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Education, Capitalism, and Tutus

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Tiaras and Trucks

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Education, Capitalism, and Tutus

What, those things don't go together?

When Abbey goes to dance, I wait in the lobby.  I can leave her in the room by herself, but I'm not ready to leave the premises quite yet.  Besides, it's an opportunity for Dylan and me to hang out on our own, and I don't really want to spend it in a car.

The first week, we spent most of the time hanging out with a mom and her youngest son.  I also met her oldest son and saw her daughter.  All three were wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the name of an exclusive private school in our area for gifted students.  And by exclusive I mean crazy expensive.  I realize in some parts of the country, expensive grade schools are a dime a dozen, but where we live, even most of the private schools don't cost the equivalent of a year at Harvard.

Education is something I think about all the time, and those three shirts really made me consider the role money plays in education and the inexorable ties between the two.  The school in question, as I mentioned before, really plays up the fact that it is geared toward "gifted" children.  Don't get me wrong; the mother was lovely, and her youngest son was polite and articulate.  (Plus they couldn't compliment Dylan enough, which never hurts!)

But really?  Three truly "gifted" children in one family?  Yet, their parents are paying for them to be educated as gifted children, and they will never know an educational experience that isn't tailored to help them succeed in every way.  As a former teacher, I can only imagine the education that the teachers are able to provide at a school like that.  Tiny classes, involved parents, and curricular freedom to explore and work with student strengths, weaknesses, and (most importantly) interests.  That's just the beginning, because an education at a school like that can open academic doors all the way up the ladder of success.

Less than fifteen miles away, children are wasting away in classrooms without books, in buildings permeated with violence, in a district so plagued with problems that there are talks about the state taking over control of an entire public school district.  Teachers enter those classrooms with high hopes and dreams of educating those children but find themselves roadblocked by problems too extensive to get into in one blog post.  I know, because I worked in a school similar to those schools.
There are gifted kids in those schools, too.  I actually believe that the majority of children have the potential to thrive in the right environment, with the right tools and the right teachers to find their own particular gifts.  Knowing something happens in theory is one thing, but seeing it in practice is another, and it's tough to know that a thirty thousand dollar check, give or take a little, can buy a gifted label.  And though there are pitfalls to every situation, even the privileged ones, it's pretty obvious that a child with a thirty-thousand-dollar education enters the world on a different plane than the child who had to enter his or her classroom through metal detectors.

To lighten the mood, some pictures of my to-be-educated-by-public-schools-unless-I-win-the-lottery kids...

(If I did somehow win the lottery, miraculously since I don't buy tickets, I would buy them the best education I could find for them.  Which may or may not include a gifted label, because I don't know if that is a blessing or a curse, but that's another post, I think.)
ready for week two
the braid went back into a ponytail, but it keeps her hair out of her eyes
hanging out with Mommy
charming the ladies
flirting with the dancers
drooling on his shirt
all in an hour
on the move
because he likes to grab for the camera

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  • At September 29, 2010 at 8:04 AM , Anonymous Liz said...

    That's a really good idea for the braid keeping hair out of her eyes. Craig wants me to grow out Kate's bangs, and I keep telling him her hair will always be in her face if I do.

    We currently live in Memphis, and there are oodles of private schools because the city school system is so bad. Here I find that some of the most "prestigious" (er, um, expensive) don't necessarily provide good educations. I have friends who were educated in the county system (which is oodles better than the city schools) who tutored students from some high-falutin' private schools because they couldn't handle algebra.

  • At September 29, 2010 at 1:57 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    School is such a tough thing, because not only are some better than others, but some are better for certain kids than other kids, depending on the environment that best suits each child. I'm glad I don't have to worry too, too much about that for a couple of years.

    The braid is a lifesaver! She's never really had bangs, but it's still difficult to keep the hair out of her eyes, so we do some sort of braid or little pony tail almost every day. She will leave those in even when she pulls out barrettes/bows.


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