“Why are some tuition dollars worth more than other tuition dollars?”â€”said over overpriced tea.
A funny thing happens as soon as the crisp Fall air starts to roll in, making our mornings nippy and our evenings darker and cooler. And no, I’m not talking about the static electricity that has arrived and will continue to plague my hair through the end of May. Oh no. I mean, of course, like the static, this funny thing is not really all that funny at all. As kids in Ontario head back to school the day after labor day (read: in 5 days. Eep!), mothers of children in private Jewish day schools wait impatiently by their mailboxes for the admit-to-class cards. These golden tickets are both proof that you have written out all the post-dated tuition checks for the year (my poor, poor bank account is crying real tears this week) and they are the all-important indicators of whether or not your campaigning for the RIGHT class and the RIGHT teacher has paid off. Along with some vital emergency contact information, there is a card with a number on it.
The number, to parents like me, is a number. Oh, Isabella is in Room 208. Right then, let’s move on to laundry and dinner and school supplies and the rules of Mah Jong.
The numberâ€”to other parentsâ€”means something entirely different. Jewish mothers, by nature, know that the fruit of their loins are unique snowflakes. Now, I really don’t want to go and single out the Jewish mothers, as I’m sure this is true across the board of many different cultures and faiths. Mothers truly and fully believe that their children are the best, the smartest, the nicest, the most-like-to-succeed. Because of this, it’s important for mothers to make sure their wee snowflakes don’t fall through any cracks. This requires a tremendous amount of time and work; this business of figuring out who is the most desirable teacher and who are the most desirable kids.
A friend admitted to only agreeing to be on a certain school committee if she could hand-pick the classes her daughters would be in.
A friend admitted to befriending influential people in the school to get what she wanted.
A friend admitted toÂ threateningÂ to pull her children out of the school if they didn’t get placed with xxx and xxx.
A friend admitted to fabricating certain special needs of her child to get the room number she wanted.
See what I mean? This is WORK. This takes TIME. This takes a certain kind ofÂ craftinessÂ and ruthlessness I don’tÂ possess. I’m not saying they are wrong; many of these moms are very dear friends. I just, well, don’t do this.
For me, at the end of the year, I filled out a friend-request form for each of my children. I asked for each of my three children to be placed with one of their friends. That’s about as involved as I get in this process. This does not mean that I love my children any less.
When I opened our admit-t0-class cards early this week, I looked at the numbers, I shot off some “hey, what class is your kid in?” emails, and filed the cards away in a place Iâ€”hopefullyâ€”will remember. But the Jewish mothers? THEY ARE AFLUTTER! Did you get into the right class? Did your kids get the right teachers? I don’t even know who the teachers are! They didn’t give me names…they gave me NUMBERS. And unless Isabella’s teacher’s name is Room 208, I will find out on Tuesday who her teachers are. (Apparently, though, she didn’t get into the RIGHT class.)
It is naive of me to think that the school spends time and energy to place each student with each teacher based on strengths and weaknesses and skills and appropriateness?Â I mean, my $45,000 checks would certainly guess that to be the case.
Is there something I’m missing here? While I am spending time working and vacationing and spending as much time as I can with my kids…should I really be spending more time getting my daughter into the right first grade class? Is her life going to be LESS if she doesn’t have Mrs. Miller….whoever that is?
But maybe my friend is right. Maybe some tuition dollars ARE worth more than others.
I wonder what theirs is worth?