Horace Mann is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. Counted among their alumni are former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and many other famous and wealthy movers and shakers. But now the school, where the tuition is $40,000 a year at the upper level, is being rocked by a sexual abuse scandal decades in the making.
New York Times writer Amos Kamil has written a painful cover story for the magazine about the sexual abuse he (and many others) alleges had been going on for years at the school. The idea that a school that has been listed by Forbes as the second best prep school in the country and that has always cost an unbelievable amount of money to attend could also be a breeding ground for sexual predators is pretty horrifying.
We hear a lot about teen bullying and failing public schools, but this is something else. Even those who pay so much for their child's education are not immune to this.
As a mother who is sending her first child off to kindergarten this year, I have started to notice a trend among parents. There are those who do enormous amounts of research, scouring schools from top to bottom, calling meetings, applying to 10 private schools, and trying to get into all the best public schools if there is a "choice" program all at the same time.
I live in a very urban area where there are a dozen public schools to choose from, each one with a different philosophy and approach to education. For a long time, I thought private school was the "safer" choice. It was the "easier" choice, the one that guaranteed a life free from commercial products, junk foods, and scary temptations I'd rather see my children avoid. And I am not alone.
Many of my fellow parents lamented the $25,000 price tag many of these private schools came with, but believed them to be the safer choice. I am not talking about parochial schools or ones that have a nominal tuition. I am talking about the elite, top notch Ivy League feeder schools like Horace Mann and a number of schools near where I live.
"You get the school you pay for," one mom told me soon after I chose public school after months and months of extensive research.
I wonder if that is how the parents of Horace Mann students felt? I wonder if they felt they were getting the school they were paying for and that somehow would keep them safe from these kinds of allegations?
My heart goes out to every single one of these men in The New York Times story, but also to their parents. Those parents probably all believed they were giving their children the best of the best. Certainly those who were there on financial aid scholarships were being given an opportunity few kids get. They were hanging out with the elite and on a collision course with the Ivy League. And now this.
I guess as a parent my takeaway from this is that no place is safe. And even spending $40,000 a year on high school is no guarantee that your child will remain unscathed by real life or the horrible things that happen in the world.
Did these parents "get what they paid for"? I'd say not. And I'd say this is a real wake-up call for those who believe private school is a "safe" choice that shields their child. Parents must remain vigilant and involved no matter how much the tuition.
There are no guarantees in life.
Does this make you think about private school differently?
Image via qwrrty/Flickr