Tuesday, January 31, 2012

If You Pay $40,000 for Your Child to Attend a Private Elementary School:

If you pay $40,000 for your child to attend a private elementary school, you're stupid and probably a bad parent. Yeah, I said it. I'll also say that I hope the median price of tuition triples next year. It's not like these stupid people won't pay it. They've already convinced themselves that this is the only way they can make sure their child receives a good education.

Look, I don't care if you have millions of dollars to spare. Some things are still wasteful. I've had plenty of years of my life where The German and I and VanGoghGirl survived quite well on half of that amount.

The argument that these tuition prices are worth it, because of the features they offer, is simply bogus. My daughter's elementary public magnet school had swimming lessons and a teacher that they paid to come over from France and teach the children French. They were able to do all of that on a state budget. All we had to provide was her swimming suit. Our taxes paid for the rest.

Even before that, my daughter was able to learn how to swim just from going to the pool at our apartment with her daddy as her "personal swimming coach". She learned elementary level Arabic from listening to cassette tapes when I was studying and she learned French from a pirated Rosetta Stone CD.

We did that while living off of a total budget that MIGHT have been close to reaching $20,000 when we were both in school, receiving financial aid and having The German working the overnight shift at The Home Depot. At $15,000, things were hard, but we still managed to live in a nice apartment complex, in a good school district, and deal with maintenance costs associated with our Honda (that I now suspect was powered by the Holy Spirit alone, because I've never seen a car as reliable as that one was). Our diet wasn't great, but that was partly because I was too proud and stuck-up to apply for food stamps.

If we could do that, you can't convince me that these folks couldn't provide their kids with an excellent education for a fraction of what they're spending.

Lemme tell ya' what I think (as if I haven't just written a diatribe doing just that).

I think that these are rich folks who are too damned lazy to engage in real parenting, so they justify their apathetic attitude towards their children by paying someone lots of money to do the job for them. That way, if their kid isn't excelling, they can blame someone else for it. They can convince themselves that it's okay for them not to spend quality time with their kids, because they're still making sure that the kid receives all of the instruction they need from the school.

Those children become the kind of kids that the student center tutors loved in college. They were more than happy to give us some of their mom and dad's money in exchange for giving them an original term paper that they could use as a "model" for how to write their own. In the real world, that translates to writing term papers for them.

I could go and on about how rich kids get through college without having to learn anything. At one of the $40,000+ a year private universities in New Orleans, all exams were proctored by graduate students. Students had to sign an honor system pledge at the beginning of semesters. They had to agree not to cheat or engage in illegal activities, while they were a student at the school. Because of their honor system policy, they didn't make students present any form of ID when turning in tests. This meant that anyone could walk in and take a test for someone. The proctors had no way of knowing whether the test-taker was the same person enrolled in the class. If you get a "nerd" from another university to take it for you, there's almost no way you could get in trouble for doing this.

Now, you can't tell me that the university didn't realize this was going on. We knew about it. The students at the school knew about it. It's still like that to this day.

There are people who go from kindergarten to your basic undergraduate degree in liberal arts without having to deal with any of the "hassles" associated with meritocracy. These are the people who grow up and go to work on Wall Street where they play with poor people's pension funds and 401Ks. Meanwhile, poor people are eating hot dogs four nights a week, because they've been led to believe that they should feel ashamed of themselves if they accept food stamps.


Rootietoot said...

When I see things like $40K/yr tuition, the first thing I think of is "how many Habitat For Humanity houses could be built?" Around here, $20K builds a 3 br Habitat House on a 1/4 acre lot. The local Really Good private school in this town charges $4600 a year tuition, offers language, private tutoring, AP courses in math,chemistry, physics and biology, has swim, volleyball,soccer, track and basketball and every year for the past 6 years have had graduates accepted to MIT, CalTech, GaTech, of Duke, (etc)..with scholarships.
OR, you could go to the local public school, and also have band, football, and vo-tech training in auto-shop, day care training, and more.
So,for the price of 10 yrs of HighFalutin NYC private school, 20 houses could be built and your kid could STILL be admitted to BigFancy U.
What are the parents teaching their children other than their own inflated self importance? Not much, in my opinion.

bint alshamsa said...

Comparing it to the cost of a Habitat House really puts it into perspective!

I often think about the difference between my daughter's childhood and my own. I never asked my mom for spending money to go out and entertain myself. If I didn't have enough money from babysitting or washing cars, then I just skipped that round of invitations. It wasn't the end of the world.

In my neighborhood, people would rather pay an outside lawn service than to allow a teen to do it for half the price. I mean, good grief! It's just a lawn. These folks don't even bother with flowers or topiary or something that a teen couldn't do.

She doesn't have the gang of younger cousins that I grew up with and babysat. So, she honestly has fewer opportunities to make money in the ways that we did. Folks act like we're hard-hearted, because we make her pull weeds in the yard. Well, I'm not paying anyone to do something that one of the three of us can do ourselves.

Even with those policies, I can already admit that my kid has a much bigger sense of entitlement than I had. My parents were really puritanical Christians. We didn't even celebrate birthdays or Christmas. My bio-dad did give us money for good grades at the end of the school year. We got $20 per A, $10 for a B and nothing for a grade lower than that. I would spend the entire school year planning just how I was going to spend my grade money.

I give my daughter a lot more than my parents gave me, partly because I can afford to. However, I do draw the line at some things. If she wants to go on the Senior trip next year, she'd better find a way to pay for it. If she wants to drive one of our cars, she'd better get a summer job to pay the amount it costs to add her to our car insurance.

I can't stand the fact that this generation of teens are full of folks whose parents have taught them that work is just something that OTHER people have to do.

Rootietoot said...

Yes indeed. My son wants to go to Scout camp this summer- $210. He's started working already, by moving a ton (literally, 2000 pounds in 40 pound bags) of topsoil and manure into my vegetable garden. He'll continue by mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges. If he wants camp, he's got to work for it. The good news is that his Scout troop requires that. No Free Trips.
I worked babysitting, starting with the Red Cross Babysitting Course when I was 12, and *that* was how I bought a trombone for band, paid for the Nike sneakers I wanted, and an occasional Coke.
My children, for the most part, are kind of showing the entitled attitude and I admit that my husband and I (he also had to work starting at 12, farm work mainly) have contributed to that. However, we try. Buying a car, and insurance, that's on them. Senior Trip (#4's school goes to Europe), he's going to have to work to pay for.
I watched (I think it was Oprah) a show with 20 yr olds who had monumental (like $50K+) debt. One of the girls said it was because she wanted the same lifestyle as her parents. I thought "Honey it took your parents 30 years to get there". I think it dishonors the parents and their hard work to take for granted that they (the parents) have that.

I think the economy is eventually (soon even) going to collapse and it will be back on the people who WORK to rebuild it. The nonworkers are going to have to learn real quick that numbers on a bank account isn't going to cut it, especially if we go back to a barter system. (I hope we do, because I know people with SKILLS)

Casey said...

I know a couple people that went to expensive schools like that...both of them are completely unemployable because they never learned life skills. I've never been more proud to be from a working class family in my life!