Manufacturing up-from-hardship tales to sell to the Ivies

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

The T.M. Landry College Preparatory School seems like a predictable outcome of our current system:

Bryson Sassau’s application would inspire any college admissions officer.

A founder of T.M. Landry College Preparatory School described him as a “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded” student whose alcoholic father had beaten him and his mother and had denied them money for food and shelter. His transcript “speaks for itself,” the founder, Tracey Landry, wrote, but Mr. Sassau should also be lauded for founding a community service program, the Dry House, to help the children of abusive and alcoholic parents. He took four years of honors English, the application said, was a baseball M.V.P. and earned high honors in the “Mathematics Olympiad.”

The narrative earned Mr. Sassau acceptance to St. John’s University in New York. There was one problem: None of it was true.

“I was just a small piece in a whole fathom of lies,” Mr. Sassau said.

T.M. Landry has become a viral Cinderella story, a small school run by Michael Landry, a teacher and former salesman, and his wife, Ms. Landry, a nurse, whose predominantly black, working-class students have escaped the rural South for the nation’s most elite colleges. A video of a 16-year-old student opening his Harvard acceptance letter last year has been viewed more than eight million times. Other Landry students went on to Yale, Brown, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell and Wesleyan.

Landry success stories have been splashed in the past two years on the “Today” show, “Ellen” and the “CBS This Morning.” Education professionals extol T.M. Landry and its 100 or so kindergarten-through-12th-grade students as an example for other Louisiana schools. Wealthy supporters have pushed the Landrys, who have little educational training, to expand to other cities. Small donors, heartened by the web videos, send in a steady stream of cash.

In reality, the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity.


  1. Lu An Li says:

    Most of these students accepted into the Ivy League schools I might venture only a very small percentage make it beyond the first year. And those that fail and drop out leave the citizenry with a college loan federally guaranteed that we will ALL have to pay for.

  2. Wan Wei Lin says:

    When minorities can’t, won’t or are incapable of following the rules change the rules then ignore the inevitable failures.

  3. Kirk says:

    The irony here is that the Ivies are engaged in a process that is going to seriously damage the value of an Ivy League degree. Were I an alumni, I’d be thinking seriously about a class-action lawsuit for what they’ve done, because the value of an Ivy League degree has been seriously devalued by these clowns.

    It’s like what I saw in Illinois, where the mainstreamed special education kids were going across the stage at graduation, and getting the exact same diploma as the other kids. You give a Down’s Syndrome kid what amounts to an attendance award, and what does that say about the diploma you put into the hands of the class valedictorian?

    They think they’re helping these “disadvantaged” kids out, but the reality is that they’re really setting them up for lifelong failure, and creating the seeds of their own destruction. By the time they’re finished, an Ivy League degree will be essentially worthless, and some form of verifiable and testable certification will have supplanted the old system. I don’t give it but a few more years, and the entire educational ecosystem in this country will be devalued to worthlessness, and replaced by something else. This sort of thing makes that inevitable, because if you can’t rely on the quality of a product, what happens? Yeah; you quit buying it. MBA programs are already being noted by a lot of business operators as presenting little to no value added, and many of the graduates are actually dangerous to the core of business operations. This will have inevitable results, once enough people figure out the realities of it all.

  4. Mostly Cajun says:

    You can imagine the pride with which I report that this ‘school’ is in my home state of Louisiana.

  5. T. Greer says:

    I saw this in China all the time. *All* the time.

Leave a Reply