Streams

Commentary: A Million Dollar Nursery School?

Friday, November 15, 2002

WNYC's Brian Lehrer says it's amazing what kids can learn these days, if they can just get into the right nursery school. Brian says he was flipping through some essays at one of Manhattan's most exclusive schools, and found one called "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Nursery School," by Jack Grubman's Twins. It goes like this.

"Our daddy is under investigation by this mean man named New York State Att'y General Elliot Spitzer. Mr. Spitzer is so mean he went through our daddy's e-mail. He discovered that daddy claimed to have lied about some stock to help us get into this school.

"Well, the whole thing is a little hard to explain, but daddy was something called a star telecommunications analyst for a company called Salomon Smith Barney. Usually, he didn't think AT&T stock was a very good investment. But one day, in 1999, he upped his rating of AT&T, from something called hold to something called strong buy . He said in the e-mail that he did it to help his boss win a fight at work, and to help us get into the nursery school at the 92nd street Y.

"His boss was a nice man named Sanford Weill, chairman of Citigroup. We play in groups too, in school. Maybe that's why Mr. Weill called the school to put in a good word for us. And maybe that's why he gave the Y a million dollars around that time - because we all did things in groups.

"Well, we did get in, which is good because in one of the e-mails, daddy said our nursery school is harder to get into than Harvard. After that, though, daddy said in an e-mail that he went back to his "normal negative self" on AT&T. Looks like a lot of people lost money after that.

"But mean Elliot Spitzer thinks it might be daddy's fault, and Mr. Weill's. We don't think so. All Mr. Weill did was ask daddy to take a fresh look at AT&T around the time he helped us get into school. And the school, well, they have this nice public relations director named Alix. She says every child goes through the same rigorous admissions process. The only thing we take into account is the children themselves. And we believe her, because we're very smart. And cooperative.

"We're not sure if we believe daddy though. Daddy says people didn't really lose money because of us. He says his claim in the e-mails about his stock picks having to do with our applications was something called pure fantasy and completely baseless. In other words, daddy says he was lying in the e-mails but telling the truth now. That's a little confusing.

"But we guess we'll figure it out eventually, because we're in such a good school. And our teacher says nursery school is not so much about being able to write essays like this, as something called values and life lessons . We think this all has something to do with that, and it's probably pretty important. So thanks daddy, and thanks Mr. Weill for helping us go to this school."

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