The problem with all of this is that, despite my own experience, I've always been committed to public schools, and I believe in them for many of the reasons I outlined above. Public school put me in contact with kids who were a lot different than me, and forced me to learn to relate. It taught me how to navigate other worlds, and appreciate vocabulary that wasn't particularly native to me. At my middle school, you couldn't erect a wall between yourself and the kids from the projects. You had to learn to cope. That's a lesson that I'd like the boy to learn also, but not at the expense of eight hours of test prep. I'm not sure what we're going to do. I'd really hate--hate--to put him in private school. But at least up here, it feels like public school is now mainly a means of steering people out of poverty. Maybe that always was the point, and even it's not, maybe that should be the point. But I still think there's something to be said for institutions that bring different kinds of people together. Maybe it's all just a continuation of the a'la carte society. I don't know.