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Private School is for Suckers

Growing up, my husband and I were both “public school kids.” My adolescent scholastic surroundings were a surplus of public schools (10) within a 20 mile radius, all containing some degree of Blue Ribbon, International Baccalaureate, AP, insert buzz word that denotes the utmost academic pedigree. In turn, it was a no-brainer for my parents to blindly send me to the school down the street. And voilà, their kid was a ready-made genius (for free).

In my husband’s world, private school was a foreign concept geared towards the highfalutin “city slickers” who sent their kids off to a faraway land. In the small town where he grew up, there was one building, one school, and one option resulting in a school population of four thousand(+) kids his graduating year. As a result, he had no other option than learn from the chalkboard from which he was being taught.  

Despite our public school upbringings (although very different) we both attended top 20 colleges, his ranking slightly above mine in the national polls. But who’s keeping score?

Relocating from NYC where the norm was to place all of your unfertilized eggs on waiting lists at the schools of your choosing, seconds after you got your first period, I quickly realized this was not the Mid-South way. Refusing to conform, I stayed true to my Yankee roots, helicoptering into the Memphis school system school review process with charts, notebooks, and color coded sticky tabs in case I found myself in an emergency situation.

Fast forward 4 years, here we are shelling out some serious private school dough. 

The suburb of Memphis, where we currently reside, is rumored to have THE top public school system in the country (according to every person within a 15 mile radius of my house). Based on cold hard facts – the high school is ranked 1,342 in the country (out of roughly 20K). Not too shabby. Top 10% and the 11th best public high school in the state of TN. Look at you, silver medal recipient!

So why not cozy up to the idea of being in the top 10%? What exactly was it that we were looking for that led us to foolishly spew out thousands of dollars a year in private school tuition for our 4yr old?

Memphis Moms Blog girl at school

School Requirement #1: Everything should be tremendously over the top and utterly ridiculous:

- Example A:  2.5yr old aptitude tests.  Prove intelligence and worth by evaluating play dough ingestion habits and identification of colors when bribed with a lollipop.  

- Example B: Strict drop off rules. A professional “plucker” must take your pride and joy from their car seat into the classroom, as opposed to walking them in, thus ensuring no attachment issues. 3 yrs old is the right age to cut the cord…

- Example C: A bible length list of dress code requirements. For an extremely picky, opinionated, and overly emotional threenager, do not them settle for the “comfortable look.”  

School Requirement #2: Always ensure there are “Joneses” to keep up with.

- Example A:  When attending the first new parent orientation there should be at least one couple iron clad in matching Louis Vuitton unitards, phone cases, and his & hers purses to boot

-  Example B: Class parties should contain similar features to MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” as parents one-up each other by outlandishly delivering life sized chocolate (hearts, bunnies, Santas, menorahs, etc) and cronut birthday cakes filled with a live pony (for popping out and gifting purposes).

School Requirement #3: There should be no fewer than 25 school donation requests (per semester)  

- Example A: Upon paying school tuition, an instant email should ping your inbox welcoming you to the Disney World of Donation Land where “Every Dollar Counts”…

- Example B: Many dollars and a few days after being admitted, Donation Nation should be in full force, hitting up friends and family  with warm welcomes to “join the cause” and donate to your child’s school “as they feel necessary” #allsfairwhenitcomestoqualityeducation   

THE TRUTH: We’re suckers when it comes to top notch facilities, outstanding faculty, and unprecedented results…

  • The school library envelopes the kids in plush reading chairs and vibrant characters on the walls. The innovation lab (yup) is full of child engineers and is akin to a Silicon Valley think tank (as seen on TV). The tech center with its computers and digital enhancements far exceeds the digital capabilities of the billion dollar company for which I work.  
  • The teachers are recruited from all over the world and have undergone a rigorous evaluation throughout their hiring process, as well as extensive training throughout their tenure. Once hired, they remain with the school for decades. They know every child by name (and interest) and bring a smile to our child’s face with every mention.  
  • Throughout the first year at the school, our kid went from ground zero to scholar in spelling and writing. She was a grade-A-clinger who detested public settings. She has now become an independent, colorful person with the confidence and poise of Queen Elizabeth (what?).

Memphis Moms Blog girl at school

Maybe paying for school is not such an awful idea after all (as long as the Joneses cover our donation quota)…

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