Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Pay to Play?

I've recently been wondering something and it's been stuck in the back of my head and I want to bring it out.

Imagine you are a child and your parent wants to be able to brag about you so they buy your way onto a team. Example, Draco Malfoy in Chamber of Secrets when he joins the Quidditch team after his father buys the entire team broomsticks.

Now you didn't really earn your place on that team but you still go around bragging to people and acting superior because you were on the team. Everyone on the team knows you're only there because of the equipment your parents bought but you still act high and mighty.

Now imagine that you are a child who has no idea that this is going on. Perhaps the broomsticks were donated anonymously to the school specifically for the team and your name is on the roster the next day.

The same situation where your parent bought your way onto the team, should you realize it? Notice that correlation? And what should you as that child do? Taking this thought a step further what happens if you know one of your classmates is a better player. Do you take the position that was purchased for you or do you step aside?

This scenario is just one extreme example of a complex issue revolving around equality in education. Parents, rich or poor, will do almost anything for their children. However, I often wonder if we're really just hurting the future.

There are cases circulating the news such as a story from 2016 that pops back up often regarding a teenager who drove drunk and got in an accident. His lawyers argued "Affluenza" as the defense. This teenager was raised to believe actions didn't have consequences because his parents would buy him out of trouble. How many more stories like this never made national headlines?

The point I'm trying to make in this rambling, both fictional and real examples, is I want to know if there's something we can do to stop this from happening? It's not just students. I recently received an email that I had been selected for an award. To accept the honor, I would have to pay $2000 for processing, press releases, and other things related to the "honor" and it made me start questioning how many people brag about honors that they really just paid for.

I know sometimes someone else is paying for these awards. For example, I'm in a regional organization and every year we honor one person with a national award. The regional organization has the authority to select our winner, but we pay the national organization for everything that the winner received such as the plaque, medal, award ceremony attendance, and more. So we are technically paying to give the award. The difference is that the recipient is not paying, the provider (sort of) is paying. I also understand that things like the physical award does cost money even if the title itself doesn't. Is an email and social media post as exciting as a plaque to hang in one's classroom?

Enough of my rambling today on paying for awards. Often when I see the list of recipients, like "30 K12 Influencers to Follow" I know right away know that it's well deserved. Just don't pop my bubble by telling me someone paid to make that list because I know a bunch of the people on the list and know they deserve recognition.