This Is Everything You Need To Know About YouTube Today

Smosh, Jenna Marbles, Markiplier the names may not mean much to you, but chances are your kids are on a first-name basis. These funny YouTube hosts, with their off-the-cuff commentary, silly antics and bewildering (to adults) subject matter, are some of the most influential personalities on young teens, garnering millions (and, in the case of disgraced Swedish gamer PewDiePie, billions) of views. But information about these personalities’ shows the content, quality and age-appropriateness, for example isn’t easy for parents to find.

It would be great to be able to just download YouTube Kids and have your kids watch something hopefully more age-appropriate than regular YouTube. However, YouTube Kids has problems of its own. And the bottom line is: kids want to watch the original. But it’s tough to manage. Anyone can create YouTube channels, they crop up seemingly out of nowhere, they don’t follow program schedules, and they’re cast out among thousands of other videos. There are also serious concerns that YouTube collects data from young users, in violation of the Childrens Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

So if your kids really love it, you’ll have to strategize. Reading Common Sense Media reviews of YouTube channels is a good way to get a sense of their age-appropriateness and quality. And digging into the videos themselves watching with your kids or on your own is wise. You never know what’s going to come up on a particular channel, since all the content is user-generated.

Here are parents’ most commonly asked questions about YouTube and kids. Also, read Common Sense Media’s detailed review of YouTube.

What’s the best way to keep tabs on my kids’ YouTube-watching?

Simply ask your kids what they’re watching and join them. In general, kids are tuning into certain channels or following specific YouTube personalities because they’re entertained by them (not because they are actively searching for “bad” stuff). Many kids naturally want to share the videos they like. But be prepared to watch some weird stuff such as unboxing videos. If kids don’t want to share, get the name of the channel they’re watching and watch it later. Watch a few videos by the same creator to get a feel for the content.

How can I find out what my kid has been watching on YouTube?

If you’re concerned about the content your kid is watching on YouTube ― and you’ve tried talking to her ― there are ways of tracking her viewing habits. If she has a YouTube account (which only requires a Gmail address), her YouTube page will display her recently watched videos, recommended videos based on her watch history, and suggestions for channels similar to the ones she’s watched. Even if your kid deletes her “watch history,” the recommendations all will be related to stuff she’s watched.

How can I minimize my kids’ exposure to iffy videos on YouTube?

Encourage your kids to subscribe to their favorite channels rather than hunting around on YouTube for the latest ones from a specific creator. Subscribers are notified when a new video is uploaded, plus all their channels are displayed in the Subscriptions section, making it easier, and faster, to go directly to the stuff they like. Consider choosing subscriptions together, and make an event out of watching the newest uploads with your kids. You can also try the Watch Later feature. YouTube gives you the ability to save videos to watch at a later time, which improves the odds that your kids will be exposed to stuff you’ve pre-approved. You can create playlists, too, virtually designing a customized programming schedule of content for each of your kids or for different subjects they’re interested in.

How can I find out who’s behind the videos my kid watches on YouTube?

Investigate the creator. The name of each video’s creator appears beneath the video window and usually has a bit of information about the person behind the video and/or the channel itself. Google the creator’s name to find out whether he or she has a Wikipedia page or another Web presence (most YouTubers use other social media including Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their brand). You might find out that your kid’s favorite YouTube personality has an impressive reach. Check out our recommendations of positive role models on YouTube.

How can I manage the related videos on YouTube?

The suggested videos listed on the right-hand side of the page are related in some way to the main video. Evaluate them to see if they seem age-appropriate, and that will provide an indication of the appropriateness of the main video. Here are some additional tips to make YouTube’s related videos a little safer.

Can I get rid of ads on YouTube?

There are tons of ads on YouTube. Even if your kids stick to kid videos, they’ll see commercials for stuff that may not be appropriate. You can try to reduce or manage exposure to advertising, but the best option is to talk to your kids about viewing all marketing critically so they don’t get sucked in. Alternatively, you can consider subscribing to YouTube Red, which doesn’t show ads and which also has exclusive content.

What should I say to my kid about all the mean comments people leave on YouTube?

YouTube comments are notorious for being negative, but it’s worth reading them to get a sense of the channels’ demographic and the tone of the discussion. It can be possible to find hate speech or child predators lurking in the comments of videos featuring or targeted to kids and teens. Channel creators have the ability to moderate their comments to reduce the amount of negativity. A well-groomed comments section may indicate a more responsible creator.

Are there any parental controls on YouTube?

YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match your values. But YouTube offers a filter called Restricted Mode that limits the iffy stuff. Go to your account settings page and toggle on Restricted Mode at the bottom of the page. (It will remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.) The YouTube app also offers some settings that remind you to take a break and restrict your time, although these features are more a part of Google’s efforts to promote “digital well-being” than parental controls. If you want more control over what your kids can watch on YouTube, consider downloading the YouTube Kids app, which offers some features including screen-time limits and restricted search, to keep young kids a little safer on the platform.

How can I find good stuff on YouTube?

Most kids find out about new videos either from their friends or by clicking on the related videos (which may or may not be appropriate). But YouTube itself offers several ways to home in on quality content. Go to YouTube Spotlight for curated content in a variety of categories. Read about YouTube news on the company blog and check out our YouTube reviews and curated lists of decent YouTube shows for kids, such as Funny YouTube Channels, Positive Role Models on YouTube and Best YouTube Channels and Videos for Preschool Kids.

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Transgender Teen Wins Gender-Neutral Prom Title After Being Told He Can’t Run For King

A transgender boy won the title of prom royalty at a Georgia high school following a national outcry when it appeared he’d been barred from doing so in accordance with his gender identity. 

Dex Frier was named one of two “royal knight” seniors at the March 23 prom at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia. In a change from previous years, the 2019 ballot used gender-neutral terminology and was not divided along the lines of “king” or “queen.” It was, instead, a list in which any two students could be voted prom royalty regardless of their gender identity. 

That decision came after more than 31,000 people expressed their support for 17-year-old Frier via an online petition

Frier’s friend, Sam Corbett, thanked supporters in a statement posted to the petition Monday, calling the array of signatures from all over the world “a symbol of the united support of human rights, but also a testament to the power of the individual.” 

“This plan was one of compromise on both sides, and we would like to thank administration, both at the school and county level, for listening and welcoming our concerns ― and most importantly, implementing a plan to address them,” Corbett wrote. “We hope this petition has not only pushed society further towards human rights equality, but also inspired someone to do the same for an issue in their community.” 

Prior to the March 23 dance, Frier had been nominated by the student body as one of six candidates to be senior prom king. The student, who has publicly identified as transgender since his sophomore year, said he was later told by school officials that he would only be permitted to run as prom queen.  

“Just because I’m not legally male I was going to get excluded from something that every guy has the opportunity to be in high school. It was really upsetting,” Frier told BuzzFeed in a March 21 interview. “As a student I felt I had the right to be put on the ballot.”

He continued: “I don’t know of many trans people who go to this school [but] I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. It hurts being told you don’t deserve the same rights as someone else because you’re not the same as them.”

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield responded to Frier’s claims in a strongly worded March 21 statement issued to local media, which read in part, “I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district in the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community.”

“Prom should be a time for students to fellowship together and celebrate their local school,” Schofield added. 

But by March 23, the compromise had apparently been made. 

Classmate Aniyah Norman told the Gainesville Times that she and other friends of Frier’s had planned to make “a visual statement” at the dance with hand-held, Mardi Gras-style face masks painted in the colors of the transgender flag. 

“We support Dex because we value Johnson’s all-inclusive atmosphere,” she said. “Prom is for the students, by the students. This has nothing to do with legal issues, or Johnson’s administration, but with the intolerance evident in this county.”

For his part, Frier is hopeful the gender-neutral update to Johnson High School’s prom voting system will be permanent. 

If not, “I’m going to be really upset because I should be the first and only person who has to go through so much trouble in order to be who I want to be,” he told CBS

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10 Everyday Ways To Foster A Healthy Body Image In Your Child

When it comes to a child’s body image, it should come as no surprise that parents play a major role. The research ― and countless personal essays ― back this up.

“Parents influence how their children come to think about their bodies in a number of ways. These include the feelings, attitudes and conversations that parents have about their own bodies and appearance ― also, comments from parents about their child’s body and appearance,” said Amy Slater, an associate professor at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Of course, there are other important societal factors at play, but parents can be a crucial source of positive or negative messaging from a young age.

“It is vital that we try to develop positive body image in our children, as we know that positive body image is associated with higher self-esteem and healthy behaviors, whereas negative body image is associated with a wide range of negative outcomes, including lowered self-esteem, depression, disordered eating, poorer academic achievement, and lowered engagement in healthy behaviors,” Slater explained.

To help prevent those negative outcomes, HuffPost spoke to Slater and other experts to identify everyday ways parents can foster healthy body image in kids:

1. Banish Negative Body Talk

“Children learn how they should think and feel about their own bodies from listening to the adults around them,” said Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and the author of Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession With Appearance Hurts Girls and Women. “If they hear adults engaging in negative body talk ― always focusing on ‘problematic’ body areas ― kids get the impression that bodies can never be good enough as they are. If they hear adults disparaging other people’s bodies, they learn to apply that same sort of criticism to themselves when they look in the mirror.”

While it’s almost inevitable for children to absorb negative body talk from peers and other adults in their lives, parents have the power to combat these harmful messages by banishing this kind of communication at home.

Parents should be mindful of the way they communicate about weight and body size with and in front of their children and refrain from making disparaging comments about bodies, which sends the message that personal value stems from physical appearance.

2. Stop Criticizing Your Own Body

Not only should parents stop speaking negatively about others’ bodies, but they should also do the same about their own. Slater advised parents to be aware of their attitudes and beliefs about bodies and appearance.

“Try to avoid making any negative judgments and comments about your own body,” she said, offering “I’m so fat” or “I don’t have the ‘right’ body to wear X” as examples.

“Think specifically about how we communicate with our children and in front of our children about our own weight or physical appearance,” said Rebecca Puhl, a professor in the department of human development and family sciences and the deputy director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

“As parents, we need to communicate respect for people of diverse body sizes,” she continued. “This means working on our own body image and feeling comfortable with our own bodies as well and being mindful of how we express these feelings to our children.”

Parents need to refrain from fixating on weight and engaging in negative body talk — about others and themselves.

3. Share Positive Body Messages

Just as it’s important to stop negative body talk, it’s also helpful to replace those harmful messages with positive ones.

“As parents, we need to give ourselves and our children permission to feel good about themselves, regardless of their body shape or size or physical appearance,” said Puhl.

“As I remind my daughter often, ‘All bodies ― including yours ― are good bodies,’” said Joslyn Smith, a policy and communications associate at the National Eating Disorders Association.

4. Emphasize Other Values

Engeln suggested committing to having a “body talk free” household, which shows children there are much more important things to discuss than how we look or how other people look.

“When you shut down all that body talk, you leave room for healthier, more affirming and more interesting conversations,” she said. “You also send your children the message that what matters is not how people appear but what they do and what they say.”

Slater echoed this sentiment, saying that parents should emphasize other qualities. “Encourage valuing aspects of self that are not related to appearance, like being a good friend,” she said.

5. Focus On What Bodies Do

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater. “You can model this by valuing and respecting your own body for all the amazing things it does.”

Instead of discussing weight or shape, talk to kids about what their bodies are capable of and how they feel, not how they look.

“When my daughter says things to me like, ‘My belly is getting big,’ or ‘Mommy, you’re fat,’ I tell her she’s right. She’s growing, and her belly is getting bigger, and I self-identify as fat,” Smith said. “[I say] that it’s so cool she’s noticing how she’s growing and getting older and stronger, that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and are almost always changing in some way, that some bodies are able to do things other bodies aren’t and that every single person’s body is equally good and valuable.”

6. Model Healthy Behaviors

“Some parents may be worried about their child’s eating behaviors or sedentary activity. But communicating these worries as critical comments about weight or appearance can be harmful and can backfire,” Puhl explained.

Instead, kids are more likely to eat nutritiously and engage in physical activity if parents foster a home environment that makes these behaviors accessible and inclusive of the whole family.

“All parents want their children to be healthy, but this is more likely to happen if parents model the healthy behaviors they want to see in their children,” she added.

7. Be Aware Of Food And Fitness Talk

Rather than use weight as a peg, parents can encourage healthy habits by avoiding that topic.

“Focus on how exercise is great for keeping your body flexible and strong ― and that it’s a fun stress reliever. Focus on teaching your children to listen to their bodies’ own cues about hunger and satiety,” said Engeln. “Teach them to be intuitive eaters instead of sending the message that some foods are good and some foods are bad.”

The ways in which parents talk about food, health and physical activity can be just as critical to the development of a child’s body image as direct discussion of weight and shape.

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater.

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater.

“Because our eating and exercise patterns affect our mental health, developing a positive body image also requires a relaxed, open attitude to these issues. For example, parents can encourage children to enjoy a diverse range of foods and help them be able to navigate choices and celebrations involving, sometimes, food without it impacting on their self-worth,” said Laura Hart, a psychology and public health research fellow at La Trobe University in Australia and an author of the Confident Body, Confident Child study.

“If parents can find ways to enjoy being physically active with their kids without mentioning weight, this can help children to enjoy lifelong healthy movement without feeling guilty or ashamed about it,” she added.

8. Call Out Others

It’s not enough to simply stop negative body talk in your home. There may be situations when others in a child’s life promote these harmful messages.

“Point out examples of weight stigma or fat-shaming that you see, and explain to your child why shaming or stigmatizing people about their body is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Puhl said. “Do not allow family members to engage in weight-based teasing or negative comments about other people’s bodies or physical characteristics.”

9. Be Mindful Of Media

Outside the home, children are bombarded with messages from mass media and the fashion and diet industries that emphasize extreme ideals of thinness and buffness.

“Think about the media messages that their children are exposed to. What media are they consuming? What messages about bodies and appearance do these media promote?” said Slater. “Try to encourage media that promotes diverse appearances and that do not focus solely on beauty and appearance.”

There are many body-positive books for children, including Your Body Is Brilliant by Sigrun Danielsdottir and What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan. Slater also recommended online resources like the Confident Body, Confident Child website.

10. Promote Diversity

Modeling healthy body esteem in front of your child involves showing respect for yourself and for others, regardless of how they look, said Puhl. “Point out to your child people of diverse body sizes who are successful, kind, athletic, ambitious, talented, leaders or helping their communities,” she advised.

These kinds of habits will teach children to value diversity by appreciating the many ways people can look.

“Practicing nonjudgment of others and ourselves is not easy. It takes practice. After all, we certainly aren’t socialized to be accepting or appreciative of all the different forms bodies take,” said Smith. “But I’m hopeful that if we start with rewiring our own brains to appreciate bodies, in all the ways they show up, and make sure that what we model that acceptance of others and self for our children, we can raise children to embrace all bodies and help build a more inclusive world, one where they know they are welcome as they are and take the initiative to welcome others.”

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Duke Agrees To Pay $112 Million After Being Accused Of Falsifying Grant Research

Duke University has reached a $112.5 million settlement with the U.S. government after being accused of falsifying scientific research to claim millions in federal grants, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The North Carolina school was accused of knowingly submitting 30 grant applications containing falsified or fabricated data to the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency from 2006 to 2018, authorities said.

The settlement money will reimburse the government for the grants it received and cover associated penalties, the school said.

“We expect Duke researchers to adhere always to the highest standards of integrity, and virtually all of them do that with great dedication,” university President Vincent E. Price said in a statement. “When individuals fail to uphold those standards, and those who are aware of possible wrongdoing fail to report it, as happened in this case, we must accept responsibility, acknowledge that our processes for identifying and preventing misconduct did not work, and take steps to improve.” 

It was a former employee at the private school, Joseph Thomas, who brought the allegations to light after filing a lawsuit in 2014 under the whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. Under the terms of the act, he will receive $33,750,000 from the settlement, the DOJ said.

His lawsuit accused former Duke biologist Erin Potts-Kant of co-authoring the fraudulent reports, which were later retracted. She was arrested in 2013 for embezzling money from the school and pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and paid restitution to the school.

Two of her supervisors were implicated in Thomas’ lawsuit and accused of negligence and ignoring warnings of misconduct, according to the student-led university paper, The Chronicle.

Duke argued in its court filings that it became aware of Potts-Kant’s misbehavior only after she applied for the grants.

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Dr. Dre Boasts Daughter Got Into USC ‘On Her Own’ — After A $70 Million Donation

Hip-hopper Dr. Dre gushed on Instagram that daughter Truly Young just got into the University of Southern California “all on her own.” He was taking a shot at celebrity parents, like Lori Loughlin, recently busted for allegedly paying bribes to get their children into top universities. Dre failed to mention that he and his producer donated $70 million to USC.

“No jail time!!!!” smirked Dre (real name Andre Young), who posed in the Instagram photo with his daughter holding her acceptance letter.

He removed the post Sunday after blowback about the hefty donation.

Dre and his producer Jimmy Iovine gave $70 million to USC in 2013 to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, according to a university press release. The men also have a campus building named after them. The school hailed them at the time as “forward-thinking visionaries.”

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How To Raise Your Kids So That They Become Self-Sufficient Adults

The college admissions scandal highlights some very important truths about privilege, mental health and, of course, parenting.

While the vast majority of parents are not in the position to bribe their children into elite schools, this extreme case illustrates the temptation many feel to take control of their kids’ lives. But an ultra-hands-on approach can have devastating consequences when it comes to a child’s mental health and ability to thrive.

“These parents thought their kids were incapable of managing their lives by themselves. And I don’t think there’s any worse message you can give somebody than ‘I don’t have any confidence in your ability to handle your own life,’” clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud told HuffPost.

Stixrud is the author of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, along with Ned Johnson, president and self-described “tutor-geek” at Washington, D.C.-based PrepMatters.

In the wake of the federal investigation that led to charges against dozens of parents, Johnson and Stixrud spoke to HuffPost about the importance of relinquishing control and being your child’s “consultant,” not manager. Here are some guidelines for parents to keep in mind.

Understand The Power Of Control

In their research, Johnson and Stixrud have identified the importance for young people to feel a sense of control over their own lives.

“We have this epidemic of stress-related problems like anxiety and depression, and so many of those are related to the fact that kids feel so little control over their lives,” said Stixrud. “They feel like, ‘Here’s a script to get into college, and that’s what your life is going to be.’ It’s incredibly stressful and discouraging for many kids.”

In order to develop healthy self-motivation, young people need to feel a sense of agency and autonomy, which parents and educators have the power to foster.

“We have this epidemic of stress-related problems like anxiety and depression, and so many of those are related to the fact that kids feel so little control over their lives.”

– Clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud

“The goal is to raise kids who feel motivated and want to work on themselves and contribute, but aren’t obsessively driven, or on the opposite end, smoking pot all day thinking ‘Who gives a shit?’” said Stixrud.

Letting a child take charge of his or her own life means that parents have to be less in control. This can be challenging, as losing control is stressful for many parents, who cope by seizing evenmore control.

“By definition, it’s a zero-sum game, so anxious and stressed-out parents may screw up their kids’ autonomous motivation when they try to take charge,” said Johnson.

Johnson believes the solution is helping parents understand that growth is not linear so that they don’t worry about their children’s futures as much.

“Parents fear, ‘If my kid is a C+ student in seventh grade, that’s going to be a straight-line trajectory, and he’s going to end up with a C+ life.’ But like bodies, brains develop at different rates,” Johnson explained. “We’ve seen so many kids who were kind of a mess when they were 12 or 17 or 22, but as their brains develop, they flourish. They’re post-cocious instead of precocious.”

If more parents understood this, they may realize it’s OK for their kids to struggle at times. “They can look at high school as four years of helping their child develop rather than sacrificing everything to help their kid get into a college that’s one notch higher on the U.S. News & World Report rankings,” Johnson said.

Be Your Child’s Consultant

“We suggest parents think of themselves as consultants, rather than a kid’s manager or boss, or the homework police. It’s a very different kind of thinking about your role,” said Stixrud. “As a consultant, your role is not to force anything or say ‘You need to be like this.’ Instead, help your kid understand what he or she wants to be.”

He advises parents to encourage their kids to make their own decisions long before the college years. It’s important to constantly ask, “Whose life is this?” and realize the answer is “My child’s life, not mine.”

“We suggest parents think of themselves as consultants, rather than a kid’s manager or boss, or the homework police.” 

“We think the best message you can give an adolescent is ‘I have confidence in your ability to make decisions about your own life and learn from your mistakes, and I want you to have tons of practice making these decisions and running your own life before you go off to college.’” Stixrud added.

The role of a parent-consultant is to offer help, not force help. Instead of thinking everything is too important to allow any missteps, realize that you can let some things go wrong and then figure it out.

“Ideally, they can solve their own problems and face their own failures in the context of a warm and loving family. We don’t encourage deliberately setting kids up for failure, but take a step back,” Johnson advised.

“Tell your kids, ‘I love you too much to fight with you about your homework.’ Think of yourself as their homework consultant, but don’t take responsibility for it,” he continued. “Many parents ask, ‘So just let them fail?’ No, I’m saying help them in any way you can, but don’t act like it’s not their responsibility. Because you’ll weaken them if you do.”

Let Your Child Practice Making Decisions

Stixrud recommends giving children decision-making power from an early age. With little kids, it can be as simple as asking, “Do you want to wear the blue outfit or the green one?” and being respectful of their opinions.

“You can say to them, ‘You’re the expert on you, so you know when you’re hungry or full.’ Or, maybe when deciding if a coat is necessary, say, ‘You know what it feels like to be cold. You can figure it out,’” he explained, adding that free play in preschool helps kids develop a sense of agency as well.

As kids get older, it may be a matter of choosing the right high school, the number of AP classes they take in a year, whether they get a part-time job, how they spend their summer vacation and if they study French or Spanish. With those kinds of academic choices, it’s imperative for young people to take some ownership so that they feel compelled to prove it was the right choice.

“If I make the decision for my kid, then he doesn’t own it. I do.”

– Clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud

“If I make the decision for my kid, then he doesn’t own it. I do,” said Stixrud. “And then he may be invested in his own failure, just to say ‘I told you this was a bad idea, Dad!’”

Stixrud suggests parents give their kids experience running their own lives before they go to college and are forced to do it. Have them schedule their own appointments, do their own laundry, cook for themselves or even work a part-time job.

“What’s really helpful to kids is treating them respectfully,” said Stixrud. “Kids have brains in their heads, and they want to be successful. They want their lives to work. Trusting them and supporting them works much better than thinking ‘We know what’s best’ and trying to force kids to fit our mold.”

Be A Non-Anxious Presence

Rabbi, therapist and leadership consultant Edwin Friedman wrote of the value of being a “non-anxious presence” ― a model that Johnson and Stixrud believe can inform parenting.

“He argues that organizations like schools, churches, families and corporations work better when the leaders aren’t anxious and emotionally reactive,” Stixrud explained. “It’s much easier to handle a toddler having a tantrum if you remain calm. It’s more helpful to a 15-year-old who comes home having failed a test if we stay calm.”

Because stress and anxiety can be contagious, moving in the direction of being a non-anxious presence is more constructive for children than seeing a parent get deeply upset if they don’t do well.

Kim Metcalfe, a retired professor of early childhood education and psychology, shared a similar sentiment with HuffPost.

“When kids fail, encourage them to persist and they will build resiliency skills through the process of persistence. Encouragement looks and sounds very different from discouragement, which is steeped in blaming, teasing, shaming, degrading, or punishing children for failure,” Metcalfe said.

“Tell kids that we are on their side, that we love and care about them unconditionally and that we are there to support them despite their mistakes,” she added.

Realize College Acceptance Is Not A Golden Ticket

Needless to say, some of the most unhealthy thought patterns and feelings of pressure for young people are related to the stress of college admissions.

“So many parents and kids have shared delusions about this idea that you have to go to an elite college in order to have a successful and satisfying life, and that if you do get into an elite college, everything else is justified ― whatever you had to do to get in, whatever you had to do to yourself,” Stixrud explained.

The college admissions scandal highlights the lengths many parents will go to in order to ensure an elite education for their children. 

The college admissions scandal highlights the lengths many parents will go to in order to ensure an elite education for their children. 

“Partly it’s culture, partly it’s parents and partly it’s the competitive high schools many young people attend, but there’s this huge amount of fear about not getting into a certain level of college. There’s this sense of ‘Yale or jail,’” he added.

Of course there are certain advantages to going to elite colleges, but the idea that it’s necessary in order to have a successful career and satisfying life is patently false. And that pressure takes a toll on young people’s mental health. Johnson and Stixrud pointed to the headline-making stories of high-achieving students who died by suicide at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania and other elite colleges.

“People always say, ‘I don’t understand it. She was such a great student, great leader, great athlete, she had so many friends’ ― as though people who wind up doing this are doing it because they somehow lost the meritocratic race,” said Johnson. “But the extreme and chronic pressure they put themselves under both allows them to achieve at such a high level and gives them profound mental health disorders.”

Instead of treating college acceptance as the golden ticket needed for a happy, successful life, parents should focus on raising kids who develop healthy brains and a strong sense of self. Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former Stanford dean and author of How to Raise an Adult, has described many high-achieving college students as “existentially impotent” ― driven by fear of failure rather than any sort of intellectual or emotional freedom.

“High school should be four years of developing yourself, finding what you’re good at and working on those skills,” said Johnson. “Young people should be trying to understand what they naturally want to do as opposed to only asking, ‘Does this look good for college applications?’”

Ultimately, the key is to keep college admissions in perspective. “There are so many headwinds kids will face as they grow up ― illness, divorce, job losses,” said Johnson. “If the worst thing that happens in a kid’s life is she didn’t get into her dream school, what a beautiful life that must be.”

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10 Must-Read Books To Honor Women’s History Month

Women’s contributions throughout history have often been minimized, erased or otherwise removed from the public consciousness. Fortunately there are many great books that bring their stories to light. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the folks over at Goodreads curated a list of books about women who made their mark on the world ― from more well-known names to relatively obscure stories. 

“To highlight the incredible lives of women throughout history, we looked at the most popular and highly rated biographies that have resonated with our community of 85 million members,” Goodreads co-founder and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Khuri Chandler told HuffPost.

“We also wanted to broaden our horizons, so we included biographies about women from different centuries and continents,” she added. “But the women had one thing in common: They all made an impact on our world, and this is the perfect month to celebrate that by learning more about their lives.”

Here are the 10 most popular books about women in history, as rated by Goodreads members:

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Referee Who Made Black Wrestler Cut Dreadlocks May Sue For Defamation

The New Jersey referee who was criticized for forcing a black teenager to cut his dreadlocks for a wrestling match is apparently planning to file a lawsuit alleging character defamation and emotional distress related to the incident.

The referee, Alan Maloney, sent a tort claim notice earlier this month to a dozen potential defendants, including the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and Buena School District officials, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A tort claim notice is not a lawsuit; instead, it informs a public entity that a person believes they have a reason to file a lawsuit against it.

Maloney alleged in his March 6 notice that he has suffered $100,000 in damages after making Andrew Johnson, a wrestler at Buena Regional High School, choose between cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting his match on Dec. 19, 2018. Buena officials said soon after the incident that Maloney would no longer work with the school district. The NJSIAA also barred him from officiating any matches, pending results from its own investigation and a probe by the state Division of Civil Rights.

Buena School District Superintendent David Cappuccio Jr. declined to comment to HuffPost for legal reasons.

A video of the dreadlock-cutting went viral online soon after it happened, with Johnson visibly upset when an athletic trainer used scissors to cut his hair off. The footage showed Johnson winning the match but still distressed, sparking conversations about the trauma black people experience over the racist policing of their hair.

Maloney, who is white, faced condemnation on social media and from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), film director Ava DuVernay and Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs.

The incident was referred to the state attorney general’s office to investigate whether Maloney had acted appropriately. Maloney’s claim notice, obtained by the Inquirer, defends his actions during that match, which included telling Johnson he was not allowed to wrestle without a hair covering.

“Mr. Maloney properly performed his duties as the referee and fairly applied the rules governing a wrestling match,” the notice stated, according to the newspaper.

Maloney has been accused of racism before. In 2016, the referee made headlines after reportedly using a racial slur against a black referee. He later said he didn’t remember saying the word.

Maloney’s attorney, Ralph Paolone, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Johnson’s attorney, Dominic Speziali, did not immediately respond either, but told the New York Daily News that “the extent referee Alan Maloney plans to ever file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd.”

Johnson, currently a high school junior, resumed competing in wrestling matches in January. He finished the season with 19 wins.

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8 Elite Public Schools In NYC Only Accepted 190 Black Students

Efforts to diversify New York City’s most selective public schools appear to be falling flat, with fewer black and Hispanic students offered acceptance letters this year while offers to white students rose.

Just 4 percent ― or 190 students ― of the 4,800 students invited to attend the city’s eight specialized schools this fall are black. That amount is down from 207 black students admitted last year out of more than 5,000 offers, the city said on Monday.

Stuyvesant High School, the city’s most selective school, similarly saw a repeat decline in black students receiving offer letters this year, with only seven black students being accepted ― down from 10 students last year. Bronx High School of Science, another highly selective specialized school, similarly offered 12 black students invitations this year, down from 25 students last year.

Stuyvesant High School, one of eight specialized public high schools in New York City that accepts students by a single test score, is seen. 

All eight of the specialized schools use a single test score ― from the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) ― to determine a student’s eligibility. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has advocated for abolishing the test, which he’s called a “roadblock to justice.”

The number of Hispanic students accepted at Stuyvesant did slightly increase from 27 to 33 students, though overall, across all eight schools, the number of Hispanic students accepted slightly decreased from 320 to 316 students. It also dropped at the Bronx High School of Science, from 65 students last year to 43.

In terms of white students, Stuyvesant sent invitations to 194 students this year, up from 151 last year. Among all eight schools, the acceptance rate increased from 1,344 to 1,368.

The number of Asian-American students, who make up more than half of the specialized schools, slightly decreased at Stuyvesant from 613 to 587 as well as across the board from 2,620 to 2,450.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was among those criticizing the acceptance rates while noting that more than half of the city’s public school students are black or Latino.

“To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like.”

Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, responding to the acceptance rates on Monday, echoed de Blasio’s previous calls to remove the SHSAT.

“We’re also once again confronted by an unacceptable status quo at our specialized high schools. We need to eliminate the single test for specialized high school admissions now,” he said in a statement obtained by HuffPost.

The city had hoped to increase the schools’ diversity to better reflect its demographics. As Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, black and Hispanic students make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s public school system as a whole, according to The New York Times.

The city last year announced plans to increase openings for those with disadvantaged backgrounds by extending offers to students whose test scores are just below the acceptance cutoff and who agree to participate in a summer program called Discovery. It then decreased this year’s total number of offers so that approximately 500 openings could be offered to Discovery participants. 

The de Blasio administration had estimated that over two years, 16 percent of the admission letters would go to black and Latino students, compared to 9 percent at the time of last year’s announcement.

A group of Asian-American education advocates filed a lawsuit against de Blasio and Carranza late last year, arguing that the changes to the admissions policy would discriminate against Asian-American students.

The city has said that by 2020 it hopes to reserve 20 percent of its seats at each specialized high school for Discovery program participants.

Applicable students will be notified later this spring if they are invited to attend the Discovery program.

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I Oversee A Dog Therapy Program On A College Campus. Here’s What I Have Learned.

The interaction always played out the same way. I’d leave my office and make my way across campus in search of coffee, my dog Frances by my side, and I would be besieged by students who, for the most part, would ignore me and lose themselves in Frances. They would eventually look up with tear-filled eyes and say: “As much as I miss my parents, I miss my dog more.”

Now, seven years later, I run a large dog therapy program at the University of British Columbia. With 60 therapy dog teams, we offer programs to reduce stress and boost students’ wellbeing.

Ellie, a four-year-old labradoodle, enjoys many pats from students as part of the Building Academic Retention through K9s program (B.A.R.K.) at the University of British Columbia.

The B.A.R.K. program — Building Academic Retention through K9s — creates opportunities for students and community members to spend time with therapy dogs.

We offer a weekly drop-in program on Friday afternoons. For students who can’t attend that session, we have therapy dog teams stationed throughout the campus strategically near the coffee shop and in the library at other times.

The 60 therapy dogs we have in B.A.R.K. are mostly male, are all around four years old. Thirty-six per cent of them are mixed breeds, thus challenging the prevailing stereotype that only golden retrievers make good therapy dogs.

We work closely with a local rescue group, Paws it Forward which rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in the United States and elsewhere. Once these dogs are adopted, many of them find their way into our program.

We also build leadership skills in children from the Okanagan Boys & Girls Club, and provide stress reduction opportunities for police constables at the Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment. It’s rewarding work for sure.

Why dogs on campus?

Life as a university student is usually thought of as an exciting and engaging time of one’s life. But for many it can feel not dissimilar to moving into a seniors’ home, in the sense of living away from home, leaving family and pets behind and adjusting to a potentially impersonal institution.

Dash, a six-year-old golden retriever, is one of 60 dogs who helps ease the transition from high school to university.

Dash, a six-year-old golden retriever, is one of 60 dogs who helps ease the transition from high school to university.

In fact, this transition sees first-year university students, especially in the first semester, experience heightened levels of homesickness.

Providing students with access to therapy dogs helps fill a void caused by this upheaval and helps to ease the transition from high school to university.

These first-year university students are adjusting to increased academic expectations and figuring out how to establish new social networks. Once they are suddenly free from the watchful eye of parents, they can thrive in their new environment or feel as if they are drowning in it.

Universities are increasingly seeking ways to support those students who need assistance with the transition from high school. No longer concerned only about students’ academic success, modern universities also strive to support their social and emotional wellbeing.

Students who fail to make the transition from high school to university are at risk for compromised mental health and potentially dropping out, which comes at a cost to not just the student, but the university too.

This is where therapy dogs come in on campuses. A 2015 study identified more than 925 canine therapy programs across U.S. college campuses and programs, but to date, no known comprehensive research is available about the number of canine therapy programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

After seven years, here’s what I’ve learned about supporting university students through canine therapy.

Exposing a group of therapy dogs to stressed university students is no small undertaking and efforts must be made to safeguard the welfare of therapy dogs working in sessions.

You can’t have human stress decrease at the expense of therapy dog wellbeing, so dogs in our program are carefully monitored for signs of distress. As part of their orientation, handlers learn to recognize the indicators of canine stress.

2. Being with dogs reduces student stress

Over the course of three semesters, we documented how 1,960 students confidentially assessed their stress levels upon arriving at a dog program and when departing. We found students’ stress reduced significantly from an average arrival rating of 4.47 on a five-point-scale to 1.73 on the same scale after being with dogs.

3. The half-hour sweet spot

Some programs will set limits on how long students can visit with dogs.

However, we identified that when given the option to stay until they felt their stress was sufficiently reduced, university students stay, on average, 35 minutes.

4. Dog therapy can be low-cost

Although a therapy dog program can provide a number of logistical challenges, structured properly it can be relatively low-cost.

The costs associated with running a program are borne largely upfront in the screening, training and assessment of therapy dogs and their handlers. As these programs run predominantly on the efforts of community volunteers, once dog-handler teams are identified, the costs are not prohibitive.

5. Programs must be flexible

There can’t be too many barriers impeding students’ access to dogs. Students, especially stressed students, don’t like to wait. Providing access to enough dogs to meet the demand can be a challenge.

6. It’s not just for first-year students

Although first-year students account for the bulk of our student visitors, we see students from across the undergraduate years. Generally, more female than male students seek to interact with therapy dogs.

We also see faculty, staff and community members make use of our programs. Although post-secondary faculty in particular experience heightened occupational stress, we have not yet assessed the effects of therapy dogs on faculty or staff stress.

At our drop-in space, you’ll find snacks, friendly dog handlers trained in facilitating interactions, and therapy dogs eager to comfort students who admit to missing their dog back home a little more than their parents.

John-Tyler Binfet is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. This article is republished from The Conversation Canada, a nonprofit news organization unlocking ideas from academia, under a Creative Commons license.

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U.S. Professor Becomes First Woman To Be Awarded Math’s Top Prize

An American professor has become the first woman to be awarded the Abel Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious international mathematics awards.

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced in Oslo on Tuesday that Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck of the University of Texas at Austin was this year’s winner of the prize, seen by many as the Nobel Prize in mathematics.

The award was worth six million Norwegian kroner ($704,000).

The jury cited Keskulla Uhlenbeck’s “fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape.” It also praised her as “a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.”

The prize was first awarded in 2003 to honor the 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.

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Julia Roberts Nails What Could Be Saddest Part Of College Admissions Scandal

One of the saddest parts of the college admissions scandal?

Actress Julia Roberts says it’s that the parents accused of paying bribes to secure prestigious school spots for their kids didn’t truly believe in their children.

That’s the Oscar-winner’s take on the scheme, in which dozens of people, including “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, are charged.

“That to me is so sad because I feel, from an outsider, that it says a little bit, ‘I don’t have enough faith in you,’” said Roberts, who was promoting the movie “Ben Is Back,” on ITV show “Lorraine” on Monday.

Roberts and her cinematographer husband, Daniel Moder, tried to “live a very normal experience” with their three children and didn’t want them “to have to have some of the same struggles” as she did growing up, she added. But it was a balance because they also “have to run their own race” and know important life skills.

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Brazil School Shooting Sparks A Familiar Gun Debate, NRA Talking Points And All

BRASÍLIA ― One of the deadliest shootings in Brazil’s history sparked a fresh debate over gun rights this week, deepening political fault lines that the U.S. firearms lobby helped form.

Just hours after two young men killed 10 people and injured 17 at their former school in the quiet São Paulo suburb of Suzano on Wednesday, a São Paulo lawmaker from President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right Social Liberal Party called for arming teachers.

“As long as the guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns,” tweeted Sen. Major Olímpio, a high-ranking party official and former police officer whose political influence has increased over the past few months.

The remark echoed a familiar drumbeat from the right-wing coalition that propelled Bolsonaro to victory last year.

Brazil’s influential and arch-conservative Bullet Caucus, a collection of congressional lawmakers to which Bolsonaro belonged during his nearly three decades in the legislature, threw its weight behind Bolsonaro as he campaigned on a hard-line law-and-order platform also calling to repeal Brazil’s most restrictive gun laws.

That included the Disarmament Statute, a 2003 law that makes it difficult for most civilians to legally purchase or own a firearm. Bolsonaro signed a decree in January easing the restriction.

The mass shootings that have become rote in American schools are rare in Brazil, though gun violence is common:

There were nearly 64,000 homicides committed here in 2017, according to government figures, and most tend to involve guns. In 2016, for instance, Brazil suffered more than 40,000 gun deaths — making it the only country in the world to have more gun deaths than the United States. The violence is unevenly distributed: More than three-quarters of annual victims of homicides are black

To hard-liners like Bolsonaro and his allies, the answer to this problem mirrors the solution offered by conservatives in the United States: Brazil needs fewer restrictions on guns, they say, not more.

And a movement that has taken its rhetorical, strategic and political cues directly from the playbook of the U.S. gun lobby and the National Rifle Association ― which has worked closely with pro-gun advocates in Brazil for more than a decade ― knew exactly how to respond to a mass shooting at a school with students ranging from elementary to high schoolers.

Arm teachers. Expand gun rights. Give people guns, don’t take them away.

“Another tragedy involving a minor that attests to the failure of the ill-fated disarmament statute,” Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s son and a São Paulo senator, tweeted.

A customer wearing a shirt in support of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro views a Forjas Taurus SA firearm for sale at a gun shop in São João de Meriti, Brazil.

The immediate response horrified members of the Brazilian opposition.

Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues, the center-left leader from the northern state of Amapá, scoffed at the Olímpio’s “outlaws” statement, tweeting that the “massacre could have been bigger” if it turned into a volley of shots between teachers and former students.

At his office on Thursday, Rodrigues held up his phone to show a video on Instagram in which Bolsonaro, holding a young girl, forms a pistol with his fingers and grins while instructing the child to do the same.

“One evil feeds another evil,” Rodrigues told HuffPost in a wide-ranging interview. “If you create the idea of fundamentalism and nationalism and spread hate, people stop loving art and stop loving sports and start loving guns.”

He added: “That evil is what Bolsonaro is feeding Brazilian society now.”

Alessandro Molon, the opposition leader in the lower house of Brazil’s bicameral legislature representing the Brazilian Socialist Party, introduced legislation last month to nullify Bolsonaro’s decree.

“More guns in circulation leads to more tragedies like the one we unfortunately experienced this week,” Molon told HuffPost via WhatsApp. “Restrictive gun policy means less innocent deaths.”

Rodrigo Maia, an influential congressman whose party is a part of Bolsonaro’s governing coalition, swatted down the idea that the shooting could serve as justification for easing gun laws.

“I hope that some don’t try to defend the idea that if only the teachers had been armed, the problem would have been resolved,” Maia said Wednesday, according to AP reports. “For the love of God.”

The interest in gun ownership has increased. This is linked to … narratives that are very similar to the NRA’s and the gun discussion in the U.S.
Felippe Angeli, Institute of Peace

That the debate in Brazil sounds so familiar is not an accident ― rather, it is the result of years of collaboration between the United States’ powerful gun lobby and allies it has found and cultivated in South America’s largest nation.

The National Rifle Association has long taken an active interest in Brazil, which is home to Taurus International, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of revolvers. In 2003, NRA lobbyists began working alongside Brazilian gun rights groups in an unsuccessful effort to prevent passage of the Disarmament Statute. Two years later, the NRA helped defeat a national ballot referendum that would have banned firearm and ammunition sales with a public lobbying campaign that helped flip polling that had once shown most Brazilians in favor of the ban.

“We view Brazil as the opening salvo for the global gun control movement. If gun control proponents succeed in Brazil, America will be next,” an NRA spokesperson said at the time.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday about its work in Brazil. But it has expanded its global advocacy efforts over the last five years, and its efforts in Brazil have included developing public education campaigns based on its efforts in the United States. Brazilian pro-gun advocates now talk about their God-given rights to own guns and the need for firearms to promote self-defense ― the same talking points as their U.S. counterparts.

“Guns are our guarantee of freedom,” Bolsonaro said during a campaign stop last year, according to Bloomberg. His son Carlos, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, has posted online that “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That rhetoric, along with sharp spikes in violent crime in recent years, has in turn increased the appetite for gun ownership among Brazilians. In 2004, the year after the disarmament statute was approved, Brazil’s Federal Police received roughly 4,000 permit applications for legal gun purchases, said Felippe Angeli, the advocacy director for the Institute of Peace, a São Paulo-based think tank. Last year, the Federal Police issued nearly 50,000 such permits.

“Together with the rise of Bolsonaro and right-wing groups, the interest in gun ownership has increased,” Angeli told HuffPost in January after Bolsonaro issued his gun decree. “This is linked to the political polarization we have in Brazil, and the narratives that are very similar to the NRA’s and the gun discussion in the U.S.”

Students embrace outside the Raul Brasil state school one day after a mass shooting there in Suzano, Brazil, on March 14, 201

Students embrace outside the Raul Brasil state school one day after a mass shooting there in Suzano, Brazil, on March 14, 2019. 

The school shooting this week also showed disturbing links to U.S. gun culture. Citing preliminary police investigations, TV Globo reported that the shooters studied U.S. mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine school shooting that shook Americans much as Wednesday’s massacre in São Paulo has rattled Brazil.

Bolsonaro offered his condolences to the victims and their families, and has thus far avoided joining some of his congressional allies in using the tragedy to advance his pro-gun cause. But with his presidency off to a turbulent start that has angered even some of his most fervent conservative supporters, it is unlikely that he will abandon his support for legislation that would expand on his decree and repeal parts, if not all, of the disarmament statute’s gun restrictions.

There are nearly 650,000 legally registered guns in Brazil, according to Federal Police data cited by Reuters, while the Justice Ministry has estimated that there are more than 8 million illegal weapons circulating across the country.

Experts have warned that any measure that increases access to guns and the number of guns overall will only lead to more bloodshed, whether it takes the form of mass school shootings or the everyday gun violence that grips the country.

“There is a scientific consensus that the rise of guns in circulation gets you a rise in violent crime,” Angeli said in January. “There will be more deaths in a country where, already, the homicide rates are unbearable.”

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You Need To Teach Your Kids To Fail. Here’s How.

The college admissions scandal may seem like an extreme case that only pertains to wealthy elites with the means to bribe people to get their children into top universities. But it touches on the pressured feelings almost all parents and students feel today. It also highlights the way many parents are cheating their kids out of an important life lesson: how to fail and bounce back.

The concept of “helicopter parents” who hover over all aspects of their kids’ lives has been around for a while, but over the past year, there have been more headlines about “lawn mower parents,” who mow down every obstacle or difficulty their children may have to face. Lawn mower parents are also known as “snow plow parents” (and even “curling parents” in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands).

It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children from disappointment, but doing so can ultimately lower their self-esteem and set them up for more difficulty in the future. HuffPost spoke to educators and child development experts about the importance of teaching kids about failure and resilience.

The Importance Of Failure

“Parents who give permission for kids to fail are building social and emotional skills and qualities that last a lifetime ― persistence, positive self-image, self-confidence, self-control, problem-solving, self-sufficiency, focus and patience,” Kim Metcalfe, a retired professor of early childhood education and psychology and author of Let’s Build ExtraOrdinary Youth Together, told HuffPost.

But allowing your child to fail almost seems to go against nature, noted Jessica Lahey, a teacher, journalist and author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.

She said that parents feel bombarded by frightening headlines along the lines of “it’s impossible to get into college today” or “the next generation of kids is unlikely to do better economically than their parents.”

“When faced with those sorts of scary scenarios, we tend to go into ‘protective parent mode,’ which is evolutionarily rational,” Lahey explained. “But we’re reacting to things that aren’t actually threats. It’s not a threat that our child can’t get into Harvard. It’s not a threat that our kid is not the top-scoring player on the soccer team. It’s something that’s beneficial for them to have to experience.”

“Failure is part of life, and if our children don’t have the opportunity to fail or make mistakes, they’ll never realize they can bounce back. That’s what resilience is all about.”

– Michele Borba

Because parents have the instinct to protect their children from failure and disappointment, it’s necessary to take a step back and understand what real threats are versus what’s actually just part of growing up.

“Failure is part of life, and if our children don’t have the opportunity to fail or make mistakes, they’ll never realize they can bounce back. That’s what resilience is all about,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. “Your child doesn’t learn to bounce back because you told them they could but because they experienced it. Then when the problems get really huge, they’ve got that gumption inside to realize, ‘Hey I can do this!’”

The Problem With Lawn Mowers

“We can’t plow everything out of the way,” said Lahey. “If this college admissions case is any example, they’ve just set their kids up for failure. Lori Loughlin’s daughter, the Instagram influencer, has become a laughingstock, and now her life is open to scrutiny in a way it wasn’t before.”

Parents who bribe their kids into colleges they’re not equipped to attend are not solving any problems, but rather creating a situation in which their kids will struggle, she continued. This will ultimately erode their sense of competence and self-esteem.

One of the best ways to help a child build his or her sense of self-esteem is to separate your own self-worth as a parent from your children’s accomplishments.

Rather than mowing down obstacles, parents should encourage their children to try and fail and try again. 

Like everyone, parents tend to look for concrete indicators of success and progress. But because there are no parenting report cards or performance evaluations, they simply look to their kids’ achievements and co-opt them.

Lahey noted that this is part of what psychology professor Wendy Grolnick calls the “Pressured Parent Phenomenon.”

“Parents think, ‘My child made the traveling soccer team, so that means I get an A for my parenting,’ or ‘They won the science fair. That means I’m an A+ parent,’” Lahey explained, noting that this feeds into the temptation to mow down any obstacles or challenges kids may face and deprive them of the opportunity to fail.

Obviously no one wants to watch their children fail, but they need to in order to learn to react to failure in a positive and constructive way.

“The most effective teaching tools we have require kids to get frustrated and work through it to the other side,” Lahey said, pointing to the concept of “desirable difficulties” ― educational tasks that require a considerable but ultimately desirable amount of effort in order to enhance long-term learning.

“To benefit from desirable difficulties, kids have to be able to get frustrated, redirect themselves, take a breath, reread the instructions and stick with it long enough that they can overcome that frustration and actually feel that sense of competence when they actually work it out,” she noted.

Lahey encouraged moms and dads to parent from a place of trust and focus on “autonomy supportive parenting” (giving kids more control over the details of a task and allowing them to get frustrated and work through it) rather than “directive parenting” (laying out exactly how to do things and making them follow through).

“Parents think, ‘My child made the traveling soccer team, so that means I get an A for my parenting,’ or ‘They won the science fair. That means I’m an A+ parent.’”

– Jessica Lahey

“We as parents are really good at trying to make our kids feel confident. But confidence is like this empty optimism,” said Lahey. “Competence ― when kids actually push through, figure something out, try something, screw it up, do it again, and get to a place where they really achieve something ― that’s where real self-esteem lies, not in someone telling you you’re smart over and over again.”

How To Teach Failure And Resilience Every Day

Parents can incorporate lessons of failure and resilience for their kids in their everyday lives. For instance, Lahey recommends showing young children how to load the dishwasher and then asking them to do it. Inevitably, they will do something wrong, but it’s a learning opportunity.

“If there’s still egg stuck to one of the plates, you can show it to them and say, ‘Look, because this wasn’t rinsed off, it’s all stuck on there. So let’s work together to get this off, and next time you’ll remember that this sticky yucky egg may still be stuck on there if you don’t rinse first,’” she explained.

When she goes to the airport with her own children, Lahey sometimes budgets extra time so that when they arrive she can turn to them and ask, “OK, where do we go? What do we do first?” That way when they eventually do travel alone, they will feel comfortable navigating an airport.

Lahey acknowledged that these types of experiences often require additional time and planning, but it’s worth it. “Giving them age-appropriate tasks that are fairly low stakes helps them get to a place where when things get to be higher stakes, they’ve got it,” she said.

Parents can incorporate lessons of failure and resilience for their kids into their everyday lives.

Parents can incorporate lessons of failure and resilience for their kids into their everyday lives.

Growing up, Lahey’s son loved a local chocolate shop and asked if they could go there one day. She pulled up to the store, handed him a $5 bill and told him to “go for it!” He refused because he didn’t want to go in by himself, so they left. They repeated this exercise many times over the course of a year until finally one day, he decided he could go in by himself.

“That was a turning point for him about being afraid to talk to people in stores,” she recalled. “Now it’s no problem for him, and that was a low-risk, child-friendly way for him to overcome something that really freaked him out.”

Lahey also recommends having older kids fill out their own school forms and call to schedule their own doctors’ appointments. “These are things that feel like stupid busy work to us, but they’re actually great moments of accomplishment for kids,” she said.

Books also provide a great opportunity to teach failure and resilience. Borba is a fan of Fortunately by Remy Charlip, a children’s book about a boy named Ned who finds himself in some tough situations.

“Every time he has an ‘unfortunate,’ he turns it into a ‘fortunate,’” she explained. “Every page is about how to flip the unfortunate into a fortunate, so kids see that everybody has unfortunates.”

The Power Of Brainstorming

Borba recommends making brainstorming part of kids’ day-to-day experience to help them practice coming up with solutions to problems.

“When your child makes a mistake, don’t berate the child for the mistake but make it into a question of ‘What are you going to learn from it?’ ‘What’s one way you could do that differently?’ or ‘OK, let’s figure out what to do next,’” Borba noted. “If they realize that inside their brains are opportunities to keep thinking of a different option, then they’re less likely to make the mistake again.”

She pointed to what she calls the “pocket problem-solver” method ― using your hand as a brainstorming tool. For your thumb, ask what the problem is. Then name three things you could have done differently for your pointer, middle and ring fingers. Then your pinkie is what you’re going to do next time.

“When your child makes a mistake, don’t berate the child for the mistake but make it into a question of ‘What are you going to learn from it?’ ‘What’s one way you could do that differently?’”

– Michele Borba

For older kids and teens, parents can respond to mistakes and failures by saying, “It’s OK, we can do it again. Let’s figure out another option.”

Borba believes they should own up to their mistakes and be involved in the process of figuring out other options or solutions: “Let’s say your teen is failing a class. Ask, ‘What do you want to do? How about setting up a conference with the teacher? How about getting a tutor?’ Involve them in the ‘how abouts.’”

With older kids and teens, Borba also recommended using news stories as a jumping off point for conversations. The college admissions scandal is actually a good example.

“Ask your teen, ‘Have you heard about what these parents did? How would you feel if I did something like that?’ It’s great to get their reaction,” she said. “Often the real news stories, especially if they involve teens, are a way in, and if your kid isn’t opening up, ask, ‘What do your friends think? What are other people saying about it?’ It’s powerful.”

Kids Need To See Their Parents Struggle

Sharing stories of past failures and how you moved on can be beneficial for your children, but what’s even more helpful is keeping your kids in the loop as you face adversity in the present.

“Sharing current failures allows parents to share the entire thinking and behavioral processes they engage in, which models persistence but more importantly delivers the message that no matter how old we are, we fail, we persist and we learn,” Metcalfe said. Consistently modeling resilience can help kids develop a glass-half-full attitude.

There are age-appropriate ways to be open about failure and make it clear that mistakes are acceptable in your household. Borba noted that parents don’t necessarily have to admit all their biggest failures to their young children (“Oh no, I’ve just gone completely bankrupt! What do I do?”), but it’s OK to openly say, “Oh gosh, I just messed this project up.”

“The wonderful thing is adding ‘but next time I’ll ….’” Borba explained. “For instance say, ‘Wow, I just completely blew the time frame. I thought I’d be able to get out the door on time, and now I’m so late. But next time I’ll set my alarm earlier!’”

It's helpful for parents to be open about their own mistakes and failures. 

It’s helpful for parents to be open about their own mistakes and failures. 

In Lahey’s house, they lay out three things they’d each like to accomplish over the next three months, and one has to be “a bit scary.” Her goals have included submitting work to new publications, taking guitar lessons for the first time and even studying Algebra I in her 40s to get over her “math-phobia.”

She believes it’s a powerful learning opportunity for kids to see their parents try new things that are scary and could lead to mistakes and know that it’s OK.

“My kids watched me do it, screw it up and try again,” she said. “That’s the most effective thing we can give them, yet we seem to hide it because we want them to think we’re perfect or something ― which, as many already know, we’re not.”

Ultimately, fostering a growth and resilience mindset in your child is something that takes time and effort. “Realize that a one-time talk isn’t going to change him or her,” Borba said.

Still, these are lessons worth teaching, so keep encouraging your child to try, make mistakes and see failures as a learning opportunity. With time, you’ll raise a human who’s comfortable facing adversity and able to overcome challenges. This is what every parent fundamentally wants ― not a Yale acceptance letter.

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Stanford Students Sue In College Admissions Scandal

Two Stanford University students say in a federal lawsuit that the massive college admissions scam prosecutors unveiled this week cheapens the value of their education and may prompt future employers to wonder if they have “rich parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

Erica Olson and Kalea Woods contend in the lawsuit filed in California’s Northern District on Wednesday that they followed the rules with their college applications and were “never informed that the process of admission was an unfair, rigged process, in which rich parents could buy their way into the university through bribery.”

The suit, which names Stanford, Yale, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest and other elite schools that figured in this week’s federal indictment, seeks class-action certification and demands the return of application fees, along with unspecified punitive damages.

A Stanford degree, both students allege, is “now not worth as much as it was before, because prospective employers may now question whether she was admitted to the university on her own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.” 

Federal prosecutors charged 50 people on Tuesday in a scheme to buy freshman spots at Yale, Stanford and other big-name schools. Parents accused in the scam, including Wall Street titans and Hollywood celebrities, allegedly paid thousands to rig their childrens’ test scores or bribe coaches to attest to faked athletic prowess.

Olson argues in the complaint that she wanted to go to Yale and had “stellar” standardized test scores and athletic talent. She paid an $80 application fee and was rejected, and says the admissions scam shows she “did not receive what she paid for — a fair admissions consideration process.”

Woods says she wanted to attend USC, and “was never informed that the process of admission at USC was an unfair, rigged process, in which parents could buy their way into the university through bribery and dishonest schemes.”

The lawsuit also names UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas and Georgetown University as defendants. In addition, it names William Singer, founder of a college preparatory business who is a central figure in Tuesday’s indictment.

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Court Rules Gun Manufacturer Can Be Sued Over Sandy Hook Shooting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gun maker Remington can be sued over how it marketed the Bushmaster rifle used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, a divided Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices issued a 4-3 decision that reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit and overturned a lower court ruling that the lawsuit was prohibited by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability in most cases when their products are used in crimes.

The plaintiffs include a survivor and relatives of nine people killed in the massacre. They argue the AR-15-style rifle used by shooter Adam Lanza is too dangerous for the public and Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people.

Remington has denied wrongdoing and previously insisted it can’t be sued under the federal law.

The majority of the high court agreed with most of the lower court’s ruling and dismissed most of the lawsuit’s allegations, but allowed a wrongful marketing claim to proceed.

“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority.

In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, firearms training unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook School shooting, for a demonstration during a hearing of a legislative subcommittee reviewing gun laws, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn.

Lanza, 20, shot his way into the locked school in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, and killed 20 first-graders and six educators with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, similar to an AR-15. He shot his mother to death in their Newtown home beforehand, and killed himself as police arrived at the school.

Connecticut’s child advocate said Lanza’s severe and deteriorating mental health problems, his preoccupation with violence and access to his mother’s legal weapons “proved a recipe for mass murder.”

Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the state Supreme Court during arguments in November 2017 the Bushmaster rifle and other AR-15-style rifles were designed as military killing machines and should never have been sold to the public.

“The families’ goal has always been to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans’ safety,” Koskoff said Thursday. “Today’s decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

Military-style rifles have been used in many other mass shootings, including in Las Vegas in October 2017 when 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

The case was watched by gun rights supporters and gun control advocates across the country as one that could affect other cases accusing gun-makers of being responsible for mass shootings. Several groups, ranging from the National Rifle Association to emergency room doctors, submitted briefs to the court.

The 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.

James Vogts, a lawyer for Remington, has cited the 2005 federal law and previously said the Bushmaster rifle is a legal firearm used by millions of people for hunting, self-defense and target shooting.

Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, filed for bankruptcy reorganization last year amid years of slumping sales and legal and financial pressure over the Sandy Hook school massacre.

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Lori Loughlin Free After Posting $1 Million Bond In College Admissions Scam

Actress Lori Loughlin is free on a $1 million bond after appearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday in relation to her alleged participation in an elite college admission scheme.

Like her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who is also a suspect in the scam, Loughlin was allowed to put up her home as collateral to secure the bond, according to TMZ.

The actress was allowed to retain her passport for her work on a film project in British Columbia, NBC News reported. She will have to surrender her passport in December when her projects in Canada are completed, according to TMZ.

Loughlin and her husband are among dozens of people that the FBI says allegedly paid up to $6 million in bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Yale and Georgetown.

The couple face charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Loughlin and Giannulli reportedly agreed to pay $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters recruited to be part of the University of Southern California crew team ― even though neither teen actually rowed.

cooperating witness told the parents that their elder daughter’s academic qualifications were “at or just below the low end of admission standards.”

Loughlin, who is known for portraying Aunt Becky on “Full House” and for starring in numerous Hallmark Channel movies, will appear in court again in Boston on March 29.

A Hallmark Channel spokeswoman said the network hasn’t decided what effect, if any, her arrest will have on programming.

“Crown Media Family Networks is aware of the situation and is monitoring developments as they arise,” spokeswoman Pam Slay told the New York Daily News.

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Elite College Admissions Scandal Shows Irony Of Affirmative Action Complaints

For many, the college admissions scam of wealthy people allegedly paying bribes to get their kids into elite universities only confirmed what they already knew: Higher education is rigged to benefit wealthy, white students. But the scandal also laid bare the irony of people who complain affirmative action gives an unfair advantage to students of color in admissions, when in fact rich, white kids get the scales heavily tipped in their favor.

“This scandal is just the extreme, the illegal extreme, but it’s in a continuum with legacy admissions, with Jared Kushner, with all these other thumbs on the scale that wealthy kids get that are legal,” said Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy at the University of Michigan.

“There’s a lot more kids at elite colleges because their parents are rich than because they’re brown or black,” she added.

Critics of affirmative action policies ― which allow institutions of higher education to account for an applicant’s race or ethnicity to a certain extent when considering admission ― claim that these give an unfair advantage to nonwhite students. 

But experts HuffPost spoke to pointed to the many ways, not even reaching the illegal, that access to higher education is already structured to benefit wealthy, white students over others.

Sarah Hinger, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s racial justice program, pointed to “non-criminal ways that privilege shapes college admissions,” such as legacy admissions preferences, donations and athletic scholarships, as well as experiences long before college such as private tutors and test prep to get into elite K-12 schools.

“Societally, we’re accustomed to families seeking to advantage their children through these methods,” Hinger said. “And the ability to do so is a privilege that largely accrues to wealthier white families.”

Meanwhile, in response to the cheating scandal, many people of color on Twitter who went to elite schools spoke of how they were often unfairly scrutinized as supposedly being there because of affirmative action, while rich white students were not targeted for being there due to their wealth.

“I’ve been told when I got in Amherst [College] that I was an “affirmative action baby,” said Anthony Jack, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “And at Harvard as a grad student and a faculty member, it’s used as an insult.” 

Hinger pointed to the acceptance, or relative lack of criticism, for advantages of wealth and privilege compared with the frequent criticism of affirmative action programs.

“The irony is that affirmative action or race-conscious admissions programs are intended to mitigate the disparities that privilege creates, to even the playing field at least slightly,” she added.

“Who’s getting the thumb on the scale?” Dynarski said. “Largely it’s not low-income or brown or black kids, it’s wealthy kids. … If you look around a college campus and you’re thinking about who got in because of a thumb on the scale, it’s the rich white legacy kids.”

It is a notable “falsehood” in the affirmative action debate that students of color who get into a school that uses affirmative action in admissions are not as qualified as others, according to Jin Hee Lee, who oversees the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s education and economic justice work. By the time Harvard considers any student, given the high demand for entry, they are weighing race as a factor among a pool of students who are “exceptionally qualified,” she noted.

“For black and Latinx students to be seen as not worthy of attending select universities, it’s not reflective of the facts,” Lee said, noting these are students with “exceptional” grades, test scores, extracurriculars and more. “Black and Latinx children are seen as though it’d be a surprise for them to be smart or they’re not as capable, when that’s really not the case.”

Meanwhile, this scheme of rich parents allegedly bribing college athletic coaches and exam proctors to get an illegal “in” for their children is just “the tip of the iceberg,” as Jack put it.

“A lot of people are focusing on this scandal. … It’s the culmination of a lifetime of opportunity hoarding, of parents thinking their children deserve better than other people,” Jack said, pointing to parents who hire private tutors to improve their kids’ SAT scores and writing coaches to massage their kids’ college applications. “It’s a story of power and privilege reproducing itself.”

A lot of people are focusing on this scandal. … It’s the culmination of a lifetime of opportunity hoarding, of parents thinking their children deserve better than other people.
Dr. Anthony Jack, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Wealthy families in the U.S. already use a variety of methods, short of the illegal, to buy their kids’ way into college, including large donations to schools, like Kushner’s dad pledging $2.5 million to Harvard University. Then there’s the extra tutors, essay coaches and interview prep professionals who help the elite get their kids into Ivy League schools.

But perhaps most egregious of all, the experts said, is the issue of legacy admissions ― or students being more likely to get accepted simply because a parent or other relative attended.

“Legacy admissions, in particular, is affirmative action for people who’ve had a very privileged life,” Dynarski said.

Legacy tips the scales heavily in an applicant’s favor ― and disproportionately favors white students. At Harvard University, for instance, legacy applicants were accepted at nearly five times the rate of non-legacies ― with legacy applicants accepted at a rate of nearly 34 percent from 2009 to 2015, versus a rate of 5.9 percent for non-legacies in the same period, per NPR.

“It’s absolutely hypocritical that children of alumni are given a leg up in admissions when there is no moral social justification or historical legacy of exclusion,” Jack said.

Race-based affirmative action was meant as a correction to historical, systemic inequality in access to education because of one’s race.

Hinger pointed to the long, well-documented history of race discrimination in the U.S. from legally segregated public schools to the racial wealth gap. She noted advantages like legacy admissions likely had a greater impact on college admissions than the consideration of race.

“The point of it, whether race- or class-based, is to try to counter the enormous inequities that hold back these kids all the way through elementary, high school ― they’re given a small boost at college entry,” Dynarski said. “It’s not anywhere near the advantage given to legacy students.”

Even with affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at Ivy League schools than they were several decades ago, per The New York Times.

Meanwhile, white people are the racial group most likely to oppose affirmative action, according to The Washington Post. Nearly two-thirds of white people opposed such policies, according to a 40-year study of public opinions, while only 10 percent of black people did.

Affirmative action has also been repeatedly under threat in recent years, with a high-profile lawsuit involving the University of Texas (ironically one of the schools the alleged scammer parents bribed to get their kids into). In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Fisher v. University of Texas that the use of race as a factor in admissions was constitutional.

Most recently a lawsuit against Harvard, claiming the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants, is likely to bring another affirmative action decision before the high court.

If you look around a college campus and you’re thinking about who got in because of a thumb on the scale, it’s the rich white legacy kids.
Susan Dynarski, professor at the University of Michigan

Some people have argued this elite college cheating scandal has only magnified just how much programs like affirmative action are needed to level the playing field in a system already rigged to benefit rich white people.

“What these parents are accused of doing is paying to give their children a leg up above everyone else ― a leg up they didn’t deserve ― so they could gain admission to the school of their choice. Because this is how privilege works. This is how white privilege works,” Monique Judge wrote in an article for The Root.

“Shame on everyone involved in this. And shame on anyone who still thinks affirmative action is unnecessary,” she said.

And the processes that provide unfair advantages to children and adults with wealthy parents do not start or stop at college admissions, Jack noted.

“Let’s not think this is just one moment. This is a lifelong system,” he said, noting that these are the same types of parents who then pay their kids’ rent so they can afford to take a prestigious unpaid internship or call a friend to get their kids an internship in the first place.

“This is power and privilege putting you in positions that you don’t earn,” he said. “If this doesn’t show you the myth of meritocracy, I don’t know what will.” 

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Celebrity Admissions Scandal Exposes The Racism At The Heart Of College Sports

“There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling vowed Tuesday as he announced his office’s indictment of dozens of people accused of paying huge bribes to help their children gain admission to elite colleges and universities.

The latest college admissions scandal is especially juicy because it involves the corruption-ridden world of college sports. Some of the parents allegedly faked their kids’ participation in sports like soccer, tennis and water polo, and coaches at big-name schools like the University of Southern California, UCLA, Wake Forest, Stanford, the University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown were among those indicted. But this wasn’t exclusively a sports scandal.

“I wouldn’t single out athletics as being ripe for exploitation here,” said Natasha Warikoo, an associate education professor at Harvard. “What’s ripe for exploitation is the overall system.”

Rich people are going to do rich people things.

And in the cut-throat world of college admissions, one of the most common things rich people do is use athletics to gain access to elite academic institutions for which they might not otherwise qualify.

College sports have long provided a “separate admissions system,” to quote Lelling, that largely benefits the wealthy. Collegiate athletics have helped ensure that the higher education system is rigged in favor of wealthy, white people. Those rich, white, indicted folks who faked their kids’ athletic careers were exploiting a system that privileges even the rich, white folks who don’t cheat.

“The system is broken, and today is nothing but another example of the troubling dysfunctionality of college sports,” Don Jackson, a sports attorney and owner of The Sports Group legal practice, said Tuesday. “Especially because of the fact that none of these kids were really athletes.”

“There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a March 12 news conference in Boston announcing charges against more than 40 people.

‘Purported Athletic Recruits’

It’s no secret that universities privilege athletes when it comes to the admissions process, and the nation’s most elite institutions are no exception. For years, a large donation to the athletic program or the right academic department has been an easy way for ultra-wealthy parents to get their aspiring young athletes into a school and onto a team.

This is, in essence, legal bribery. It was only a matter of time before a crafty huckster would figure out how to take it even further ― into illegal territory ― to benefit other rich people whose kids weren’t as good at sports or had no interest in filling the role of human victory cigar.

That is precisely what the U.S. Department of Justice says happened.

William “Rick” Singer, the founder of a for-profit college preparatory company, was the mastermind behind the scheme, according to the federal complaint. He positioned himself as a middleman who could take a cut of the money that had otherwise gone directly to the schools by convincing parents to go along with a scheme that benefited him, the coaches who helped, and the parents and students, too. (Singer pleaded guilty to multiple charges in federal court on Tuesday afternoon.)

At USC, one student gained admission ‘as a purported rowing recruit, even though she was not competitive in rowing, but instead was an avid equestrian.’

As Singer knew, schools like USC and UCLA “give consideration” to prospective students’ athletic abilities and may admit sports-focused applicants “whose grades and standardized test scores are below those” of other applicants, the complaint notes. Other schools, like Georgetown and Wake Forest, hold more than 100 admissions slots open annually for their coaches’ picks.

The complaint alleges that the conspirators, in some cases, exploited that system by paying bribes to college coaches to designate students “as purported athletic recruits ― regardless of their athletic abilities and in some cases even though they did not play the sport they were purportedly recruited to play.”

At Georgetown, Yale and UCLA, coaches took bribes ranging from $100,000 to $950,000 to help students gain admittance as athletes even though they hadn’t played the sports in question. At USC, one student gained admission “as a purported rowing recruit, even though she was not competitive in rowing, but instead was an avid equestrian.” Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst and UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo are both facing racketeering charges.

USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, meanwhile, accepted a bribe “to designate” a student “as a purported recruit to the USC men’s water polo team, thereby facilitating his admission to USC.” Parents sent fabricated awards and statistics to Vavic, who is now facing racketeering charges and has been fired. Vavic then argued to USC’s admissions officials that the student would be “the fastest player on our team.” That student withdrew from the water polo team after just one semester, according to the complaint. In another instance, a parent “sought reassurance that his daughter would not actually have to join the USC water polo team.”

Parents went so far as to photoshop a supposed water polo recruit into an image of someone else playing the sport. The absurdity was evident to everyone involved.

“Last year I had a boy who did the water polo, and when the dad sent me the picture, he was way too high out of the water,” Singer told one parent, according to the complaint. “That nobody would believe that anybody could get that high.”

But the fraud worked nearly every time.

“Is there any risk of this blowing up in my face?” asked Agustin Huneeus, a parent who is facing conspiracy charges after allegedly helping his daughter gain admission to USC as a fake water polo recruit, according to the complaint.

“Hasn’t in 24 years,” Singer replied.

Sixty-five percent of Division I water polo athletes are white, an even larger majority than in D-I college sports as a whole

Sixty-five percent of Division I water polo athletes are white, an even larger majority than in D-I college sports as a whole.

‘Affirmative Action For Affluent White Kids’

Throughout college sports, and at the most elite institutions in particular, the primary beneficiaries of the privilege of playing on a team have been white students.

“College sports at elite schools are a quiet sort of affirmative action for affluent white kids,” The Atlantic’s Saahil Desai argued last year, adding that they “play a big role in keeping these institutions so stubbornly white and affluent.”

At many top-tier colleges, the admissions structure overwhelmingly benefits athletes. At Harvard, The Atlantic noted, non-athletes are admitted at rates “nearly 1,000 times lower” than athletes with comparable scores on the school’s admissions scale. Twenty percent of students admitted to Ivy League colleges each year are athletes, according to Columbia University professor Jonathan Cole.

This isn’t an accident. As Desai noted, schools value the economic and prestige benefits that come with successful sports programs. That gives coaches leverage to obtain students they want, even if those kids might not otherwise beat out other qualified applicants.

In 2012, a Dartmouth academics adviser told Business Insider that they were “constantly peeved by athletic admissions,” a process under which “coaches submit lists to admissions officers, ranking recruits, saying these are the kids we really want, and as you get to the top of the list you can be more lenient with academic standards.”

Most white student-athletes play sports like baseball and lacrosse, sailing and crew, soccer and tennis. While the Justice Department’s complaint does not mention the race or ethnicity of the more than 40 people charged, most of them were white people pretending that their kids played sports in which the overwhelming majority of Division I participants are white. In 2017-2018, according to the NCAA’s own numbers, 69 percent of Division I women’s soccer players were white. Eighty-two percent of Division I sailors were. For water polo and volleyball, it was 65 percent. (Overall, more than 60 percent of Division I athletes are white. At elite schools like the Ivies, white athletes make up an even larger majority.)

This flies in the face of what we think we know about college sports: The archetypal college athlete in most Americans’ minds is the black male student who makes up the majority of Division I basketball and football teams ― the athletes whose labor draws thousands of fans to arenas and stadiums and fills the coffers of university athletic departments with millions of dollars.

That the majority of black students at top colleges and universities tend to be athletes fosters the biased idea that sports serve as another form of affirmative action for black people ― that were it not for sports, most of the black students on college campuses wouldn’t be there at all.

You can hear this in the paternalistic tone the NCAA’s higher-ups use to remind us how many poor black kids they’ve helped. And you can see the ways that perception of the black athlete as a faux student is reinforced by the sports scandals that do grab our attention: the University of North Carolina’s Afro-American Studies academic fraud scandal that hit the school’s prominent football and men’s basketball programs, former University of Memphis star Derrick Rose’s questionable ACT and SAT scores, or the overly easy tests and fake grades handed to two University of Georgia basketball players in the early 2000s, to name but three.

But Tuesday’s news ought to shift our perceptions of who’s really benefiting from college athletics, or from the sort of bribery that some rich white folks turn to even when their kids aren’t athletes.

Men's basketball is one of just two Division I college sports in which a majority of the athletes are black.

Men’s basketball is one of just two Division I college sports in which a majority of the athletes are black.

What stood out to Jackson, the sports lawyer, was that each alleged athlete in the latest scandal appeared to get away with cheating so easily.

The NCAA requires anyone who wants to play college sports to register with its Eligibility Center, a clearinghouse that certifies academic eligibility and checks athletes for potential violations ― including suspicious test scores. (This part of the system applies to scholarship and non-scholarship athletes at the Division I and II levels.)

“If a kid makes a 12 on his first [ACT] attempt, and then a 12 on his second, and then a 29 on his third, you should probably red-flag that kid and take a long, hard look at his test scores,” said Jackson, who is also a law professor at Alabama’s Samford University. “On the other hand, I’ve represented African-American kids who took the SAT one time and made a satisfactory score, but the NCAA or a conference red-flagged that score, [and then] the testing service investigated it and canceled that score.” (In 2015, Jackson publicly complained about an instance in which a single test score from a black athlete he represented triggered a review by the NCAA Eligibility Center, telling The Sporting News that the center’s processes were “racist as hell.”)

And yet many of the “purported student-athletes” involved in Tuesday’s complaint apparently passed muster with ease, despite their parents allegedly paying a middleman to falsify their scores or help them cheat on entrance exams. It’s hard to imagine that the fact they were white kids pursuing opportunities in overwhelmingly white sports and, in some cases, overwhelmingly white schools wasn’t a factor.

“I feel to some degree of certainty that these kids, their test scores, were likely not questioned by the NCAA,” Jackson said. “Now that says something.”

The corrupt relationship between so many colleges and their sports programs perpetuates this unequal and racially biased system in one more way.

Especially at larger universities, the money made off football and basketball helps to fund all the other sports. Or as Jackson put it, “The revenue generators are African-American student-athletes, and the people who are benefiting are not.”

A federal government that wanted to ensure that college sports weren’t entirely rigged in favor of the wealthy could take action to fix that, particularly in its other major case involving college athletics. In 2017, the Justice Department obtained indictments against multiple college basketball coaches and shoe company executives as part of an ongoing probe into corruption and bribery within college basketball. The schemes involved alleged undercover payments to basketball players and their families ― a black market result of the NCAA’s refusal to pay players in top sports what they’re worth. But in that ongoing probe, the Justice Department took the side of the privileged and decided to effectively enforce the NCAA’s most pernicious rules.

Most of the basketball players who would benefit if the feds forced the NCAA to fairly compensate athletes for their labor are black.

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Kellyanne Conway’s Hot Take On College Admission Scandal Backfires Spectacularly

It didn’t go well, given that President Donald Trump has been mired in a scandal of his own over Trump University seminars. In 2017, Trump paid $25 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing him of fraud.  

While no one was defending those indicted in the scandal, critics took Conway to task for attacking the celebs’ kids ― and many suggested that she was the wrong person to chime in on the issue in any case:

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The College Admissions Process Is Already A Scam

On Tuesday, dozens of parents were among 50 people charged with participation in a widespread college admissions scam. The parents ― who included famous actors, financial leaders and other successful business people ― allegedly were part of a scheme in which athletic coaches and exam proctors were bribed to get an illegal leg-up for their children, even after the kids had gotten the advantages of a privileged upbringing.

These parents broke the law, according to federal prosecutors.

But the wealthiest of families in the U.S. can rely on multiple legal ways to buy their children into college, even as universities continue to market themselves as meritocracies ― a selling point that long has been an essential part of perpetuating the American dream.

There’s the donate-a-ton-of-cash-to-a-fancy-college route, just like Jared Kushner’s dad did for him by pledging $2.5 million to Harvard University. Or there’s the cottage industry of boutique services for students ― extra tutors, essay coaches and interview prep professionals – designed to help the elite get their kids into Ivy League schools and other prestigious colleges.

“People believe the meritocracy is real and they want to participate in it,” said Tressie McMillan Cottom, who has studied and researched access to higher education. But compared with the upper-hand enjoyed by the upper classes, low-income and working-class families aren’t even close to competing on an even playing field, she said.  

One New York-based college consultancy firm, Ivy Coach, charges up to $1.5 million for its most advanced package, according to Brian Taylor, the company’s managing director. Marketed as a concierge service that helps students apply to up to 20 schools, it is “the ultimate level of continuous personal attention to every detail,” according to the company’s website. 

Taylor said he recognizes that the college admissions process is certainly a game. The parents charged in Tuesday’s indictment allegedly made the mistake of operating outside the legally acceptable rules.

Instead of paying for test prep, they are accused of paying for a test proctor to fix incorrect answers their children gave in entrance exams. Instead of paying to shuttle their kid from one extracurricular activity to another, they are accused of paying college coaches to create a fake spot on a team for a sport their kids didn’t even play.

In the process, these alleged schemes reveal greater truths about the college admissions’ horse race.

“It’s a totally unfair system and we help students beat an unfair system at an unfair game,” Taylor said. “We do so ethically, though.” 

People with the means to do so will pay for specialized knowledge that is not democratically available.
Tressie McMillan Cottom, assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The machinations that give powerful people access to exclusive colleges usually occur outside the public spotlight. Tuesday’s indictments break wide open the false promise of equal access to higher education ― exposing the bag of goods so much of the public was sold about why people succeed, according to Cottom, an assistant professor at sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The internet has only further stratified the system. It was supposed to democratize access to information about elite institutions. But these schools aren’t accepting more students as more students apply. In turn, people with money are taking greater steps to get a big edge.

“People with the means to do so will pay for specialized knowledge that is not democratically available,” said Cottom, author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.”

While lawsuits threaten to overturn affirmative action ― one of the systems that does help low-income students gain access to distinguished colleges ― no signs are evident that colleges will end any of the processes that help people of privilege, like legacy admission advantages.

And even with affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at Ivy League schools than they were several decades ago, per The New York Times.

Bari Norman, co-founder and president of Expert Admissions, a college admissions counseling agency, said he hopes Tuesday’s indictments serve as a wake-up call for colleges, signaling that the current system is broken. She told HuffPost she suspects admissions officers are now having difficult conversations about the type of environment that fostered the breath of the alleged cheating ― and what type of system created such apparently desperate parents.

But she remains pessimistic that any big changes will result.

Her company helps students pick classes and extracurriculars in high school to best position themselves for the admissions process. The company usually starts working with students their sophomore or junior year of high school, although in some cases even earlier.

Norman wouldn’t say how much her company charges for its services, and she noted that they sometimes work pro bono.

But at Ivy Coach, they’re upfront about their sky-high prices.

It’s a fee that the company makes “no apologies for,” according to its website.

Taylor said the admissions business operates within a free market economy. The fees his company charge result in expert advice that helps students optimize their chances for admission to a top-notch school..

“We take no issue with any company that charges high fees. We take absolute issue with companies bribing college coaches or college admissions officers,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding, “Don’t cheat on the SAT or ACT. Hire an outstanding tutor ― who may very well cost a whole lot of money ―  to help your child improve his or her score tremendously.”

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NYC To Dish Out ‘Meatless Monday’ Lunches At All Public Schools

New York City public schools, the country’s largest school system, will enforce a “meatless Monday” in its student lunches beginning this fall in an effort to improve health and curb environmental effects, the city announced.

“People are going to look at this, and they’re going to start to emulate what the New York City schools are doing,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday.

The initiative, which will impact 1,800 schools, follows a successful pilot program in Brooklyn involving 15 schools last year, the mayor said.

“We had such overwhelmingly positive feedback that we decided this was the right thing to do,” said school chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

New York City public schools will enforce a “meatless Monday” in its student lunches beginning this fall.

Carranza touted the health benefits of a vegetarian meal, with studies finding that it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

“It’s also good for the environment because it helps us reduce our carbon footprint and preserve essential resources including water,” he added.

Mark Chambers, director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, called meat reduction “one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet.”

“Meatless Mondays will introduce hundreds of thousands of young New Yorkers to the idea that small changes in their diet can create larger changes for their health and the health of our planet,” he said in a release.

The program is one of several initiatives undertaken by the school system to improve students’ eating habits.

Back in 2017, it began offering free breakfasts and lunches to all of its students, regardless of their financial need. During the summer months, the city also offers free breakfast and lunch to any New Yorker under the age of 18 through its Summer Meals program. BostonChicagoDetroit and Dallas similarly offer free lunch to its public school students.

Every Thursday the NYC school system also provides locally-sourced or produced food to its students, according to the city.

All New York City public schools also include recycling stations in the cafeterias, allowing students to sort their recyclables and compostables from their landfill waste. It has also swapped out its polystyrene trays for compostable plates.

Staten Island Borough President James Oddo swiped at any critics of the efforts by citing current health trends among children across the country.

“Look at the data. Look at the childhood obesity. Look at pre-diabetes diagnoses. Look at the fact that 65% of American kids age 12-14 shows signs of early cholesterol disease. Then, perhaps you will embrace the fact that we can’t keep doing things the same way, including welcoming the idea of Meatless Mondays,” he said in a statement.

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The High-Powered Names In The College Admissions Bribery Scandal

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced dozens of charges related to a massive college admissions bribery scheme, involving big names from Hollywood actresses to Wall Street and Silicon Valley executives. Documents describe a scheme in which wealthy parents paid a company to help their children cheat on college entrance exams or bribe athletic recruiters. Several Division 1 athletic coaches are among the cooperating witnesses in the investigation.

Here are some of the high-powered people allegedly involved.

Felicity Huffman

Felicity Huffman

The actress, best known for her role on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” allegedly participated in a scheme involving making a fake charitable donation to a company that purported “to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth.”

In reality, the company enabled participants’ children to cheat on the ACT or SAT, such as falsely claiming that their children had learning disabilities to get special accommodations like extended time. The students then could take the exam “over two days instead of one, and in an individualized setting.”

When administering the test, the company bribed test administrators and hired a third party “to serve as a purported proctor for the exams while providing students with the correct answers, or to review and correct the students’ answers after they completed the exams. In many instances, the students taking the exams were unaware that their parents had arranged for this cheating.”

The company then sent the “doctored exams” back to the testing companies.

The indictment alleges that Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, who was not charged Tuesday, paid $15,000 to the fake charity to enable their elder daughter to cheat on the SAT. They later began making the arrangement for their younger daughter “but ultimately decided not to.”

Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin

Mossimo Giannulli and Lori Loughlin

Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli

The “Full House” actress and fashion designer allegedly participated in the scheme involving fake athletic recruiting. According to the indictment, the couple paid $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California by having them “designated as recruits to the USC crew team — despite the fact that they did not participate in crew.”

As part of this, the company created a fake profile of their younger daughter that “would present [her] falsely, as a crew coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club team. The couple sent an “Action Picture” of her on an ergometer to create the appearance that she was a rower.

Gordon Caplan

Caplan, a private equity lawyer at New York firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, also allegedly participated in the cheating scheme, paying $75,000 to the company to help his daughter cheat on the ACT.

Last year, American Lawyer magazine named him a “Dealmaker of the Year.”

Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez

The indictment alleges that the couple used the scheme “on four separate occasions” to help their two daughters cheat on the exams. They also participated in the athletic recruiting scheme, bribing the head coach of tennis at Georgetown University and falsely portraying their elder daughter as a highly ranked high school tennis player.

In reality, the indictment notes that “at her best, she appears to have ranked 207th in Northern California in the under-12 girls division, with an overall win/loss record of 2-8.”

Manuel Henriquez is the founder and CEO of Hercules Capital, a Silicon Valley investment firm. According to Bloomberg, he earned an estimated $8.2 million in 2017.

Bill McGlashan

McGlashan founded TPG Growth, a private equity firm that has invested in companies like Spotify, Uber and Airbnb. He also co-founded STX Entertainment, known for producing midlevel Hollywood movies, including “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Molly’s Game” and, most recently, the Kevin Hart comedy “The Upside.”

According to the indictment, Rick Singer, who orchestrated the scheme and led the company behind it, told McGlashan that his son’s doctor “should come up with stuff, discrepancies, to show why he needs multiple days. That he can’t sit six and a half hours taking one test,” he said in a phone call, while wearing a wire to cooperate with federal investigators.

“Perfect,” McGlashan replied, according to the transcript of the call.

McGlashan also participated in the scheme to help his son get accepted to USC as a recruited athlete.

“I’ll pick a sport and we’ll do a picture of him, or he can, we’ll put his face on the picture whatever. Just so that he plays whatever,” Singer said.

“Well, we have images of him in lacrosse. I don’t know if that matters,” McGlashan replied.

“They don’t have a lacrosse team. But as long as I can see him doing
something, that would be fine,” Singer said.

Later, they settled on falsely portraying McGlashan’s son as a football punter, with McGlashan providing a photo of an NFL player for the company to alter.

“That’s just totally hilarious,” McGlashan said.

Gamal Abdelaziz

A hotel and casino mogul, Abdelaziz worked as a senior executive for MGM Resorts. From 2013 to 2016, he oversaw the Macau division of Wynn Resorts, founded by Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn (who stepped down in 2018 after sexual harassment allegations).

The federal investigators allege that Abdelaziz tried to get his daughter recruited as a star basketball player for admission at USC, working with Singer to create a profile containing “falsified honors” like “Asia Pacific Activities Conference All Star Team,” “2016 China Cup Champions,” “Hong Kong Academy team MVP” and “Team Captain.” 

Abdelaziz allegedly paid Singer’s company $300,000 as a fake charitable donation. Through Singer, he arranged to bribe USC’s senior associate athletic director, Donna Heinel, with Singer and Heinel concealing the money as a gift to the school’s basketball arena, according to the indictment. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin Charged In College Admission Scheme With More Than 40 Others

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among dozens of people charged by the FBI in an elite college admission scheme, documents unsealed Tuesday in Boston revealed. 

The Hollywood stars allegedly joined CEOs of private and public companies, real estate professionals and a fashion designer in paying up to $6 million in bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Yale and Georgetown. Most of the parents paid $250,000 to $400,000 per student. 

The alleged scheme, which the FBI called a “nationwide conspiracy,” allowed parents to pay for their children to cheat on exams and apply to elite schools as student athletes, regardless of their actual skills. Top college coaches at the schools are also among those charged, but authorities said they are not investigating the schools themselves.

Federal prosecutors said 33 parents bribed entrance exam administrators along with varsity coaches and administrators.

The bribery ring allegedly got its start several years ago when William Rick Singer founded a for-profit college admissions company in Newport Beach, California, that masqueraded as a not-for-profit group, according to authorities. He agreed to plead guilty to charges including racketeering and money laundering conspiracy.

Singer’s “sham charity” allowed him to conceal the nature of the payments made by parents, who could then “take the tax write-off at the end of the year,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

More than 200 law enforcement officials were involved in “Operation Varsity Blues” over the course of a year, arresting over 50 people in six states on both coasts, authorities said at the press conference. Most defendants had been taken into custody as of noon Eastern time on Tuesday. 

For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling

The plot allegedly affected applications to a long list of schools including Yale, Stanford, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of San Diego and Wake Forest University.

Some parents allegedly paid for someone to pose as their child during entrance exams ― and even during classes ― with those scores submitted as part of the college application, according to court documents. Other cases involved exam administrators allegedly providing students with answers during the tests or correcting wrong answers afterward. 

Lelling alleged that some parents also falsely claimed that their children had learning disabilities, requiring extra time on the exams, and that those claims were bolstered by notes from therapists. 

“Everybody’s doing it” seemed to be the rationale most parents accepted as they negotiated terms to cheat. “The whole world is scamming the system,” an unnamed cooperating witness told one parent.

In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, students walk on the University of California, Los Angeles campus.

Some of the kids applying as student athletes didn’t even play the sports they were recruited to play. Singer allegedly helped the parents by either staging photos to make it appear that their children played those sports or simply providing Photoshopped images of the children engaged in sports.

The daughter of former Wynn Resorts Chief Operating Officer Gamal Abdelaziz, for example, got into USC on the premise of being a valuable asset to the school’s basketball team but never joined the team once in school, according to court documents. Several other cases followed the same pattern: Students were said to be crew stars and tennis champions but they never joined teams on campus.

Coaches named in the court documents included Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst, Yale soccer coach Rudy Meredith and USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic.

“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest, genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said. 

A cooperating witness discussed with some of the parents how to plausibly deceive their children. One parent, William McGlahsan, said he’d tell his son that some of his dad’s friends in the athletic department were helping him get into USC, as a supposed football kicker. 

“Maybe he’ll become a kicker. You never know,” McGlashan told the witness, per court documents detailing a recorded phone conversation. “You could inspire him.”

Another parent, Jane Buckingham, discussed how she could convince her son he was taking the SAT at home — with her as proctor — while someone else actually took the test for him at a Singer-controlled testing location.

Federal officials say they have recorded phone calls in which Huffman, who is best known for starring in the ABC hit show “Desperate Housewives,” and Loughlin, who is known for her role on ABC’s classic “Full House,” discuss the scheme with a cooperating witness.

Both women are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in the Central District of California. Huffman surrendered in California on Tuesday.

Actress Felicity Huffman and her husband are accused of paying $15,000 to help improve the SAT score of their elder daug

Actress Felicity Huffman and her husband are accused of paying $15,000 to help improve the SAT score of their elder daughter. 

Huffman and her husband are accused of paying $15,000 to Singer’s Key World Foundation, ostensibly to “provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth.” In reality, prosecutors say, the money helped improve the SAT score of their elder daughter. (Huffman’s husband, actor Willam H. Macy, has not been charged.)

The plan hit a snag, however, after their daughter secured double the standard allotted test time. Instead of taking the test in Singer’s “controlled” testing center, Huffman’s daughter’s school wanted to proctor her exam. 

“Ruh Ro!” Huffman wrote in an email about the problem to a cooperating witness, who responded, “We will speak about it.” They arranged for Huffman’s daughter to take the test on a weekend at the “controlled” facility, saying they didn’t want her to miss any school. 

A proctor allegedly flew from Tampa, Florida, to Los Angeles to help Singer’s clients’ children cheat. Court documents indicate that at least some of the students were unaware their parents had arranged the cheating.

Singer claimed to control two testing locations: one in West Hollywood and another in Houston. When travel was required for students, Singer advised parents to make up a reason ― such as a bar mitzvah or family wedding ― that would justify their son or daughter needing to take the exam so far from home. 

Huffman contacted Singer’s organization about helping her younger daughter, but she did not follow through.

Court documents say Lori Loughlin and her husband agreed to pay $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters recr

Court documents say Lori Loughlin and her husband agreed to pay $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters recruited to be part of the University of Southern California crew team — even though their daughters had never rowed crew. 

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters recruited to be part of the University of Southern California crew team, despite the fact that the girls didn’t participate in the sport, according to court documents.

A cooperating witness told the parents that their elder daughter’s academic qualifications were “at or just below the low end of admission standards.”

Prosecutors say the couple submitted pictures of their daughters on stationary rowing machines to help a cooperating witness facilitate their acceptance into the school as crew recruits. They paid bribes to Singer’s Key World organization along with USC’s senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel ― who was named in multiple cases.

The scam flew under the radar until a high school guidance counselor suspected something was awry in 2017 and asked the younger daughter about her sister’s athletic recruitment, prosecutors said. The younger daughter had already been provisionally accepted to USC as a recruited athlete, but Loughlin, appearing to worry the guidance counselor was on to them, emailed the cooperating witness for help on submitting the rest of her college applications.

“[Our younger daughter] is confused on how to do so,” Loughlin allegedly wrote. “I want to make sure she gets those in as I don’t want to call any attention to [her] with our little friend at [her high school]. Can you tell us how to proceed??”

The cooperating witness responded by directing an employee to submit the applications on the daughter’s behalf.

This article has been updated with additional details about the allegations. 

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5 Memoirs By Women That Are Even Better When You Listen To Them

What could be better than bringing your favorite stories — or the ones you don’t even know yet — to life through audiobooks? Listening to a narrator perform a story takes the words off the page in a way that reading a book just can’t do. This is especially the case when the writer reads their own work, making it as if a friend is sharing an intimate tale only with you.  

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we teamed up with Audible to share some of the best memoirs by females that are narrated by the authors themselves. From Roxane Gay’s raw storytelling in Hunger, to Maya Angelou’s emotive prose in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, these books are even better when you listen to them.     

This article was paid for by Audible and co-created by RYOT Studio. HuffPost editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.

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I Have A Bachelor’s Degree And Still Work 4 Jobs To Make Ends Meet

I used to enjoy getting mail ― back when I still lived with my parents and my biggest concern was whether the shoes I had ordered would fit. It terrifies me now. Will I find another collections notice for a doctor’s bill I had forgotten to pay? Or maybe another letter from the IRS reminding me that because my identity had been stolen, I now need a PIN to file? The credit card offers are the worst, as if they aren’t a part of the reason I’m in this mess in the first place.

The pit in my stomach is familiar. I felt it nine years ago when my boyfriend (now husband) and I couldn’t afford rent on our run-down two-bedroom apartment. I felt it again when a bill came that would be with us for years. I can vividly remember lying on the hallway floor with my boyfriend as he told me I should cut my losses now and leave. That he would only drag me down. He couldn’t have been further from the truth.

We met nearly 10 years ago at an auction. I was 22 and bright-eyed, working part-time as a data-entry clerk so I could tack the experience onto my resume. He was 42 and fresh out of auctioneer school, looking to redirect his career. The first time he asked me out for coffee, I refused. But the more time we spent together, the more I realized the age difference didn’t matter to me. In fact, I hardly noticed it.  

I was, perhaps naively, thinking that we would be fine. Sure I was a college junior working weekends and nights in a mall, but I would have my bachelor’s degree soon. And with my degree companies would be clamoring to hire me. After all, a degree in English meant I could work nearly anywhere (wrong). Truthfully, my major was based on the fact that I loved to read and write. The fact my math skills were so dismal only seemed to point me further in that direction. It didn’t take long before I was making lists of publishing companies and genuinely excited for a fictional city office I had built in my mind.  

Sure I was a college junior working weekends and nights in a mall, but I would have my bachelor’s degree soon. And with my degree companies would be clamoring to hire me.

Within a month of graduation, I had a very promising interview in New York City with a publishing company. I was ecstatic. This was it! A follow-up email a few weeks later informed me that they promoted someone from within. I was gutted. The trend continued. I worked for a woman whose dog would use my cubicle as a toilet. My paychecks were sporadic ― when they remembered to pay me. I answered an ad on Craigslist and interned for an author in Costa Rica. I moved from one mindless retail job to the next.

In 2012 ― nearly two years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree ― I finally landed steady work as a receptionist for an orthodontist’s office. It was a thankless job, but it was at least getting me closer to putting that degree to use.

A year of scheduling patient appointments paid off: I had finally landed a job in marketing. I thought this was it and things were going to start looking up for me. However, it didn’t take long after that to acknowledge the fact that a marketing assistant salary was not going be our saving grace. It wasn’t enough to pay the bills, let alone the rent in a seedy apartment complex behind a Wawa outside Philadelphia.

My nights were often filled with the sounds of fighting, police sirens and the POP-POP of guns being fired. Our mail slot was ripped off our front door, the knob wobbly where someone had tried to tool it open. A man with an ankle bracelet climbed into our neighbor’s window and swiped a wallet off the table. I rarely answered the door.

My husband and I argued often. While I struggled to build my career in marketing, he was adapting and forever changing with the ebb and flow. He went back to school to get his certification as a sign language interpreter. I couldn’t stomach the thought of adding to my student loan debt ― not when my degree meant nothing. I still recall the look of shock on my supervisor’s face when he realized I had a bachelor’s degree. If you’re wondering what a degree is worth, the answer is less than $1 ― the amount of the raise I received when they realized I had an education.

I still recall the look of shock on my supervisor’s face when he realized I had a bachelor’s degree.

It wasn’t until we started looking into purchasing a home in 2016 ― six years after graduating college ― that I realized just how little I was contributing. Within the span of a few months, our offer was accepted on what we had come to view as our dream home. A gorgeous Victorian with a wraparound porch, it sat neglected on a handful of acres tucked back from the main road. It was an absolute disaster inside ― a fact we can appreciate more fully now. I ignored the crumbling walls and mouse droppings in favor of the window seats and upstairs balcony. I didn’t flinch when a dead bird fell at my feet when I opened the attic door. This was fine, I had convinced myself. And truthfully, the state of the house was only reason we could afford it.

The nightmare began soon after. Our mortgage company would call us regularly as they worked on our paperwork. Having only ever rented, we blindly followed along as they requested bank statements and documentation. The calls became more intrusive and almost accusatory ― Why had I co-signed on my sister’s car loan? Could we get copies of signed apology letters from estranged family members to corroborate our story on some old loans?

After dumping thousands we didn’t have into inspections, we lost the house. Months later we learned the mortgage company had been purchased and it had put a stop on all loan approvals. When it called us back with assurances we would now be approved, we hung up the phone.

Devastated, we returned to our rental with the jacked-up door.

I was frustrated and angry. Angry that my degree meant so little. That I could barely afford groceries or our heat and electric bills. Everything went on a credit card ― a card that nearly three years later I am still struggling to pay off.

Desperate, I begged for hours at the auction house where my husband and I had met. They gladly took me back, although a part of me had selfishly hoped they wouldn’t. I didn’t want to work another job. My vacation time was quickly whittled away as I spent long hours keying in sales to make some cash for groceries. And it still wasn’t enough.

I found the address for another auction house and drove there to beg for work. Dozens of unemployed laborers meandered on the dock, offering clumsy help for tips. I was the only one there begging with a college degree. When they told me they didn’t really need the help, I volunteered my time for free. Anything to get my foot in the door and to help ease the press of anxiety on my chest. My persistence paid off, and I added another small but steady stream of cash to my wallet. And still the three jobs weren’t enough.

My life revolved around work. If I wasn’t at the office pushing papers, I was jumping from one auction house to the other. I was lucky ― there’s almost always a need for data entry clerks. Perhaps because one must be in a true state of desperation to voluntarily sit in front of a DOS system for hours on end without a break.

My degree sits mainly untouched and forgotten since I earned it in 2010. It’s hardly the topic of any conversation and it’s certainly not a point of pride.

I felt like I was missing something important. Something monumental that would turn our situation around. While working these auctions, I started to pay attention to what was selling and the prices I was keying in. I was no stranger to thrift stores or yard sales ― I shopped them often for myself. But what if I started flipping for profit?

I filled our living room with mountains of merchandise and taped ripped, faux brick wrapping paper to the wall. A half-collapsed, umbrella light stand provided just enough light for me to photograph my purchases and then stow them away in a second pile of bins. Mrs. Piles my husband called me, but it couldn’t be helped.

My consistency paid off. As sales slowly began to roll in, I could only feel relief.

I still don’t make anywhere near what someone with a bachelor’s degree is expected earn. I don’t have the cushy New York City office with a view. I don’t even make coffee runs for executives in the hopes that one day I’ll move up the ranks. My degree sits mainly untouched and forgotten since I earned it in 2010. It’s hardly the topic of any conversation and it’s certainly not a point of pride. My bachelor’s is almost an afterthought on my resume. A tiny blip or an accent mark buried at the bottom of the second page. It’s the auction experience that employers seem to take notice of. The degree itself is glossed over just like my name at the top ― they know I have one, but they’ll forget it once the interview is done.

It didn’t occur to me in high school that I didn’t have to go to college. Why would it when half of my time there was spent testing to prepare me for just that? I don’t regret my degree, even with my student loans hovering like a storm cloud over my head. If nothing else it was a great block of filler text for the bottom of my resume.    

For now, I continue to burn the midnight oil. Tomorrow morning I’ll head off to work at a job that pays too little with a degree I do not use. As my husband leaves for yet another overnight shift, I wonder if we’ll ever get around to starting that family we so often talk about. Maybe someday, but not today.

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Swastikas Show Up At Sidwell Friends School, Bastion Of Progressivism

A student assembly on Wednesday at Washington’s Sidwell Friends School, one of the nation’s top prep schools, turned into a frightening example of hate’s pervasive reach when unidentified students projected swastikas and racist usernames on a screen in a meeting room.

Around 500 students from the ninth through 12th grades had gathered in a special meeting room in the Quaker school, which has educated Malia Obama, Chelsea Clinton and generations of Washington’s liberal elite, to listen to a student talk about an outreach organization he’d founded. The student’s group, OnSide, uses soccer to build community among refugees in the Washington area.

At the end of the program, the presenter invited audience members to use their cellphones to log into Kahoot, a game-based learning platform, to play a trivia contest in which their answers to multiple-choice questions were projected in real time on the screen. Kahoot lets participants choose their usernames, and a few students picked usernames that were racist toward Asians and Native Americans, according to an email the head of the school sent to parents Wednesday night.

Two students put images of swastikas in their usernames.

As audience members logged in to play, hundreds of usernames appeared on the screen.

“Nobody saw the swastikas at first,” one senior who participated in the game told HuffPost on Wednesday night.

But that soon changed. Kahoot awards points for accuracy and speed, pushing the best respondents to the top of a leaderboard. After two questions, a username consisting only of two swastikas shot into first place after successfully answering a question about immigration.

“It was big on the screen,” the senior said. “Everyone went quiet. … A swastika is not something that you have in your emojis on your phone. You have to go out of your way to search for a GIF or something, copy it and paste it into Kahoot.”

A school administrator immediately signaled the presenter to turn off the projector and end the presentation. That evening, Bryan Garman, the head of the school, sent an email to parents and guardians of the students.

“We are deeply disheartened and disturbed by this incident, which is an extremely serious breach of our School’s honor code and harassment policy,” Garman wrote. “There is no place for hate in our community, and I will address the Upper School about the seriousness of the matter tomorrow morning.”

A letter from Bryan Garman, the head of Sidwell Friends School, about swastikas appearing at the Washington, D.C., school on March 6, 2019.

This incident marks the third time that swastikas have appeared on the Sidwell campus in recent months. An unidentified person drew the hate symbol on a whiteboard in the school. Swastikas were also etched into benches in the same “Meeting for Worship” room where, in the Quaker tradition, students are encouraged to openly speak their minds to the assembled school community.

As many of those students headed home after classes and sports practice on Wednesday, they were texting and talking about the swastikas.

“It’s so scary,” said the senior who spoke to HuffPost. “It makes you think not just about anti-Semitism but also that if this is happening at Sidwell, what the heck is happening at other places? We always say, ‘It’s the Sidwell bubble.’ We’re so accepting and so liberal and diverse. But that doesn’t feel true at a moment like this.”

Clarification: A previous version of this story referred to OnSide as a nonprofit organization. Its 501c3 status is pending.

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Teen Pictured Posing With Swastika Is No Longer Attending Catholic School

A Southern California teenager who was photographed next to a makeshift swastika at a high school party is “now a former student” of JSerra Catholic High School, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The teen was just one of many Orange County high school students posing next to the Nazi symbol at a party in photos that went viral over the weekend. Some of the students pictured also have their arms raised in a Nazi salute.

JSerra, a Roman Catholic high school in San Juan Capistrano, addressed the party in a letter to parents on Tuesday, according to the Times. While the student was enrolled in JSerra at the time of the party, the Times reports, this is no longer the case. 

It’s unclear whether the student was expelled or withdrew from the Catholic school. HuffPost has reached out to JSerra for comment.

“When an action takes place that is so gravely contradictory to our Christian values, we take intentional steps both to correct the behavior of the individuals involved and to instruct the entire student body as to our school’s expectations,” the letter states, according to the Times.

The school will hold talks on racist attitudes and behaviors to address the incident, administrators wrote.

Students from schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District were also photographed at the party. CBS Los Angeles reported Monday that some public school students involved in the party are facing suspension. 

Adriana Angulo, a spokesperson for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, told HuffPost that “consequences and disciplinary action is being weighed, considered and administered as appropriate.”

“Due to student privacy rights, we are unable to share information about student discipline,” Angulo wrote in an email. “However, we can assure you that we will continue to hold students accountable, while also providing support.”

The teens at the party were playing a drinking game with red plastic cups and pingpong balls. At some point, the cups were rearranged into a swastika. Students then gathered around to pose for pictures, with many appearing to be laughing and smiling at the sight. The images quickly spread on social media. 

The incident has drawn backlash from around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center told NPR there has been a rise in the number of hate groups in Orange County and that some of these groups have been aggressively recruiting younger people. 

The Anti-Defamation League claims white supremacist groups across the country stepped up their propaganda efforts dramatically in 2018. 

Some students at Newport Harbor High School wore blue on Monday to show solidarity against anti-Semitism.

The public school district is hosting two meetings this week for parents and students to discuss what happened at the party. The first of these meetings took place at Newport Harbor High School on Monday and attracted more than 500 parents, students, faith leaders, city officials and other community members, according to The Mercury News.

Max Drakeford, a senior at Newport Harbor High School and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, spoke to the crowd about how the swastika was used to oppress his family members. Drakeford said this anti-Semitic imagery isn’t new in Newport Beach ― he claimed people have drawn swastikas in his high school’s bathroom and on classroom desks. 

“We’ve become desensitized to anti-Semitism because it happens so often,” Drakeford said. “We should not be desensitized.”

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5 Women Changing The World With Their Words

While Coretta Scott King was probably best known for being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Scott King was also a civil rights leader in her own right. Growing up in Alabama in the 1920s, she witnessed the effects of injustice and segregation from a young age, which led her to become an advocate for social change. As the wife of MLK, she traveled around the world, speaking about racial and economic issues, and uplifting the voices of women in the movement.

After her husband’s assassination in 1968, she went on to establish the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, to continue her husband’s legacy and educate others on global peace and social justice. Her lifelong activism made her one of the most powerful advocates for equality in the U.S.

While Scott King published her first book, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1969, we don’t see the full impact of her work until after her death in 2006. More than a decade after she died, her posthumous memoir, My Life, My Love, My Legacy, as told to the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, was released. The audiobook, performed by January LaVoy and Phylicia Rashad, not only retells the story of her youth in Alabama and her activism around the world, but teaches us the importance of standing up for injustice.

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‘Safety’ In U.S. Schools Means More Cops And Fewer Counselors

An estimated 14 million students attend a school without a single counselor, nurse, psychologist or social worker, according to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union. But their schools do employ cops. 

This disparity is poised to get worse after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, inspired the federal government and many state legislatures to push for enhanced security on campuses and prioritize the “hardening” of schools.  

“There’s a dangerous trend in prioritizing law enforcement as a response to school safety when no evidence suggests that’s going to improve things,” said Amir Whitaker, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California and co-author of the report released Monday.  

The ACLU report analyzes data from the federal government. The government first began collecting data on how many social workers, nurses and psychologists schools employ in 2016 and released its findings in April 2018. (It already collected data on school counselors.) These numbers are self-reported by schools, so they may be unreliable. However, Whitaker said, “it’s literally the only data we have available.”

The 14 million students who go to schools that do have at least one police officer but don’t have a single psychologist, nurse, social worker or counselor represents about 31 percent of students in the U.S., according to the ACLU report. In some states, such as Utah and Tennessee, more than 50 percent of students attend such schools. 

Not a single state meets the recommended average ratio of 250 students to one social worker in schools. The national average is currently 2,106 students to every social worker.

In many cases, schools are prioritizing security and police over medical care or mental health support.

Most states are flouting the recommended ratios for students per nurse, students per counselor, students per social worker and students per psychologist, according to the report. 

Not a single state meets the recommended average ratio of 250 students to one social worker in schools. The national average is currently 2,106 students to every social worker. There is a need for psychological support for students, however. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates the suicide rate for kids between the ages of 10 and 17 increased about 70 percent between 2006 and 2016. 

And as more police officers work in schools, there’s evidence that more kids are being funneled into the criminal justice system, even for minor misbehaviors.

Research has shown that kids are more likely to be referred to law enforcement for activities like drugs, theft and vandalism in schools that employ agents called school resource officers. This cycle contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately hurts students of color and students with disabilities. Behavior that might have been previously addressed with a detention or trip to the principal’s office is now resulting in criminal records.

Black students are arrested at school at three times the rate of white students, and students with disabilities are two and a half times more likely to be arrested at school than their peers who are not disabled, according to the ACLU report. A previous investigation from HuffPost found that cops are Tasering students across the country.

The knee-jerk reaction is to turn schools into fortresses.
Amir Whitaker, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California

Cops at school do what they are trained to do, the ACLU report says: “detain, handcuff, and arrest.”

“You’re seeing this all over, where the knee-jerk reaction is to turn schools into fortresses,” Whitaker said.

The ACLU report comes two months after the Trump administration released its own report on school safety. That earlier report, which was put together after the Parkland shooting by a federal school safety commission, recommended increasing mental health resources in school, as well as enhancing social emotional learning ― but it also recommended increasing police presence at schools and touted the potential benefits of arming staff members. Several days after it released the report, the Trump administration scrapped Obama-era guidance that was designed to prevent racist school discipline policies.

There is no comprehensive research that indicates cops actually deter school shootings. However, schools with law enforcement on campus are more likely to have emergency plans in place and receive regular safety checks.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article erroneously inverted the terms of the ratio of social workers to students.

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