Facebook Destroying Fragile Prep School Peace

Henry Kissinger once said, "Academic fights are more brutal than our fights in the real world because the stakes are so low, so the passions are very high." He was referring to University politics, but the quote also applies to Horace Mann, the tony private school in Riverdale, New York. Horace Mann was founded in the 19th century to get bratty kids into Harvard, and that honorable goal continues into the 21st century, despite satirical novels, nasty Facebook groups and now incriminating New York magazine cover stories. After reading New York's story, you may want to give more consideration to Fieldston.


This week's Horace Mann controversy involves Facebook. Students were using the semi-public, pseudo-private space to attack their teachers. And even though seeing a teacher running errands is a perverse (and often etc.) experience, Horace Mann teachers are people, too, and were quite offended to be called "bitches" online.

Of course, parents, who are paying over $29,000 a year to send their precious and precocious little tykes to Horace Mann, were equally offended by the teachers' touchiness. Facebook is private space, they claimed. And we're not paying you to have an opinion, we're paying you to get our kid into Yale. And in the fall out after Academy X, the satirical novel about an unnamed private school by Horace Mann teacher Andrew Trees, parents were also annoyed that Trees got away with publicly mocking the school while students (customers) were getting chastised for "blowing off steam" online.

And in the end, the kids could do whatever they want. They kid who started the most offensive Facebook group was recently elected class president. That should help his chances with Princeton. The school itself had no comment through their P.R. agent.

(Another option for concerned parents is to not send their kids to a school with a P.R. agent.)