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If New York is anything it is a city of contrasts.  Great wealth side-by-side glaring poverty.

One of the most appalling aspects of life in New York is the struggle by the uber privileged to stay at the top of the heap.

This begins at birth.

This also begins with getting very average kids into the right pre-school. The competition (sweepstakes) is fierce--surreal.

I have not seen any scientific studies that demonstrate a correlation between inherited wealth and intellect. Yet, there is a popular misconception that these rich kids are also intellectually special.

This is bullshit. Their parents have money--lots and lots of money.

Lots of money changes hands during the annual ritual--the preschool tuition alone can run as much as $25,000 a year.  This does not include the PTA donations which are also part of the admissions deal.

In New York, this is a game of, for and about the super rich.

Hence, like George Bush, many of these very ordinary kids are dragged by their fawning parents across the finish line.

The finish line in this instance is Harvard, Yale, or Columbia.

In New York the battle to keep what you have and accumulate more and equally important, have your offspring accumulate more begins and ends with attending the "right" schools.

Two test preparers to the wealthy have spilled the beans and written  roman à clefs. One is called Academy X, the other Glamorous Disasters. They are both set in a private-school culture so obsessed with college admissions that it has turned education into a customer-service business.

The current issue of New York Magazine has a Q and A with these two speakers of the truth:

How a Kid Is Like an IPO
A teacher at an elite prep school and an uptown SAT tutor tell all
.

Tell all, indeed.

Getting these kids of affluence prepped and ready is more like fitting a round peg into a square hole.

How many of these private-school students have SAT tutors on the side?
Eliot: At a school like Horace Mann, I'd say at least 50 percent.
Andy: It's more that new money will really crank up the college insanity. There's greater desperation. Kids become proxies for the parents to carry on their status wars.

http://newyorkmetro.com/...

For those of you who don't live in New York, Horace Mann is considered the #1 private school in the city. These already privileged kids who have been handed everything in life (think George Bush) require even more.

But the kids must absorb this stress.
E: They're worried about losing what they grew up with. They're caught between fear and ambition.

The kids are packaged and sold.

Are the stakes higher now that it's even harder to get into college?
A: Today they take a business-consulting model and apply it to education. It's like putting together an IPO.

. . .It's not increasing knowledge. Parents want their child to get into a certain school and have a certain amount of wealth and power afterward. So they bring in the consultant to best achieve that goal. I would analyze the situation, come up with a plan, and we would go ahead and map it out. We'd be like, the verbal has to go up x amount, the math x amount. You feel as though you should have a PowerPoint display behind you.

...Are the schools supposed to be a part of this plan?
A: Yes, and the parents don't help. A friend who teaches at another private school told me that a teacher there received a letter on a parent's legal stationery from his law firm after his son got a bad grade in the class.

They learn the time-honored American value how to cheat at a young age.

In your book, a mother tries to pay the protagonist to take the SAT for her child. Did that ever happen to you?
E: Not directly, but I did find out about a student who was paid $5,000 a pop to take the SAT for other students, and he took it month after month. It's remarkably easy to do. You just get a fake ID. If it's good enough to get you into a club, it's probably good enough to get past a proctor for the SAT.

Mark my words, there will be a backlash.  I have two friends, they are both married to Chinese women.  They are teaching their children how to read, write and speak Mandarin.

These ahead-of-the-curve families, who are working hard and playing by the rules and their children, will be the leaders of tomorrow.  Not the packaged slop of the super wealthy.

Originally posted to nyceve on Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is really nice (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    philgoblue, nyceve, sfgb, libertyisliberal

    It's high time someone blew the whistle on this little slice of our sad, cheating culture.

  •  92nd St. Y (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rgilly, vinifera, nyceve, libertyisliberal

    For me, it's all about the Schadenfreude, because these people are miserable, miserable, miserable.

    "Get your hands off our Internet" -- U.S. phone and cable companies, to bloggers and independent Internet content producers

    by bink on Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:31:15 AM PDT

    •  However (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nyceve

      I must admit that many, if not most, of these folks in New York -- I'm thinking about the Horace Mann parents/UES set -- are very good Dems and they give a lot of money to candidates and the party.

      "Get your hands off our Internet" -- U.S. phone and cable companies, to bloggers and independent Internet content producers

      by bink on Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:32:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Even worse, bink . . . (0+ / 0-)

      what we call pond scum.

      •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyceve

        It's pretty gross.  And it just keeps getting worse and worse in Manhattan.  To think that I actually lived on the Upper East Side at one time!  Hah.  Well ...  As I said above, these folks tend to be the "elite liberals" who understand that the system that set them up needs care and feeding in order to perpetuate what they have.

        That's better than nothing.

        "Get your hands off our Internet" -- U.S. phone and cable companies, to bloggers and independent Internet content producers

        by bink on Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:33:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Even Worse Than You Think. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TrueBlueMajority, DemInCville, nyceve

          Parents actually trying to give their kids every advantage. That is an outrage. It is completely Bush's doing, of that there can be no doubt.

          But you do have to wonder why Manhattan parents - registered 5-1 Democratic - insist on spending $25,000 a year (and that's just for starters) to send their kids to private (read predominately white) schools when NYC spends $15,000 per student per year to provide every child in Manhattan with a free comprehensive public education.

          The NYT provided a partial answer to this question the other day in a piece on the dustup on the Upper West Side over the changes in the public school "gifted and talented" programs.

          As everyone knows, the UWS public school parents always exuded a grating moral superiority over the UES parents who sent their kids to private schools.

          Last week, however, the Times quoted one UWS mother whose child, under the new rules, didn't make the PS84 "gifted and talented" cut as saying she didn't see how she could continue to send her child to PS84 since he wouldn't "feel comfortable" in classrooms which were only "2% white".

          So there you have it. The NYT inadvertently revealed the secret of the Upper West Side public school crowd. Before the recent changes, all the white kids on the UWS public schools were segregated into the "gifted & talented" program and all the poor minority kids got shunted elsewhere.

          No that that's no longer the case, the UWS public school crowd are pulling every string to get their kids out of the "2% white" public schools and into the predominately white private schools.  

          Hypocrisy, as always, runs rampant.

    •  My kid (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ablington, Newsie8200, nyceve, srkp23, juliesie

      goes to private school in Manhattan.  Generalizing everyone who does so as "these people" and "miserable" is remarkably narrow-minded and the kind of thinking that progressives would lambaste conservatives for doing.  I am proud of my kid and her intelligence and want to give her every chance to succeed in life (short of cheating).  What parent wouldn't do that ?

      I am also a liberal who gives generously to Democratic candidates.  

      Keep some perspective people.  

  •  I know someone... (4+ / 0-)

    Who goes to a great Public school in Mamaroneck, NY.  It's amazing how crazy the kids get about test scores and placement, and how much it makes them lash out against their own parents.  College admissions is their life and they get extremely stressed about it.  According to my friend, nearly 50-60% of students, if not more, have their own tutors for the SAT test.  Here in Wisconsin, I would be extremely surprised to find anyone that has a tutor.  

    It's bad.  The system doesn't work as is.  The wealthy have the advantage and yet they still obsess.

    •  It's not new (0+ / 0-)

      I went to a public school in Rockland County (near NY, lots of commuters) in the sixties. In the AD ("advanced") classes, the focus among the students was totally on grades and college admission. After a test it was always, "What did you get?" not "What would be correct?" It nearly drove me crazy and my parents let me take refuge in a NY private school that was far saner. It had very little internal competition and a strong focus on academics for their own sake (St. Hilda and St. Hugh's, Episcopal day school).

      "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

      by Wee Mama on Wed May 24, 2006 at 07:05:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The transmission of cultural capital (13+ / 1-)

    You need to read Pierre Bourdieu and his thesis on the transmission of cultural and social capital through material capital (money).  He examines the question in an extraordinarily elegant manner.  All this isn't just happening, it is actually a way in which to maintain the elite status of a certain class.  And as much as you want it (and I want it) the children learning Chinese are not going to be ahead of the curve, not unless something important changes in our society - because social capital (networks built up from being in the right schools, talking with the right people - and cultural capital - knowing the rules of the game - trumps human capital - abilities - in our superficial society every time.  It is how Bush became president, how members of our press corps got to their positions.

    •  I always wanted to know what it is like (13+ / 0-)

      to go through life without worrying about if you have a roof over your head or eating a meal. Having worked in other countries where children go without food for days, it never ceases to amaze me how the people in this country who have the most, complain the most about other people. Case in point, immigration, busing, minorities, tax breaks, where to eat in Paris, not having enough help to manage their affairs, labor, how often to get botox injections, not getting the seats in the right luxury boxes at the Meadowlands, having to put up with people of new wealth, what jeans to buy that make their ass look better than whoever. Then I think back to a little boy I once saw die in his mother's arms because she had no more milk in her breasts to feed him. Rickets, flies, locusts, you name it, these children face it everyday of their existence.  Then I remember what someone of great wealth who lives on Central Park East once said to me, "it's not my fault people are poor." Great diary.

      •  yes, although I do not (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyceve, sfgb

        have your wealth of world experiences, it has been my observation (here in the good ol' USA) that the people who complain the most are the ones who have the least to complain about.

        •  Inverted Maslow's hierarchy of needs... (0+ / 0-)

          where the self"ish"-actualized:

             * Avoid the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) denying or avoiding them.
             * Are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
             * Are derivative, following the crowd.
             * Are interested in solving only their problems; Solving these "problems" is often a key focus in their lives.
             * Feel a alienation from other people, and generally covet the lives of others.
             * Have a system of morality that is fully co-opted by the marketers of products to the elite, the higher-level "keeping up with the Jones".
             * Judge with prejudice, in a way that can be termed subjective.

          People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression: I hope it's gonna be alright... Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

          by rgilly on Wed May 24, 2006 at 08:26:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And this is why NCLB is bullshit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rgilly, nyceve

      To think that the underclass, by passing a very low-level exam on reading and math, will somehow close "the gap" with the affluent is flat-out bullshit.  The wealthy have so many advantages when it comes to education--camps, tutors, alumni status, enrichment activities, etc-- that there will be no way for even the middle class to touch them, let alone the poor.

      We need to call out the "achievement gap" narrowing meme of NCLB for what it is:  pure propaganda by the wealthy Republican cultists that has no basis in reality.

      Education? Teaching? NCLB? Read my book _Becoming Mr. Henry_

      by Mi Corazon on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:23:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and this is why affirmative action is fair (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, Mi Corazon, tjb22

        when a minority child without all the advantages manages to work hard on his or her own, without camps, without tutors, without alumni relatives, without enrichment activities, and manages to get grades and SAT scores just under the threshhold set by kids with all the advantages, it makes sense that that achievement should result in a college admission.

        "Merit-based" conservatives often say that anyone with a score under a certain level should be rejected, period, completely disregarding the character and hard work that they usually claim to value so highly.  But someone who scores 1400 and gets within striking distance of the qualifying line while laboring under a series of cultural handicaps should IMO be applauded and rewarded much more highly than someone who scores 1500 but had every possible advantage that money and connections could provide.

        That's my $0.02.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 24, 2006 at 07:41:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  reminds me of The Nanny Diaries (4+ / 0-)

    I read The Nanny Diaries and actually cried at one point because of the level of abuse the uber-rich heaped onto their children.

    Why is it that people who will be passing on estates and social standing to their kids take no pains to insure a decent relationship with said children?  No wonder the 19th century aristocrats had so much trouble with "dissipation" and irresponsibility among their children.  The kids grew up barely knowing their parents and caring little for them, and it seems to be the same with the uber-rich today.

    I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

    by vinifera on Wed May 24, 2006 at 05:47:18 AM PDT

  •  the uber-wealthy won't become uber-scientists, (10+ / 0-)

    uber-teachers or uber-doctors - They'll the be uber-wheeler dealers making billions off the labor of citizens who are actually contributing to society. Then they'll turn arond and bitch about the under-educated workforce while at the same time trying to get tax breaks for the education of their uber-brats and cutting funding to public schools.

    So damn short-sighted...

    •  And some scheme the system (0+ / 0-)

      In the early 90s, my daughter's college roommate received total financial aide. The roommate's parents were divorced and only the mother's income was submitted. The roommate's father is a surgeon and the mother is a nurse. Yes, the father contributed to the education by giving the daughter a new computer, very generous spending money and so on.

  •  has there ever been a study.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyceve

    on the rate of suicide and drug addiction among the children of the 'uber rich' vs the children of working America???

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:03:41 AM PDT

    •  anecdotal, but.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nyceve

      I grew up near Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is a very wealthy community-- and I once read it had the highest alcohol use among teenagers of any place in the country.  Of course, another contributing factor is that they simply have nothing to do, relative to kids in Manhattan or LA or Chicago.

      I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

      by vinifera on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:11:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  uber rich kids in LA, NYC and Chi (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        libertyisliberal

        have incredibly easy access to mass quantities of harmful designer drugs..and how many times can you spend ALL night at the latest club, restaurant, hangout, opening, fashion show etc etc etc before it all just becomes a flood of irrelevance....

        one can be as bored with life in manhattan as in rural gated communities

        "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

        by KnotIookin on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:24:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hope you're right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rgilly, nyceve, libertyisliberal

    This country has elected "packaged slop" twice now.

  •  wishful thinking.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfgb, paige

    ... that working hard and playing by the rules will move you to the head of the line.  The probabilities work against you unless you go to the elite private prep schools, elite universities for under and grad school, and then get on the partner track at big consulting or law firm.  The filter works at every level, and each successive layer makes "the hard working rule follower" without the pedigree increasingly unlikely to be in a position to lead.  Sorry dude.

    •  Oh, I don't know (0+ / 0-)

      I work for one of the top professional graduate schools in the country. Many, many of the students we admit have undergraduate degrees from state schools  and lesser-known institutions. They are bright and hard-working and a lot of them go into great debt to get themselves through our program. Of course, we also admit a lot of Ivy Leaguers, but my point is that you don't have to have a pedigree to get into the upper echelon. It definitely helps, but it's not a deal-killer if you don't.

      First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mohandas Gandhi

      by trueblue illinois on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:31:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Professional Graduate School Myth (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rgilly, DemInCville, nyceve

        It is not the schools themselves that are important, it is the social connections that you make there.  I have a relative who was working in sales at a major corporation with an engineering degree.  He saw what was going on in the stock market and wanted to get in on it.  He had absolutely no background and was going up against people with financial degrees from top universities.  Yet he was chosen out of thousands to be part of the entry-level program at a major Bond House.  He got chosen because of his social connections.  He was chosen out of the hundreds in the entry level program to stay with the House - because of his connection.  Now most people would have worried about leaving such a good job (and it was good) to compete in a field where you have no experience.  This relative had no worries at all.  He knew he had the connections.

      •  And that "great debt" (0+ / 0-)
        will likely severely limit the life choices of most.
      •  If your in Illinois... (0+ / 0-)

        You might work at the University of Chicago which has a well deserved reputation for taking "chances" on students without the traditional Ivy pedigree.  But even there, the odds are long for a public schooled kid.  And especially so for a poor public schooled kid.  Elsewhere, well it truly takes both a miracle and an incredibly talented person to make it.  Just count the noses and do the math....

  •  This diary should be cross-referenced (5+ / 0-)

    with the diary on the rec list about being on the wrong side of white privilege. Comments 8, 9, and 11 above discuss social capital and touch on network theory, which are essential components that perpetuate white privilege.  I highly recommend both these diaries in tandem.  What wonderful, thought-provoking diaries.  Kudos to NYCEVE and ChicagoDem.

  •  Not quite (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemInCville, nyceve, libertyisliberal

    The finish line in this instance is Harvard, Yale, or Columbia.

    Wrong. The finish line is Goldman Sachs.

    "If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you." - George Bernard Shaw

    by thales on Wed May 24, 2006 at 06:35:06 AM PDT

  •  It's not the 'uber rich' it's the ultra greedy! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyceve, libertyisliberal

    I'd rather call it what it is, greed, the main driver of our economic system. In a cesspool, the big ones always rise to the top.

    I think they should be segregated into their own communities, and attend their special schools. It's best they don't mix with the rest of us, their values are too contagious.

    It is disturbing that they get into positions of power, though. I don't know why we let that happen.

  •  Jack Grubman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyceve

    Story here:

    Jack Grubman is a telecom analyst for Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney. He is also the father of twins he wanted to enroll in Manhattan's 92nd Street Y, home of a prestigious nursery school that is supposedly harder to get into than Harvard. In 1999, Grubman, who wasn't particularly excited about AT&T as an investment, had rated the company's stock as "neutral." However, in early 1999 Sanford Weill, chairman of Citigroup, asked Grubman to take a "fresh look" at AT&T. Grubman began a review but also stated in an email that was titled "AT&T and the 92nd Street Y" that he'd love Weill's help in getting his twins in to the Y's preschool. Shortly after the memo was written, Grubman upgraded AT&T's stock to "buy." Not long after the upgrade, Salomon won some lucrative AT&T business. At about the same time, Citigroup gave $1 million, spread over five years, to the 92nd Street Y, and the Grubman twins were admitted to the preschool.

    •  Story (4+ / 0-)

      I remember this story ...

      I also remember that it actually ended "badly" for the Grubman twins, in that they ended up being shunned by the very elite schools that their father was trying to get them into.

      At any rate ...

      When I was growing up, my parents did not focus on transferring their advantages to me by "getting me into the right schools" and such.  They focused on transmitting to me the skills that I would need to be a happy and productive person in society, whatever my life decisions might have been.

      This meant:

      • Youth soccer
      • Boy scouts
      • Music lessons
      • School newspaper
      • Church activities
      • Camping, fishing, hiking
      • Coin collecting, etc.

      And the usual mowing of lawns, watering of gardens, household chores and learning of responsibilities.

      Maybe I was among the last of the last generation who got this sort of traditional middle class upbringing that wasn't about waving flashy status symbols around and driving your mother's BMW to school in the mornings.

      My point about these people being miserable is that I spent two years living in a neighborhood with belligerant dads and nervous, anorectic rich mommies screeching at store clerks day in and day out on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The lifestyles that people lived exuded misery.

      And the kids were out of control and tortured the parents for it.

      It was terrible/awesome.

      A lot of "just desserts" being served.

      "Get your hands off our Internet" -- U.S. phone and cable companies, to bloggers and independent Internet content producers

      by bink on Wed May 24, 2006 at 07:20:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Education was, is and (4+ / 0-)

    will continue to be our society's tool to preserve the social order...from top to bottom, kids are groomed for the station it is presumed they will occupy in life.  Its probably one of our surest ways of keeping money,power  and privilege in the same hands, generation after generation.  It also keeps the rest of us in our place.  Can't have the unwashed masses really competing, you know...just let us all believe that we really aren't as deserving.

    •  The day laborer contingent service... (0+ / 0-)

      class work on modern-day latifundia and public works projects...citoyen journeymen tinkers fix the residential plumbing and home repairs...low level scribes process data and perform system backups...symbolic thinkers take care of the higher-level esoterica...and the elite of the coporate-military-industrial-political reap the high-value marginal income...

      Welcome to Rome 2006!

      People in Eurasia on the brink of oppression: I hope it's gonna be alright... Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

      by rgilly on Wed May 24, 2006 at 08:36:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Estate and Capital Gains Taxes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rgilly

    A dimension that has been added to this equation since Bush took office has been the rollbacks and repeals in estate and capital gains taxes. These taxes were designed DELIBERATELY to redistribute excessive wealth back into the government, and then back into the economic engine.

    Removing this source of revenue for the government is the financial equivelant of turning off the Altantic Ocean saltwater current - it can only lead to another economic ice age like we had after the 1929 market crash.

  •  Some of the nicest people I've ever met (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    went to those NYC private schools (most paid their way; one went on scholarship). They were damn smart, humble, and absolutely deserving of all the success that they've had in life. Quite frankly, just about all of the kids who get into Ivy League schools really are that smart and work incredibly hard. The money and connections help, but many of them would probably do really well without the money.

    Some of the generalizing in this thread is very un-progressive-like.

    Visit my blog Penndit. Media, politics, campaigns, and political communications.

    by Newsie8200 on Wed May 24, 2006 at 08:19:19 AM PDT

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