Tuesday, February 9, 2010

School Daze?

Miss M turns 4 this coming October.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the New York school system, that means that if we want to send her to private prekindergarten, we should have completed and submitted applications sometime back in 2004. Seriously?

Every city has its competitive parents and school snobs but NYC has to be in a complete other universe for this kind of stuff. VERY few public schools in Manhattan are places you'd send your child if you could avoid it. When Ex and I split, I moved into a neighborhood that actually has a very good public school and we agreed to send M there. Of course, the rents in that neighborhood are 25% higher than non-good school 'hoods. They get you one way or another.

Here's the trick though: pre-k (4 year old kindergarten) is NOT mandatory in the state of NY. Kindergarten for that matter either. That means the schools don't have to offer it. The school is our 'hood does, but only has a certain number of slots, thus you have to apply and cross your fingers. Because siblings of kids already attending the school have first priority, Miss M has about as good a chance of getting in as I do of winning the Powerball. In normal economic conditions this wouldn't have been a problem, but because a lot of people have lost their jobs and pulled their kids out of private school, public schools are ridiculously overcrowded.

Ex and I now have to find a back up plan, which means applying to private schools which have already closed their application process. Luckily, the overcrowding of public schools means there are private spots, but of course, that comes at a price. The least expensive private school we can find is about $7000 a year. The most expensive (you can bet Ex wants us to apply there but no chance I will do that) is $27,000! For a four year old!!! Can you say ridiculously stupid! The name of the school says it all: The Towne School. That extra "e" has to be good for at least $10,000.

Here's what I don't understand: how can the education be THAT much better at 4 years old? I went to private school up until high school and was somewhat ahead of the other kids by the time I got to the 9th grade, so I get it to a point, but $27,000? And it gets up into the $40,000's as the kids get older. Manhattan is another planet.

So, Ex and I get so spend A LOT of time together. FUN, FUN! We're getting along marginally better these days, mainly because we've had minimal contact but that's about to change. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I'm going to have to meditate on patience and tolerance a lot, both for dealing with Ex and the snotty private school people.


The Pipster said...

Fingers crossed for you and a big box of patience. I have had almost zero contact with ex other than through email. Emailing him though is like emailing a black hole. I don't get many responses. If I had to deal with him in person I would be bummed out.

Senorita said...

Man, good luck ! I imagine it's not really about the education kids are getting, rather getting them on the path to the ivy leagues.

I hope you guys get through this with no battle wounds.

Brittany said...

The market isn't that intense here in FL, but my school is completely full. We are booked solid. We are considered the best pre-school in town. From the time they get placed (as early as 6 weeks) school begins. That includes math, messy play, art, science, and writing. By the time they get to me most of them know counting, letters, and songs in both spanish and french. They also know how to write their names, and simple math.

Sounds wonderful huh?

Not quite. I feel the kids are way over stimulated, and have a lack of creativity and imagination! I am so excited to be leaving. The next school I work at will be less rigid, and more fun! I think education should be number one priority... but you're only a kid once!

Remember that when you look for schools for M! :) Look at the teachers faces.. if they look stressed keep on going!

Big City Dad said...

Brittany, that is AWESOME advice! I SO agree that kids nowadays are pushed way too hard. I'm a public high school kid, state college guy for both undergrad and B school and I'm doing just fine. There's no need to take away a kid's childhood to push them toward the Ivy's at 3 years old. Ridiculous!

MindyMom said...

Well I dont live in NYC and I know school tuitions are insane there but they aren't much better here. We also dont have public pre-K and only 1/2 days for Kindergarten.

I currently pay $300/mo. for only two mornings/wk for LO's Pre-K. Thats $3600/year. Three full days would be $7368/yr. And the kicker? LO's father hasn't contributed a red cent yet. He says it's not neccessary aka; he doesn't want to pay for it. Oh, and I make nada but I'm not going NOT send her when studies show that kids with Pre-K experience do 99.9% better in school.

Good luck with finding a good program!

This Daddy said...

Everyday is just another test for you man. Keep passing them with flying colors.

Loukia said...

Eek... good luck, and good luck!

KiddosDad said...

I hear you BCD, I have a similar situation in STL. No good public schools. Everyone that can afford to sends their kids to private school and it is really competitive. Luckily I am an active member in my neighborhood Catholic church(kind of for this reason) and they have one of the best schools in the city so kiddo is. All at the bargain basement cost of about 10,000 K-8 and 17,000 per year when she gets to high school. I didn't even pay that much for college!

Good luck with the EX, I feel for you there. I hope M gets her spot in the school lottery!

Danielle said...

That reminds me to put my kiddos name in somewhere. I don't understand why the gov. can't make education a priority and have good public schools.

Debbie(singlemom;complicatedworld) said...

how crazy!! I have experienced a few scenarios! I was a home school mom! MY children did not actually start 'school' until the youngest was 1st grade and the oldest 6th. My oldest with no 'formal' schooling is the top student in his school. Both girls are top of their class!! I think school is ONLY one aspect of healthy , intelligent children! NOW I am a preschool teacher! And I certainly see the benefits of the environment for my little charges. I agree with Brittany, children are rushed though! They don't get to just be kids. Whatever you look for, let it be somewhere that she will be encouraged to be a little girl. Too soon she will entire the competition of the real world..for now let her be a princess, wear tutus and paint all day! HOPE you find the best place for her...

ShellSpann said...

My fingers are crossed for you!

Travis said...

When I was looking at working in Manhattan a few years back I looked at the schools and just about choked on my bagel. What do you get for that? A teacher that caters to your every need?

Needless to say, I ended up not deciding to take the job.. still don't regret it, (well... except for the money.. but... yeah still!)

dadshouse said...

Pat, I'd like to buy an 'e' for ten-thousand! That's too funny.

As for exes getting along - raising kids will do that to you. And years help it along.

Candice said...

Wow, that sounds like a total pain in the butt.

Good luck with everything!

Nicki said...

Oh, I don't envy you. The ex and I looked into private high schools for the daughter. She wasn't challenged enough in her classes. Apparently, Manhattan does not corner the market on outrageous tuitions. Without a scholarship, or me selling my eggs, a kidney, and a liver lobe, there was no way she was going. Ahh, public school. She can learn to be just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Such a touch situation - I know we're close, but I'm not in Manhattan, I'm actually in Nassau. For full time daycare right now I'm paying $250/week. The places that I looked at that I would choose in a heartbeat were all wayyy out of my price range- in excess of $300-$350/week, and in my situation I just can't swing that. I had to sit down and figure out what I was and wasn't willing to compromise on, which is really the only suggestion I can give.

I wish I had better advice for you! Good luck!

T said...

Yikes! Sending good luck vibes. You never know how things can work out with a little faith.

Hang in there!

happygal said...

Good luck. I know when we lived in Chicago we knew others who were starting to look at schools when their kids were babies, too. A reason I am thankful we ended up moving.

Good luck on all fronts!

jenn said...

We don't have K-4 where I live, but Shiloh goes to a private preschool simply because the only goverment run ones in this area are really awful in my opinion. But we live in a small town and a poor county. And when I say she's at a private pre-school, it's probably not what would be considered a private school in NYC. But I'm very happy with it. I pay about $5,200/year and I would be paying the same for daycare otherwise.

Hope you find somewhere that is perfect for Miss M. Good luck.

S.I.F. said...

Oh my gosh! I can't even believe this!

Our education system is totally busted. There is no way parents should have to be faced with paying that kind of money or not sending their kids at all. That's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard.

And you do realize once you get her into a private school, it is going to be that much harder to pull her out and put her back into regular school in 1st grade.

Good luck. I'm sure she'll get in somewhere great and everything will be fine, but still... what a pain!

L.A. Single Mama said...

It's the same here in LA. We went with private -- it's a fortune and we're making ALL SORTS of sacrifices.

After having experienced an "upscale" private school, what I think I get for it is peace of mind. I know my child is challenged. I don't have to worry about violence, and (for the most part) bad teachers or bad kids -- I certainly couldn't say that, even in a "good" LA school. I also know they have all the extras -- PE every day, art and music once every 4 days. In art, their artist of the month was Miro. I had no idea who Miro was until Art History 201 Sophomore year in college.

If he were in a public school I feel like I'd have to be super involved to make sure that everything was "right". Here, I feel like I can relax a bit and since I have to work full-time, I don't have time to be super involved in his school.

All that being said, we are looking at Catholic schools because they are a lot less expensive and I'm not sure how long we can keep this up.

Also, all these "upscale" schools want smart, well-adjusted kids and do give out a lot of financial aid. It's certainly worth looking into if you're at all interested.

NYC Single Mom said...

good luck on the school situation. I actually looked at privates for pre-k just so I had a shot at k. The two schools I looked literally had 1 spot open because all the spots were taken by siblings. So back to my lovely day care I went.

I hope you get in so you can avoid having to deal with again for kindergarten. I actually went through the private school process. That had to be one of the most exhausting, ego busting experiences of a lifetime. Yes we were rejected which came as a surprise to everyone. I guess we werent diverse enough. Oh well, thank god i am zoned for good public school.

Again good luck. Too bad you dont drink because it is a process that will drive you to drink

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