Forget Tiger Moms, Make Way For the Tiffany Moms: NY Woman Sues Preschool For Failing To Prepare 4-Year-Old for Ivy League

As entrance in top schools has become more and more competitive, parents are becoming more aggressive in seeking to guarantee every advantage for their children. In the case of Nicole Imprescia, this means going to court to sue a school over its failure to prepare her daughter for the Ivy League. Her daughter, Lucia, is four. The school is the York Avenue Preschool. It seems that there are “Tiger Moms” but then there are “Tiffany Moms.”

The preschool is $19,000 a year and Imprescia insists that she paid the money because (and this is actually in the filing) “[i]t is no secret that getting a child into the Ivy League starts in nursery school.” Imprescia insists that the pre-school was not grooming Lucia for the Ivy League but simply letting her play with friends.

The filing also notes “[s]tudies have shown entry into a good nursery school guarantees more income than entry into an average school.” Wow.

Imprescia insists that the school should have been prepping Lucia for the intelligence test known as the E.R.B. and that she has fallen behind her competitors among the four-year-old crowd.

I know little about the E.R.B. and my wife and I are committed to supporting the public school system. While we have had serous concerns over class size in Fairfax County, we believe strongly in reinforcing the public school system. With Madie completing kindergarten, it now appears that I have already missed the window for top schools and probably set her on a course for a penal institution. On the other hand, she just made a really really cool Leperechaun trap.

Source: NY Times and first seen on ABA Journal

Jonathan Turley

83 thoughts on “Forget Tiger Moms, Make Way For the Tiffany Moms: NY Woman Sues Preschool For Failing To Prepare 4-Year-Old for Ivy League”

  1. Mike said:

    “I was dumbfounded that the segment heaped much praise on this school and its Principal, only to reveal that this “brilliant idea” wasn’t working . . .”

    I too saw the program and agree with many of your thoughts.

    I would – however – like to know more about whether those kids were:

    1. Developing better study habits
    2. Growing more confident in their abilities
    3. Better equipped to dodge the truly crappy outside school
    4. More likely to become more humane “people”
    5. Lower than their neighborhoods teen pregnancy rate

    I, too, am curious as to why the kids didn’t score better than the public schools averages. That’s interesting.

    But their social IQs could be soaring, which, if true, gives them a better foundation for success than they might have gotten otherwise.

    I personally don’t see the wisdom of tossing a teacher into a radically new school and them tossing them out after a single year. It could take that long just to acclimate to those “80-hour” weeks.

    So now I wanna know more about that school.

  2. SwM,

    I’m not criticizing private schools … if our public system here weren’t as good as it is, I would have placed my children in a private school.

  3. There are private schools with many different missions as you illustrate, Otteray Scribe. It is no longer necessarily about elitism. Parochial schools usually are not that elite either with students from diverse socio-economic backrounds. Some elitists attend public schools in all white suburbs with huge property bases such as New Trier or Highland Park High School here.

  4. Buddha,
    I am a little late to the get well party since I was in the Windy City most of the day. However, Get well soon and try some Bushmills and have a toast in Mespo’s honor and that should clear up the kidneys real quick. If it doesn’t work Mad Dog 20/20 will clean out those kidneys for good!
    How can anyone spend $19,000 for a PRE-SCHOOL? OMG!

  5. My youngest daughter has a learning disability. When she was only seven months old, she was diagnosed with cancer and needed a lengthy course of chemotherapy until she was two years old. That stuff is poison to the growing brain. When she was five, we had her tested by a leading child psychologist who is a long time friend. I knew he would be honest with us. He told us she would probably learn to read to about the third grade level and that would be about it. Our solution was to enroll her in a private school that specialized in working with LD kids. Instead of trying to teach her phonics, they teach reading by sight reading.

    Long story short, she still has a math problem. On the other hand, she types over 100 wpm, plays the bagpipes, can fly a plane and shoots a tight group with a pistol on the range. And the child who was not supposed to learn to read beyond the third grade will graduate from a local community college with a double major in business and criminal justice. She went there on a scholarship. I am a supporter of private schools if they help kids with learning problems.

    On the other hand, my oldest son is a total product of the public school system. when he applied to medical school, he was accepted by a couple of Ivy League schools, but elected to go to a small free-standing medical school. His reasoning after going to interview was that the big schools would treat him like a cypher and at the small school he got both intensity and the professor’s attention. He is very successful now as a physician and is very good at what he does.

    The thing both my kids experienced that shaped them so well was very small classes with a lot of individual attention. My daughter was in the sixth grade before she was in a class with more than eight students.

    And in case anyone is wondering, she is now cancer free. I wish that were the case for my grandson.

  6. Mike Spindell:

    some of what you say is true, but I know a few public school teachers and we talk about this all the time.

    From what I can gather, maybe Elaine M. could chime in and let me know if I am on the right track or just talking trash, these are areas of concern:

    1. lack of parental participation
    2. centralized planning from the state with little local control
    3. teaching to state standards of learning
    4. it is too hard to fire teachers who truly are under performing.
    5. kids not prepared to learn for whatever reason.

    These are not necessarily arranged in order of importance nor a comprehensive list of problems.

    Out of all of it though, it seems to me parents who put a premium on education and support the teachers, typically have well performing children.

  7. There are some very good public schools and some very good private schools. Just because a school is private does not make it better. When we moved to Texas, I did not not know much about private schools but I quickly learned.

  8. Blouise, Many of the Catholic schools are owned by the diocese, but there are also private Catholic schools that are operated by religious orders. A Jesuit operated school is an example of this. The secular private schools have no religious affiliation.

  9. Gyges:

    “Well now that’s embarrassing, I’m just going to blame auto-correct and an accidental purchase of de-cafe coffee:

    “…the difference between correlation and causation.””

    You should not have mentioned it, I thought it was what you meant to say as a play on words. Coloration and causation, beautiful. Since we were talking about 4 year olds.

  10. We have always had “private” schools funded by religions … Catholic and Lutheran seemed to predominate in Northern Ohio along with a couple of excellent private schools funded by Quakers.

    What is the difference between these religious private schools and secular private schools?

  11. Mike S.,

    I saw that program too. I came away with the same feeling.

    Have you seen the movie Waiting for Superman?


    Diane Ravitch On The Daily Show Talks Teacher Bashing, Education Reform

    From The New York Review of Books
    The Myth of Charter Schools
    Waiting for “Superman”
    a film directed by Davis Guggenheim
    November 11, 2010
    Diane Ravitch

    Ordinarily, documentaries about education attract little attention, and seldom, if ever, reach neighborhood movie theaters. Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman” is different. It arrived in late September with the biggest publicity splash I have ever seen for a documentary. Not only was it the subject of major stories in Time and New York, but it was featured twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was the centerpiece of several days of programming by NBC, including an interview with President Obama.

    Two other films expounding the same arguments—The Lottery and The Cartel—were released in the late spring, but they received far less attention than Guggenheim’s film. His reputation as the director of the Academy Award–winning An Inconvenient Truth, about global warming, contributed to the anticipation surrounding Waiting for “Superman,” but the media frenzy suggested something more. Guggenheim presents the popularized version of an account of American public education that is promoted by some of the nation’s most powerful figures and institutions.

    The message of these films has become alarmingly familiar: American public education is a failed enterprise. The problem is not money. Public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The only hope for the future of our society, especially for poor black and Hispanic children, is escape from public schools, especially to charter schools, which are mostly funded by the government but controlled by private organizations, many of them operating to make a profit.

  12. I, on the other hand, attended a Catholic academy in Indiana, starting at age 5. Jesuits. Mass in Latin; Stand up when called upon. Coats & ties.

    Then I went to a public high school.

    I thought the Catholics were right all along.

    I’d died & gone to heaven. No more homework.

    And even though I’ve turned my back completely on the Catholic Church, I do appreciate the Latin education.

    Couldn’t have made it through med programs without it.

  13. There was an interesting story on 60 Minutes this past weekend, which carried an anti-teachers union undertone. It was about a charter school in the Bronx for disadvantaged children up to the fifth grade. The gimmick was that the teachers were paid $125,000
    per year, but had no Union and no tenure. The man who started it was a 34 year old former teacher, who obviously got some corporate backing.

    They showed many seemingly inspired classroom scenes and emphasized that there was a constant evaluation of each teacher’s progress. The teachers worked about 70-80 hours per week, what with lesson plans, evaluation sessions and team meetings. In the course of the filming of the segment over a period of time, two of the teachers (who had begun work at the start of the school year) were fired for what was said to be poor performance at year’s end. The Principal/founder was adamant about the need to produce and for the teaching production to be quantified.

    The most interesting part came at the end, though was somewhat glossed over. It seems that on standardized tests this charter school’s student performed worse than the average public school
    with students with similar backgrounds. When asked whether he should be fired for under performing the Principal blithely replied that any new idea such as his should perhaps be given four years of study.

    I was dumbfounded that the segment heaped much praise on this school and its Principal, only to reveal that this “brilliant idea” wasn’t working and that accountability, as usual in organizations, was only expected from those on the bottom of the hierarchy.

    The whole private school scam is about class and disdain for having one’s children in a situation beneath their social class.
    I don’t believe the education is better, only the hype and the status accrued. Teacher’s Unions are not to blame for the failings in the Public Schools, those are due to Administrators and Politicians who talk a good game, but really care little for our children.

  14. James M.,

    Many people of means–it doesn’t matter if their money is “old” or “new”–send their children to expensive private schools so their children can socialize with the “right kind” of people–and to keep their progeny away from the rabble.

  15. Prof, kudos on your support for public education. My own parents sent me to public school in Jackson, Mississippi, beginning in 1970 when most other white parents were sending their kids to seg academies. It was difficult for us all, but I am forever grateful that Mom&Dad did what they did. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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