minimal level of marksmanship. The one thing we don’t talk about is how inept many gun owners are. You need a decent amount of skill to be able to hit a target, particularly if you’re nervous or on the move. Unless, of course, your target is a mass of people at prayer.

.. Bret: None. And it is particularly disappointing to see a Republican like Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a so-called constitutional conservative, vote with the president just weeks after he delivered a statement denouncing the national-emergency declaration. It means that Republicans have no higher principle than their own political self-preservation.

So now it will be up to the Supreme Court to act to defend the separation of powers. Don’t be surprised if Chief Justice John Roberts or another conservative justice delivers the majority opinion against the president, along with the court’s liberal wing. As we both know, the Trump presidency makes for strange bedfellows.

 

Federal Prosecutors Charge Dozens in College Admissions Cheating Scheme

Charges involve cheating on college entrance exams, efforts to bribe coaches; Actresses Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among those indicted

In one instance, prosecutors said, the head women’s soccer coach at Yale accepted a $400,000 bribe in exchange for admitting a candidate as a recruited athlete. The student didn’t even play competitive soccer, according to prosecutors. After the student was admitted, her parents paid a college admissions consultant $1.2 million.

The consultant, William Singer, is expected to plead guilty to racketeering and other crimes Tuesday afternoon. He allegedly facilitated the fraud through Newport Beach, Calif.-based the Edge College & Career Network LLC.

Mr. Singer allegedly accepted payments in exchange for arranging that some of the teens could sit for the SAT or ACT college-entrance exams with extra time by getting doctor’s notes detailing learning disabilities or other issues, and that they take the tests with proctors who had been bribed to either correct wrong answers or take the test on the student’s behalf. Parents paid Mr. Singer between $15,000 and $75,000 for the test help, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Singer also allegedly helped parents work with coaches to claim admission spots reserved for recruited athletes, staging photos of the teens playing sports or photo-shopping images of the teens’ faces onto stock photos of young athletes.

Prosecutors alleged that charitable organizations were used as fronts for the bribery payments, which figured into the tens or hundreds of thousands in certain cases. Parents made the payments in the form of donations to his nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation

Other high-profile parents named in the case include Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of New York City law firm Willkie Farr.

Also charged was Bill McGlashan, founder and managing partner of TPG Growth, the arm of the private-equity firm that invests in fast-growing companies, including Airbnb Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. With $13.2 billion in assets, TPG’s growth business has played a prominent role in the firm’s strategy since the financial crisis, and Mr. McGlashan’s star has risen at the firm.