Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's not Harvard

So we are now entering the circle of hell known as Manhattan preschool admittance. For anyone living outside NYC, the process of getting your child into preschool usually involves 1. touring the school 2. signing up 3. writing your check. Not so in Manhattan.There are different degrees of lunacy, of course, depending on which schools you want to apply to. But some things are true of all of them. For starters, you must call the schools for applications the day after Labor Day the year BEFORE you want your child to go. Then, in the fall, the school contacts you (the parents) to schedule a tour and an interview. Did you get that? So THEY can interview YOU, the parents, who will NOT be attending the preschool. And by YOU, I mean both parents, because showing up solo for an interview is a big fat strike against you.

Now, this already bugs the shit out of me. First of all, I need to spend the day after Labor Day on the phone with schools? Man, what if I wanted to be on vacation? Of course, some schools starts apps then, and you can continue to call for them after that - those are the only schools I chose, because there is something about thousands of neurotic NYC parents speed dialing the same number on the same day that makes me want to throw myself in front of a bus. I also only chose schools within walking distance of my house, because it's fucking preschool, for God's sake. I'm not schlepping my kid 25 blocks so he can have a more enriching experience with the finger paints, you know what I mean?

The second thing that bugs me about this is the two parent thing. Obviously they don't hold it against you if you're a single parent, or divorced. But some people have JOBS, and maybe they can't just take off on the preschools scheduled day to go check out the playdough station. Why isn't one parent there enough? I mentioned to one of my friends (a former Manhattan preschool teacher herself) that I found this ludicrous, and she disagreed. I said, "What if one of the parents is a SURGEON? Or a nurse? Or a fireman?" And she shrugged and said, "Well, they're also a parent, and they need to show the school that their childs education is a priority." I wanted to grab her and smack her back and forth in the face - your child's EDUCATION? It's absolutely amazing to me that they get so many people to fall for this bullshit. And let me just state right off, that if you can't take a day off because you will lose a days pay and won't be able to pay your bills, they don't care because you will not be able to afford their outrageous tuition anyway. Which brings me around to the third thing that bugs me. There are no other options. Your kid has to go to some grimy daycare or you have to pay a sitter if you don't have money.

Anyway, on to the process. After you do the parent interview, you schedule an interview for your child. They call it a playdate, but here is my question - Why do they need to see my kid play? As far as I can tell, with a few exceptions, they all do the same thing. Especially if you are sending your kid early, at 2 - they want to observe an 18 month old playing with other kids? It's so frustrating. Anyway, the kids come in February, and then you get acceptance or rejection letters in March. And the reason they can get away with this? There are 3 times as many children applying as there are spaces. They sell guides and write magazine articles about getting your kid in, suggesting you apply to at least 15 schools to be sure you get into one. I'm drawing the line, man. I'm applying to my neighborhood schools and that's it - if he doesn't get in, he'll have to stay home and learn to spell with me. Or go to the Y.

And don't let's get started on the emphasis they have already started pushing on FUNDRAISING. It's not enough that I have to pay thousands of dollars to send my kid to school for 3 hours a day, I also have to pimp wrapping paper.

I sometimes make fun of Kansas, but I'm starting to think maybe we should relocate.

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