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Preschool Hell

Martin may go to preschool next year. I’m not sure yet. I’ve set up a few tours, though. There are 58 million preschools in my area, and they seem to fit into one of three categories: 1. church-run, 2. big-business-run, 3. college tuition-expensive ($10,000?!), but cool. Maybe this is just how preschool is–I went to one run by the town high school, and since this is my first foray into preschool-land since then, I am out of the loop. And not sure I want to be in it.

In a local magazine, area residents voted on their favorite preschools, so I decided to start there. One of them, after last week’s visit, will hereby be known as Preschool Hell.

I have, however, retained enough of my critical thinking skills, even after this visit, to realize that this place did seem like a safe, clean, fairly caring, and somewhat stimulating environment for children. A thirty minute tour and a meeting with someone who seemed to know how to push every one of my get-pissed-off-right-away buttons does not a fair and complete analysis of a preschool make. I have deliberately censored myself in casual conversations with people while discussing this place–but I don’t have to here. (And if they ask my honest opinion, they will get it.)

Fine. So why is it Preschool Hell?

Highlights of the tour by the owner-manager-corporate-hack-whatever-she-was:

1. She said “corporate” more times than should ever be said in a preschool. Corporate lesson plans, corporate standardized testing, corporate oversight, corporate offices, corporate menus, corporate brain implanted into her head . .

2. The bragging about some kind of crazy standardized testing that they do so that I can compare my child to all of their other students nationwide. Standardized testing, implemented how it is in the schools that I have taught at, makes me ill. I don’t intend to start with it in pre-kindergarten–especially when she pretended it was for me, but my husband suspects that it is for them.

3. The same ol’ “boys are such trouble” thing. “And you have these two boys–and we know how boys are.” Oh, no, she didn’t. “They have so much trouble staying focused and just want to run all day, so we counter that with lots of structure.” And have princess tiaras and Bratz doll requirements for the girls?

4. A constant refrain of educational buzzwords, with an air of trying to impress? intimidate? I didn’t say: “Look, baby, if you want to get into educational theory and educational jargon and standardized testing with me, I’ll make you wish you didn’t get out of bed this morning.” Oh, that’s right–I coulda been the snottiest, snobbiest edu-bully that that preschool fraud had ever seen at 9 am. And toting two tots as I did it. But, really, my opponent was not worthy. She was a preschool-hell robot, and had been programmed by the corporate offices. I think that those corporate-made lesson plans probably printed right out of her stomach somewhere. It was somewhat fascinating to watch.

Ugh. That’s enough. There’s more–like the claim of ten kids per teacher, but not seeing it in most of the rooms, the price for what seemed mostly to be babysitting (with extra fees everywhere I looked), and the impression that there were no actual teachers in the place, but I would rather think and write about sewage and mayonnaise than pre-school these days. I need a break.

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