It’s a private matter

I was ecstatic the day my son was accepted to the pre-K program at one of New York City’s most respected private schools.  He was 4!  He had to be “interviewed” and observed in a classroom setting, as well as take a test called the ERB, which private schools required for admission. I’m surprised they didn’t have him write an essay.

"Little Dalton," where my children were admitted over 20 years ago.

We were middle class, but wanted our kids to go to private school because the majority of Manhattan public schools were pretty dismal. Even the “good” ones in 1984 had overcrowded classes and lacked decent art, music and language programs. We asked Douglas’s parents to help us with the tuition, which was around $5,000.

Today, my son sent me a link to a story about New York City private school tuition topping $40,000!  Princeton’s tuition is less, the article reported.  And while 60 percent of Princeton students receive need-based financial aid, less than 20 percent of NYC private school students are offered aid.

Besides the insane tuitions, the competition to get into a NYC private school is now fiercer than ever. Some children aren’t accepted to any school, even if their parents are affluent. I don’t know what I’d do if I had young children today.  Move to the suburbs, where the schools are better, or stay in Manhattan and send my child to public school? Private school might offer lots of perks—like foreign exchange programs and Mandarin classes—but at what cost?

I asked my son whether he thinks it’s worth it: “Def not,” he answered. (BTW, he left the private school after eighth grade and went to Stuyvesant, a public high school, which he adored.)


0 Responses to “It’s a private matter”

  1. Duchesse says:

    Private schools, despite their wonderful classes and resources, cut people (both students and parents) off from the real world,-with its diversity struggles and messes- some to a greater degree than others. That’s not to say that the public system is good as is- it needs many reforms and changes.

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    So much depends on where you live as to whether or not parents feel private school is a ‘must have’ versus ‘luxury’. In our area, the only private schools are religious schools. There are school districts which because of their demographics, are very competitive (IB/huge buffet of AP/everyone is expected to go to college), and there are school districts which struggle. In some places, the culture demands that families with any sort of pretension to middle class life send their kids to the best private schools out there (I remember a picnic we attended in northern VA where we were asked where our kids went to school; my sister swooped down but not before I told the woman that our kids went to public schools. She gave my sister a look combining pity with a side order of despise, despite my sister’s bleeted excuse “My sister lives in Upstate NY – it’s different there.”). What did my kids learn in their rural public school? That there are a lot of people out there who struggle. A lot of people out there whose kids will never go to college because they can’t afford it. A lot of people out there whose homes include domestic violence, alcoholism, and drugs. That there are kids who will, by dint of sheer determination, overcome those things but they will never get to go to Yale, Harvard, Princeton or Brown because their families are not of ‘the elect’. What they learned is that life…is not…fair. They also learned how to garden, take care of sheep, goats and chickens, how to use tools, shovel a lot of snow, and what it means to raise your own food…and take animals to the butcher when it is time. they did not have Mandarin available at their school and they did not have a lot of AP classes (they went to courses at the local community college and university in their junior and senior years – I always felt those were a better deal since they were able to see that they could compete creditably with regular college kids and get good enough grades to transfer all the college credit when they did go to college), nor did they have IB.
    See…it all depends.


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