American actress and Golden Globe Award winner Felicity Huffman was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to Fox News. In May, Huffman admitted to paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT scores corrected. Her excuse for this behavior was because her daughter’s low math scores would jeopardize her dream of becoming an actor, which is just about one of the dumbest things I’ve heard.
Huffman was sentenced to only 14 days in jail, 250 hours of community service, and a $30,000 fine. Cheating on the SAT or having someone take the test for another is considered a misdemeanor, which can give people anywhere from 0-12 months of jail time. In 2011, NBC reported six students from Long Island paid between $1,000 and $2,500 to have Sam Eshaghoff take the SAT for them. Each of those students were charged with a misdemeanor while Eshaghoff made a plea deal to avoid jail time. Although this greatly changed how standardized testing was done, including adding photo IDs, Eshaghoff, a white man, got away with it, just as Huffman, a white woman, is today.
Compare the two examples and I think one should see how Huffman did much worse, yet has barely any consequences for her actions. She’s a rich, white actress who Hollywood would miss too much to put behind bars.
Thirty-three other parents were convicted of the same crime, including Marjorie Klapper. Klapper also paid $15,000 to give her son more time to take the test. However, she was originally going to face a sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Now, it’s looking more like a year in prison and a $20,000 fine, but that’s still much worse than what Huffman is facing.
America needs to take a stand and call for correct sentencing, rather than letting the rich, white elite get away with these sorts of crimes. How can we allow someone like Huffman to get off with a 14 day sentence when people like Klapper are facing at least a year, when the severity of Huffman’s crime was worse?
Most of the parents convicted of this crime are white, rich, and unlikely to face much for sentencing and fines. Students work hard to get the SAT scores they deserve, and we shouldn’t allow anyone to take away those hard earned spots in college, regardless of race.
This should be taken more seriously as standardized testing is a big deal, especially since parents should know better. Allowing parents to get away with something like this makes kids believe it’s okay to cheat, setting a bad example and creating a toxic cycle that must be broken.