Parents are of several minds, all passionate, when it comes to their children's education. One mind set is, "My neighborhood school was good enough for me, so it's good enough for my kids."
Another is "School, schmool. Stop it already about the PTA, Back to School Night, and parent-teacher conferences. I'm too busy with a) my career, b) my love life, and/or c) trying to eek out a living to care. Do your job - teach my kid and leave me alone."
Then there's the fighting between parents - at least in my neighborhood. If you send your kids to the public neighborhood school you're this type of parent. Versus if you send them to the local public charter school you're that kind of parent. Many of each side think the other side is wrong/stupid/off their rocker. Educational choice here in Colorado is wonderful, but the mindsets that come with stink and help no one.
Another mind set (usually on the East or West Coast) is, "OH MY GOD. If my son/daughter doesn't get into the best preschool, they won't get into the best prep school, let alone the prestigious high school and Yale/Harvard/Stanford/insert your favorite Ivy League College here. Who do I need to sleep with/bribe to get them into that school?!?"
It's this last way of thinking - the phenomenon of the $500,000 education (preschool through college) that is addressed in Alan Eisenstock's book, The Kindergarten Wars: The Battle to Get into America's Best Private Schools.
Alan Eisenstock was a seven-year member of the board of directors of a private independent elementary school in Los Angeles. He provides unique insight into the private school application process by following several families across the country from their first school tours until they get their acceptance (or rejection) letter from a top-pick school.
Alan interviews admissions directors, school heads, teachers, educational consultants, and kindergarten tutors. And he explores: Who gets in and why? Does the right kindergarten really help your child get into the right college? Does ethnic diversity improve a child's chances for being admitted to a top school?
His bottom line is that there are no guarantees in life. You could buy your child a $500,000 education and they could end up a clerk in a bead shop. Or you could get them into the best schools by pushing them relentlessly, and end up with a burnt out, unhappy child.
As one educational consultant says in The Kindergarten Wars, "An Ivy League college does not come with a guarantee that your child is going to be a successful human being. And since you've enabled your child every step of the way (through the educational process), he doesn't realize that he now has to make a living, he has to make a life.
"We are creating this whole group of children who feel entitled but doen't have a clue about how to accomplish anything. It's way more important to know that your child is happy and feels successful and feels like a viable human being who has an effect on the world."
Words to educate by.
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