Editor's Letter: September 2007

By James Burnett | Boston Magazine |

I wanted to kick this off with an anecdote about a young family I know—he a tech wiz, she a sought-after designer, their two-year-old daughter the picture of adorableness. They’ve got a townhouse in the Back Bay, the city as their oyster, and you’d think they shouldn’t be thrown by something as simple as finding a preschool. But thinking through the setup, I spotted the flaw: Anyone who’s had any dealings with the Hub’s early-education market can see the punch line coming a mile off. (Here it is, anyway: The couple preschool-shopped for months, only to find their picks either had no slots available, or would not deign to offer them one.)

In planning this year’s Best Schools issue, we didn’t intend our exclusive roundup of top preschools as social commentary, exactly. At the same time, it does say something about our city, and our times, that so many parents have both the desire and means to drop $20,000 to send their three-year-olds off to school.

For one, it’s yet another indication of what an affluent place Boston, for better or worse, has become. It’s also evidence of the ongoing creep of college admissions mania, which now seems to extend all the way back to the womb, and of what might be called conspicuous nurturing, that trend responsible for, among other things, those imported “status” strollers you see around town.

But if moms and dads who wake up at dawn on the first day that preschool applications are accepted to get theirs in first (as we discovered some do) invite a little eye-rolling, their motives are sound. In exploring, as our cover puts it, “why it’s never too soon to stress about your child’s education,” writer and new mom Michele Orecklin got her own lesson in how and where kids spend their first school years influences the way they learn for the rest of their lives. I’m not going to give away her conclusions here—you’ll find them inside "The Truth Hurts"—but in closing I should add that in this month’s City Style, we do break down whether the aforementioned souped-up stroller is worth the price. My wife and I, for our part, aren’t quite ready to trade in the one we got for our son—even if we now realize that what we spent on it (to say nothing of the innumerable hours we spent researching its pros and cons) was kinda nuts.

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