Most middle-school kids have better things to think about than whether or not they’re members of the 1%. But one Los Angeles charter school upped the ante on the usual social anxieties of its annual dance when it installed a “V.I.P. lounge” — with a separate cover charge. On top of the $15 dance admission, students — or, more likely, their parents — can choose to pay an additional $5 to be a cool kid — excuse me, get access to a special “V.I.P.” area.
Marcy Magiera, an L.A.-area mom who blogs at BellaNoise.com, blasted the new policy earlier this week in a post titled “Middle school’s velvet rope.” She writes she was shocked to find out that, on top of hiking the price of a ticket for the spring dance from $10 to $15, the school was also adding an extra $5 cover charge for access to what she describes as a “V.I.P. lounge.”
Magiera writes that her son, a student at the school, “tells me that insiders for their extra $5 will get the privilege of hanging out in the ‘VIP lounge, a ‘dessert bar,’ and some item of take-home swag.” Although she doesn’t identify the institution that is adding another layer of social stratification to a climate already rife with cliques and exclusions, a Forbes columnist identified it as the New West Charter School in West Los Angeles. The Forbes writer says she was unsuccessful getting anyone in administration to comment on the issue.
“What’s next, bottle service? $10 for a jug of Coke maybe, served by a high-schooler in short shorts?” Magiera writes sarcastically. She blames an intense fundraising effort the school is undertaking for this ill-conceived nickel-and-diming of kids who are barely in their teens.
Magiera writes, “In real life, we told him, whenever you see a place with a velvet rope and a line, just head to the next joint down the street.” That’s good advice, but it’s a shame that the parents of kids at this school have to deliver it this way. Kids are inevitably going to learn that wealth dictates a lot of inclusions and exclusions in life. But even if this is something they learn while in school, they shouldn’t learn it from their school’s own policies.