Pee Wee Competition

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marc H. Simon,, co-director of the documentary Nursery University and Tony Pratofiorito, one of the fathers featured in the film, talk about how competitive it's become to get into New York City pre-schools.


Tony Pratofiorito and Marc H. Simon,

Comments [28]


Tony Pratofiorito is obviously gay and I wonder what it's going to take to wake up his clueless wife Cynthia?

May. 24 2012 12:55 PM
Jackie from Brooklyn

I stressed over my daughter's preschool acceptance (private); then stressed even more about elementary admissions (public). Middle school applications were horrible and high school even worse (both public).
The real problem is that there are too many failing schools. If all schools were even close to equal then the competition to get into "good" schools would not be so crazy.

Apr. 23 2009 01:56 PM
Cindy from Brooklyn

My daughter is 3 and will enter Pre-K in the fall. I live in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. I am a teacher and value education. I know a lot of smart parents and we are all hoping to send our kids to public Pre-K. I can honestly say I don't know what this is all about! I don't know one person who is interviewing for an expensive, private Pre-K. Is this more of a Manhattan thing?

Apr. 23 2009 12:34 PM

we bailed from ues and then park slope. didn't want to raise our children in totally homogeneous environments. taxes here suck for property owners -- but jersey is real.

Apr. 23 2009 12:25 PM
rachel porter from brooklyn

hi -- as a mom (and a columbia graduate) I think the coddling and worry over education among affluent and semi-affluent parents says a lot more about the anxieties that this SES group has about ourselves than about how important education is. Few people - if any -- articulate a model of why preschool education is so important -- and what that education should look like. I am also a researcher and wonder if there is much research (good research) on this -- and whether anyone knows about it. My kid is in a preschool that seems fine, but basically he plays, and that seems like a fine way to spend his time. I find it hard to imagine a linear relationship from preschool to college. Who knows what their kids will want as high school students contemplating their futures? Why would we want to mold that experience for our kids?? It seems to me that a parent should help the kid know how to approach the future, not set what that future should look like.

One other point, I have noticed that there is hardly ever discussion of educating kids about values. For example, in my look around in Brooklyn almost none of the schools showed any commitment to making their classes more economically diverse by offering scholarships.

Apr. 23 2009 12:08 PM
Jack from Brooklyn

Let's call this for what it is: Insecure parents who are acting out their neuroses on their children. I went to public school and loved it! Listening to these pre-K folks freak out over the choice of their schools is sickening: Maybe these parents should send their kids to a low pressure school and spend the money saved on their own therapy.

Apr. 23 2009 11:59 AM

Difference among parents in preschool priorities, strategies etc. between 1st child and the following kids?

Apr. 23 2009 11:58 AM
KC from Manhattan

I grew up in Denver, where my parents had access to a diverse, exceptional range of public early education options for me and my siblings. The thought of going through this kind of insanity to put my future children through an NYC private nursery school seems absolutely foreign to me. Frankly, it makes me not want to have kids at all.

Apr. 23 2009 11:58 AM
Holly from Brooklyn

My how times have changed. I'm 33 years old. When I was a child, growing up in the Mid West, very few of us attended pre school. My first school experience was starting kindergarten when I was 5 years old. Before that, my parents just put me in front of Sesame Street. My early childhood education was free from PBS. Still I graduated with honors and am a successful business owner. Necessity is relative.

Apr. 23 2009 11:55 AM
Alison from Manhattan

I agree with the comments about how ridiculous these "private" nursery schools are - I have a 7yr old (pretty smart!) who went to LEnox Hill Neighbohood School (UES, Manhattan) and was in the head start program - what a fabulous experience it was - it doesn't matter if you pay 0 or $12,000/yr. They're all the same (as long as it's not a bad program) - what's a shame is that we, USA, don't have a good preschool PUBLIC system (like FRANCE!). Kids all start out the same (unless physically disabled) it all depends on what we present to them! Rich or poor, they should all be able to "get the leg up" - what a sad situation we have here (esp for working parents!!!)

Apr. 23 2009 11:55 AM
Glen Ganaway from Manhattan


Is this meant to show how disgusting all this is or are we supposed to sympathize?

Please have an segment on educational parity to counteract this GROSS, unbelievably arrogant people.

THIS IS A TRAIN WRECK! These consumers are the reason we had the last 40 years.

Apr. 23 2009 11:54 AM
Jane from brooklyn, ny

Fred - that's hilarious!

Apr. 23 2009 11:54 AM
annie from upper west side

I'm just crossing my fingers and waiting to hear if my kid got into public pre-K so I can stop paying ridiculous prices for day care! He has done great in his current "school" since he was 3 months old, but I'm sure he'll do just as well in public school. And we'll be able to save money for when he gets into a great college.

Apr. 23 2009 11:54 AM

loving these comments!

Apr. 23 2009 11:53 AM
geneGC from Brooklyn

In beginning the search for a preK for my son, I was amazed by the hysteria that came along with it. I live in Brooklyn, and found a program nearby that I was very, very happy with. However, in order to register for this program, my husband had to get on line at 3:00 in the morning...and he was the 5th one there!

This isn't a Springsteen concert or contest giveaway!

Apr. 23 2009 11:52 AM
Jersey Jeff

People, this is PRESCHOOL we're talking about, not law school. This film reminds me of the mockumentary "Best in Show" but the scary thing is, this behavior is not made up. I'm sure to the WNYC/NY Times crowd, these parental antics are completely normal and justifiable.

Some of you yuppie parents have too much disposable income and too much self-induced anxiety. Relax and enjoy the little ones. They'll do fine no matter what preschool they land in.

Apr. 23 2009 11:52 AM
rachel from brooklyn heights

I want to scream loud to all the parents who join this race of pretentious social disorder- President Obama didn't go to any fancy private pre-school!!!
I am all for NYC public school....

Apr. 23 2009 11:52 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

My kid is pretty smart, but I jacked him up on ritalin before the pre-school interview so he would be really focused.


Apr. 23 2009 11:51 AM
Daniel from Munich

Considering genes and the home environment probably contribute more to the intelligence of a child than preschool, you would think these mothers or fathers would spend more time searching out intelligent spouses. Of course, if they married academics, they wouldn't be able to afford these preschools.

Apr. 23 2009 11:51 AM
Zak from Washington Heights

That sound bite was fascinating. There is a very subtle hint in there that speaks to a HUGE flaw in the thinking of many contemporary parents. The nursery school teacher says, "Many parents think that pre-school is the first step toward getting your child into the college of YOUR choosing..." (Emphasis mine.) Your choosing? As a parent? Your kid is five and YOU as the parent already have a college of YOUR choosing?! What a way to pressure your child and stifle his or her natural abilities. Why don't we wait 10-15 years and let our children the college of THEIR choosing?

Apr. 23 2009 11:50 AM

uncom. econ. indicator?
grapevine says that costliest 212 preschools aren't discounting rates per se but are adding free hours, summer school weeks, etc. true?

Apr. 23 2009 11:48 AM
Jon P. from The Garden State

I will be judgmental. You people that go through hell and creation and put your kids through hell and creation to get them into a certain nursery school or kindergarten are just plain idiots. Nothing less… I have 2 questions for these types of people. One, do you or did you ever put what kindergarten or nursery school you went to on your resume? Two, has any employer for any job you ever applied for ask what kindergarten or nursery school you went to? Please wake up join the rest of us in reality.

Apr. 23 2009 11:37 AM

Yes, agree w Ed/3. Do yourself a favor. Doesn't make sense to join the 212/718 preschool ratrace, financially, unless you are a suicide-watch banker, or otherwise pulling down at least 400K/y in 30-50 hours/w.

Apr. 23 2009 10:53 AM
Betty Anne from UES

I'm not trying to pass judgement here because I do understand wanting the best for your kids.

That said, this seems to be an issue/battle for the "haves" and the "have mores." In a society as grand as ours, it never ceases to amaze me that we have such a dichotomy between the rich and the poor. I know people that struggle to feed their children nutritious meals. By and large the poor just don't matter to the rich.

Yes these kids will get a leg up, but they've known that since the silver spoon was put in their mouth.

Apr. 23 2009 10:47 AM

brianne -- classic thanks for sharing!

Apr. 23 2009 10:43 AM
Ed from East Village

To all parents overwrought with worry about this problem:
Go and join the sprawl (move the the suburbs). It's why the 'burbs were created. I know you'll lose the cool factor at work but you have to grow sometime.

Apr. 23 2009 10:38 AM
stuart from upper west side

Of course we want the best for our children. But is it really necessary for our kids to be tested and rated at such an early age? We were very lucky to find an all day school (drop off on our way to work, and pick up on the way home - many pre-schools are either half day or 9 to 3) that did not have an entrance exam or interview requirement (we're not going to give you the name of the school). Our daughter (now four and half years old) is finishing her second year there, and she has really blossomed. We're sorry we didn't know about it sooner.

I know your guests have a movie to plug, but maybe we should be talking about the recent spate of articles regarding over-crowding and wait lists for kindergarten spaces at NYC public schools (there was a lottery in certain districts similar to the high school lottery for students who didn't match), how new residential buildings are built but no new schools to educate the children who will live in these new buildings, and how parents who can no longer afford a private school education for their children are considering a move to a neighborhood with a highly-rated public elementary school.

Apr. 23 2009 10:09 AM
brianne from Manhattan

My nephew, then 4 1/2 years old with a very vivid and creative imagination, was interviewing for one of the "top" private preschools with a tuition about the same as my college education. During the interview, when asked why he would like to attend school there, he replied "I'm gonna blow this place up!" (To his mother's horror)

He still got in. Go figure.

Apr. 23 2009 10:03 AM

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