This pampered private school elite can only lead to US decline

by Naomi Wolf, The Guardian (UK), 3/22/12

Posted March 27, 2012

I recently attended an event to welcome new parents to a private school in Manhattan. The options presented to the wealthy parents were jaw-dropping: kayaking and skiing for field trips; yoga among dozens of electives; the school gives each kid a new iPad. Parents asked one question after another about the offerings, sounding more as though they were evaluating a luxury vacation than preparing themselves to support their kids to exert themselves in a challenging environment. It was when one student presenter began to enthuse about the availability of the teachers – "You can email them anytime, you can call them anytime, they will always meet with you and help you: they are always there for you!" – that I became really uneasy.

Was that, I wondered, what teachers should be for students?

This school is not at all unusual in Manhattan's elite private school environment. If anything, it is restrained. A trend in Manhattan's wealthy private schools, as in major cities across the United States, reproduces this set of delights and more, as each competes to offer affluent parents, who can afford the $40,000 annually that such schools cost, the most fabulous experience for the child. Part of this trend is the excision of any part of the school experience for kids that is, in any way, unpleasant, taxing, scary or boring. I believe that these kids are being put at serious risk by this trend to smooth away any of life's rough spots, once kids are within private school doors; and that US competitiveness and innovation even are being put at risk by it. <read more>

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