When looking for private schools in New York, the three-hour interview for a toddler to enter a pre-k 3 (that’s pre-kindergarten for three-year olds) class isn’t even the craziest part of the process. Actually, that bears repeating. The application process begins a year in advance, so that’s a three-hour interview for two-year olds to enter a class for three-year olds a year later. Let the craziness begin.
First, there’s the parent essays.
“What is your child’s greatest accomplishment?” Not pooping her pants? Talking? Walking without face planting?
“What are your child’s occupational aspirations?” Seriously? She’s two. Her idea of a work day consists of nap time and finger painting.
“What does your child want to study in college?” Hey, she still a year away from her first day of pre-pre-kindergarten, and she hasn’t even had her first day of school, but let’s skip right to college questions.
I have no idea how I managed to write the required essays (paragraphs, with an “s”, as in, several paragraphs on the supposed academic credentials of a two-year old) for each those questions, but I filled in the questionnaire and sent it in.
On the big day, after the teachers called the students in, Mommy and I sat with a small group of parents when the Director of something or other with an overly fancy title appeared.
Director: Good morning, parents. I wanted to thank everyone for coming, but I don’t want anyone to get their hopes up. As I’m sure everyone already knows, this year we have over 5,000 applicants for just fifty spots.
That’s… a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. For pre-kindergarten. Makes… sense.
Director: Blah, blah, blah. Tuition this for this year is $42,000. Blah, blah, blah.
Holy… This pre-kindergarten class is more expensive than Harvard.
Four hours later, the teachers brought you back to the waiting room.
Me: How was it, Cookie?
Cookie: It was fun, Daddy.
Me: What did they ask you, Cookie?
Cookie: They asked me to read a book.* Then a different teacher came to ask me questions in Chinese.
Me: Did you answer in Chinese?
Cookie: Yep. Then another teacher asked me questions in Korean, and another in Spanish.
Me: What did they ask?
Cookie: Silly questions. Then they asked me to count to twenty and look at shapes and colors.
A week later, we received a happy phone call. I’m proud of you, Cookie. You were one of the fifty.
Me: Wonderful, so what will you teach in this class?
Director: Letters, numbers, colors: the Common Core
Me: But, with that many applicants, you’ve presumably selected only kids who can already read.
Director: Yes, and I think your daughter will fit right in.
Me: So you’re still going to teach letters to kids who can read? You’re not going to teach them anything they don’t already know?
College tuition for glorified day care? No, thank-you.
* Fortunately, it was Good Night Moon. You have that book memorized, Cookie.