The parents of Avenues, the new for-profit private school that caters to the children of "hedge-fund managers and artists who refuse to live above 23rd Street," have had an exciting first year. From a seven-page e-mail sent by parents about the lack of snacks, to a different series of emails about a homeless man's butt-crack, they remain committed to giving their children an education that matches their hard-fought wealth (part of the demand for the school was that all the other private schools in New York are clogged with legacy-students, AKA old money).
But in a society and city that is growing desperately unequal, perhaps the greatest lesson these incredibly privileged children can get is a little humility?
As Manhattan, and particularly downtown, is transformed by a staggering infusion of wealth, there is a growing market for creating emotionally intelligent future global leaders who, as a result of their emotional intelligence, have a little humility. In fact, when the nearby Grace Church School was researching whether to start its own high school, it asked top college-admission officers what was lacking in New York City applicants. The answers coalesced around the idea of values, civic engagement, inclusiveness and diversity — in a word, humility.
But how will they learn this thing called "humility"? Perhaps it is something that can be bought with money?
How do you build humility at a school that costs $43,000 a year? Where students are tended to by a 10-person success team and are expected to find a passion — any passion — around which expertise, confidence and college admission may come?
Perhaps the high-schoolers will find this "humility" while attending the class "Empire State of Mind: Thinking About Jay-Z in a New Way," or spending "semesters in São Paulo, Beijing or any of the 20 other campuses the school plans to inaugurate around the world."
Perhaps they will learn this concept from their classmate Suri Cruise, who backed out from an outrageously expensive private school to attend this insanely expensive one.
And anyways how can they learn this concept of being a real live person, when their food has been so oppressive?
And then there was the food committee. After the PowerPoint presentation concluded in the black-box theater, the questions started flying: Why so much bread? What was the policy on genetically modified organisms? Why no sushi?
Why no sushi? Where's the love?