What has your dog done lately? Sleep, eat and, if you’re lucky, bring you your slippers? Well, Molly the Basset Hound just earned her high-school diploma. Not obedience school, but an actual high-school diploma. It’s enough to make your shih tzu roll over and play dead.
But before your pup winds up in the doghouse, Houston’s KHOU.com reports that while the feat remains impressive, the Texas pup earned her credentials through a so-called diploma mill. A Texas law that prevents discrimination against home-schooled students is allegedly being used to make a quick buck on the backs of students looking for a shortcut to a diploma. For a few hundred dollars and the answers to some simple online questions, these predominantly online institutions bill themselves as private schools and issue a high-school diploma to seemingly anyone willing to pay. To test the limits of this, the investigative team at KHOU signed up their photographer’s dog, Molly.
According to the report, with some human help answering questions like “a triangle has how many sides?” or “the President lives in the White House, true or false?” Molly passed her exams, with some human help. After a $300 payment and a few days, her diploma and official transcript arrived. The online school, Lincoln Academy, was even nice enough to e-mail: “Dear Molly, You have truly reached a new milestone in your educational career… sit back and enjoy your new life of being a high school graduate from Lincoln Academy.” Sadly there was no promise of extra kibble.
While Molly’s achievement is not to be scoffed at, her diploma reveals some problems with the Texas law. Problems that Tim Lambert of the Texas Home School Coalition is ticked off about, because he helped draft the law they are abusing. The law was supposed to help ensure that home-schooled kids wouldn’t be at a disadvantage when applying to colleges. “They’re giving credit, and for a fee, printing out a diploma — that ought to be a definition of a diploma mill,” said Lambert to KHOU. While the schools are all quick to reject that title, non-canine students who do receive diplomas through these outlets are finding that the diplomas aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
The so-called “diploma mills” refused to comment to KHOU. But at least Molly now has bragging rights at the dog park.