I really wanted to believe this was just a myth, but upon further investigation- it ends up that it is all true. Parents are paying $20,000 a year to send their kids to grade school. I thought this was just another alien behavior of the uber-rich, but unfortunately- it's not. Middle class Americans are taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to make sure that their kids will be keeping up with the proverbial Joneses.
That is a hell of a lot of money to spend, before your child even gets to college. What happens when you've shelled out $250,000 for Sally's early education, and she decides that she doesn't want to go to college? What then? I'm guessing that not going to college won't even be a possibility for her, will it? Or that there will be some disowning going on. What happens when you are paying $20,000 a year for your children to go to grade school, and they have a hard time learning their multiplication tables? What if they fall behind a little? How much pressure are we going to be putting on our kids to perform?
I see some insane behavior all around me already- and Lucien's peers aren't even two yet. Dance classes. Gym classes. Preschool, at age two. I didn't even know that existed. We really have to get started potty training because the preschool won't take them if they're not. Jesus. This I don't understand. For what you are paying there should definitely be some ass wiping going on.
There is competitive preschool in my neighborhood. Yes, I have actually heard those two words- competitive and preschool- strung together, when someone was referring to this place. It is called the Co-op School. The tuition is $1250 a month. Add to that a non-refundable application fee of $50. And a non-refundable administrative enrollment fee of $100. I don't even know what that is. Then there is the monthly cleaning and enrichment fee of $15-25. I almost forgot the membership fee of $750- so yeah, there's that, too.
Okay, so that's 10 months at $1250 a month. Plus all of those extra fees, which amounts to a grand total of $13,650. Thirteen thousand, six hundred, and fifty dollars. For one year of preschool. I forgot to mention that the "co-operative structure" means you also have to provide classroom snacks twice a year, participate in school space clean up once a year, participate in fundraising tasks, serve actively on a committee, attend general membership meetings, and have an active listserv membership.
Oh, and there's no sliding scale. We want to enrich the lives of our children, but we definitely don't want them to interact with the pre-K riff raff.
This brings us to the source of a lot of my anxiety. I obviously cannot afford this. So, have I done something wrong? Did I have the right to have a child, that apparently I cannot afford? Or is everyone else just out of their mother f-ing minds? I'm obviously opting for the latter.
It's not me, it's you.
We all want the best for our children, including myself. But I don't see how believing the hype that we can only purchase the things that are best for our kids, is doing anything to enrich the lives of anyone- least of all our children. Is our public school system such a lost cause that we can't push for legislation that will improve what our tax dollars are already paying for? Or have we just been so let down by our government's services for so long that we have forgotten that education used to be one of them?
I'm going to go color and eat peanut butter crackers with my child now. For free.