Friday, January 27, 2017

Little Neuroses Everywhere

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article (appropriately in the "Mansion" section of the paper) that has to win an award for most amount of craziness packed into a news story without any acknowledgement that the story contains any craziness at all.

Houston lawyer Anne Ferazzi Hammett spent about three months last spring looking for a great high school for her teenage daughters.... The only drawback: The school is located in Austin, Texas, about 165 miles northwest of the Hammetts' home. Nonetheless, Ms. Ferazzi Hammett and her husband, Rick Hammett, bought a $2.25 million house in Westlake's school district.... Mr. Hammett...will commute back to Houston for his work as an attorney. It's all worth it for "a great academic experience for the girls," she said.

...

"I'm very busy in March, when the private-school rejection letters go out," said Anne Sanborn, a real-estate agent with Sotheby's International Realty in Pasadena [CA]. When parents find out their kids haven't been accepted at elite private schools, they start house hunting in La Cañada, Ms. Sanborn said.

...houses in public-school districts with GreatSchools ratings of 9 or 10...were priced, on average, 77% higher than homes in nearby districts with scores of 6 or lower.

...

Ms. Ferazzi Hammett...said she looked at private schools, and decided the family could afford them. But she was turned off by the small size of parochial schools and the "country club, uber rich" atmosphere of elite private schools, she said.

Wait, what? A family that buys a home for ten times the median home price in the city is concerned about placing their kids in a "country club, uber rich" atmosphere? Houston is the fifth-largest metro area of the country (and according to recent growth trends, I calculate it will be the third-largest as soon as 2019) but the closest suitable school for her children is 165 miles away? And not only is this school SO much better than ANY school available in Houston, but it's also good enough to compensate for the family not having a dad five days a week? I thought the reason we even HAD public school in this country was to socialize the gains from education; if public schools in one area are so superior to those in another area, that's something the state government should be correcting, not something rich parents should be exploiting. And you want to talk about fueling neurosis? How much pressure to excel is placed on a teenage girl when her entire family life is structured around her high school career?

Is this another manifestation of anthrotheism? It used to be people were okay with not necessarily maximizing every possible variable in their lives because they had a belief that God was guiding things and helping the best (meaning appropriate) outcome eventuate. But now that we don't believe in God anymore, the only force looking out for my future is my overbearing mother, and she is going to make the best (meaning most-prestigious) outcome happen.

A family in this article moved from Silver Lake to La Cañada for the schooling of their 13- and 11-year-old daughters. My 14-year-old daughter writes novels and draws cartoons, like 14-year-olds USED to do before we decided that they had to act like middle-aged yuppie women. Am I a terrible father because I'm not trying to squeeze every ounce of "success" out of her life? I suspect the parents interviewed for this article (one of whom made sure he was identified as an "attorney who also plays guitar in a rock band") would say yes.

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