Education: Big Crunch for Kindergartens

Preschoolers and parents get an early taste of angst and elitism

Everybody knows that if you apply to a top-ranked private college the odds against admission are long and the chances of devastating disappointment great. But huge numbers of parents who want to get their children into private schools have discovered that the trauma of admissions screening nowadays begins at age four—the year before kindergarten.

Admission to good kindergartens in big cities has been tight since World War II. But lately the situation has become preposterous. In San Francisco two-thirds of the children applying...

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