I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lifestyles of the Rich and Reformy

Watching Brian Jones yesterday, I was struck once again by the massive hypocrisy of so many who claim the mantle of "reformer." They sing the praises of standardized testing regimes and "accountability," all while dismissing concerns about funding, class size, and highly-educated teachers.

And yet, when it comes to their own families, they choose schools that have small classes and big costs per pupil. I think it's very valuable to periodically remind ourselves just how self-serving these hypocrites can be.

For your reading enjoyment, find below some facts about the schools these people have picked for their own kids. Keep in mind that the NJ voucher bill that many of these people support would provide, at most, $12,000 scholarships: a mere fraction of the cost to educate students at these exclusive private schools. Also remember that these are the same folks who are shocked at what they call the "high" per pupil costs of public schools, which have to educate all children - even those with special needs or who are living in extreme poverty.

Once you've perused these statistics, read what Bruce Baker has to say about this phenomenon. Apparently, small classes, lots of spending, a rich curriculum, and teachers with advanced degrees are good enough the reformers' kids - but not yours.


George Norcross sent his daughter to the Lawrenceville School:
Full Time: 139; Part Time: 2 
Degrees Held: Bachelors, 33; Masters, 86; Doctorates, 2; Ph.D., 18; J.D., 1; Professional, 1 
Student/Faculty Ratio: 8:1 Average Class Size: 12 students Average Total Students Per Master Per Term: 45 [emphasis mine]
Tuition and actual costs per student:
The 2011-2012 tuition charge for boarding students is $48,800, for day students, $39,960. In addition, there is a required medical fee of $695 for boarders and $425 for day students, and a technology fee of $425 for boarders and $285 for day students. Parents are also required to purchase a tuition refund insurance at the cost of 1.0% of the tuition (adjusted for any financial aid award). The actual annual cost to educate a student at Lawrenceville is $70,000 (including financial aid). The difference between the annual cost and tuition is met by income from the endowment and generous gifts from alumni, parents, and friends.

Chris Christie sends his sons to the Delbarton School:

The course of study offers preparation in all major academic subjects and a number of electives.
The studies are intended to help a boy shape a thought and sentence, to speak clearly about ideas and effectively about feelings, and to seek relevant facts in making judgments.
The faculty, many of whom hold higher degrees in field, consists of 80 men and women. And because the average class size is 15 and student-teacher ratio 7:1, the learning environment at Delbarton is designed to be intimate and challenging. [emphasis mine]
Tuition for the 2011-12 academic year is $27,800.00. Tuition is all-inclusive and covers such items as a daily hot lunch, technology costs, and activity fees.
Actual costs per student:
Delbarton Fund contributions are used to support technology upgrades, athletic fields and facilities, service projects, financial aid for worthy students, and maintenance of the campus, among others. Fundraising as a whole covers 10% of the annual budget, or approximately $1,900 of each student's tuition. [emphasis mine]

Barack Obama sends his daughters to Sidwell Friends School:
All classes, with the exception of one third grade and one fourth grade, have team teachers. Individual class sizes range from one teacher for every ten students in the lower grades to one teacher for every 16 students in some fourth grade classes. [emphasis mine]

Tuition for 2011-2012
Lower School
$31,960 (includes hot lunch and textbooks)

Middle and Upper Schools
$32,960 (includes hot lunch)
Actual costs per student:
Unrestricted annual funds gifts are critical to the financial health of Sidwell Friends School. The institution's budget is dependent upon these contributions to help close the gap between the tuition revenue and the true cost of a Sidwell Friends education. 
Rahm Emanuel's children attend the University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools. Valerie Strauss already did the legwork, so I won't repeat it here.

ADDING: Peg with Pen has more.


TIM said...

So maybe education is expensive.
Consider those costs:
without UNIONS - very low percentage of ELL, and SPED students - Exponetially fewer mandates from the NJDOE - the ability to expel (and the fear of it) to control/motivate students
and the MASSIVE advantages of wealth!

Anonymous said...

Don't the forget the "Mother of all Privatizing, Charter-izing Corporate Hypocrites"... Bill Gates.

Here's a great editorial/article by THE SEATTLE TIMES' Danny Westneat (who had dug up, then included the facts about the schools Gates chooses for HIS OWN kids):


Here's the bang-up ending to Westneat's article where Westneat gives his response Gates' call to blow up class sizes sky-high:

"I bet (Gates) senses deep down as a parent that pushing more kids into classes isn't what's best for students. His kids' private-sector grade school has 17 kids in each room. His daughter's high school has 15. These intimate settings are the selling point, the chief reason tuition is $25,000 a year — more than double what Seattle schools spends per student.

"Bill, here's an experiment. You and I both have an 8-year-old. Let's take your school and double its class sizes, from 16 to 32. We'll use the extra money generated by that — a whopping $400,000 more per year per classroom — to halve the class sizes, from 32 to 16, at my public high school, Garfield.

"In 2020, when our kids are graduating, we'll compare what effect it all had. On student achievement. On teaching quality. On morale. Or that best thing of all, the 'environment that promotes relationships between teachers and students.' "

"Deal? Probably not. Nobody would take that trade. Which says more than all the studies ever will."

- - - - - - -

NOTE: read the ranting of the pro-Gates, corporate shills in the "COMMENTS" section... they NEVER EVEN ATTEMPT to address the damning and convincing substance of the article---they can't, as Gates' logic-defying and monstrous hypocrisy is totally indefensible--- but instead attack the author for prying into the personal affairs of Gates. Is that all you got, guys?

Teacher Mom said...

I think Mr. Jones does a good job of laying out why they are hypocritical in their dealing, success and the "world" for their children, and cheap labor from ours.

Teacher Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I wonder what the salaries at these private schools looks like. I wonder if they're using computers that are nine years old. I wonder if the carpeting in the room dates to 1975. I wonder if a health class of 40+ is meeting in a room that's fire code rated for under 25. I wonder if a student who curses out or hits a teacher is back in the same class two days later. I wonder how many have one or more parents living in a trailer at grandma's house because grandma doesn't like drugs in her home. I wonder what those schools do with kids who refuse to work and score low on all those standardized...never mind.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, it is such a shame. I went to Villa Walsh, despite living in Basking Ridge, which has the amazing Ridge High School. I teach now in the Newark Public Schools. I am so torn.

There were certainly smarter kids than I at Ridge, but none of us high-performers were pushed terribly hard. I imagine it would have been harder once I hit high school, with honors and AP classes, but I was somewhat traumatized by the social life of middle school and never gave Ridge a chance.

As a public school teacher, I do everything I can to differentiate instruction in order to meet the needs of all of my students. I see that not all teachers do, however. I am determined to keep my own kids in public schools, but I am a very active parent and I am often citing grade-level standards to the principal or school board here in Rockaway.

I worry that my kids may not always be pushed to their abilities, but rather than give up and flee to private school (which in most cases is not better), I do what I can to improve my local schools.

I often tell parents who worry about their child's education that private/Catholic does not necessarily equal good. When I began Villa in 9th grade, most of my classmates came from Catholic elementary schools. Even those from the best ones (St. Joe's, in Mendham, St. Virgil's in Morris Twp., etc.) had not been exposed to the same level of work that I had in my public school. I had already worked on harder math and had already read more difficult and complex novels. The Catholic school kids I went to VWA with were naturally very bright, and would have been even further along had they been pushed harder. They could all diagram a sentence, but not many had read books that were more difficult than Watership Down.

I feel like I am all over here. I guess my experience in both settings confirmed for me that no system is perfect, but I feel it's my duty to do all I can to better our public schools - both at home, and at work.

Duke said...

Regan, I don't have a problem with private schools. My problem is that those who push to instill a huge testing regime that will narrow the curriculum in public schools then send their own kids to schools that make it a point NOT to engage in high-stakes testing.

And these people, who continually tell us "there's no more money for schools," then send their kids to privates that spend WAY more than public schools - even though those privates don't take the most expensive kids to educate (special needs, LEP, poor, etc).

They also talk about the market saving public education. Well, the market says the 1% gets to drive Porsches, and the rest of us take the bus. Education should not be subject to those whims.

Thx for commenting.

Duke said...

Anon, great stuff about Gates - will use at some point.

Jewmanista said...

There's another aspect to this. Each private school has a philosophy and a cohesive curriculum that builds from grade to grade. Teachers who work there adhere to the philosophy, and it's a big part of what parents are buying. If you don't agree with the philosophy, or it doesn't work for your child, you don't send your child to that school.

Public schools have to satisfy everyone, including the politicians and voters who don't have children. A school can't be all things to all people: it doesn't work. Let's figure out what we want our schools to accomplish and design a system that works so that teachers, students and parents know what to expect and what is expected of them. That's what Finland did and it's working for them.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I really wish the US would take a serious look at Finland's ways.

jasminOlivia said...

About time, no thank you to the one week headstart though!

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