Test Prep Madness
There was a little article in the New York Times a week ago, about a mother who is suing her daughter’s school because the school did not adequately prepare her daughter for the standardized tests she has to take to get into top-notch schools. The parent says that in its promotional materials, the school claims to prepare children for admission into the most elite schools.
Okay, you say, that’s a little extreme, but parents trying to get their kids into college are known to do some nutty things.
But this parent is suing her daughter’s preschool. The child in question is four. The test in question is known as the ERB, which is often required by New York City private schools as part of the admissions application: kids are asked to follow directions, match shapes, describe objects, and so forth. Tuition at this pre-school, which promised entrance, into all the fancyshmancy schools, runs about $19,000, which the mother wants refunded to her.
Here’s what I’m hoping: that the parent filed the lawsuit to draw attention to the ridiculous hyper-competitive world of education. Or to draw attention to the inequities that exist in a world where some children go to a preschool that costs $19,000 a year and others go to Head Start programs (where, generally, there are many more kids per classroom) – programs that are poised to be sacrificed to the budget-cutting blowtorches of Republicans in Congress.
Unfortunately, I think the woman is serious about her suit; she cites studies that claim an excellent elementary school results in getting into a good college and a higher lifetime earning potential. The school has refused to comment on the lawsuit and frankly, I hope the case gets thrown out of court, not only because anyone who uses the word “sophisticated” in conjunction with “four year-olds” simply cannot be taken seriously, but also because the case would establish in the code of law what is already a deeply disturbing aspect of education in this country: those who can pay a lot get the “brand name” education, which in turn gives those kids access to greater earning power and thus eventually enables them to pay stratospheric prices to educate their children. End result: an educational world segregated even more deeply by wealth than it is already.
Yeah, yeah, I know, there are exceptions to this rule and lots of people rise to the top from non “name-brand” colleges and people have to make their own opportunities, but still. Doors open for the Name Brand more readily than otherwise.Continued on the next page