Searching NYC High Schools

There is a phenomenon in NYC when u hit 8th grade which is about 20% of each class decides to move another high school. It is not something most school’s talk about. Yet, if you are in a school that only goes to 8th grade, u have no choice but to look elsewhere. Our school, which does go to 12th grade, has been losing kids for years once they hit 8th grade. That is changing as our school is changing – more rigor, accountability, etc. but looking has been part of the culture.

So, we have had the pleasure of looking at other schools. It is very illuminating. But, it is always fun to shop and look and hear what else is out there. The question that u have to ask yourself is “can i see myself here”?

The one thing that I find interesting is the questions of the parents at these forums. Now mind u, our kid is in 8th grade, 13 years old so that gives me the basis for forming opinions on the parental questions. Questions are: What do the kids get on SAT scores here? How many AP courses are there? How do you help them get into college? Granted, these are all good questions but again, can u see yourself in this institution for 4 years?

I guess what I am trying to get at is the pressure and expectations that are put on 13 year olds to perform. There is no conversations about nurture and navigating the social scene. Can’t kids be kids for a little while more? Of course they will learn if u are sending them to a good institution. Of course they will be prepared to get into college – look at the list of colleges that this school sends kids to and if you are a concerned parent, you will help them get there.

I see so many parents pushing their kids to be something that they might not what to be. My brother refers to this as a different kind of welfare. Parents force their kids to take the path to go to the best college, the best university, the best sports program, the best everything but do they actually take into account the type of kid that they have? Maybe there kid is more arts oriented and that should be nurtured. Perhaps their kid doesn’t belong in a traditional type environment. I don’t believe that this is just happening in NYC but across the country.

At one point, I believe that there will be a backlash. The 60’s was a backlash. There was a war but there was also the social behavior of their 50’s parents that was unappealing to that generation. Will this generation say “enough, I just want to teach or be an artist”. I don’t know the answer but as I see the fear in parents eyes as they walk through the potential schools of their choice, I don’t see them looking out for their kid but looking out that their kid can compete in a world that perhaps is not allowing people and kids to be who they want to be and who they are.

It is like anything. People in the end will revert back to who they are, what they are comprised of. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could allow kids to hone themselves through life – right brain thinkers or left brain thinkers – instead of pushing them to be what they are supposedly supposed to be. That way, wouldn’t we have a much more interesting diverse group of people.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Karen E

    Since I had my own business in high school, my father would wonder what I would really get out of college. It was a useful counterpoint to my mother who came from a long Ivy line, and she herself was very Smith-in-the-early-60s and high-pressure about grades etc. I benefitted from both perspectives. Not many people at the top private high schools have a father asking, why exactly do you need to go to college?!

    Your kids sound like they have wonderful parents and grandparents, whose widely-varying perspectives provide a lot to lean on.