Friday, July 23, 2010

Competitive Kindergartens

I'm proud to be a PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher. I believe in public schools. They are an important foundation, I think, of a democracy.

We're now seeing the emergence of competitive elite schools for the extremely wealthy. I find this trend troubling. Here's an excerpt of an article sent to me by Alan Wood about elite kindergartens. It's called 10 Unbelievable Facts About Competitive Kindergartens. Here you get only 8 of those facts, edited down slightly. For the whole article see the link below.

You probably thought it was a lot of work and stress applying to college, didn’t you? But you weren’t the only one scrambling around to attend interviews, finish your application or find the cash for processing fees. There’s a whole group of toddlers and nursery schoolers getting initiated into the rat race, too, as they — and their parents — try to get accepted into the nation’s most elite kindergartens. Find out just how competitive it is.

    1.    It’s your key into the world of private school: If you can get into the right high school, you have a much better chance of getting into the right Ivy League school, many parents believe, and you can’t get into the right high school if you didn’t go to the right elementary school. A New York Magazine article points to some convincing statistics: Hunter College Elementary School students who make it in as kindergartners (it’s extremely competitive) and last through 3rd grade gain automatic acceptance into the high school. "Since 2002," the article explains, "at least 25 percent of Hunter’s graduating classes have been admitted to Ivy League schools," which is why parents are so obsessed with securing their kids’ future early on.
    2.    Admissions consultants make a killing: Amanda Uhry, an admissions consultant in New York City referenced for a story on, charged families $15,000 in 2008 to help their kids get into kindergarten.
    3.    Nursery schools matter: Some admissions officers actually go to the trouble to visit the preschools of the children who are applying to the kindergarten to watch them in action. Others seem to require that their applicants attended the "right" nursery school and ask parents to submit that information with other paperwork.
    4.    There’s a standardized test: New York Magazine recently published a story about the city’s exclusive kindergartens, explaining that many of the elite private schools require prospectives to take the ERB intelligence test to get in — even at the kindergarten level. Many New York City-area elementary schools won’t even consider children who score below the top three percent.
    5.    Applications at some schools are barely looked at unless they’re submitted within the first couple of days: Forget the race to the top: you’ve got to be first, too. In New York City, some of the top kindergartens won’t even look at applications if they aren’t filled out and turned back in just days after they’re made available.
    6.    Application strategy starts at birth…or before: Parents who are truly serious — or crazy — start competing when their children are really still just infants, researching schools, saving for the high costs, and strategizing for the eventual application process.
    7.    Student candidates audition in play groups: The prospective kindergartner has to be watched as he or she participates in an audition-like play group. What are they watched for? "Somebody who is compatible with our philosophy of education," according the San Francisco school’s assistant headmaster.
    8.    It’s not just American schools: This summer, parents in China camped out for days so that their little ones would have a chance to attend the Changping District Industry Kindergarten, a state-run school. Parents prepare their nursery school-aged children for months so that they can ace the interviews for the state-run schools, which charge tuition, and research donations, although the parents have to sign a piece of paper saying that the donation was voluntary.

You can read the entire article online here: 10 Unbelievable Facts About Competitive Kindergartens

1 comment:

Chrystal M. Smith said...

My son is starting K in a public school in a few weeks. We by no means have the money to send him to one of those steroid Kindergartens, and I'm proud to say that even if we did, we would not. I am twenty-nine and got nervous reading this article, nervous like I woke up too late for the ACT test or something. I cannot imagine the mindset in putting these types of stresses on a five-year-old. I am physically ill now.

Sidebar: I've been a reader for almost a year now, and I am really looking forward to reading more as my Ethan starts school. Thanks.