The Ivy Coach Daily

March 13, 2021

Editorial of the Year on Private Schools

Caitlin Flanagan has penned a wonderful editorial on private schools for The Atlantic.

Every year, we designate an editorial written on the topic of admissions to be the editorial of the year. And while the Pulitzer Prizes may get announced in a little over a month, we don’t need to wait a full year to announce our winner and finalists. When we see an article in the realm of admissions that we just absolutely love, we’ll label it under consideration for the Ivy Coach Editorial of the Year. Ok, maybe it’s not as cool as a Pulitzer. But whatever. We aim to entertain. After all, we write about college admissions every day of the week. We need to spice things up from time to time. So what editorial takes the cake this year? Look no further than a piece Caitlin Flanagan penned for The Atlantic entitled “Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene.” Oh and is it a juicy one, filled with stories from fancy private schools like Dalton and Harvard-Westlake, Exeter and Andover. But we don’t want to ruin it as it’s such an engrossing, worthwhile read. So we’ll give our readers just a taste.

Our Favorite Lines from Caitlin Flanagan’s “Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene”

On the topic of the mission of equity and inclusion at elite private high schools, Flanagan writes, “What makes these schools truly ludicrous is their recent insistence that they are engines of equity and even ’inclusivity.’ A $50,000-a-year school can’t be anything but a very expensive consumer product for the rich. If these schools really care about equity, all they need to do is get a chain and a padlock and close up shop.” Oh snap!

On entitled parents going to war with their children’s school counselors, she writes, “College admissions is one of the few situations in which rich people are forced to scramble for a scarce resource. What logic had led them to believe that it would help to antagonize the college counselors? Driven mad by the looming prospect of a Williams rejection, they had lost all reason.” We’ll never understand why so many parents don’t play the game with school counselors. They can be a child’s greatest advocate in admissions!

On the advantage that the children of major donors enjoy at private schools, she writes, “Over the years, I’ve talked with many private-school kids who feel that there is a separate set of rules for the children of huge donors. And in my opinion, they’re absolutely right. Private-school donations are the result of carefully developed personal relationships between the top employees at the school and individual donors. It’s not unreasonable for a big donor to expect preferential treatment for his or her child. And it’s not unusual for him to get it.” Yes, these schools absolutely play favorites, particularly when it comes to going to bat for certain students in the college admissions process.

On the disparity between attending one of the top private high schools and a public high school, she writes, “If you went to Lawrenceville, a boarding school not far from Princeton and the university’s top sending school, your chances of going to Princeton were almost seven times greater than if you went to Stuyvesant High School, an ultra-selective public school in New York City and itself a top Princeton feeder, where 45 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. But compared with an average American public school? You don’t want to know.” The numbers tell the story.

On how our nation’s elite universities so often admit Black students from fancy private schools as opposed to searching more diligently for these young people in low-income communities, she writes, “Here is another big number that really needs to be investigated: More than 50 percent of the low-income Black students at elite colleges attended top private schools, according to Anthony Abraham Jack, the author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students.” Yes, investigate! Yes, yes, yes!

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