Sunday, March 13, 2011

SF’s Ultra-Elite Preschool

My boy is now three and we’ve begun the heinous process of applying to preschools in San Francisco. The schools range from gorgeous, well-stocked and overpriced “learn-through-play” Victorian houses, to reasonably-priced, fluorescent-lit, basement ghetto warehouses for toddlers. They all give you an earful about not allowing your child to bring peanut butter sandwiches to school. The fanciest ones provide curious parents with well-rehearsed schticks about their full-emersion language programs, yoga, dance and music classes, while the parents trip over each other in an attempt to prove that their child is more worthy than the next.

Bottom line: Get your kid into the right preschool and you gain an competitive edge for Frisco’s best elementary schools, most of which are still giving homework and teaching test-taking skills to k-3 students, while NOT teaching any science.

This is how we plebeians do it.

Here Is How the Ultra-Elite Do Preschool
In Pacific Heights (Specific Whites), one of San Francisco’s glitziest neighborhoods, Ann and Gordon Getty run an exclusive, invitation-only free preschool from their mansion that caters to SF’s most powerful families. According the SF Bay Citizen, there is no admission process. There is no website. There isn’t even a sign over the door. They don’t even have a license. The Playgroup, as the school is known to those in the know, handpicks only the choicest, freshest and most tender young billionaires-to-be for their ultra-elite school.

The ruling elite have grown quite comfortable doing things their own way. And why not? We live in an oligarchy. They make the rules and they enforce the rules. . . Usually. However, the school was recently visited by the San Francisco Fire Department. The school’s director insists that they are exempt from the state’s stringent licensing rules for preschools. A Getty lawyer claims it isn’t a preschool at all, but a “private recreation group” kind of like the private clubs the elite visit, like the Bohemian club, where labor, environmental and even prostitution laws apparently do not apply.

In addition to their recent legal problems, the Playgroup has numerous other problems, too. Staff turnover is high and the organization’s director, Lonna Corder, has pissed off many of the parents. Yet where else can these poor ultra-rich parents go with their children? They cannot simply yank them from the Getty playground and leave them to learn nasty habits from the rabble boys and girls at the $2,000 per month middle class preschools.

What has really upset Playgroup’s upstanding parents is Corder’s terrible habit of diagnosing their children with autism and other developmental problems. Corder has no medical or mental health training. She does hold a Montessori teaching certificate. Even so, a well-trained teacher should certainly be able to recognize some of the warning signs and let parents know about their concerns (significantly different than telling parents their child has autism, which is supposedly what Corder was doing). But the ultra-rich are also ultra-special. They have superior genes (and bank accounts). It is the rabble that is supposed to have these sorts of problems, not them, and they do not need some bush league pedagogue raining on their parade.


  1. where will these ultra-rich families send their precious little angels when they are old enough to attend elementary school?

  2. Oh, you know, some million dollar per year boarding school.

    1. No actually. I went to playgroup as a child and I continued to go to the hamlin school. I have gotten my grades to get into one of the top high schools in the country through good grades, definately not money. Boarding school is now my choice because I want to experience a different culture and because I believe I can get the best education I can. People need to stop assuming that every person is the same. My best friend from that pre school is still my best friend today and we are both certainly not billionares. Her mother was a teacher there and is now a preschool teacher elsewhere and my mother is a government worker. Neither of our fathers are the "1%" my mother probably makes more money than my mom and she works for the government! So you can put your fist in your mouth.

    2. You might not be talking about The Playgroup , which has only been in operation since 1997. If you were there during their first year, you would be 17-19 now. That school takes students by invitation only, and only from the wealthiest and most powerful families, which would mean that if you went there you would necessarily be from an elite family. Alternatively, many wealthy people are in denial about their relative wealth and power in society. In fact, very few rich people consider themselves rich.

      Getting into a good high school through your grades is commendable. However, “getting in” is only the beginning. Many of the “best” schools are private and expensive and only possible for those with wealth. The poor, working class and most of the middle class rarely have the choice to attend anything other than free public school, even when they earn top grades.

      Lastly, you do not need to be a billionaire, 1%-er or the child of one to be a member of the ruling elite. The ruling elite is composed of anyone with the power to hire and fire others, who own their own workplace or means of production, who govern, who earn capital gains. Simply earning more than $500,000 per year places one well beyond the majority of Americans in personal wealth, security, luxury and the ability to send their children to any school they please. And there are many government workers who earn much more than this. In fact, if we limit ourselves to Congress, the majority are millionaires due in large part to capital gains and investments.