In his 2006 book, The Price of Admission, ProPublica editor Daniel Golden alleged that presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s father, real estate developer Charles Kushner, made a $2.5 million donation to Harvard University that may have led to his son’s acceptance into the Ivy League institution. Golden’s reporting has begun to circulate again after federal authorities charged 50 people, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, in a college admissions bribery scandal.
ProPublica shared an article Golden wrote in 2016 shortly after news of the scandal broke yesterday morning. “Don’t forget: the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations,” the organization said in a social media post.
ProPublica editor @DanLGolden wrote a book a decade ago about how the rich buy their children access to elite colleges.
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) March 12, 2019
Don't forget: the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations.
Article from 2016: https://t.co/kYrM0Bw1Cf
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) March 1, 2019
As Golden wrote in 2016:
My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)
Golden also interviewed administrators at Kushner’s high school, who described him, he wrote, as “a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.” He quoted a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, who said:
“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”
The news didn’t particularly surprise Kushner’s critics, though for many it has served as confirmation of the privilege bias in higher education.
Give a college administrator a few thousand dollars to get your kid in and it’s a bribe. Give a college $2.5 million to get your kid in and it’s business as usual for the super rich. (Hi, Jared.)
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 12, 2019
If you're really, really rich you can do this legally (although how you got rich may be another story) 5/ https://t.co/DEoSr6RsCs
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 13, 2019
Edu Journos: there's a long and seamy history the relationship between wealth, power and college admissions. Daniel Golden's investigation is a must-read https://t.co/YhKuSsL6NS
— Kim Clark (@kclarkcollege) March 12, 2019
An excellent new take from my @DanLGolden:
The real scandal is how Jared Kushner and other rich slackers get into Harvard and Co. https://t.co/VE17NzOD31
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) March 12, 2019
There's an age-old tradition that's resulted in many undeserving rich kids winning admission to universities they couldn’t have gotten into on their own. One beneficiary is currently working in the White House https://t.co/vCQ803U03a
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) March 12, 2019
Kushner has not commented on the story himself. But in 2016, when Golden’s article was published, Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said in an email that “the allegation” that Charles Kushner’s donation to Harvard affected Jared’s admission “is and always has been false.” Heller added that Kushner’s parents “are enormously generous and have donated over 100 million dollars to universities, hospitals and other charitable causes. Jared Kushner was an excellent student in high school and graduated from Harvard with honors.”
Golden uncovered a scheme in which the rich buy their children admission into elite schools after poring over the records of the more than 400 wealthy donors and members of Harvard’s Committee on University Resources. Golden found that of “the 400-plus tycoons on Harvard’s list — which included people who were childless or too young to have college-age offspring — more than half had sent at least one child to the university.”