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Carol Bainbridge

Cut-Throat Competition?

By February 26, 2008

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The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article called "Parents face cut-throat competition -- for kindergarten." Author Stephanie Banchero wrote about the very tough competition parents face as they attempt to get their children accepted into the top schools in the city. Banchero points out that the competition is not new to Chicago, but it is new for public schools. Previously, the competition had been for spots in private schools like the University of Chicago Lab School.

I certainly understand the desire of parents to get the best education for their children that they can manage, but when it costs more to go through the process of getting a five-year-old into kindergarten than it costs to get a teenager into Harvard, as one parent noted, something is certainly wrong. What concerns me, and what I think is wrong, is that nowhere in the article are the academic needs of any of the children mentioned. Nowhere. The focus is on the parents' attempts to get their children into the "best" schools. In other words, it's all about the parents.

Whenever I read articles like this, I just shudder. I know that stories with the focus on the parents rather than the children always seem to make it harder for parents of gifted kids to advocate for their children's needs. When the parent of a gifted child tries to convince others that her child needs more advanced work, she is more likely to get "the look." We all know what "the look" is. It's the look that tells us the listener thinks we are one of "those" parents, the ones who seem to be more interested in their own egos than in their children's needs -- the proverbial pushy parent.

I have never been one of "those" parents, but I've gotten that look more times than I care to remember. And all I've ever wanted is an academic environment that would help my son be the best he could be. Why should parents of gifted children be less entitled to working toward that goal than any other parent?
March 11, 2008 at 7:39 pm
(1) Amber says:

I absolutely agree. It is pathetic that so many parents forget that it is their child at stake, not their ego.

Unfortunately, on the other side, having been one of ‘those’ parents I know how frustrating it is when even the teachers won’t listen.

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