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"Hint: It's not about the kids."
July 16, 2013 8:47 PM   Subscribe

In 2002, now-disgraced stock analyst Jack Grubman (previously) was the central figure in a preschool-placement scandal in New York's famously Wall Street connected 92nd Street Y.
The Price Of Perfection
posted by the man of twists and turns (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
It was a good Law and Order episode.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what your lost pension and unpaid hours of overtime are financing. I hope their kids go to SUNY.
posted by thelonius at 10:06 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Reading the list of schools and the tuitions, I found myself thinking "really? Shit, that's not THAT much more than I paid for my kid to go to Montessori school in Seattle!"

Then I realized: those tuitions may be per month, not per year.
posted by KathrynT at 10:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


December 2, 2002 | Feature
The Price of Perfection
Cover Story:


idgi.

is there something new to add here? is this some sort of 10 yr anniversary of understanding that nyc richie-rich type people get to do stuff most of the rest of the country can't?
posted by lampshade at 11:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is not exactly breaking news that this culture is going on. Remember the passage in "Bonfire Of The Vanities" describing how Sherman McCoy goes broke on a million dollars a year? But the angle of trading admissions favors for stock hyping is news to me.
posted by thelonius at 12:14 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


One day, when we are all breaking our backs to harvest bioengineered algal scum to eat, we will look back on stories like this with wonder and pity.
posted by benzenedream at 12:37 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


manhattan socialites, one hell of a tribe.
posted by ouke at 1:29 AM on July 17, 2013


I know it sounds mercenary,but if I had kids I would do just about anything to make sure they had the best schooling possible.

I spent most of my youth in New York City public schools. The only reason I'm on metafilter right now is because I was able to test into an "elite" high school.

Anyone who went through the public school system in New York, didn't test into someplace, and is here on metafilter to talk about it is an extraordinary person.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really? $5 isn't that exclusive.
posted by ryanrs at 2:14 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, the only reason I paid the $5 was I was able to get a scholarship to a 14k a year High School.

I'm not kidding when I say if I wasn't good at test taking I'd be dead or in prison now.

I don't lilke this Grubman guy either, or the system that produces guys like him,but the fact he was willing to risk everything to do what he thought would help, maybe not even really help, his kid is not a bad thing in my book.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:24 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is such a pathetically light sprinkling of schadenfreude when absurdly rich system breakers fail to get every single thing they want. I'll take it but I want more.
posted by srboisvert at 4:19 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Was this really about helping his kids? If they hadn't been admitted to his first choice school and had instead gone to a second or third-tier school, would that matter that much? It wasn't like his kids were ever going to attend some horrible public school.
posted by Area Man at 5:01 AM on July 17, 2013


For some parents it's not about what's best for the kid, it's what the kid's school says about the parents.
posted by COD at 5:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I used to pop into the 92nd St Y every so often, back in the 80s, when I was a chauffeur for a wealthy financier who lived on the Upper East Side. Why? Toilets. Glorious, clean, available toilets. Place always kinda gave me the creeps a little. Course, so did ALL of the Upper East Side.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:22 AM on July 17, 2013


Anyone who went through the public school system in New York, didn't test into someplace, and is here on metafilter to talk about it is an extraordinary person.

Hey man, I went through the Alabama public school system, 1960s and 70s, and I'm on Metafilter. And I never tested into no *elite* high school. And (gasp!) I didn't go to college. I guess I'm fucking extra-hyper-extraordinary, then.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:28 AM on July 17, 2013 [21 favorites]



I used to pop into the 92nd St Y every so often, back in the 80s, when I was a chauffeur for a wealthy financier who lived on the Upper East Side. Why? Toilets. Glorious, clean, available toilets. Place always kinda gave me the creeps a little. Course, so did ALL of the Upper East Side.


I wonder if anybody can give me an insight into just how Stepford-y these places were? The article mentioned that each school forced all its members to conform, else be expelled; but just how severe was this? I'm really curious. (Seeing as the only pop-culture icon of this kind of private upper-class culture I know of is the lacrosse-playing superdouch spy Archer)
posted by kurosawa's pal at 5:29 AM on July 17, 2013


I didnt quite realize it until reading this particular article, but I'm bored of the whole "preschool admissions in New York" collection of stories. It's a storyline that's been written about to death for the past 10 years or so.

I'm a little sad that it doesn't fascinate me anymore, though. I used to love gobbling these kinds of stories up.
posted by discopolo at 6:27 AM on July 17, 2013


The preschool situation in Manhattan is insane. I'm pretty sure I spent more time applying for my kid than I did on my own college apps. There are no public programs until Pre-K (if you're lucky), and not enough spots, at least in my neighborhood. We didn't even make the lottery for a few places.

So I can see how it drives people to desperate lengths (I'm actually doing a preschool co-op in my apartment, which tells you how crazy I've become). So as much as I'd love to snark on Grubman, I can't say with certainty that I wouldn't pull every string I had if I had the clout to do so.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2013


My wife briefly worked at one of the top private schools in our midwestern state (our governor, one senator, and various business and professional leaders attended this school). She was friendly with the woman who did admissions for the "lower school" (there was some discusison of having my wife help evaluate the pre-k kids being considered for admission, but I don't think that actually happened). One day, my wife's co-worker got a call from some parents who had just moved from Manhattan and wanted to discussion the admissions process and getting their kid started on whatever list or process might exist. The co-worker asked for the child's age and was expecting to hear that he was 5 or maybe 4 and a half. A kid who would be entering school next year. She was floored when the parents told her they were calling about a 2-year-old. She told them to get back in touch in a few years.
posted by Area Man at 7:24 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


What bothers me about the preschool admissions has nothing to do with preschool - it has to do with university. This is all about getting their kids into an elite university. And, after having been coached for 16 years to get into an elite university, the students in question will walk around talking about how meritocratic the system is and how talented they are.

And later these are the people who will run the government and major businesses - and we wonder why democracy and social equality are falling apart. It's the new aristocracy. I won't be surprised if they start awarding themselves titles.
posted by jb at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


NB: yes, I realise not all students at elite universities have had this path - many have gone to public schools, and worked hard without extraordinary support. Makes it worse that these students will get to the same place by this route. I wonder if some of the students I taught at an Ivy who seemed a bit dim had come this way? The entitled ones very likely did.
posted by jb at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm upset with the growing economic inequality and lessening economic mobility in the US, but I don't think the system is yet quite as rigid as upper-class Manhattanites fear. If your kid doesn't get into the right preschool, he or she could still get into a decent college and end up in the upper or upper-middle class. Heck, even graduates of public universities mostly seem to make a living.
posted by Area Man at 8:23 AM on July 17, 2013


With the glut of un- and under-employed PhDs floating around and the demand for "the best" preschooling, it sounds like someone could make a killing starting a new elite preschool in Manhattan, the gimmick being that every teacher has a doctorate. Pay the teachers a decent wage and charge the bankster parents a bundle.
posted by exogenous at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen statistics for the US, but in the UK there is a very notable wage premium for having attended Oxford or Cambridge, as opposed to universities like Bristol which are their academic equals (and often better). Certain powerful firms will only recruit from Oxbridge.

My SO and I both attended undergraduate at good state universities, then attended graduate school at elite universities. The job openings, the recruitment possibilities were a night and day difference. Students we taught with lower grade than we had had were going onto better jobs than we would ever have been offered.

though maybe that was as much family networking as school networking. I know someone whose family is powerful in Canada, and she has been offered jobs and internships (by people who know her family) which others could only dream of. She's bright and probably very good at what she does. But that is not enough.
posted by jb at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


exogenous: maybe a good idea, but I would never send my kids. The teacher training in most PhD programs is terrible. I would much prefer to know that the teachers have a college diploma in early childhood education.

yes, I realise you were half-joking. But I have heard private school teaching offered as a serious alternative for PhDs by people who don't realise that they can have as little teacher training - or aptitude for teaching - as anyone off the street. Teaching adults who want to be in a class is much, much easier than teaching teenagers who don't want to be there. Teaching young children is sufficiently different from teaching older children that most kindergarten teachers really should have ECE training - their brains work very differently. (So notes a friend of mine who is a professional nanny, has been a kindergarten EA).
posted by jb at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2013


Wanting every opportunity for children is perfectly reasonable. Wanting every advantage for your children is evil.
posted by srboisvert at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


someone could make a killing starting a new elite preschool in Manhattan, the gimmick being that every teacher has a doctorate.

Those poor children!
posted by benzenedream at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2013


Wanting every opportunity for children is perfectly reasonable. Wanting every advantage for your children is evil.
posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on July 17 [+][!]


What does that mean in practice? If your kid gets an opportunity that some other kids don't (maybe because they live in the wrong place, don't come from a wealthy family, or have parents who are less interested or able to assist in education) isn't that an advantage?

Is is okay to try to get the kid into a good private school? Is is okay to use your economic or social capital to choose to live somewhere with good public schools? Can you apply to have your kid be in a particular school or program within a public school system? If your kid is having trouble, can you tutor him or her or pay for someone else to do so? Can you read to your kid (after all, your kid will then have an advantage relative to those parents who don't read to their kids)?
posted by Area Man at 9:19 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the only thing that's a problem here is /if/ it's a pay-for-play system in terms of corruption. I don't actually have a problem otherwise in people being able to buy the best schools for their kids.
posted by corb at 1:36 PM on July 17, 2013


Hey man, I went through the Alabama public school system, 1960s and 70s, and I'm on Metafilter. And I never tested into no *elite* high school. And (gasp!) I didn't go to college. I guess I'm fucking extra-hyper-extraordinary, then.

Ok.

So that makes others not extrodinary?

You remember the post about the movie Brooklyn Castles about the NYC school kids that play chess. Why was that movie made? Why is a strong chess team compelling? Why is it so touching and special that these kids in Brooklyn can learn to play chess?

Also, I didn't go to my zoned high school. I don't count myself as extraordinary. I'm just an average guy,If I had gone to my zoned school, I would not be here right now.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So that makes others not extrodinary?

Um... you've missed my point entirely.

If I had gone to my zoned school, I would not be here right now.

Well, I guess that might be true. I don't know. My point remains that all sorts of people, even the educationally-disadvantaged like myself (see description above) are *on Metafilter*. I don't find that surprising or unusual in the least, and I think that assuming one needs some sort of snazzier, more elite schooling to simply be a contributing member of Metafilter is, well... rather odd.

I went to my *zoned* high school in Birmingham, Alabama, which was little more than a bad joke. And yet, here I am on the blue. Whaddaya know?

Anyway, whatever our educational backgrounds, I think we can all be glad that we've ascended to the dizzying intellectual heights of Metafilter, and... let's all have a drink! HUZZAH!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:52 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My point remains that all sorts of people, even the educationally-disadvantaged like myself (see description above) are *on Metafilter*.

I recently went through my fourth grade class yearbook, and realized that the vast majority of the boys in my class are now dead or in jail. We aren't talking about getting a crappy education; we're talking about schools where physical safety is an issue.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:30 PM on July 17, 2013


We aren't talking about getting a crappy education; we're talking about schools where physical safety is an issue.

Since that distinction wasn't at all clear in the comment I was responding to, I wouldn't necessarily assume it was what "we're talking about". Perhaps if Ad hominem had clearly indicated that he actually supposes he would be dead or in jail had he gone to his particular "zoned" high school, well, yeah, that would've saved me the trouble of these comments! Haha!

But I know folks who went through the New York City public school system just fine, thank you, and are doing all sorts of things in their lives besides being dead or in jail, so it's certainly not a given that the NYC public school system is some sort of fast track, one-way street to misery, crime and death. Heck, I'd wager there are some folks right here at Mefi who went to NYC high schools (as opposed to "testing in" to an *elite* high school) and I reckon some of them are pretty smart, well-adjusted folks who make some fine posts and comments here!.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:44 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and just to head off some envisionable* arguments to my comment above: I am of course aware that there are some pretty rough schools (and areas) in NYC, so of course I'm more than willing to accept that it may well take a relatively *extraordinary* person to come out of some of those schools in good shape for functioning in society, not being dead or in jail, etc. I know that East New York and Bed-Stuy ain't the Upper East Side.

Also, I'd extend apologies to Ad Hominem if he really was talking about some of the truly roughest, toughest schools within the vast NYC education system, and not just *any and all* NYC public schools. To that apology, though, I'd add that that sort of thing should be made clear in his comments, if that's what we're talking about.

And to all a good night!

*See, I know that's not actually a word, even though I went through the Alabama Public School System.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2013


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