Does fat cat's kid deserve special treatment?
A big donor's daughter wants to play the lead in the school play - but she doesn't deserve it.
NEW YORK (Money) -- QUESTION: I'm the drama teacher at a small private day school. The school relies heavily on the contributions of parents, and one of our wealthiest donors has a daughter who desperately wants to play Maria in the up-coming production of "West Side Story."
She's not the best candidate for the part, but she'll be heartbroken if she doesn't get it. And if she's heartbroken, I fear her father may cut back on his considerable generosity to the school. What should I do?
ANSWER: Begin by discussing the situation with the Principal. If casting Maria could have a serious impact on the school's finances, the head of the school should be involved in the decision.
Though even the richest, most prestigious universities in America have decided that their mission demands they allow fundraising to influence admissions decisions, that doesn't make giving preferential treatment to the children of wealthy parents right.
Of course we understand the argument for allowing financial considerations to occasionally take priority over treating all students equally, especially at small schools like yours. But we urge you to resist it and give the most deserving Maria the part.
What are schools for if not to provide models of rectitude for the students they teach? And how can they do that if the students perceive that money buys the lead in the school play?
You can hope that the big donor understands this and won't be distressed if his daughter isn't given the lead. If he doesn't - and if he withdraws his support - remember: the school's reputation will only be enhanced if people learn it refused to give a fat cat's kid special treatment.