The Best of the Rest of the Web: The High School Hustle, Pre-School Rejects, & A Round of Applause

From our January issue, a selection of thought-provoking, laugh-inducing, and just plain interesting thoughts from the web and the world of parenting.


"There are plenty of preschools in Los Angeles. Most of them accept all children who apply. I have no idea what those schools are called. I do know the names of all the preschools that reject most of their applicants, because my lovely wife...went on guided tours of 18 of them. This is the same person who, back in high school, visited three colleges."

—columnist Joel Stein (@thejoelstein) in "Tales of a Preschool Nothing," Time magazine (sound familiar to anyone on our East Coast?)

Moving in Circles

"I was, after all, the mother, so it was time to embark on the endlessly entertaining merry-go-round of 'I can't afford to stay michelle levine moving in circleshome, so I will continue working, but childcare is so expensive that I am really just working to pay the daycare center so why am I working at all especially when I am a mother now and aren't mothers supposed to be home raising their own babies?' ... And so it was that a child was born...and right behind him, a feminist mother." 

—Michelle Levine, a Long Island mom of two and award-winning magazine writer, in "Feminist Motherhood...Say What?," an essay that appears in Torn: Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood (, who "recently went back to practicing law after a 10-year hiatus that featured driving a school bus and working in an elementary school lunch room"

High School Hustle

"When I left that painful ordeal known as the New York City public school parent teacher conference (also known as, 'Teacher Can You Spare Three Minutes,') last week, I overheard a parent who had also just left the building admonishing a child. I didn't want to eavesdrop, but the voice sounded furious and frantic, and the words were something akin to: 'And I heard it from every single teacher!'

Has to be a freshman parent, I thought to myself...

Classes can be huge, pressures enormous, and teaching and testing styles in many cases far different than middle school. Teachers in large schools often may not have the time to really get to know a student (although there are always glorious exceptions) so that when a parent shows up at conference time, the child may be reduced to a series of numbers-test scores and the number of homework assignments turned in, for example.

There is little time for nurturing, or for considering any extenuating life circumstances. And with young adolescents, there are many, including those sporadic growth spurts that lead to sheer exhaustion. Add to that long commutes, a longer school day, hormones and a brand new environment."

Liz Willen, an active NYC public school parent and editor of the Hechinger Report at Teachers College, Columbia University, who spent the bulk of her career covering NYC schools for Newsday, in a blog post called "High School Hustle: Support for Freshmen?" at

marni goltman fighting for an appropriate education"[My son] Brooks is proof that getting a special needs child an appropriate public education here in New York City is possible. But then again, so is winning the lottery. For a special education parent, the Department of Education is very similar to an insurance company: You're dealing with a large bureaucracy that has an inherent interest not to help you. Your HMO needs to make a profit and the DOE needs to balance a budget; your needs are, at best, an obstacle."

Marni Goltsman, NYC parent of a child with autism, advocate for children with special needs, and someone who describes herself as typically a "glass half-full" kind of person, speaking of her family's recent frustrations in her blog post "Fighting for an Appropriate Education" at

A Round of Applause, Pleasequite enough of calvin trillin

"By now, my wife's policy on attending school plays (a policy that also covers school pageants, talent shows, revues, recitals, and spring assemblies) is pretty well known: She believes that if your child is in a school play and you don't go to every performance, including the special Thursday matinée for the fourth grade, the county will come and take the child...I came to believe over the years that my wife's policy...which sounds extreme, actually makes sense...School plays were invented partly to give parents an easy opportunity to demonstrate their priorities."

-from "Stage Father," an essay in celebrated writer and Greenwich Village-resident Calvin Trillin's latest book, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, well worth the hardcover price ($17) for all the ensuing laughs and sly smiles it will induce

"I love teaching. The buzzwords of 'no excuses,' data-driven school reform don't resonate with someone like me, whose inspiration to enter the classroom came from watching my mother, a lifelong teacher, instruct a class of students with disabilities during the summer before I started kindergarten."

Mark Fusco, a second-year 11th grade English teacher at a charter school in the South Bronx, in his blog post "Preach Like a Champion" on (follow them on Twitter @GothamSchools)