Kids At $32,000-A-Year ‘Progressive’ School Are Actually Big Fat Dummies

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blue man groupToday I read an article in the New York Post that I truly believed was an April Fools joke ’til I remembered we’re in June. It’s about the Blue School, an experimental private school in lower Manhattan founded by the Blue Man Group (I know, right?). Turns out that parents are shocked to discover the school’s “integrated, emergent, child-centered curriculum” is teaching their children jack shit. In fact, their precious ones can barely read, which might have something to do with the fact that there are no books or tests at the $32,000-per-year institution.

According to the Post, parents are yanking their kids like there’s no tomorrow. One mom calls it “unstructured,” while another complains her 6-year-old has nothing to do. “It’s all fun and games until you realize your second-grader can’t reader,” yet another parent wrote on Is this not golden? Look, I’m sorry for these parents, I really am – but did they not question some of these rules, or lack thereof, prior to enrolling their children?

I’m all about alternative education. I’ve seen time and time again kids who struggle at conventional schools, only to excel at progressive ones. (Forget grades for a second, just watching their confidence level soar is reason enough to make the switch.) But the Blue School sounds a bit too…hmm, how to word this…experimental? For example, students get to decide their own curriculum and have no set arrival time. Sounds good in theory but, uh, how do they learn to add, for instance, if they’re not interested in math? And what if they want to sleep ’til noon? (I guess 6-year-olds don’t really sleep ’til noon, but you know what I mean. What if they want to lie in bed and watch Nick Jr. all morning?)

And now it’s all catching up to them. The Post reports that eight teachers are leaving the school for good come summertime, while the head of school will be replaced in July. “We’re going to try to decrease the attrition,” said interim head of school Don Grace, who explains that one of the teachers is moving.

As I’ve said, I think there’s a lot of value in alternative schools. But this sounds just a tad too Mickey Mouse. Then again, I am by no means an expert; perhaps Blue School’s future grads will become future leaders. Who knows? All I know is that this one quote by education adviser Terri Decker, of Smart City Kids, made me fall off my chair: “A majority of my Upper East Side clients, if they took a look down there, their heads would explode. Literally, their brains would be on the pavement.” A ha ha ha!