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.