SmackDown: Should Parents Expect Pricey Preschools to Get Their Kids into the Ivy League?

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Look, Ma! I'm preschool valedictorian! Illustration by Dori Hartley

Parent Deserves Preschool Services She Paid (a Lot) to Receive

by Tom Henderson

Academic pressure can wait. Preschool should be a time for singing songs, playing games and having fun.

Really? You want to pay $19,000 a year so your kid can learn the finer points of patty cake? Do yourself a favor. Band together with other families with young children and form a cooperative day care.

You will spend a lot less money. And -- don't worry -- your kids won't learn squat.

Nicole Imprescia, the Manhattan mommy suing the York Avenue Preschool for allegedly failing to live up to its academic promises, falls neatly into one of society's favorite stereotypes. She comes across as the wealthy snob with a type A personality and superficial values who robs her daughter of her childhood by insisting that preschool act as a springboard to the Ivy League.

(And rumor has it she killed Col. Mustard in the library with the candlestick.)

Come, let us scoff at her and her elitist values, that we may feel better about ourselves as parents. After all, we let our kids be kids. We don't put undue pressure on them. We don't put them in day care centers and preschools to learn anything. We just stow them at such places until they fit into our schedules again.

Of course, we don't spend anywhere near $19,000 a year for the privilege.

Preschools are either learning environments or warehouses. If they're nothing but fun and games, kids are better off at home with one or both of their parents.

Can't afford to stay home with your kids or have a career that's just too important to you? Then admit you're warehousing your children and don't judge Imprescia for paying for something extra.

School officials allegedly promised to prep students for the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) -- a standardized exam necessary for admittance to Manhattan's elite private elementary schools. Imprescia paid a princely sum for that purpose.

Instead, Lucia, her 4-year-old daughter, was supposedly stuck with younger kids learning shapes and colors.

Preschools don't have to be springboards to an elite education. But when they make that kind of promise, they bloody well better make good on it. They charge far too much money for simply offering a primer in circles, squares and the hues of the rainbow.

This is not a case of a snobby mommy pushing a kid too far too fast. This is the case of consumer who feels she was taken for a $19,000 buggy ride based on false promises.

And she deserves her day in court.

You can look at this case as a metaphor of how we push our children too hard to compete academically, but, seriously, look at the state of learning in the United States.

It will be a long time before the pendulum swings too far in that direction.

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Preschool for $19K? Someone Needs an Education on Not Being a Sucker

by Dori Hartley

If a mom can get so bent out of shape she's willing to sue a New York City preschool for what she believes to be the school's inability to guarantee her kid's entry into an Ivy League college, then I suppose the next histrionic indulgence will sound something like, "I'm suing the ob-gyn who delivered my baby 25 years ago, promising to deliver my son into the world. But now my son works at McDonald's. You call that delivering?"

Smells like a scalding hot coffee lawsuit, if you ask me.

OK. So, the angry mom was under the impression that York Avenue Preschool was going to whip her tender toddler into a little Mensa candidate. Yet, upon further inspection, she discovered the child's learning environment was really just "one big playroom."

Imagine that. Four-year-old kids playing with blocks and finger paint, maybe even tossing their slacker selves down for an afternoon nap.

When a school purports to provide babies with a "comprehensive" education that "integrates" art, music, physical education and language, what I get is: Play-Doh, singing songs, clapping hands and reciting the ABCs.

I suppose the use of words such as "comprehensive" and "integrate" upped the game high enough for this mom to think entry into Harvard was just a whistle away.

She likely was expecting marble sculpting, composition for the harpsichord, Olympic training and Mandarin 101.

This mother sold herself a bill of goods, paid a fine price for it and was disappointed to discover her daughter was learning about shapes and colors.

The nerve of letting a school get away with that just makes you want to ... buy something. Expensive.

They say there's a sucker born every minute, but this story proves people are actually lining up around the block to become suckers. And, of course, for every sucker, there's someone ripe and ready to charge that schmuck a sweet fee for her suckerdom. Because, as we know, being a sucker ain't cheap.

When you spend $19,000 a year for preschool, maybe you should ask yourself why you would ever be foolish enough to do such a thing.

It's PRESCHOOL. Puhlease, people.

You chuck your kid into preschool because -- face it, lady -- you don't have the time to do all the kiddie-stuff on your own. That's what preschool is for, whether you admit it or not.

If you're paying premium prices to have someone baby-sit your kid -- oops, I mean, teach your child in a "warm and safe environment" -- then it might be time to examine why you aren't taking a more hands-on approach, either caring for your kid yourself, or spending your cash on a tutor.

I can only imagine what the poor baby has to go through when she comes home from preschool, hoping to put her crayon drawing up on the fridge, only to have her hopes crushed by a mom who was hoping for something more along the lines of a finished thesis titled "The History of Quantum Physics and String Theory."

The price of that Ivy League education just keeps getting steeper.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.