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Kindergarten Admissions: An Odd Ritual

Emily GlickmanAs a New York City and Westchester Firm Schools educational consultant, I often feel like an anthropologist studying an exotic ritual. Never more than when I work with kindergarteners and their parents.

Does it really make sense to you that four-year-olds should be ranked and judged? Should they be asked to leave preschool often a dozen times for interviews and take an exam? Should their parents have to write essays about them, and take off repeatedly from work to go to interviews? Because parents are under strong pressure to have their children stand out so that they will get in, four-year-olds are being enriched in every which way, whether it’s therapy to get them up to par, or tutoring to get them over.

It’s easy to blame the parents. The media often does. That’s why the term “helicopter parents” is now a well-known term. But I think that’s blatantly unfair.

As an educational consultant, I have had the privilege to meet hundred of New York City parents. Who can blame them for trying to do what they see as best for their children? I’d like instead to see the blame placed squarely where it belongs: on the schools. Why did the schools set up this abhorrent admissions process?

By definition, a school is a place where students go to learn. We look to schools to set examples for our children and teach values as well as facts. But the Firm Schools’ kindergarten admissions process teaches only that schools are equivalent to country clubs, where social status, connections, and shallow judgments reign.

The kindergarten admissions process should be reformed to show respect for children’s and families’ needs. A kindergarten lottery would be one radical solution.

About the Contributor: Emily Glickman is a regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of area of private school admissions.

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