McKinsey is widely known to produce thoughtful research pieces that have no ideological agenda. The renowned consulting firm’s research illustrates what seems obvious: education gaps between children will widen considerably during this time. But more stunningly, the article opines that the gaps will last a lifetime.
Here’s what I know from running The Learning Consultants for the past two decades. The greatest advantage that most children have is not wealth, school system or ethnicity. Parents who ensure that their children get the best possible education provide the biggest lift by far.
Let me address some of the issues that lead to controversy:
Is it wealth that enables some families to provide tutoring/educational counseling to their children that gives their children a competitive advantage?
Not as much as one would think. I recall one of my early days of working with families in the affluent Shoreline, Connecticut area. A parent complained about our prices (which were standard back in the day). He drove to our office in a brand new high end Mercedes. His son mentioned their second home in Nantucket and their ski house in Vermont. On the very same day, I worked with a Tibetan family from Old Saybrook. Their ethnicity is only relevant in that Old Saybrook, CT has an unusually high number of Tibetans who escaped from refugee camps in India after being exiled from China. Most of the parents heroically work jobs like the night shift at Wal-Mart in order to provide for their children. I insisted on offering a reduced rate for the child. The parent declined and only relented when I said I wouldn’t work with him unless he accepted.
I have seen this pattern repeat itself many times.
Moreover, the amount of money that even well heeled parents spend on tutoring is not much more than a monthly family phone bill. I’m not minimizing expenses. But tutoring bills are more like a dinner bill at a mid-level restaurant than a set of skiis.
As for those who are truly impoverished, fortunately, there are a plethora of free tutoring services for those in tough conditions.
So… read the McKinsey article and invest in your children. That’s what will make the difference for them.