the preschool elephant in the room

So lets just put it out there: Feeder Schools (preschools that feed the Independent elementary schools). How big a deal is this? Here is my take.

1. In Brooklyn all of the private ongoing schools, including Jewish and Catholic programs have preschool programs of their own, which for many is their "main entry" for elementary school (the exception in Hannah Senesh which begins at k).

2. In Brooklyn, unlike in Manhattan, we pick Independent Schools by location, not by philosophy. It seems crazy to my Manhattan counterparts, that families are applying to Saint Ann's AND to Packer. Both are awesome schools, but very different. Families say, "I love them both for different reasons, and I will be very happy with either, if I am lucky enough to get in." We don't have enough schools here with any one approach to pick between a variety of elementary schools.

3. The Independent Schools have traditionally taken a wide variety of children from a multitude of neighborhoods, Midwood, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Lefferts Gardens and everywhere in between and beyond. The Independents are not picking preschools, they are picking kids (really families) at this point. Why on earth would they have a quota to fill from any particular school when so many awesome families are coming from such diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn?

4. Some lovely, long standing preschools have very long standing relationships with the various admissions offices. It is short hand for admissions to know how the child coming from a specific school will be prepared. Also, the Director of a specific preschool can advocate on behalf of a family to a colleague in the Admissions Office. They can have conversations about the family that no one else can have (their relationship will be much longer lived than any relationship that you have with the school). The problem is that there are so many kids and they are coming from a very wide range of preschools, that placement in any one preschool is definitely NOT a guarantee to any Independent. And I talk to preschool directors who are very sad that so many of their families don't get the placements that their families really want. I see new preschool programs with interesting and motivated families who seem to be recognized by the Independents overnight. It is not the school - it is the kid and the family that gets the placement.