Parents Are Signing Unborn Children Up For Posh Preschools

The Wall Street Journal discusses a problem plaguing the petite bourgeoisie: So many people are signing up for the few desirable day care spots in major cities, that parents have started applying for pre-school places when their children are still in utero. Kate Ferry, of Downingtown, PA, told a local coveted day care center she was pregnant before she told "anyone in the family," in order to secure a spot for her spawn. But before you assume this is a mo' money, mo' problems kind of issue, consider this statistic: according to the Journal, the number of preschoolers with working parents exceeds the number of childcare spots by anywhere from 25%-75% in most half the states in the union, including New York, California, and Pennsylvania. But, as the Journal points out, the most egregious demand is for the tony pre-Ks. The Bank Street Family Center in New York has 130 applicants for 12-15 openings.

Over on the Huffington Post, blogger Pamela Paul argues that for parents in New York City, playing the insane pre-school waiting game is a must if you want truly educated children. "No matter how much you bemoan the system — which requires 'interviews' with two-year-olds, has involved a scandal over stock ratings in exchange for a coveted spot, and demands hours during out of the workday for open houses, tours, parents interviews, and the like — any parent with a prayer of educating children in the city is forced to play."

According to an article in the Guardian this kind of private-school obsessive attitude is exactly what's preventing England from being a true meritocracy. Writer David Kynaston quotes a study about the students who attend Oxford and Cambridge to illustrate the lack of social mobility. The study "ranked the success of schools, over a five-year period, at getting their pupils into Oxbridge. Top was Westminster school with a staggering 49.9% hit rate. In other words, if you pay your annual boarding fees of £25,956, you have a virtually even chance of your child making it to Oxbridge... Put another way, the 70th brightest sixth-former at Westminster or Eton is as likely to get a place at Oxbridge as the very brightest sixth-formers at a large [public school]."

Though this study is from England, things in the United States aren't much different. My college roommate went to one of the poshest New England boarding schools, and she told me that there were a number of spots at Harvard earmarked for her private school's graduates. The counselor just had to pick and choose which kids should take those spots. Even considering the importance of a private school education if Harvard is your end game, is it worth fighting for your unborn child's rightful place at an Ivy league before they've even emerged from the womb?

The Brat Race: In Diapers And On A Day-Care Wait List [Wall Street Journal]
Fetuses Get Waitlisted [Huffington Post]
The Road To Meritocracy Is Blocked By Private Schools [Guardian]