Re: So We've All Got Our Hot Buttons

1

One wonders if he'll let his daughter go to college in the South. Surely not.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:38 AM
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Also, on the subject of things that make one disproportionately vexed: that pixels are for all intents and purposes free means that the sort of idiotic crap puked up in the linked post can be characterized as "writing in a national magazine" -- when in fact we're talking about little more than a blog post by some nobody edited by some non-entity appearing basically nowhere beneath a masthead that used to mean not very much but now means nothing at all.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:42 AM
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High five!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:52 AM
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I agree with you but everyone I know IRL tells me that once I have a kid I'll change my mind. I hate that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:02 AM
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I have kids. We've always chosen to live places where we can send them to public schools. I know many, many other people who have made similar choices. It seems to be working out reasonably well, though one never knows.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:05 AM
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re: 4

People tell me things like that, too. We have a kid. So far, I haven't found myself overwhelmed by the urge to chuck every moral principle I hitherto held.

As it happens, the local schools where I live are good. Not very white, though. So I suppose massive racists would maybe want to send their kids elsewhere.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:08 AM
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4: Everyone you know is a moron. Everyone I know is, too. My kids are prospering in public schools that the white folks in my neighborhood won't send their kids to.

Like Von in 5, I'm not being particularly virtuous or imposing some kind of sacrifice on my kids for the greater good. The public schools here really are quite good schools.

As to the Atlantic writer: Christ, what an asshole.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:13 AM
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I really don't get why this is a big, hairy moral deal. It's far less distorting and segregating than the most common alternative among people who can pay tuition for primary and secondary school, buying a house in a school district specifically created to make it impossible for poor people to live in the district.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:16 AM
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I don't care where any of you send your kids to school, but I really dislike it when people use illness/disability as rhetorical punishment.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:23 AM
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5 - Our plan is to send Jane to a public school district known to churn out Bancroft winners like they were Lucy and Ethel's bon-bons.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:25 AM
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They'll grow up to have trouble making decisions about ski trips.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:26 AM
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5,6,7: Right. It's just such an annoying rhetorical move. Most recently encountered in the context of the (hypothetical) scenario where I might get a job at a university in a certain large city and my girlfriend might get one 50 miles away: people at the university have said "well, it sounds like an inconvenient distance, but you would be commuting 50 miles anyway, because the only alternative is to pay for a private school in the city."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:28 AM
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Sending your own kid to private school, I can think of legit reasons for. I think most people who do it have bad reasons, but I'm not going to say it's always wrong. Writing a sanctimonious little article about how the difference between public and private school is that private school kids love learning in a way public school kids don't makes me want to break multiple bones in your face.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:31 AM
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We've always chosen to live places where we can send them to public schools. I know many, many other people who have made similar choices.

This infuriates me in exactly the same way the OP infuriates LB.

(I know I should read this charitably instead of uncharitably, because I'm sure it was meant more charitably than I am reading. Really, I'm serious about that. But, IME, most people who make similar statements, when they say "live places where we can send them to public schools", mean "live in wealthy districts without too many poor kids" (or, in some cases, minorities). And that's not speculation--if you ask people to elaborate on what exactly they mean by "live somewhere they can send the kids to public schools," they're usually shocking willing to admit that this is exactly what they mean, although they will phrase it not so starkly.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:31 AM
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13 to 8, and I agree with the main thrust of 8 and 13.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:32 AM
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8 and 14. Of course I agree with 13, I wrote it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:34 AM
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urple gets me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:35 AM
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9 is also one of my hot buttons, as is the whole school thing too. An activist in our town wants me to work with him on getting people who've sent their kids to private schools and other districts to commit to bring them back by a certain date, and so I've been trying to talk to him about why that will never work and win him over to my school activism, which is telling parents of young kids to try kindergarten at the girls' school because the worst that can happen is their child will have gone to kindergarten for free and can then start first grade anywhere.

You guys, this week I ran a read-a-thon fundraiser for the girls' school because I'm the entire PTA, and out of 575 students, which includes four preschool classes, over 100 students were able to get people to sponsor them to read, in many cases hitting up siblings and cousins for a dollar. They bring in these long lists of all the people who sponsored them to get to the $10 that gets them a t-shirt and it has me on the verge of happy tears. We made almost 2K for the PTA, which is about what I paid out-of-pocket for shirts for students and staff and means I can reimburse myself some of that, but I've just been so happy and so impressed and sort of feeling bad that I don't do more with my own life when other people are being generous and great, but I guess handling all this stupid PTA stuff I hate counts.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:37 AM
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I guess handling all this stupid PTA stuff I hate counts.

I think it probably does, yes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:39 AM
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On the charitable side, although I'm pretty sure VW current school district is all rich white people, I'm also pretty sure his old school district was much much more diverse.

I'm most of the way through buying a house near our "bad elementary school". Seems to have saved around 50K (200K vs 250K) for what is otherwise a clearly better location.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:41 AM
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I don't like PTA meetings. They never have beer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:42 AM
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14: I live in what's on paper the worst school district in the state and I send my kids there and it's absolutely fantastic for them and for many other kids. It would be even better if the wealthier parents would buck up and send their own kids and invest the time they spend volunteering at the rich schools.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:42 AM
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The greatest thing about having kids is that no one ever gets to tell you that you'll change your mind when you have kids. Plus they love you and shit, but that's number two.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:45 AM
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I thought #2 was shit, with or without love.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:46 AM
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On the charitable side, although I'm pretty sure VW current school district is all rich white people,

No, plenty of Asian people as well. Your engineering and chemistry professors, you know.

And not as "rich" as your leafy suburb-type places.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 7:52 AM
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Personally, the most infuriating thing about the article linked in the OP is that I can almost guarantee that my spouse is going to send it to me approvingly sometime in the next 72 hours. (If she sees it. Which she probably will.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:02 AM
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I don't have kids but probably will sometime soonish and this is something that worries me. I think I trust the local public and charter schools enough, along with the freedom that a magnet system allows. But we'll see. I've definitely gotten a lot of "you'll think differently when you have kids" so clearly I've been raised to believe it's right to compromise principles for the good of the clan.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:03 AM
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And the Slate article he links as a sort of rebuttal is a really, really terrible rebuttal.

Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

Sign us up!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:09 AM
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OMG! One of my brothers is having a come-to-jesus moment about private schools and how they're paying through the nose, and maybe they should try the local public school. (They live in a very wealthy area, for the record.) One of my favorite lines was basically "There are dumb kids in private school, too!! Kids that need extra help!" Well, yes, brudder dear. Yes.


Posted by: Ladybird Johnson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:11 AM
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The greatest thing about having kids is that no one ever gets to tell you that you'll change your mind when you have kids.

This is so right. (Specifically, my darling siblings and their spouses.)


Posted by: Ladybird Johnson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:15 AM
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31

If I told you where my hot button is would you push it?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:20 AM
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The big private school in Heebieville is much worse on math ed, at least, than the public school system, which is the only area that I know what I'm talking about.

I have a secret belief that private schools, being no better than public schools, serve to drain wealthy people of their money, as punishment for not appreciating the value of a cooperative society, which is not so bad.

Under this premise, segregating school districts by wealth is the much bigger crime.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:20 AM
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Having a kid changed my mind about smoking and exactly how to define "drunk" for purposes of driving.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:20 AM
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My non-driving definition of drunk is still the same.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:21 AM
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Daughter went to struggling local public high school which sends students everywhere "from jail to Yale" (daughter ended up well, albeit in neither jail nor Yale). Son went to a highly-thought-of Jesuit high school which I found had a miserable math program (see 32 above). He will finish college this year. Each school was a good match for each child. I think that keeping an eye on what they're doing and what they're learning is probably the single most important thing.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:23 AM
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11: They'll grow up to have trouble making decisions about ski trips.

Or be *forced* to eat caviar (The Ironic Revenge of the Geese).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:24 AM
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Should 36 be foie gras?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:25 AM
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Maybe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:26 AM
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People who get things right are my hot button.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:26 AM
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I didn't like foie gras the time I had it. I don't think I've ever had real caviar. Just some related fish eggs that were, on the quality scale, between true caviar and the stuff they sell to use as bait.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:27 AM
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People who need a hug today are my hot buttons.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:30 AM
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"Real" caviar is eggs from beluga whales, right? I've never had that. But Salmon caviar (/roe/ikura) is basically my favorite food. But I don't think that's "real" caviar.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:31 AM
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42.1 is the best comment ver.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:31 AM
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D'oh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:32 AM
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On the charitable side, although I'm pretty sure VW current school district is all rich white people

I suppose it depends what one means by rich, but we live in one of the least affluent regions of the Northeast. Of course our particular town is wealthier than the surrounding towns -- which isn't saying much -- because the university is located here, and the university is a reliable and relatively generous* employer, but the idea that people here are rich doesn't seem right to me. But then again, I would say that, because one of the things that brought us here was the fact that public school teachers are considered upper-middle class in this area. So not only can they live in the school district where they teach, but they're viewed as pillars of the community. Not surprisingly, this does quite a lot for their morale.

I can't figure out if this confirms urple's uncharitable reading of my original comment or not.

* This isn't saying much. Staff are poorly paid. But compared to other jobs nearby, they're doing well.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:32 AM
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32, 35: My one kid has a had a part-time gig working at a Math tutoring place for a a number of years. He says that providing remedial math tutoring for students moving from parochial schools to suburban public schools is their bread and butter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:32 AM
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No, google tells me it's sturgeon, not beluga whales.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:32 AM
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(The best is supposedly from beluga sturgeon, which must have been the source of my confusion.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:33 AM
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I thought maybe palytypus whales.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:34 AM
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Platypus. Fuck.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:35 AM
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49 to the source of Urple's confusion?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:36 AM
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My workplace is having an iteration of this argument, and it's gotten surprisingly personal. One participant lives, grew up in, and went to school in the public schools of the city I live in now and where I hope to send my kid to school. He likes it and thinks it's fine-to-great. Another participant moved out of this exact city to a wealthy, vastly whiter suburb because his kid seemed like the odd one out for having extracurricular academic interests (language, math), whereas in the suburbs most kids are so pushed, and he thinks peer effects dominate even if the teachers in both school systems are fine.

It's hard not to read it as anything but a coded version of "I don't want my kid going to school with *those* kids", even if the superficial gloss isn't crazy.


Posted by: John Kennedy | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:37 AM
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41: So you're willing to hold your hot button against me? (We did do a less-defensible variation of the Von Wafer putative dick move.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:39 AM
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One good friend of mine had JFK's experience growing up - felt like an outsider and hated public elementary school, because she loved learning and was super curious, got made fun of, etc. Got moved to a small lab school affiliated with a university and thrived there.

I try not to incorporate her experience into my worldview.

So far our public elementary has been great with our little keener.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:41 AM
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53.paren in order to stop being off-topic and allow the brewing "surprisingly personal" portion of the tread to take off.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:41 AM
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Before the Internet, did every parenting decision constitute evidence that said parent was a bad person and a slacking citizen?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:43 AM
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I just want someone to give me a concise rebuttal of the article in the OP, for when my wife sends it to me.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:44 AM
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56: Yes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:46 AM
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Not exactly the same, but my parents report pissy interactions about how "We had to move out of the city, we couldn't possibly send our kids to those schools," long before the Web.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:50 AM
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56: Yes, but it was much more locally-sourced criticism.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:51 AM
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57: Get her a complete set of the Gossip Girl books.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:54 AM
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In 48 states, that counts an mental cruelty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:56 AM
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I just want someone to give me a concise rebuttal

Private school tuition fees.

"Buying in" to private school is a very expensive proposition. It's like paying for college several times over.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:02 AM
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To the likelihood people you know will send this to you, my daughter got this link from her boyfriend. She's in a program to train urban, schools of concern teachers at UofC, and predictably exploded. I can't tell if her boyfriend was trolling or honestly doesn't get it about this stuff. But a lot of people you and I know won't.

Grateful as I am for the Obama presidency, "school reform" and all of the assumptions that go with it is one of his blind spots. He has to pick his battles, of course, and even if he secretly knows better would need to hold on this one. He probably senses he doesn't lose the support of such as me with this despite its being a far higher priority for me than him, if he gives the matter any thought at all.

The simpler explanation is that he sincerely holds the bouquet of opinions you would expect from someone who was president of the Harvard Law Review in the 80s. I'm ok with that given the alternatives, but financialization/economic policy and educational policy are my least favorite parts of the mix. He's moving on the one, on both may be too much to expect.

Rahm faces a runoff because of the school closings backlash above all. The ambivalence many Chicagoans feel about Obama's role in this and his natural support for Rahm is out in the open and often recorded in the media. Obama would be well-advised to stay out of the runoff but if Rahm seems to be lagging I don't think he'll be able to.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:04 AM
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"Buy in" is such a telling choice of words. What an asshole.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:06 AM
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66

Having gone to public schools in urpleville, I think I disagree with urple on some things.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:08 AM
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Or maybe I was misreading urple, on second glance.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:10 AM
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I would love some elaboration on 66.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:10 AM
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Or maybe not, depending on what 67 means.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:11 AM
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Actually elaboration may be helpful either way.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:11 AM
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I had a fairly big argument with two great friends about this. They advocated the "selfish" move. We did consider school districts, but not strongly on particular schools, when we bought our place.

Both Rilee and Noser did/are doing pre-K and K in a semi-parochial Montessori. They've both taken good things from it, and I see definite reasons for thinking our local public isn't offering nearly as much in a number of ways.

Still, they're both going to be in our neighborhood elementary school next year. It won't make that much of a difference (we still have a massive influence on them, and they both love finding things out, even if it were true that their peers are less invested).


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:13 AM
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Stepdaughter went to extremely highly regarded public schools (i.e. they drive up property prices alot), was frustrated beyond despair by sophomore year of high school by lack of interest in learning from classmates.Also had a shit ton of make work homework. She went off to happiness at deeR and is now phding.

Stepson went to hippy groovy private elementary school and sweet as pie Episcopalian middle school, both of which enthusiastically embraced the challenges of a profoundly deaf little dude and did a good job, and then a crappy Catholic high school run by insensitive morons as far as I could tell, but he got to play on the football team, his primary goal at that point in life. He was among the bored and unenthusiastic in the classroom I'm quite sure. If any homework was assigned he assiduously avoided it. He owns his own small business and it is so lovely to occasionally meet people who are happy customers.

Kid goes to private school and is frustrated beyond despair in the equivalent of eighth grade of high school by lack of interest in learning from classmates. Homework yes, but not asinine make work amounts. It remains to be seen if happiness lies ahead for our 6 feet plus of dancing madman.

The self segregation of public schools by housing cost in the Bay Area is striking and near total.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:16 AM
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Urple, the article makes me screamy, but I'd be glad to come up with some talking points later today when I have time. Not on the list but noteworthy to me is that this high school teacher thinks his students really say "stoked" and that the schmancy private school kids don't date each other or sext or cyberbully because the school fulfills their every need.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:16 AM
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"Every spring I get so fed up with shad roe that I wish to heaven fish would figure out some other way. Whales have." - Archie Goodwin


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:17 AM
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I do always feel a little off-balance about this kind of rant, because I'm unsure what I think of the policy/ethical implications of 'magnet'(defined loosely, I'm not sure if there is a tight definition) schools, but both I and my kids have attended them. (Elementary schools, we were in the ordinary schools.) So, there's room to think of myself as a hypocrite here, along the lines of someone who moves to the rich town for the 'good schools', but I'm not sure exactly how much.

Mostly, I think some are fine and some are pernicious, and I'm not quite sure where to draw the line. My rough sense is that the school my kids go to is a good thing for the community, and isn't exacerbating inequality -- I don't know if I'd say the same thing about the school I went to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:18 AM
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Private school tuition fees.

That actually is my counterargument but it hasn't been a compelling one because she isn't even thinking about any schools that are "like paying for college several times over"; the places we are looking at are affordable (in the sense that we have the financial ability to afford them without major hardship).

Although, counterpoint: I have said that the kids would be a lot better off instead we were saving all that money and letting magical compound interest do its thing and then we would maybe actually be able to help the kids meaningfully with college, instead of telling them they're on their own, which is more or less the current plan. My wife seems fine with that as a plan. And also college tuitions seem so unimaginable that unless the magic of compound interest proved to be really magical I'm not sure how meaningful our ultimate supposedly meaningful assistance would prove to be.

(As another counter-counterpoint, I do think there's a good chance that we wouldn't actually save that money for the kids' college benefit. We'd probably, like, take occasional vacations or something.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:22 AM
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I hear Vermont is a nice place to ski.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:23 AM
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My wife went to an inner-city public school, where, in her whiteness, she was part of a small minority. She did fine. I went to a very white Catholic elementary school that wasn't very good. I'm fine.

We chose our place of residence in part because of the schools. My brother, who lived in a nearby rich-people district, was appalled. He encouraged his kids to mock children who went to school in our district.

I feel the absolute bare minimum of schadenfreude over the fact that of my brother's three children, two didn't manage graduate from college and the third is floundering professionally after an undistinguished academic career. (I actually feel really bad for the kids, who really aren't bad people but were brought up to be entitled morons by parents who couldn't supply the requisite trust fund.)

Our district is majority minority (I think), and our kids are getting much better education than either of their parents did.

Like Von, I'm a little confused about whether I have earned urple's rage in 14. Certainly the school district was an important factor when we chose our home, and we don't live in a poor neighborhood.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:26 AM
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You know, I went to shitty public schools*, and I'm glad for it. I am a more empathetic and understanding person because I grew up spending time with people who were very much not like me. All my friends were from the middle-class, Anglo neighborhoods with professional parents, but I still sat in class with, ate lunch with, did group projects with kids whose parents were undocumented immigrants, or in jail, or just worked three shitty jobs and were never home. Even 15 years later, I believe I have much greater compassion for people who live that kind of life than I would if I'd gone to school with kids just like me.

And I didn't get a terrible education, either. I had to be self-motivated and make my own opportunities (I *was* the Latin III class--I sat in the back of Latin II, worked on translations, asked questions of the teacher when the rest of the students were doing their own exercises; I took an English class at the local university my senior year; I did an off-campus mentorship; I was on the Academic Decathlon team; etc. etc. etc.), but having to decide to learn and excel meant that I found my own value in learning and was never driven by grades. I got straight As by showing up; I learned because I wanted to. And it meant that when I got to a top-10, private university for college, I was relieved, not intimidated, because I wasn't in charge of my own education anymore. I could finally just do what I was told and learning would happen! That was a piece of cake compared to high school. Yeah, I only had one AP class going in, and took the remedial calculus class my first year, but I was on the Dean's list all four years and graduated with honors. A bad high school doesn't mean educational or professional doom. But it can make you a better person.

TL;DR: send your kids to shitty schools. They're awesome.

*I mean, actually shitty. HS graduation rate of 43%, lots of gang activity, lots of drugs, a few guns, etc. The graduation ceremony always included a moment of silence for class members who died while in high school, usually by violent means. But it was a really diverse district in a city with only 2 private high schools, so we had everyone from university professors kids to recent immigrants to homeless kids, all in the same school.


Posted by: Roadrunner | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:27 AM
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I hear private schools aee struggling to teach the distinction, found in nature, between fact and opinion.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:31 AM
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I went to a Southernly-snooty* private school for 3-5th grades and hated all my classmates. So there you go.

*Ie, it opened the year the city was forced to desegregate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:34 AM
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Magnet/selective schools differ widely in their social impacts even within the same system.

Chicago has about a dozen "selective" high schools with a common application, where applicants rank their preferences, and many unrelated honors and academic programs, a real smorgasbord.

The selective HS my kids attended was at that time, starting about ten years ago, the smallest and by far the most diverse. It also had the distinction of being right downtown, and consequently having no playing fields, gym or pool. So the sports teams were more like clubs, and the arts programs were much more important for status.

The other selectives were at that time very much like UMC suburban high schools. You could feel that when you visited, and wasn't a bug but a feature.

Since my kids went there their school has doubled in enrollment, become much whiter, and acquired land and built sports facilities. Because many kids and parents need need need sports and everything that goes with them. There is no school today with the characteristics theirs had when they went to it.

Their cousin our niece considered going there but chose another school instead, and from what I can see made the right choice, which our kids might make today.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:46 AM
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I'm not going to read the article linked in the OP, but if it's thesis really is that private school students are more interested in learning than public school students, well thanks for the hearty laugh! Could there be a more ludicrous argument? Look at the parents of these precious snowflakes - how many of them were consumed with a burning unceasing thirst for knowledge? Their kids are somehow magically transformed?

I'm personally pretty immune at this point from anyone getting at me for sending my kid to private school as 1 they all move to Marin or Lafayette for the public schools - bold move for social equality there comrades! and 2 anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I'm personally pretty heavily invested in SFUSD in a number of ways.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:47 AM
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In my town, there were moderately lousy public schools, religious private schools (Catholic and evangelical Protestant), and a statewide magnet school that accepted about one local kid per year. The lousy public schools were more violent and poorer than the private schools (yay, below 50% graduation rate), but the private schools were a nightmare academically. It still takes me a minute to remember that nicer cities have private schools that might give a good education. Many kids whose families were wealthy for the area did private school until high school, at which point they switched to public school so they had a bettr chance of getting into college.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:50 AM
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68-70: at first glance I thought you were claiming that good public schools are only found in wealthy areas, but at second glance you where claiming that people who say they're looking for good public schools are actually looking for wealthy areas. Which sounds plausible.

What I think is clear--or at least was when I was in school--was that the best high schools were public. And thanks to the magnet policies they drew from a fairly big range of neighborhoods and socioeconomic statuses.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:55 AM
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-h


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:55 AM
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Here in urpleville, 85.2 is inarguable--the public magnet high schools are the best schools around. I've actually wondered if the same thing is true of elementary magnet schools, which I haven't really looked into at all.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:58 AM
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as 1 they all move to Marin or Lafayette for the public schools

Sometimes they move for there for the public schools and still insist their snowflake needs private school.


Posted by: Ladybird Johnson | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:59 AM
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I want to second Roadrunner, but on behalf of mediocre high schools. Mine was perfectly fine by US standards: many students dropped out, fewer than half went on to college, mostly to community colleges, but there were some AP classes as well, and so on. I was miserable at the time, of course, and didn't learn nearly as much as I could have then, but that school did teach me one crucial thing: how thoroughly most people are constrained by existing opportunities. And that's a really crucial thing to learn when you're young.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:05 AM
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Apologies for the logorrhea here:

Personal experience gives me precious little guidance with this decision. My strongest memory is that "small class sizes" and "individualized attention" were hell. I wanted to be left alone and given free rein in the school library, and to occasionally be allowed to participate in contests or enrichment activities. The more direct attention I had from teachers, the more I fought with them. Going to private school also meant I had to give up playing in the public-school strings program, which was sad, and the tuition left no money for private lessons.

The last year of private middle school is still the uncontested worst year of my life (although third year of college comes close -- I don't think anything is ever going to beat 8th grade; that abjection isn't possible for an adult). By contrast the huge public high school was an enriching and happy place and I was overjoyed to be able to disappear into the woodwork again, with no one bugging me about tucking my shirt in or not cursing (as at Catholic high, which I attended for one year, briefly answering my grandmother's decade-plus prayers). So my bias is towards public school now, but as a kid I chose both private schools and was briefly happy with my decision in both cases.

Also Jesus, it's nice to think about being surrounded by like-minded peers who are your natural friends, but that sounds like a fluffy unicorn cloud castle to me. Kids who care about learning for its own sake are gentle, loyal friends who are never mean and always have time for you? There was zero correlation -- in fact maybe a small negative correlation -- between academic achievement/ orientation and quality friendship for me. It is also incredibly easy for me to forget this as an adult because that actually does work for grown-ups to a much greater degree. Friendships are based on shared interests for us. Less so for kids. (I think this changes by high school, and then I totally benefited from the social engineering and was delighted to have long dorm-room-style discussions with the local genius kids who made me feel inferior.)

The only really deadly thing about not being in an academically accelerated environment is that, afaict, I was a pure asshole when I was bored. I think my primary guideline is a desire to be able to be flexible and move my daughter around if she's truly unhappy. I don't care about any principle over that one and I'm not going to codify anything.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:07 AM
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Really, any school that teaches kids that whales don't lay eggs should be good enough, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:07 AM
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88: those people are all in on the segregation system, they don't trade in sanctimony.

My own hs education experience at a "good" suburban school was v similar to roadrunners in 79, minus the racial diversity and crime, and those I enthusiastically sought via my extracurricular self study activities.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:10 AM
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When my kid went to public school, we thought his peers were great. It was the administration that was shit. Their priorities were all messed up, largely on account of standardized testing.

My kids in a private school now where I don't think the students are any better or worse, but the support system is a lot stronger, and the classes seem more interesting.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:12 AM
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I'm a little confused about whether I have earned urple's rage in 14. Certainly the school district was an important factor when we chose our home

When you say you chose your place of residence "in part because of the schools", what attribute about the schools were you selecting for?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:18 AM
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91: I know whales don't layeggs, but they still have eggs, smartass.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:20 AM
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Duck-billed sperm whales lay eggs.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:22 AM
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95: They generally prefer toast to bacon with them, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:23 AM
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According to the internet, the egg cells of whales aren't especially big. Which surprised me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:26 AM
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the egg cells of whales aren't especially big

Neither is caviar.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:27 AM
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It is compared to a whale ova.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:30 AM
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Well, I didn't know that.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:33 AM
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My favorite foie gras moment of the last few years was when French principal ballet dancer at SFB posted ecstatic pics of herself tucking in to vast quantities of liver sent in Christmas care package from home and legions of previously adoring vegan fans went beserk. It happened on some social media thing someone showed me, was hilarious.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:34 AM
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I love lk's reminiscences of "loving learning, but hating school/being taught/teacherly attention/class discussions.

Many people have a little of that, I've got a lot of it.

I often feel bad how often I instinctively rebuffed the attentions and would-be mentoring of teachers, at every level of schooling, but I've got a powerful aversion to receiving that sort of help.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:37 AM
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91: Who said anything about laying? I assume it's the fertility drugs that make it so expensive.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:38 AM
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I agree with you but everyone I know IRL tells me that once I have a kid I'll change my mind. I hate that.

Don't have kids! Problem solved!

Maybe I should just troll these two threads.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:38 AM
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That'll teach me to comment without refreshing.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:39 AM
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When we moved back to Pittsburgh a couple of decades ago we deliberately chose our housing based on the repute of the school district. Our daughter did OK in it but there were a lot of downsides in terms of in group social snobbery and I didn't much care for the entitled culture that the kids learned. Perhaps we could have done better in a less fancy area.


Posted by: OutOfTheBlue | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:44 AM
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I went to elementary school at the lab school of an "anyone can get in" regional state university and kind of hated almost all of my classmates in that way you don't fully understand until you go somewhere else. Went to a big nothing special high school one town over and found the other weirdos and had a better time.

The greatest thing about having kids is that no one ever gets to tell you that you'll change your mind when you have kids.

This can also be achieved by making it very clear to everyone you will never have kids! I am going to start saying to people "you'll change your mind when you have cats" about, oh, just anything.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:49 AM
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Technically, it's the toxoplasmosis that changes your mind.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:54 AM
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My mom was a public school teacher and always felt guilty about sending me and my brother to Catholic school. Then we moved to Virginia and switched to (very excellent, lily-white) public schools. The big differences I noticed: public schools had more activities like theatre and band and wood shop. Private school taught Phonics as a dedicated subject with its own workbook; whenever I mentioned phonics to my public-school classmates, they looked at me like I was an alien.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:06 AM
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94 was a real question, which may have gotten lost amongst all the whale anatomy lessons.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:06 AM
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94: When you say you chose your place of residence "in part because of the schools", what attribute about the schools were you selecting for?

School mascot.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:16 AM
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Haha, a school where all the kids "love learning," that's great. I assume that most people who talk like that are really thinking (consciously or not) of how to make sure their kids know how to present as striving, self-confident white-collar professionals. The self-confidence thing, especially, tends to run counter to any feelings of solidarity with your less fortunate peers.

I have to admit that UMC Asian-Americans are totally racist/classist about sending their kids to the right schools. (It's one of the secrets of being a model minority.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:16 AM
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110: they probably associated it with the "Hooked on Phonics worked for me!" commercials.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:21 AM
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113.2: Also, those with ancestors for East Asia don't go to bars very often. At least not the same bars everybody else goes to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:22 AM
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113.2 is true of many non-Asian minority UMC groups. Lee and I disagreed for a long, long time about schools, though she's finally come around. (It helped that we didn't have a choice; here children in foster care have to go to public school.) We did, though, agree that we would not pay to send black kids out of district to the white flight school many of our neighbors use.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:22 AM
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Why oh why is it so difficult for people to take a step back and think that there are appropriate solutions for every child and different children need different things out of school? What helps one kid might not necessarily help another, and 95% of parents are just doing the best they can. People are too damn sensitive about being judged AND too damn judgmental. The writer in the OP comes off as obnoxious in part because he is employing some rhetorical moves to avoid judgment that don't work particularly well.

If everyone sent their kids to private school, there eventually might be a collective action problem (I know it's not tragedy of the commons), but that isn't going to happen. I am perfectly happy for my tax dollars to support my public schools. The bigger threat to public schools anyway isn't private school parents, but republican governors (cf. Arizona).


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:25 AM
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Private school taught Phonics as a dedicated subject with its own workbook;

When my son went to the local Catholic school (he is at the public school now), he had a grammar workbook published by Sadlier -- a Catholic publishing house that has been around since the 1830s. And they didn't have one class called "Language Arts." They had two separate language arts classes: "Language Arts" (grammar, spelling, the mechanics of writing), and "Composition" (with lots of essay writing, journal-keeping, creative writing assignments). The language arts curriculum at his public school is nowhere near as good.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:35 AM
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Language Arts III: How To Always Sound Sober


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:37 AM
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Language Arts IV: Email, Social Media, and Plausible Deniability


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:54 AM
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I'm over here looking for a playlot from 11D, and you'all talk to fast for me. But, I had read that article, and did want to say something about it, and so am chiming in anyway.

I think the author of the Atlantic article is being hopelessly naive in imagining that the eager engagement at the private school (especially if he's only observed the elementary classes) is the result of the private school environment (and buy-in), especially if his comparison group is a public *high school*.

My kids attend private schools. It is a luxury and not a necessity, but it's a luxury we enjoy. But, it has not meant that we have beautifully engaged students in the middle school years. The fact that parents have money to spend does not mean that kids have bought into 25K of education (we know that doesn't happen even at college). I recently observed 1st graders through 8th graders work on a project. The 1st graders were just as eagerly engaged as the Atlantic author described. The 8th graders were just as apathetic' as you'd expect anywhere (though, potentially they did humor me a tad more than a random 8th grade class might have). It's a fabulous think about 6 year olds -- almost all of them are, naturally, eager and curious about world, everywhere. As they grow older, they develop priorities that aren't ours, and that we are paying lots of money for their education does not particularly motivate them.


Posted by: bj | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:56 AM
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No need to read all the comments before adding something, and we're happy to inherit any commenters from Laura. (I'd dig up the new-commenter fruit basket, but I lost track of where we left it years ago. And it was a terrible fruit basket. You don't want the fruit basket.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 11:59 AM
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Oh. Hello.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:00 PM
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(especially if he's only observed the elementary classes)

Someone didn't read the link very carefully.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:02 PM
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Language Arts V: Conversations With the Seriously and Persistently Mentally Ill


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:03 PM
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We're right here. We can hear you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:05 PM
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My gym owner barely graduated from a bad high school, and now he's posting topless photos of himself with a wolf spirit animal doing battle with another topless professional crossfiter who has a lion for a spirit animal. So education doesn't really matter that much in the end.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:07 PM
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121/123: That was just my way of saying welcome and noting, in case you were not aware, that MH is me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:15 PM
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My kids in Austroland are in what the Austrians think of as an elite school. Which is a giggle when I compare all aspects of their schooling to what would count as elite in the UK, from where I grew up and went to state schools. The more I reflect on my experiences at said schools (which in retrospect were extremely good and prepared me effectively for my Oxbridge entrance); second- hand experiences of friends at university, most of whom went through private (ahem "public") schools and my subsequent experiences with my own childrens' schooling, the more I become convinced that the best socialisation and education there is comes from a mix of backgrounds, abilities and GOOD teaching. It is not so very much the abilities of the other children as class size and teacher selection/training that is the silver bullet.
But hey - I doubt Austria is in anyway comparable.


Posted by: Austro | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:17 PM
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Austro! You haven't been here in forever, have you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:20 PM
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Hi LB - I've been lurking over the years. Gotta keep an eye on the ol place now and then.
But you're right. First comment in getting on for 8 yrs.


Posted by: Austro | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:21 PM
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"Haha, a school where all the kids "love learning," that's great. I assume that most people who talk like that are really thinking (consciously or not) of how to make sure their kids know how to present as striving, self-confident white-collar professionals."

This is all of it, yes yes yes.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:28 PM
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||
Wow, if you (run out of ideas and) google "best career coach bay area" you get this guy who charges $450 for the initial session. If I had millions of dollars I would book an appointment just to kick him and throw things at him.
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:29 PM
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Not exactly the same, but my parents report pissy interactions about how "We had to move out of the city, we couldn't possibly send our kids to those schools," long before the Web.

I remember this description of Dean Rusk from The Best And The Brightest

A proud man. A Poor man. Proud of his poverty is a way, sensitive about it, but that sensitivity showed in his pride (who else in that chic egalitarian Kennedy period, when they were pushing so hard to improve public education and get an education bill passed, sent his children to public schools?) ... Harriman told him not to worry, there would be plenty of job opportunities, lucrative offers after he finished, but Harriman was wrong. Neither could have forseen Vietnam and what it would do to Rusk, making him virtually unemployable . . .

(Hmm, transcribing that passage, I'm struck by how stilted the language is. I can see why Doonesbury made fun of Halberstam.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:30 PM
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how to make sure their kids know how to present as striving, self-confident white-collar professionals.

It's funny, this really isn't anything I'd every consciously thought of as something I wanted my kids to work on (not so much because I'm a good person, but I think I was working with a background assumption that of course they'd present that way). But I have been really surprised at Sally's strongest response to being in a class with Columbia undergrads is that they are very impressively confident and articulate in exactly that kind of way (even where she's deeply unimpressed with the content of what they're saying. Which she isn't always, often they're also substantively impressive, but there are moments of "Wow, this person is compellingly authoritative and yet also very wrong."). I figure she'll either pick up some more code-switching skills, or she won't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:36 PM
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133: Set up a kickstarter, so you can do that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:39 PM
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134: This intrigued me, so I went to find out what Mr Rusk did do after his tenure as Sec. of State. It turned out there was another reason why employers may have shunned him

Rusk offered or planned to offer to resign in the summer of 1967, because "his daughter planned to marry a black classmate at Stanford University, and he could not impose such a political burden on the president"[16] after it became known that his daughter, Peggy, planned to marry Guy Smith,[17] "a black Georgetown grad working at NASA. (Johnson didn't accept it.)"[18] In fact, the Richmond News Leader stated that it found the wedding offensive, further saying that "anything which diminishes [Rusk's] personal acceptability is an affair of state".[1] He decided not to resign after talking first to Robert S. McNamara and Lyndon Johnson.[19]

A year after his daughter's wedding, Rusk was invited to join the faculty of the University of Georgia Law School, only to have his appointment denounced by Roy Harris, an ally of Alabama Governor George Wallace and a member of the university's board of regents, who stated that his opposition was because of Peggy Rusk's interracial marriage. The university nonetheless appointed Rusk to the position.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:46 PM
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Was anybody worried that she married a 17 year-old?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:47 PM
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138: Or that the President was only 16? Things sure were different back then!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:52 PM
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For those of you who read German, and I know a number do, I'd just throw this into the mix from Konstantin Wecker's "Absurdistan" from the album "Wut und Zärtlichkeit."
This often comes to mind at parents' evening..

Und ich glaub´ an Elite und an BWL
und vor allem an G 8.
Denn wir brauchen Kinder, die funktionieren.
Wer braucht schon ein Kind, das lacht?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:56 PM
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135 is really the long and short of it. I went to two separate ultra fancy private schools for high school, and the key distinction from even a very good public high school was that one learned how to bullshit with extreme confidence and effectiveness. Notably, the core careers of the alumni of both schools are law, management consulting, finance, the business side of film, and venture capital/entrepreneurship. Of course, even at the fancy schools, not everyone learns to be a top-tier bullshitter. But you could reasonably expect, after high school, to have sufficient confidence to confidence your way through college humanities and social science undergraduate classes (yes sorry University faculty this is possible) and then move on to one of the bullshit-favoring professions with some ease.

I'm quite sure that good public high schools would have done an equally good or better job of just teaching the academic materials, especially math and science.

Unfortunately, uber-confident bullshitting is in fact a very valuable skill, even if the fact that this is true is gross.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 12:59 PM
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Austro!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:02 PM
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133: I don't know, I'd want to listen to his strategy. Sounds like he's figured out a great career for himself, at least.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:02 PM
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Chopper!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:02 PM
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Ahem 144, my bad. Out of practice.


Posted by: Austro | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:03 PM
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Unfortunately, uber-confident bullshitting is in fact a very valuable skill, even if the fact that this is true is gross.

So far I'm just teaching this by example, but it will probably come up more formally later.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:04 PM
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"Ever wondered hpw to get people to give you lots of money for doing basically nothing? Now you can find out, in one easy lesson for the low, low price of $500!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:04 PM
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147: Dude, we already know what you do. If you wanted five hundred bucks you should have played things a bit closer to the vest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:09 PM
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Not the only black engineer at NASA for the moonshots. The best and the brightest.

My island highschool was so completely captured by the bullshitting-class waterfront parents that they cancelled the advanced math class my senior year and cut most of the AP classes -- someone had worked out that the school still looked rural and small on paper and it was easier for the bullshitters to not be expected to take nonexistent hard classes. Jerks. The teachers were volunteering to come in an hour early and teach an extra class for free.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:17 PM
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137: There was a Cabinet member named Dean Rusk? Weird. Reminds me of the Captain America storyline where the Red Skull got himself into the position of Secretary of Defense, going by the name Dell Rusk (an anagram). This was mildly politically controversial at the time, since the actual Secretary of Defense at the time was Rumsfeld.

I'm not good at bullshitting and have little hope of teaching my kid it. I like to think I'm OK at seeing through bullshitting, though, and like to think there's some value in that.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:25 PM
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"Wow, this person is compellingly authoritative and yet also very wrong."

Come the revolution, this insight and how to achieve it will be taught in kindergarten. It's actually more important than basic numeracy.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:25 PM
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bullshitting, moonshots, and money for free: what's up with the Skunkworks claiming they're close to fusion power plants? Little ones?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:28 PM
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What makes anyone's kid special, other than being theirs? "I would do anything for my kids," is just selfishness aimed a little differently.

I'll offer a small distinction: there's the ability to bullshit confidently, which is, as has been noted, tremendously important, but what really distinguishes the ruling/asshole class is faith in the rightness of their own bullshit. They're not just acting confident, they are confident.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:31 PM
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Unfortunately, uber-confident bullshitting is in fact a very valuable skill, even if the fact that this is true is gross.

In Britain this is called "parliamentary debate".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:31 PM
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153.2 is correct.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:33 PM
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The imperative need to redistribute confident bullshitting skills is a major reason i coach mock trial for sf's most diverse high school. And let me tell you it is sweet sweet sweet to watch a student who 2 1/2 years ago lived just outside dam/as/cus and spoke no English wipe. the. floor. with a pretrial opponent from llewol. Undefeated on points this season, my pretrialers, undefeated!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:38 PM
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Okay, urple, I apologize in advance for the length and discourage anyone else from reading this blather, but here are some gestures toward talking points for your wife. I think it boils down to what you think about "buy-in" or maybe how you think about buy-in.

At our (high-poverty urban) school, essentially no parents or guardians come to activities unless their children are performing or otherwise being put on display, so the art show was a huge success but second grade literacy night had very low attendance and the meeting on what could be improved in local parks brought no one. (Possibly it's also because, like Moby's, our PTA doesn't serve beer, but at least there's free pizza!) Does that mean that there's no buy-in from the families? I think not, that they love their children very much and want them to succeed but they also have other things going on in their lives and brains. In some cases their own literacy skills aren't great or they don't speak English. Last year I didn't usually make PTA meetings because they started at 6:00 and didn't offer free pizza dinner, so I could only do it if I'd gotten out of work early enough to get the kids from aftercare and find a way to feed them before the meeting. Does that mean I don't have buy-in? I think not. But as I said, I have in front of me the names of hundreds of people who were willing to give a young child a dollar (or more!) to do extra reading every night this week. That's buy-in.

I'm getting off-track here. I mean, you're welcome to tell your wife to look at the school report cards the state puts out to see what things look like on paper, but The kids take pride in their personal character, and they admit that they love learning at my daughters' school too, where everyone gets free breakfast and free lunch because so many kids qualify, where there's a great therapy group for children with trauma histories, where the principal just took in four kids when the great-grandmother who'd been caring for them died. This is a kind of buy-in too, telling the students that whatever their backgrounds, there's a place for them and people in positions of power who will treat them with respect and hold them to high standards.

Maybe I can't actually say anything to rebut the article in a way that will get anything across to anyone. Yes, in a school where there are 32 high school students, the students are going to know each other well and have in-jokes and figure out how to get along. If we take out the parts that are about the author playing out some dreamed-of future for his 4-year-old, there's not much left. And my kids are still young and I don't have much room to talk, but I have a real problem with the idea that parents who care are the ones who find a way to pay to get their children out of public schools. In Kentucky, that should not be necessary. But it's also profoundly disrespectful to the students who are left behind in a way that I take personally.

If your wife wants to send your children to this dream school (and I thought they were in a private school already, but maybe I'm wrong) maybe you can talk to her about what about it sounds appealing and how that fits realistically with what your actual kids want. Because you can't convince me every second grader at Magical Pixie School is super excited about spelling words every week and probably some of them whine like Nia about being dragged through learning the list, but that hasn't kept Nia from being absolutely thrilled about multiplication, regaling us all the time with how three times five is fifteen and so on. The worst-case scenarios about how public school will eat your children's souls and turn them into test-regurgitating robots are mostly being put out there by people who make their livings on children who don't go to public schools or those who, like this dude, have other sorts of buy-in to the idea that what they're buying is better.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:48 PM
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Damnit, only The kids take pride in their personal character, and they admit that they love learning should have been in italics because I took it from the article.

And here, while I'm taking quotes, No matter how much she voluntarily recites Shakespeare, the student I envision my daughter becoming would never be able to single-handedly transform a public school into an environment that is cool to learning. Yes, dude, your little Shakespeare-lover is totally going to keep doing what she does at 4 for the rest of her life! (Or maybe she will and Selah will be Batman-obsessed for all her days; I don't know and neither does he.) But it's not the job of CHILDREN to single-handedly change public schools. If anything, it's the job of the public and it shouldn't be single-handed. Volunteer to help in a classroom or have your office adopt a class in a school, which in KY counts toward the "college and career readiness" each school needs to prove it has, which is kind of hard at a school like ours where the oldest child has a minimum of 8 years to be able to legally work even part-time. Run for school board or at least attend school board meetings. Talk to the principals at the schools you're interested in. In KY, get elected to your child's school-based decision-making council so you can have a hand in shaping the curriculum, funding programs, and directly hire the principal when that has to happen. It takes a whole lot of people doing a lot of little things to make changes. (And, as Miranda rightly noted, one Republican governor to undo many of the changes.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:54 PM
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152: Got them a ton of publicity, and I think they're planning for lowered defense spending on their bread and butter but possibly federal money towards energy independence and power grid improvements. Perhaps they're hoping for an advantage in directing priorities for spending by announcing early.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:56 PM
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The worst-case scenarios about how public school will eat your children's souls and turn them into test-regurgitating robots are mostly being put out there by people who make their livings on children who don't go to public schools or those who, like this dude, have other sorts of buy-in to the idea that what they're buying is better.

This is exactly the point that I believe completely is true but am having a hard time communicating convincingly.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 1:57 PM
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Not the only point, but one point.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:00 PM
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And to answer your question, our kids are in a private school, which is in many ways more not-a-school in that it doesn't actually teach the kids anything, which my wife had really been insistent about for preschool/kindergarten. We are highly likely to change schools next year, and I am pushing for public school and she is interested in a different private school.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:04 PM
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Volunteer to help in a classroom or have your office adopt a class in a school, which in KY counts toward the "college and career readiness" each school needs to prove it has, which is kind of hard at a school like ours where the oldest child has a minimum of 8 years to be able to legally work even part-time. Run for school board or at least attend school board meetings. Talk to the principals at the schools you're interested in. In KY, get elected to your child's school-based decision-making council so you can have a hand in shaping the curriculum, funding programs, and directly hire the principal when that has to happen.

I get where you are coming from on this, but that really sounds like a lot of work. I'm on the board at my kids' current school and the best part about changing schools (whether public or private) will be never signing up for something like that again.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:09 PM
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Yes. I have to admit that "Come to the public schools and work a whole bunch" isn't really a big selling point. At least I'm not a lawyer. Everybody wants lawyers to be on boards.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:12 PM
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162: As you may recall from long-ago conversations, I do think schools like those can work and we have many friends with kids in our local version, almost all of whom are fantastic children whose individual interests are being nurtured, though they tend to be significantly behind in math and one family who wanted to transfer out in sixth grade decided not to because their child tested so poorly compared to public-school peers. My impression of your wife is that might be skeptical of mainstream educational practices and theories, which is probably going to make your side of the argument more difficult.

But I'd say what I say to parents in our neighborhood, I guess. Go to the public school and talk to the principal, have a tour, ask questions. Is there student art on the walls? Are teachers displaying student work outside their classrooms? How do they monitor and reward student behavior? What extracurriculars are there? How many days are spent on standardized testing and how seriously does the school take that (MAP, presumably) data in assessing student and teacher performance? It's pretty easy to get a feel for the building just by being there, and even public schools want engaged parents with, um, buy-in and they should be open to showing you what they can offer.

I don't think every child needs to go to public school. I went to Catholic schools all the way because that's what my parents prioritized, and I'm sure that contributed to at least three of the four of us being happy and well-adjusted atheists as adults. I was interested in the kind of school your wife likes because I think the small size and the nurturing structure could be good for a young child with attachment problems. Mara would probably excel there, but she'd also be one of three children of color in her class and we're not willing to pay for that, especially when we already know the other two. Nia needs more hand-holding and direct attention and her teachers have been very open to working with us in figuring out how to get it to her. She would be happy in Hippie Heaven School because she's happy everywhere, but I don't think she'd be making adequate academic progress. Mara's class "looped" this year, meaning the same students and teacher are doing first grade together after being a class in kindergarten, and I suspect this will become a norm at our school and possibly even become a K-1-2 progression, even at a public school....

163: I didn't mean you personally had to do it, just that somebody does and that more change comes from that sort of input. Honestly, being a parent and helping your kids get their homework done is enough. That was a response to Mr. Buy-In, not advice for you in particular. Though if you're going to do one thing, the SBDM is so, so much better and way less work than the PTA.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:19 PM
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But I'd say what I say to parents in our neighborhood, I guess. Go to the public school and talk to the principal, have a tour, ask questions.

I actually convinced her to do that, and she did, and was very pleasantly impressed. Which is why we're even having the conversation. But she still has Doubts and Fears, or something like that. I think she wants to send the kids to private school for basically the same reason companies want to hire Skadden Arps for their big-time legal work: she thinks education is important and doesn't want to be subject to criticism (from others or from herself) that she didn't do everything she could to ensure the kids get a good education. And maybe that could be had cheaper at a public school, but that's still the more "controversial"/risky choice. With a private school, you're less subject to criticism and self-doubt.

the SBDM

I bet this is less kinky than it sounds.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:27 PM
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With a private school, you're less subject to criticism and self-doubt.

So the solution is for us all to start being more loudly critical of private schools.

I'm curious what the options are like there now; most of the private schools I was aware of when I was a kid were strongly religiously oriented. (Which, in my end of town, meant evangelical Protestant, though I became aware of the Catholic high schools later on.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:35 PM
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Would it help if we supplied vitriolic criticism of her for considering private school? That'd balance out that factor, and then you could make the decision on the basis of cost and concrete factors you can find out about the two schools.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:35 PM
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166.2 is sadly true. Actually, given who else is on the committee I'm not sad about it. It's the aforementioned school-based decision-making council, except I think there's only supposed to be one hyphen.

166.1 is sadly true too, and like Skadden Arps, the private schools know that and will capitalize on it. I don't know if she's open to the argument about how other kids deserve to get a good education too and her being there as a parent who understands and cares will make sure things are okay not just for your children but for their classmates. If your kids are great, which I'm sure they are, don't all kids deserve to have great classmates like them? This is not generally an argument people who are trying to do the best thing for their children find compelling. Salman Khan of Khan Academy actually had a quote from his book on this topic that I really like and at some point I should memorize it and make an appeal to authority.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:35 PM
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except I think there's only supposed to be one hyphen.

I hope they consulted nosflow about their hyphenation.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:38 PM
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at some point I should memorize it and make an appeal to authority.

Thorn makes a good point; having cover from all the rhetorical approaches--even including the fallacies--is wise practice!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:41 PM
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I don't know if this is the sort of argument that has any hope of appealing to your wife, but is growing up with an economically and racially diverse set of classmates as an organic way to have an easier time not being an ignorant jerk on class/race issues something she'd see of as a meaningful benefit for your kids? I feel hopelessly selfconsciously Guilty White Liberal about this, but my schools were disproportionately white/middle class, which has led to a certain amount of Hopefully-Goodhearted-But-Awkwardly-Ignorant behavior on my part over the years, and I'm hoping that my kids will have been spared by their upbringing from being in that position.

But this is the kind of benefit to integrated schooling that you probably can't sell to someone who isn't most of the way there with you already.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 2:46 PM
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The more socioeconomically diverse student body is seen as a major benefit of the public school. The larger class sizes, more arbitrary bureaucracy and bureaucratic requirements, silly NCLB requirements, too much testing and focus on testing, inadequate resources, less uniformly inspiring teachers, etc. are the perceived downsides.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:00 PM
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If Lockheed Martin thinks we're going to reduce defense spending, I'm really surprised. Worried that they've decided we're actually broke, too.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:01 PM
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Many (all?) of the current PTA officers at our kids' school are leaving due to their kids moving on, and somebody is recruiting AB for president, which she really doesn't want to do - cajoling and herding distracted parents is not her core strength.

But she has admirably followed up on her self-commitment to volunteer at the school much more once both kids were there. Iris leaves after this year, but she's going to a magnet middle school* where, we've been told, parents are strongly encouraged to be hands off.

*the district has a blend of K-8, 6-8, and 6-12 schools, part of the upshot of which is that there are almost no non-magnet middle schools, and even those are specialized (e.g. "Classical Academy", which doesn't mean miniature St. John's, but something distinct I can't quite explain). Our district's magnet program is not exclusive, and IME is generally good for the broader community, not just those admitted.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:01 PM
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The larger class sizes: I don't know if this is accurate or not in your case, depends on the school of course. But as discussed in heebie's thread a few days ago, there's almost no whole-class instruction and the teacher will be spending quality time one-on-one with students.

more arbitrary bureaucracy and bureaucratic requirements: Maybe? At least where we are there's not a ton that parents have to do in terms of bureaucracy besides showing proof of vaccinations and signing paperwork at the beginning of the year so the school can contact you in an emergency.

silly NCLB requirements: Catch up, urple's wife; it's cool now to complain about Common Core. Except we've had Common Core for a few years in our state and so the teachers are used to it and it's no big deal.

too much testing and focus on testing: Yeah, maybe. We have testing I think three times a year, part of one day (less than an hour) each time. It's sort of useful for tracking student progress. The SBDM gets aggregated data, so we can't identify individual students, and there are clear trends.

inadequate resources: Here's the one where you can sort of make it a moral crusade and ask whether it's really fair to make the poor kids get inadequate resources when the people who can pay to get better stuff don't have to, though people don't like to have that conversation. We have an amazing, inspiring art teacher who's been doing a lot of Donors Choose campaigns to fund the supplies she wants and so first graders are using printing fish in their projects right now and it's not costing the taxpayers anything.

less uniformly inspiring teachers, etc.: Depends on the teacher. I had some great teachers in my Catholic schools and some duds. So far we've had some amazing teachers for Val, Alex, Mara, and Nia, but I know there are less-great ones out there too. But you can request a teacher or request a class change, and parents who are privileged and white and who have the capital to pick up and leave for private schools often get what they want because of that in my experience.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:11 PM
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175.1: Tell her I say nooooooooooooooooo! Except someone has to do it, and maybe she'll fall for that thinking. I'm thinking I'll probably stick with it next year too, but after that I get a break of a year before Selah starts and then they can't make me and with a little luck someone will have picked up the slack.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:14 PM
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We have testing I think three times a year, part of one day (less than an hour) each time.

How is that possible? I'm pretty sure it's a full week in Jef/fers/on Cou/nty. Is it not set at the state level?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:15 PM
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178: Tests don't count until 3rd grade, and I thought all the urplies were still younger than that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:17 PM
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I went to private school k-7.5, and then 2 different public high schools (we moved -- to Lafayette -- in the middle of my sophomore year). The difference between the two high schools was truly dramatic, from a love of learning standpoint. Same school district and athletic conference, both all but completely UMC white. A difference in culture.

My daughter went to private k-12, son public. I hate the bureaucracies so much I'd be advocating homeschooling, if it wasn't a sure thing that a whole lot of people would fuck that up even worse.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:20 PM
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Oh, okay.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:20 PM
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181 to 179.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:21 PM
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The state does set testing calendars and most of the schools will also do MAP testing (what my girls do) to measure student progress throughout the year. There are ways to guess from MAP performance how the students will do on the formal year-end testing, which is a large part of the school quality assessment. There is a ton of bureaucratic stuff involved in this, creating continuous school improvement plans and so on, but since urple doesn't want to be on SBDM he won't have to do it himself.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:24 PM
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Somebody is riding some kind of electric unicycle down the sidewalk. Is that a marketed product now? They were going by CMU, so maybe they made it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:32 PM
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more arbitrary bureaucracy and bureaucratic requirements

I consider navigating bureaucracy to be one of my most useful life skills, and I learned a lot of it in my large public high school. Knowing how to make a system work for you is a critical skill for an adult, from navigating an office to making a bank bend to your will to figuring out how the heck to buy a house. Protecting your kids from bureaucracy makes for adults that can't deal with the world as it really exists.


Posted by: Roadrunner | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:38 PM
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Urple, I don't know how it would work out in your situation, but growing up, the strongest argument for my going to the local public school is that I would have known kids within a mile of me. That would have been nice.

As it was, I ended up at a distant public school, with no friends who lived closer than a twenty minute drive.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:41 PM
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I'm pretty sure she means protecting her from bureaucracy, not the kids.

Although honestly I don't know what the real reasons are. When she was insisting that our kids not go to public school because it was important that they instead go somewhere where no one would try to teach them anything, at least I agreed there was a clear difference. With the private school she's looking at now, though, I really don't understand what the advantages are supposed to be, meaning that she says the kinds of things I said in 173 but they are all sort of inchoate worries.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:42 PM
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more arbitrary bureaucracy and bureaucratic requirements, silly NCLB requirements, too much testing and focus on testing

Yeah, this. I really want to be the ardent pro-public school voice but this stuff makes me think Montessori or Waldorf could be fun.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 3:56 PM
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Eh. As a matter of policy I think all (most?) of the testing is stupid, but it hasn't seemed like all that much in the way of problematic timewasting or focus in the schools my kids have been in. I wouldn't overweight it as a factor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:04 PM
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185 -- That's true. The thing is, not all kids are going to learn those lessons: some are going to get chewed up in the gears. It's like your shitty high school: good for you that you can through ok, not so good for the kids who got the moment of silence.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:10 PM
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came


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:10 PM
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188 - It's important to be careful about the other kinds of approaches, though. I don't mean in the sense of "they have their own problems/etc." because of course that's true and it's all a complicated balancing act and children respond differently to different things and so on. But Montessori is one thing and Waldorf is a very, very different (and far sketchier) thing pretending to be basically the same thing as Montessori. I mean, both make mostly unsupported claims about human development and all, but only one of them thinks that human development involves multiple parts of the soul showing up at different ages and that children should be treated differently based on which of the four basic temperaments they fall into, as determined by their posture and hair color.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:18 PM
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Yeah, Waldorf always sounded like nice schools, so long as there was no risk at all that anyone was taking the philosophy seriously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:22 PM
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The kind of disturbing thing about them is that they have a long history of, well, pretending not to take it seriously while in actual fact taking it very seriously indeed, or at least basing everything they're actually doing on it whether or not they're presenting it as part of anthroposophy.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:38 PM
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I know people who have used it and never noticed anything. I worked with a woman who taught music at one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:42 PM
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I don't have a history of noticing shit very well, but still.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:44 PM
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Mrs. K-sky actually went to Waldorf until the 4th grade, at which part her parents discovered that she was faking knowing how to read and her teacher had allowed another kid to put a taxidermized snake in her desk as a prank. So that's probably not a real option for us.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:47 PM
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Why would you not want a school with taxidermy snakes around?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 4:49 PM
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197 - That would be pretty standard practice for Waldorf schools, since they don't start teaching children to read until pretty late in elementary school.

The idea is that you shouldn't force children into reading before they're developmentally ready to do it and that it's better to have that be later in life and matched to their individual development. And this sounds nice except that "matched to their individual development" means "their adult teeth come in", and that this is the point at which they're developmentally ready because [some creepy anthroposophy stuff which may or may not be made explicit in the school, and may not be made explicit to parents even if it is]. That's the thing about them that kind of creeps me out, I mean, in addition to my general aversion to their bizarre new age stuff.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 5:07 PM
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It's like your shitty high school: good for you that you can through ok, not so good for the kids who got the moment of silence.

But the kids who got the moment of silence didn't end up dead because of the school; they ended up dead because of other things going on in their lives--gangs and crime, mostly. And even if they'd gone to preppy private schools on scholarship, they still would have lived in crime ridden, gang infested neighborhoods and probably would have ended up in gangs just the same. Not that everyone from those neighborhoods ended up dead or in a gang--in fact, some of them turned out to be great, respectable, law-abiding people. But the same school turned out valedictorians headed to Ivies and dropouts headed to jail. Where you fell on that spectrum had a lot more to do with home than with school. The idea that schools either doom or save kids invests them with a lot more power than they really have.


Posted by: Roadrunner | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:11 PM
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I've said this before, but my view you're either very good or very bad as a student, your elementary/middle/high school probably doesn't matter much. Where "good" (i.e., fancy) schools shine is in their ability to turn mediocrities into confident successes.* And parents are faced with the dilemma of not knowing in advance whether or not their kid will turn out to be a mediocrity.

*I mean, at least for a while, it's not like the solution to all of life's problems or anything.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:18 PM
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But Montessori is one thing and Waldorf is a very, very different (and far sketchier) thing pretending to be basically the same thing as Montessori.

Boy howdy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:35 PM
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It's like organic food and biodynamic food*, which also doesn't involve pesticides but is even more pro-environment in that it involves burying cow skulls in the southeast corner of your fields during the vernal equinox while dancing counter-clockwise and chanting something about energy and spirits.


*Same people!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 6:53 PM
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Waldorf is a very, very different (and far sketchier) thing pretending to be basically the same thing as Montessori

Not to defend it, but no, they don't pretend to be even similar to Montessori.

That would be pretty standard practice for Waldorf schools, since they don't start teaching children to read until pretty late in elementary school

This is true, assuming by "pretty late in elementary school" you mean first grade. (Which is genuinely pretty late, by most schools' standards, but it's not "pretty late in elementary school".)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:00 PM
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And this sounds nice except that "matched to their individual development" means "their adult teeth come in", and that this is the point at which they're developmentally ready because

Adult teeth coming in--or more accurately, some one or more baby teeth--is one of the signs they look for in assessing a child's developmental readiness to start first grade, but it's certainly not the only criteria or a necessary criteria or even to my knowledge an especially important criteria. (Both my kids are very late teethers and that wasn't understood to mean that either one of them wasn't ready for first grade at the expected time.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:06 PM
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The two end up in the same category pretty much constantly, and mostly as a result of Waldorf schools using the same kind of generally liberal-pedagogy rhetoric that really only applies well to Montessori, which is close enough.

Also "first grade" actually means somewhere in second grade and, as this generally positive article very politely implies, often don't end up proficient until third or fourth grade.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:11 PM
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Waldorf always sounded like nice schools, so long as there was no risk at all that anyone was taking the philosophy seriously

That depends on what you mean by "the philosophy". Rudolph Steiner's philosophies writ large? He seems to have been an insane person. The specific waldorf pedagogical philosophy? If the faculty wasn't taking that seriously, it would be fairly disappointing. There's a very specific approach to curriculum and curriculum delivery that is practiced. Some of the justifications for some of that were initially tied back to Steiner's insanities. But the insane pieces (like the idea that left-handed children are depraved and should be corrected) have fallen away.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:12 PM
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And

Teachers in Waldorf Education consider the most prominent physical change being the loss of the milk teeth. It is a fact well known by biologists that it takes seven years for the transformation of every inherited cell in the body. Now, for the first time in her life, the child is wholly herself. This is manifest as the child develops: on the one hand, a new and vivid life of imagination, and on the other, a readiness for more formal learning.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:14 PM
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206: in first grade they learn letter identification, consonants and vowels, simple words, all that sort of thing. (Again they get none of that in kindergarten.) The article is right that really knuckle down to "learn the mechanics of reading" in second grade.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:17 PM
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And see also

When the child is ready for first grade, it is appropriate to use the powers of understanding for more abstract matters, including writing, reading, and arithmetic. ...The Waldorf school responds to this need with a most remarkable offering: providing a Class Teacher as the key authority for the time between the "change of teeth" and the onset of puberty.

I mean, when you're literally using it as the name of the developmental shift it's probably relevant.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:17 PM
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208: I'm not sure what you are trying to prove. I would agree that the most prominent physical change that takes place in children around the age of seven or so is the loss of their baby teeth. Would you disagree?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:20 PM
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Waldorf schools and teachers, as with so many things, vary a lot in terms of how doctrinaire/modernized/whatever they choose to be. I have certainly known Waldorf practitioners from both ends of the spectrum.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:21 PM
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210: I'm not really sure what you're arguing so I'm not really sure what I'm opposing, or even if I'm opposed. But you seem to be misinterpreting this. A waldorf school would tell you yes, this milestone is very deeply important, as representing the developmental change that children go through around this age, as a metaphor, etc., but that doesn't mean that every child will lose their teeth at exactly this age or that it is the actual loss of teeth that is important, rather than the developmental change that occurs around the same time in most children.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:25 PM
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211: Are you high? This is supposed to tell us about their readiness for school?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:26 PM
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212 is certainly true but I think the position I'm presenting here is actually the hard-line doctrinaire position, for the true believers.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:27 PM
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211: Well... the 7 yrs cell turnover thing seems incredibly dubious.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:31 PM
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And the extent to which Waldorf schools leave behind the looniness of Steiner's stuff is nowhere near as much as most of them suggest (note again the 9-or-10-years-old age for reading proficiency). And plenty of the general claims they make about development/etc. are purely based on Steiner's lunacy - (from the article)

As the the New York Times explained* in 2000, "Steiner believed that people experience a type of reincarnation every seven years, beginning with the physical birth and ending at age 21, when the spirit of a human being is fully developed and continually reincarnated on earth." As a direct consequence, at traditional Waldorf schools, "certain subjects are taught at times that he thought best coincided with these changes."
Also gnomes.

*Where you'll also find this:

In fact, reading is not taught until second or third grade, though the letters are introduced in first and second grades.
They are drawing a distinction there, not just teaching reading in a different pattern.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:31 PM
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214: it's supposed to tell us something about the readiness for school of children of that age generally. (Although this is more metaphorical than anything--there's nothing inherent about loss of teeth that implies anything about school readiness.) It's not supposed to say much about the readiness for school of any particular child, some of which lose their teeth early and some of which lose their teeth late.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:32 PM
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184: Was it a Uni-Cub?


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:33 PM
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I assume the every seven years all the cells replace themselves stuff is probably just a "science says x! see Steiner was onto something!" type claim, only they don't want to actually admit to basing this on what Steiner actually said about things because that gives the game away really quickly.

Also the seven years thing, if it's true at all, can't possibly be true for babies can it? They grow way, way too fast for that.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:34 PM
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Eh, I'm getting angry because you're wrong, but I don't actually have the energy to chase this right now, and I don't actually want to be the defender of the school's philosophy anyway, which I think is fucked up in a lot of ways. (That's maybe what's making me angry, I think--there are so many valid criticisms you could be launching!) So, sure, believe what you want.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:36 PM
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(note again the 9-or-10-years-old age for reading proficiency)

Not that we delayed it that long, but there was a big push in our son's school to have them reading proficiently in first grade. As near as I can tell it worked for some kids but on ours it was just wasted until he hit 8.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:41 PM
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219: No. It looked more like this. But I don't think it was that either. At least it seemed bigger to me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:43 PM
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Anyway, I like the local Waldorf School. They built a cob oven.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:44 PM
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I guess if I have to be wrong being wrong with lots of evidence in the form of articles from prominent news sources and pro-Waldorf websites is better than nothing.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:49 PM
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1st grade is "our reading year" at Noser's elementary school. This is not... helpful... for him. It isn't a moral judgement, he's just wayyy bored with the work they're giving him in regular class.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 8:52 PM
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I had idly wondered about the local Waldorf school, mostly on grounds that the kids spend a lot of time poking at bugs and things outside, and then I found the state's school-by-school stats on personal-belief vaccination exemptions. Local Waldorf school: 87% of parents opt out of vaccination. 87%! Nope nope nope, both on health grounds and because it bespeaks a nastily prevalent me-firstness that I am seriously uninterested in normalizing for Teapot.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:05 PM
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The joy of 201 is saying it very confidently to a status-anxious parent and guessing which way they'll jump on asserting their kid's intelligence vs. claim to extra nurture.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:07 PM
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227: Teapot Zucchini is cooler than gnomes anyway.

I hadn't been naming the school because I didn't want to put urple on the defensive, but we have lots of friends who do Waldorf for various reasons and know most (all?) of the parents of children of color at our local one and there are some great things that go on there and some great kids, but also too many who've pretty clearly never been given boundaries or told no prior to entering school.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:15 PM
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Also it surprises me how not-great at knitting a lot of the older students are, though enthusiastically so.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:18 PM
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Do they have a cob oven?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:31 PM
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227 - Anthroposophical medicine is known to be anti-vaccine and Waldorf schools have a long history of having substantially lower than normal vaccination rates. So it's not necessarily a me-first thing (though probably it's that too). It might be that a decent number of the parents have been convinced that it's a bad idea to vaccinate children for additional reasons.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 9:41 PM
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This physical body is, in some sense, 'foreign' to the incarnating child, and through disease, the child is assisted in making this physical shell his or her own, to adapting it to his or her individuality. Childhood diseases actually act as a kind of regulative force; they help the child develop in a balanced way, according to anthroposophical beliefs. This is why childhood diseases usually appear during childhood, this is the time when they are needed. (When these diseases appear in adults, something more serious is amiss.) Also, the fever common in childhood and accompanying most childhood diseases helps counteract premature 'hardening' -- which is, anthroposophically speaking, a bad thing; it's associated with Ahriman. Fever is luciferic -- that is, an opposing force to anything ahrimanic.

Hoo boy. Is this an offshoot of Swedenborgianism?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 6-15 10:14 PM
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Hoo boy indeed. In this community, my best guess is that the personal-belief exemption crew will include a handful of honest-to-goodness anthroposophists and a whole bunch of parents who fetishize purity and have sought out a comfortable bubble. In any case, I say again: nope nope nope.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 12:01 AM
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too many who've pretty clearly never been given boundaries or told no prior to entering school

Yes, this is obviously an issue, although certainly lots of private school advocates make the same complaint about the public schools.

The vaccination rate thing is also a real issue. At our school, there has been a lot of very heated feuding between pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine parents at the PTO meetings. Believe me that's fun.

As I said there are lots of valid criticisms. Most significantly, it's an instructional method that works very well for many kids and not well at all for other kids and they generally don't do anything to discriminate between those types of kids at admission, or even communicate to parents that it's not working for their kid once it becomes apparent that it's not working. And in fact they actually often reassure concerned parents that things are ok and not to be concerned. So a huge number of parents don't realize there's anything wrong until way too late when their kid is both genuinely behind and will have a real struggle to catch up.

And if you are a firm materialist there is a non-religious spiritual aspect to the curriculum that bothers some people. (The point of which is to inculcate something approaching the sort of spiritual awareness one gets from religious traditions without actually introducing any particular religious traditions. Given the inherent impossibility of this feat I think they do a relatively good job of it (at least at my school and I think at most others), but if you think all of that is nonsense then you won't like it.

But criticism related to teething patterns or gnomes is really silly and mostly just a misunderstanding of what they are doing. (On gnomes, they absolutely don't teach that gnomes are real. They do pretend that they're real--more or less the same thing a lot of parents do with Santa. They do this in imaginative play in early childhood, for a lot of reasons they have worked into the curriculum. None of which are particularly compelling in my opinion but they also seem harmless. Many kids don't believe in gnomes ever (mine certainly didn't) but are usually happy to play along pretending. Other kids actually do believe they're real for a time, until they grow up a little and realize that's silly.

We do have a cob oven. And chickens that the kids care for. And a forest-like play yard with a little creek and all the hippie stuff.

But on net I'm happy to be changing schools.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 6:37 AM
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135.1: I didn't mean that as a general concern about Waldorf, just those particular kids. One in particular really bullied Mara when both were 4 or so and the idea of intentionally putting her in a class with a girl who acted like that while her mother just made excuses was something that made the idea way less appealing for Lee.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 8:49 AM
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235, rather. But kids getting way too far behind is definitely something we've seen in our peer group. And I'm not a fan of standardized tests except for personal fun, but it helps to get an extra perspective on how the girls are doing in addition to their teachers' comments.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 8:51 AM
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I'm not going to read the whole thread, but someone has made a "hot buttons" joke, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 8:59 AM
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I suppose you have now, sort of.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 9:12 AM
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236: well it certainly does seem to attract some parents who have non-parenting a their basic parenting philosophy.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 9:37 AM
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238: see 31.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 10:08 AM
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Re: 229.last

A childhood friend of mine went to a Steiner school, and the end result of never being told no or having boundaries is both obvious and ugly in teenagers. I found his friends insufferable and slightly scary. Of course they all ended up leading lives of wealth and comfort anyway, despite being barely literate amoral savages* (which was my teenage opinion of them).

* one of then threw an axe at my head once. Scarily not out of malice, but purely on a whim.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 11:18 AM
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Re: public schools and standardized testing, the insanely soul-sucking, time-and money-wasting testing regime is the one thing (and really the only thing) that sometimes makes me second-guess the decision to send my kid to the public school. But it is no small thing, or not this year, at any rate.

In previous years, the kids here did the NJAsk, which was fine. A week of testing in the spring, with a test which was at least well-tested (I won't say the test was "tried and true," because the American belief in standardized testing seems to me to be based on false premises).

This year, the new PARCC (two full weeks of testing, with months of classroom time devoted to cracking its code, in obeisance to the gods of the college-and-career-readiness mysterium) has wreaked havoc in our public school district: the standard curriculum upended; outrageous and unwarranted cutbacks to so-called "extracurriculars" (hello art, music, and language arts enrichment, and good-bye!); a superintendent with ties to the testing industry suddenly resigning under a cloud of suspicion; and, a few days later, the revelation that the district is 6 to 9 million dollars in the red for 2015-2016.

The only good thing I have to say about the PARCC is that it puts Chris Christie in an impossible position. To the extent that he's pro-corporate (and that is to a very large extent indeed), he is, or at least was, pro-PARCC. Go corporate! So he says he can't pay the teachers' pensions, but he can offer huge tax breaks to the Pearson educational testing conglomerate: go corporate! But opposition to the PARCC in New Jersey, though largely spearheaded by progressive Democrats, increasingly crosses party lines. There is now a vocal conservative-Republican opposition to the PARCC (though I hasten to emphasize that, in NJ, PARCC-opposition is predominantly liberal and Democratic). Christie is now equivocating; I guess he's not sure how to get his talking points in order.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 5:30 PM
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Please nobody let my wife read 243.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 7-15 5:56 PM
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The criticism in 235.3 is partly specific to the school my kids attend, in that other schools may handle this much better. I'm sure some probably do. But I've definitely read similar criticism from people whose children attended other Waldorf schools, so even if some schools have found ways to address this issue I still think it's basically a systemic problem. (The schools' answer is usually that the children just need additional time to catch up, that yes they are behind but give them another year or 2 years or 5 years or 8 years and they will be fully caught up and will have gotten the full benefits of the education. I don't know whether that typically eventually proves out but I have my doubts. (I know of at least a few cases that have gone each way.) Most parents, especially when paying private tuition for the education, seem unwilling to watch their children fall further and further behind for more than a few years before they decide they need to do something different.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 8-15 6:36 AM
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When you say you chose your place of residence "in part because of the schools", what attribute about the schools were you selecting for?

I wasn't able to keep up with this thread, but I am still eager for urple's judgment, so I'll belatedly answer this question here.

When we looked at test scores, we found that while overall scores in our district were significantly lower than those in the neighboring elite public district, the white kids in our district did just as well as the white kids in the wealthier public schools.

So we figured, best of both worlds: Diversity with undiminished white privilege. It was an easy choice for us - no tradeoffs whatsoever.

So how about it? On the scale of history's greatest monsters, where do I rate?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 6:36 AM
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Urple, I don't expect to see major testing changes in KY, where state goals for the next years are set out very clearly already. Because of KERA back when we were in school, charters never were a thing and dynamics are different here. The Common Core-linked testing has been in place and now schools have to make curriculum changes like adding foreign languages earlier to show progress.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 6:49 AM
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My ancestors were briefly residents of Kentucky. I'm not sure when they got there, but at some point between 1850 and the start of the Civil War. They picked the Union side and got rewarded with a land not in Kentucky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 6:55 AM
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"overall scores in our district were significantly lower than those in the neighboring elite public district, the white kids in our district did just as well as the white kids in the wealthier public schools."
Isn't that pretty commonly the case? Especially if you break out the white by economic status as well. So sorry, at best you rate as a third string dictator on the evil scale.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 7:27 AM
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246: well then what characteristics of a public school system would have made it an unattractive place to live (and therefore factored into your home buying decisions)?

As 249 notes, the characteristic you say you were selecting for is pretty commonly the case.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 7:44 AM
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Isn't that pretty commonly the case?

I suspect that it is, which accounts for my reflexive contempt for people who take their kids out of the public schools.

My wife went to a "bad" inner city school and I don't think her options in life were constrained by it.

Now that my kids are in elementary/middle school, I've been a bit surprised to discover how shitty my parochial school K-8 education was. I always thought I came out of there well-educated, but my kids are a year or two ahead of where I was.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 7:58 AM
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well then what characteristics of a public school system would have made it an unattractive place to live

We actually moved away from our current school district in Maryland to New Jersey, then back again. We didn't think much of our essentially all-white NJ school district, where academic standards were generally less rigorous, and the availability of special programs was more limited.

So if we had the sense that we were denying our kids important opportunities, we'd be more inclined to live elsewhere.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:05 AM
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There's really no need to blame your kids for not wanting to live in New Jersey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:09 AM
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Okay, pf, you're officially Not a Monster. But I hope you recognize that your decisionmaking process is rather different from, and in some ways almost the opposite of, what most people mean when they make statements like "We've always chosen to live places where we can send our kids to public schools."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:13 AM
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I guess 254 should be revised to clarify that you're only Not a Monster in this one particular dimension (based only on the evidence presented in this thread, which I haven't independently verified). Obviously, you're probably a moral monster in plenty of other aspects of your life.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:17 AM
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It is a slightly weird position to be, advocating sending your kids to mixed-income, mixed-ethnicity public schools because they'll do just fine there. I mean, people want to send their kids to all white, high-income schools because they think it will be an important benefit to the kids. And if I thought it would have been an important benefit to my kids, I would have had a much harder time making the decision I did; but in fact, I thought the mixed income/ethnicity schools they went to were great.

So, taking the moral high ground, much as I love to, is a bit sketchy. To the extent that I can claim it, it's not that I'm a wonderful person because I'm willing to martyr my kids for my principles, it's that my principles may have made me slightly less deluded about the not-all-that-damaging effects of allowing my kids to associate with a mixed group of classmates.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:22 AM
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So, taking the moral high ground, much as I love to, is a bit sketchy.

Yup. Best I can do is make a claim for common sense and a relative lack of racial animus.

I am more inclined than urple to attribute white flight of school systems to straight-up racial fears, rather than class/economic concerns.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:35 AM
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I'm not sure what's forming the basis for your opinion in 257. I'm quite willing to attribute white flight from public school systems to racism.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:38 AM
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"Mixed" schools are for pussies. If you want to roll woth the true integrationists you've gotta go for under 1% white enrollment, 80%+ low income.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:40 AM
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Some of you must know people who went to elite east coast private schools. Don't you think they get the best pre-collegiate education in the US? (Setting aside both the networking advantages and homogeneity disadvantages and the drugs and weird emotional stuff and focusing just on classroom education itself.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:51 AM
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258: Working from memory, I emphasized the economic aspect of the comment below (14), but I see you accounted for the straight-up racism aspect, too.

From my experience (and the inferences I draw), I do think the racial aspect predominates.

"live places where we can send them to public schools", mean "live in wealthy districts without too many poor kids" (or, in some cases, minorities).


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:53 AM
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Some of you must know people who went to elite east coast private schools. Don't you think they get the best pre-collegiate education in the US?

Elite East Coast prep schools are a lot like Elite East Coast colleges, in that:
1. It's possible for a motivated student to get a truly superlative education at certain of them;
2. A substantial fraction of each class is neither motivated, nor capable of appreciating / absorbing a truly superlative education;
3. The size of this fraction increases as you move down the prestige scale, becoming a clear majority at second and third tier schools, which owe their prestige more to their $40,000 price tags than to any particular educational value added.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:02 AM
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259: Hey, that was me! I also would guess that we got one of the best educations in the country, but being at one of the top two magnet schools in L.A. doesn't scale well. It did let my parents, like LB, claim the moral high ground.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:03 AM
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Shorter 262: If you live in Greenwich or Weston and send your kids to Pomfret or Lawrence Academy, you're probably wasting your money.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:14 AM
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Setting aside both the networking advantages

This may be a stupid question, but... are there actually professional networking advantages (as opposed to college-admission advantages) for high schools?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:18 AM
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My guess is yes -- that the high school network builds the college network. But I don't know first hand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:21 AM
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265: I believe there sure are--at least from those scions I know.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:21 AM
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So then I guess by implication there must be certain middle schools that will help build the "right" pre-professional networks, and elementary schools, and kindergartens...


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:24 AM
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... and preschools, and nannies, and--perhaps most crucially of all--parentage.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:26 AM
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Eh, I imagine aside from the family network--which you so aptly included in 269--that the importance decreases with increasing remoteness.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:49 AM
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We're actually looking for a magnet school that's at least 5-10% white in hopes of improving the kid's social life a bit (academically, the 0.1% white enrolllment, 80% low income school was good to awesome qua school, but it's hard to have a social life when everyone thinks you're from Mars). It's surprisingly hard to do in the LAUSD -- unless you move to a fairly limited number of neighborhoods where white UMC people still send their kids to public schools, which are either very very expensive or require a very very long commute, it's not easy to get your kid into a place with even a substantial white minority (like north of 5%). It's a little frightening to make these kinds of basically racist calculatuons but you do get a good sense of what minority parents in rich (white) areas go through.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:49 AM
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And we're basically using "race" as a synechdoche for class in that calculation. It would just be nice to arrange non-weird playdates, or playdates at all.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 9:52 AM
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That's interesting, Ripper. Is your daughter aware that the playdates are weird? How does she account for the weirdness? (I ask because my sense is that she's still quite young, and I'm fascinated by how young (middle-class, white) children experience race and class).


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:10 AM
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the high school network builds the college network

Is the idea that some meaningful percentage of the prestigious high school would all together attend the same prestigious colleges?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:23 AM
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Mostly they're just not happening at all, but eg the few times we've tried there have been parents just not showing up. There was a substantial change that we noticed between first and second grade (eg explicit taunting, etc.) in terms of awareness of difference between the kids. But the kids are mostly all nice and fine (they're kids) it's just that you can tell that a sense of exclusion/difference is already setting in and will just get worse over time.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:27 AM
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274 -- When my dad was in his 40s/50s, his best friends were people he'd known in high school, with a few college classmates thrown in as well. I don't think that's uncommon for school (Loomis, Middlebury) or others of their kind.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:30 AM
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Eh, that makes sense actually.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:31 AM
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(He lived on the coast opposite his upbringing in those years.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:32 AM
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Yeah, on reflection I know a lot of people who've maintained good lifelong friendships from high school. I don't think they necessarily think of them in terms of professional networks, but obviously they are in some sense (and especially would be if they were the sort of people who had attended an elite boarding school).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:39 AM
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The white kids at the astoundingly diverse HS I know and love here have all been completely embraced by their nonwhite peers but as high schoolers they arrange their own social lives and in a physically small, compact city aren't dependant on parents for transport so that's a huge difference from little kids. If you're happy with the school otherwise and alternatives not findable maybe consider supplementing school with other multiyear activities with stable kid groups as another way of handling the friendship building part, until the school friends grow into enough independence to not need parental involvement in the mechanics of outside school socializing?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:46 AM
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I've said before that I was a huge reverse snob when I started in the law, because the education is pretty much the same everywhere, and while having smart classmates is a good thing, it's not really worth all that much ime.* But oh my God the professional network: nearly 25 years out, I don't think any of my classmates is general counsel at any Fortune 500 company, and a whole lot of them are in public service. When I had to hire people, network became distressingly relevant.

* The concepts aren't that difficult. You either get them or you don't. How smart the next guy is doesn't mean shit if you understand proximate clause or dormant commerce clause by yourself.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:47 AM
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I just read the book "privileged" which is good on the modern elite high school:

http://www.amazon.com/Privilege-Adolescent-Princeton-Cultural-Sociology/dp/0691156239

Interestingly, it seems to be a meritocratic-like environment. Nobody likes the students who don't accept the goal of the meritocracy and rest on their parent's laurels. but, it isn't full bore meritocracy. For one thing, everybody pretends to work harder than they actually due and nobody does the reading. Confident bullshit is the goal. They don't really want the brutal competition that a real meritocracy would require. It is still hard enough to get in to seem meritocratic enough to the families involved though.

They also do crazy stuff in reporting their grades to schools, use private assurances to keep college application yield numbers up, and have some inhuman number of clubs. Everybody gets to be president.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:52 AM
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it's just that you can tell that a sense of exclusion/difference is already setting in and will just get worse over time.

Not necessarily to the 'will just get worse over time' bit. We had the same issues a bit in grade school (less so, it sounds like, than you, but it also sounds as if class/ethnicity divides were less sharp). Everyone interacted just fine in school, but arranging stuff after school didn't happen much, and the kids mostly played with friends from our immediate sub-neighborhood, which is a bunch richer than the school's catchment area generally.

Once middle and high school kicked in, though, and the kids were arranging their own social lives without needing our help at all, their social lives seem to be pretty smoothly integrated with their school's population generally. So, it got better, not worse, once they were old enough not to be affected by parental awkwardness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:53 AM
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Oh, hey, pwned by dq in 280.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:54 AM
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One of my cousins didn't like the college he went to all that well (Denison). I don't know how he felt about law school. He had a great international law professor who has been an important contact.

He is super connected to his prep school (boarding) and maybe his best friend in the world was his roommate from the boys boarding school he went to in middle school (7th-9th), Fel/ip/e Cou/st/eau.

The preppy connections have been more useful in DC.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:55 AM
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Interestingly, it seems to be a meritocratic-like environment.

It sounds like you mean "it seems like a profoundly un-meritocratic environment that operates based on the same lies and self-delusions about 'meritocracy' that plague the rest of our elite culture."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 10:57 AM
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We were too far away to have play dates and didn't know kids in the neighborhood. So that wasn't great until high school. In high school, it was true that Asian-Am girls were never gonna be allowed to do stuff at night and my Asian-Am boy friends could come out as long as their parents didn't know they were socializing with a white girl. The Russians and Armenians could come out, though.

It worked out, though. We had a ton of fun in high school. But friends outside of school didn't really happen until them. Find those friends at local sports?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 11:54 AM
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Is the idea that some meaningful percentage of the prestigious high school would all together attend the same prestigious colleges?

At the University of the Ruling Class, there is (or used to be, anyway) and annual Exeter-Andover Reunion with literally hundreds of eligible invitees among the undergraduate population. I don't think they formed any kind of meaningful clique, though.

The elite prep school crowd at URC was more diverse than you might imagine. My impression was that they were a bit bimodal w/r/t academic prowess, as a fair number of them were varsity athletes or legacies, while you also had some striving scholarship kids (the Deval Patrick type) and some run-of-the-mill UMC geniuses.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 11:57 AM
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287: If Asian-American girls weren't allowed out who did the parents of the Asian-American boys think they were socializing with? Only other boys or there was some mysterious reservoir of Asian-American parents with free-range daughters?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 12:02 PM
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OT but the judge just denied our petition for joint custody because he wants two adversarial filings rather than one joint one, even though our primary lawyer had specifically looked at precedent in front of that judge, who's a jerk. We go back in a month and he says he'll grant it then, once he's through jerky power games. I'm not entirely surprised, but it made me really sad and angry to hear the girls being take about as being part of two separate families because legally one is mine and two are Lee's. On the other hand, I was plenty ready to argue that none if us are blood relatives and so they have no stronger claim to one parent than the other, which makes it sound like I don't respect adoption. Anyway, it will be done in a month. Blech.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 1:38 PM
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They thought that they were hanging out in groups of boys. Which is pretty much true, except for me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:03 PM
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290: Ugh. Best wishes pulling through there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:06 PM
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Thanks, Moby. It'll be fine if he actually does approve it and I don't think he was lying about that. Just more cost and more time to get it done, I guess. And kind of depressing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:30 PM
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I'm trying to make up excuses for the judge that don't just make him sound like a timewasting powerhungry martinet (which might be the full explanation). Is there any chance that someone might want to unwind the adoptions in the future in a way that would mean adversarial filings would stand up better than one joint one? You and Lee break up, she sues you for child support, you disavow any responsibility for the kids because you didn't file papers individually? I don't have any legal sense of the issues, but maybe something like that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:35 PM
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Yes, that was his argument, although prefacing it with "I don't just want you to have to pay double filing costs, but...." makes me skeptical. Also his clerk apologized to our lawyers and said he specifically told her not to forewarn us. The state supreme court has been very clear about what sort of declaration you have to make for this to work but not what kind of filing, which is why the primary lawyer specifically asked before this bait-and-switch.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:40 PM
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That's a pretty telling forewarning on warnings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:42 PM
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That does sound rather as if he's being difficult on purpose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:54 PM
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I have to say, I don't get the argument in 294/295 even as a theoretical, hypertechnical matter. A joint filing isn't binding on one of the filers? And it couldn't be cured, at absolute worst, by asking you on the record whether you understand the filing and have authorized your counsel to submit it on your behalf?

I mean, I believe that it's what he said, but that's just weird.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 2:56 PM
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Hang in there, Thorn. It's total bullshit that you have to jump extra legal hoops about who your family is. I'm sorry one asshole gets to make things extra frustrating.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 3:04 PM
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298: I'm kind of speculating about family court being different (and I don't know a blessed thing about family court directly). It just seemed plausible that a joint filing specifically in a family context might be disavowable as the result of pressure or miscommunication or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 3:14 PM
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That sucks Thorn. Judges -- sometimes martinets.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 3:20 PM
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298 is how it was supposed to work and has happened before in his court, but for whatever reasons he's no longer okay with that. The joint petition is preferred by people making the point that this recognizes an ongoing family structure both parents recognize and support, but apparently he thinks of it more as a gay Brady Bunch situation. In either case, we will each waive sole parental rights to the child or children we've adopted in favor of shared parenting and will take on the responsibilities of acting as a legal parent to the other's child or children. The lawyers just have to rewrite the same material in a different format. I'm grateful he's willing to sign, though I guess I'll believe it when I see it, because otherwise we'd have to do something like go get married and do second-parent adoptions in a state that recognizes them, in which case we would still probably have trouble getting our state to issue a birth certificate anyway until there's a binding SCOTUS ruling, at least. Fun times! (It really is not that bad at all, just a telling reminder.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 3:57 PM
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I'm actually in Court right now and there's a pro se litigant waiting outside the door with a t-shirt that says "SEX POLICE K-9 DOGGYSTYLING UNIT."


Posted by: T"R"O | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 3:59 PM
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I'm sorry for that mess, Thorn.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 4:07 PM
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303: And I thought pro se litigants didn't know what they were doing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 4:07 PM
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The internet turns up lots of reported spottings and even several photographs of the shirt in 303, but no links to anywhere I can buy one. MARKET FAILURE.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 6:26 PM
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Is Cafe Press still around?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 6:42 PM
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260: my experience of going to a school like that was that I really did get an amazing education but was miserable and so was everyone else. four girls in my class of around 60 had to be hospitalized for bulimia/anorexia--how bad was the underlying rate? it was fiercely competitive, I'm not certain that's the same as meritocratic. eh, I would rate it pretty meritocratic. everyone said my first year at an ivy would be easier than my senior year at ncs which was true; they were just killing you that year. 20-page term paper! I was miserable for underlying reasons so maybe I would have been miserable anywhere. lots of people claimed to love it. it had its excellent qualities, the cathedral itself, mainly. as a peevish 17-year-old idiot I actually felt I was being hard done by in that harvard would never let more than 10% of our class in no matter how good the other applicants were LOLOL. DC is weird in that some elementary and middle schools are both integrated and good (I went to hyde and then hardy for non-consecutive years) and then high-school is 100% segregated and 100% terrible. it's unclear to me why the good elementary and middle school models can't be replicated the next year on. it honestly seems like a solvable collective action problem in which the schools could be integrated in just a few years if all the white parents took the plunge at once. not that that would solve every problem on its own with white student magic, but let's assume it would get a lot of people involved on the school board bitching about things. and, I mean, you just paid $2 million for your house in downtown DC and you have to send your kid to sidwell anyway? harsh, bro.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:44 PM
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alameida - OT, but thought of you, read this and weep for the lost Toile de Montgolfier d'antan: http://www.theawl.com/2015/03/toile-chic


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03- 9-15 8:57 PM
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