Is Avenues the Best Education Money Can Buy?
My mom sent this to me and let me tell you, this scared me more about raising kids in New York than anything I’ve ever heard or read. And M. IS a Dalton legacy! (And for the record: public school and proud of it. Though my parents always made sure to get me into the ‘good’ public schools — first Spanish Immersion, then the state arts school.)
First, a bit of background. Avenues is a new, for-profit private school catering to:
entrepreneurs and tech millionaires, talent agents and fashion designers, Katie Holmes, hedge-fund managers and artists who refuse to live above 23rd Street.
(Yes, Suri goes there.)
It’s the kind of place with a Chuck Close self-portrait on the wall and endless parent meetings about feeding the kids too much bread. All this can be yours for $43,000 a year. That is, if your kid can get in. Admission is somewhat easier than the old-school private schools but only somewhat (good god, how many zillionaires can one city hold??).
…but for many among a new generation of wealthy New York parents without legacy roots at Horace Mann or Brearley, Avenues, without any legacy of its own, was a welcome option. Trinity accepted only 3.6 percent of nonlegacy, nonsibling kindergarten applicants for entry this fall. (By comparison, freshman acceptance into Harvard was 5.8 percent.) Jacquie Hemmerdinger, from the A.P.A., recalls trying to get her 4-year old twin daughters into Dalton for kindergarten. When they went to the parent interview, the admissions director, Elisabeth (Babby) Krents, held up the essay Hemmerdinger had written about her girls, covered in red ink. Who wrote this? Krents asked. “I got all hot and sweaty,” Hemmerdinger says. “I thought it was a bunch of typos.” Krents then told her that it was the best essay she had read that admissions season. (“I teared up,” Hemmerdinger remembers.) Her girls scored well on the kindergarten entrance exam, and Krents told her that they also fit the school’s need for diversity. She and her husband, a real estate developer, lived in a sprawling Georgian revival house on a tree-lined street that happens to be in Queens. Either way, they never got into Dalton. Avenues was happy to take them.
The thing that makes me laugh the most about that is that just living in Queens is considered diverse.