It might seem as if the push to get into one of New York City’s most prestigious and pricey nursery schools is an old story, but quotes like these remind readers that it’s not just the city’s übercompetitive parents who are keeping the frenzy alive: “I will interview parents all night if I need to,” Wendy Levey, the director of the Epiphany Community Nursery School, told The New York Times.
The school has just 150 students ages 2-5. Levey and her school became well-known to viewers of the hilarious “Nursery University,” a documentary that a New York Times reviewer wryly noted would be well-received by those who “thrill to the sight of a preschool teacher bringing an investment banker to his knees.”
Levey’s comment about interviewing parents came in a story that described an “annual rite of Manhattan education … the crush of applicants to private nursery schools and kindergartens” that won’t take applications or even phone calls requesting them until the day after Labor Day.
One look at the competition and the prices — the 92nd Street Y, for example, will set parents back just under $15,000 for a three-day-a-week program for 2-year-olds, and just under $26,000 for a five-day program for 4- and 5-year-olds — might drive more reasonable parents to move to, say, Brooklyn. They might hope to live near a free public pre-kindergarten program.
Turns out, that is easier said than done. A story in the New York Daily News last week proclaimed getting into public school prekindergarten in certain Brooklyn neighborhods to be “harder than getting into Harvard,” while another noted that a record number of children were squeezed out of Brooklyn’s most popular — and crowded — pre-k programs.
Lesson? There’s a huge need for more high-quality pre-kindergarten programs — both public and private — to serve the many New Yorkers who want to raise their children in the city and give them the best possible start. Supply does not come close to meeting demand.