Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PRESCHOOL MADNESS....The New York Times has the latest entry in what seems like (at least) an annual story: the scramble to get your 3-year-old into a great preschool:

This is the moment of maximum anxiety for parents, many of whom have applied to so-called safety preschools, just hoping their children will be accepted somewhere. And the hot pursuit of slots has continued despite tuition that can run over $10,000 a year for 3-year-olds. Acceptance letters were sent out last Wednesday for private kindergarten programs, to be followed next week by the telltale thick or thin envelopes from the preschools.

There's something I don't get here. Top universities are not pure businesses, and thus have various incentives not to simply raise their prices until supply meets demands. But that's not true of preschools, is it? They just want to make money, right? So why not simply raise their rates and make all the money the traffic can bear? If you have twice or three times as many applicants as you have spots, you're leaving money on the table.

I guess I can see the possibility that there's a balance here: having a certain kind of student body makes you exclusive, which in turn allows you to charge lots of money, which in turn means that you have to have lots of applicants in order to make sure you have the kind of student body that allows you charge lots of money. I get that. But we're talking preschool here, and we're talking about applicants who are all pretty high up the SES food chain in the first place. Surely setting a price point that produces a mere 50% too many applicants would allow you to create a pretty damn exclusive student body?

Tyler Cowen, please take some guesses about this. It seems like it's right up your alley.

UPDATE: I'm told that elite Manhattan preschools are mostly nonprofits, and thus don't charge market clearing prices. This actually inspires three or four more questions about the whole thing, but I'll restrain myself from asking them. Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?

Kevin Drum 2:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (117)

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Comments

I just went through this. Remember, some of these schools are not technically "for profit" in that sense. Further, notice that Harvard does not charge $1,000,000 per year, even if they could, it does not want to exclude students who would add to the student body.

Finally, and most importantly considering the threads started lately -- what people are paying for in private school is not the richest possible class. They are paying for a class with the highest minimum level of competence, so that the academic level can be high. Also, the schools pretty much need, as a practical matter, a sibling policy which takes all younger siblings of an older child, provided that the younger sibs are not complete problem children.

Oh, and given those parameters, the schools charges as much as they can. Believe me. No reason to spend any time worrying about that.

If, for example, vouchers were introduced for all families, you would be able to measure the speed of light by how fast all of the private elementary schools immediately raised their tuituion by the amount of the voucher.

Posted by: hank on March 3, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

As with any market issue, the whole thing is probably a lot more complex than it appears.

Frankly, I think this whole phenomenon is nuts. I firmly believe that a toddler would benefit far more from having a full-time mom or dad reading to them every day at home than going to an elite pre-school.

What these schools will turn out someday is a large load of customers for the therapy industry.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dunno what the underlying cause is, but could it be similar to nightclubs who specfically aim to have long lines outside, thus creating the impression of being "the hot thing"? Those clubs could also, of course, "simply" raise their cover until supply=demand, and the line would disappear.

In some fashion or other, the point, for the nightclub, seems to be to create the appearance of demand. Is something similar the case with the preschools?

(Abstractly, rather like the old story of a daddy bull and his pubescent son looking over a valley of cows. The son says "hey dad - let's run down there and fuck a cow". The dad says "no son, let's *walk* down there, and fuck em all".)

Posted by: cdj on March 3, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

maybe the asshole quotient goes up with income.

If you have a parent prepared to spend $30,000 on a year of preschool maybe their kids are already real jerks.

I think the higher the tuition the more the schools will be forced to accept students.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on March 3, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I think this whole phenomenon is nuts. I firmly believe that a toddler would benefit far more from having a full-time mom or dad reading to them every day at home than going to an elite pre-school.

Agreed Tbrosz. Traditionally that is why women have stayed at home. So she can raise the children at home instead of sending them to day care and pre-school. But liberals and feminists destroyed that in the 60's and look at how horrible it is now.

Posted by: Al on March 3, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and its not as if the schools do not have offers rejected. Once people start apply to, say, five schools, each with a class of 40. You're going to have five schools with 200 applicants for 40 spots.

Posted by: hank on March 3, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK
There's something I don't get here. Top universities are not pure businesses, and thus have various incentives not to simply raise their prices until supply meets demands. But that's not true of preschools, is it? They just want to make money, right? So why not simply raise their rates and make all the money the traffic can bear? If you have twice or three times as many applicants as you have spots, you're leaving money on the table.

Because, you get to charge more if you produce better results, you get to produce better results if you have better students, you get better students if you can turn away the worse ones. Ergo, simply jacking up your prices till you don't turn anyone that can pay the bills away maximizes short-run profit, but tends to erode your ability to charge premium prices in the future.

That being said, there are plenty of preschools, I expect, that are not pure businesses in the sense you suggest.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

do these schools employ personal butlers to change the poopy diapers? sign me up!

Posted by: nova silverpill on March 3, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

cm as usual, nails it.

Posted by: hank on March 3, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK
I firmly believe that a toddler would benefit far more from having a full-time mom or dad reading to them every day at home than going to an elite pre-school.

Too bad, then, perhaps that America's productivity is supported by having workers that, when employed, spend more hours at work than in most of the rest of the West, and have less time to spend at home.

Maybe if we made staying home and taking care of kids an economically viable choice, more people would do it. Unfortunately, a government in the pocket of corporate capitalism has been busy destroying the American family for decades.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

You could always charge very high application fees, which are mentioned in the article.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt on March 3, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Several of my colleagues are engaged in this process right now. We're corporate casual, so when I see somenone in a suit and tie I assume they're either (i) on their way to court or a business meeeting or (ii) going to an interview at a preschool.

It is for this reason, among many others, that I've decided to forgo having young children and will instead adopt twenty-one year old Brazilian twins. I'll save a bundle on tuition....

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

And the hot pursuit of slots has continued despite tuition that can run over $10,000 a year for 3-year-olds.

This isn't all that much when you consider that for working parents, like my wife and I, the fees include before and after care, as we abandon our children to the care of strangers from about 7:30AM until 5:00PM M-F. Ain't life grand!

Do the math (being the product of public schools, I'm not able to). That's 2,280 hours a year or so. Show me where else you can find $5/hour day care that doesn't risk your children being exposed to less than ideal life experiences.

Our daughter, now in public elemenatary school, attended, and now our son attends an excellent Montessori School. Our daughter was reading by the time she was 4 (I think I was ten), and then wasted an entire year in a Catholic kindergarten as only about half her classmates could count even to ten or knew the alphabet.

Someone commented on how better schools are now teaching 1st grade curriculum in kindergarten. That's true of Montessori schools.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, we're all missing the point. Shouldn't the finest schools, Pre-K or not, be available to every child? The fact that the rich can afford better schools is the shame of this country.

Posted by: KW on March 3, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was with you until the last line about the altruism of "not-for-profit" organizations.

Posted by: wks on March 3, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's a status thing. Preschoolers are still learning at their own pace, as their brain and body develop. There can't be a 2% difference in kindergarden-readiness between an elite preschool and a good one. I have a 4 & 5 yr old both going through preschool now.

Posted by: American Citizen on March 3, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?

Well, no. Rich people, like people everywhere, want the best for their children. The problem is that in Manhattan and in parts of Brooklyn there are simply a limited number of pre-school slots available compared to the number of wealthy, bright, highly driven, Ivy League or equivalent educated parents. There's x number of spots and 2x, let's say, number of children, so quite obviously there's going to be some winnowing going on.

If you're the parent of one of these children and you can afford it, you have every incentive in the world to try to get your child into one of these schools. While the system as a whole is dysfunctional (in the sense that we as a society should better order it so that quality pre-school education was available to everyone) , the individual parents' response to it, i.e. fierce competition, is quite rational.

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Meh. Kids are capable of learning a lot faster than they are given credit for. A healthy country would have good programs for all kids, preschool through HS graduation. The problem isn't that rich people can pay to get their kids into these things, the problem is thatit takes a rich person to get their kids into these things.

Yes, Tbrosz, its a shame we can't go back to the rigorous academic homeschooling standards of the 1920 - 1930's. Girls were taught their place back then, weren't they? Oh, and darkies, too.

Posted by: Mysticdog on March 3, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I hate it when I agree with tbrosz on something.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on March 3, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, we're all missing the point. Shouldn't the finest schools, Pre-K or not, be available to every child? The fact that the rich can afford better schools is the shame of this country.
Posted by: KW

No one's "missing the point." We're the good guys here, the one that favor universal public education. If you're looking to pick a fight over this, head over to LGF or Instaprat.

However, most public school systems don't offer pre-school. So you're kind of missing the point. Until quite recently, most kids never went to school before kindergarten, in some cases 1st grade.

I think it is safe to say, except for the trolls, that everyone posting here would welcome a instant 25% increase in federal funding for education.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that the rich can afford better schools is the shame of this country.

Generally, the rich will always be able to afford better than everyone else, in almost every field -- that's the whole point of being rich. The shame in this country isn't that the rich can afford better, it's that now only the rich can afford certain things -- quality education, healthcare, etc. -- that we as a society used to try to provide to everybody as a baseline.

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I firmly believe that a toddler would benefit far more from having a full-time mom or dad reading to them every day at home than going to an elite pre-school.
Spoken by someone who never stayed home to look after a toddler for even a day, no doubt.


The problem only gets worse after nursery school. I'm trying to sign my grandson up for kindergarten here in NorCal and the choices are appalling in public schools. There is no middle anywhere on the SF peninsula. The schools in areas where single family residences are $1 million and up are great. Schools everywhere else are at the bottom on Academic Placement tests. This leave many middle class people signing their little darlings up for parochial school. I've forked over 3 application fees at 3 different parochial schools and I'm hoping he gets in one of them. The poor little bugger has been screened 3 times already, and at the last screening (this Wednesday) when the principal perkily asked "Hi! How are you!" he said, "I'm scared".
Welcome to the brave new world.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 3, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

It is for this reason, among many others, that I've decided to forgo having young children and will instead adopt twenty-one year old Brazilian twins. I'll save a bundle on tuition.... Posted by: Stefan

Stefan, you're being naughty.

I've got a book for you. I realize you're a filthy foreigner and all (Beatles' Help reference there, not a slur), I don't know if you are a fan of Monty Python, but if you are, I bet you'd enjoy Graham Chapman's A Liar's Autobiography.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?

A bit off-topic, but: When he read F. Scott Fitzgerald's line, "The rich are not like you and me," Hemingway's response was, "Yeah--they have more money." Which, of course (moving back on-topic now), is precisely the point Stefan is making above in his posts.

Posted by: John B. on March 3, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't the finest schools, Pre-K or not, be available to every child? The fact that the rich can afford better schools is the shame of this country.

Totally true, when you're talking about "school." But this is pre-kindergarten for three-year-olds. The point everyone is missing here, maybe due to not living in NYC, is that this is not about school. Nor is it really about kids.

It's about parental prestige.

In NYC, among a certain social class, where your kid goes to school is a big part of where you "fit" in the stratum of prestige.

This is nuts, of course, but it's very real here.

Your kid's school can determine which dinner parties you are invited to, which boards of directors you can join, which clubs will admit you as a member. And, ultimately, it could determine whether a multi-billion-dollar M/A deal succeeds or fails.

Looney, but real.


Posted by: Jack Lindahl on March 3, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Of course I also agree with cm. The great disconnect is that the Al's of the world worship the free market and capitalism, but then claim that people shoudn't participate. Only a Republican could say with a straight face that there's more to life than money and lecture on the importance of sacrifice, but then base every public policy decision on the idea that really, in the end, there is nothing more important than commerce.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on March 3, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK
I think it's a status thing. Preschoolers are still learning at their own pace, as their brain and body develop. There can't be a 2% difference in kindergarden-readiness between an elite preschool and a good one.

Probably not; OTOH, there may be much more than a 2% difference in ability to get into the right private elementary school from getting into an elite preschool vs. a good one, even if it isn't all due to substantive "readiness".

The competition isn't just at the pre-school level.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan writes:

"If you're the parent of one of these children and you can afford it, you have every incentive in the world to try to get your child into one of these schools. While the system as a whole is dysfunctional (in the sense that we as a society should better order it so that quality pre-school education was available to everyone) , the individual parents' response to it, i.e. fierce competition, is quite rational."

It is rational in that sense. On the other hand there is no statistical evidence (and there is evidence of the obverse) that pre-preschool education, let alone preschool education, does anything at all...especially for kids coming from educated, upper-class families to begin with.
Ultimately, it is purely a Manhattan status symbol...in this sense Kevin is right...there is a set of status symbols that are unique to this city and almost inexplicable to outsiders....


Posted by: Nathan on March 3, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?"

Not to mention rather lazy about parenting.

Posted by: Fred F. on March 3, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, you're being naughty.

Not as naughty as I hope the twins will be....

I've got a book for you. I realize you're a filthy foreigner and all (Beatles' Help reference there, not a slur), I don't know if you are a fan of Monty Python, but if you are, I bet you'd enjoy Graham Chapman's A Liar's Autobiography.

I'm amazed you even have to ask if I'm a fan of Monty Python...Thanks very much for the tip. I love Chapman, and didn't know about his book.

(Off-topic, but it's amazing just how erudite and talented all the Pythons are. There's hardly one I can't think of one that hasn't published several wonderful books or produced great documentaries -- Terry Jones, for example, has reinvented himself as a medieaval scholar (!)). It would be impossible to imagine the cast, of, say, Saturday Night Live doing the same.

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

ExBrit,

The solution to your problem is to move.

Yes, its tough but can be done. This entire thread reinforces why my company is slowly pulling out of Southern Cal. We hire single engineers, who live in two room apratments on he beach, etc. Once they get married and look round for a place to raise kids - they leave. We decided to head this off at the pass and just stop hiring in the area and move the work by attrition. I know of two other large companies slowly doing the same thing in 'bubble' housing areas. We can pay the engineers the same pay, but double their effective take home (after taxes and mortgage) by not hiring in bubble areas. I dumped my huge mortgage in NVa, pocked a 18% profit in two years, and moved out of the bubble. My old company would have had to almost double my pay for me to have the equivalent of my current state.

Not to hijack, but those good schools are one of the big reasons that housing cost is so high. I have seen identical houses priced at $500K and $700K across the street from each other. Only difference was the school district.

And yes its crazy...but you CAN determiine your fate.

Posted by: buffpilot on March 3, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jack:

you exaggerate a little...but not much...I'd say more that which preschool your kids attend is indicative of which dinner parties, etc., that you attend in the first place.

years ago I had a similar argument with the relatives of a close friend. They were absolutely convinced that her daughter must attend the same prep schools as they did in order to attend Yale or what-not. I pointed out that once you accounted for SAT scores and legacy admissions, the admission rate from these various prep schools at Ivy institutions was no higher than if she attended a local public school....
I eventually realized that the argument wasn't actually about maximising her college odds but was simply about status...it's crazy, but very real.

Posted by: Nathan on March 3, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe kids with working parents are dumber. In the 1970s, more parents started using daycare. Those kids are now voting age, and for two elections in a row we have elected the stupidest President in our history.

If I could afford it, I'd tell my wife to stop being a doctor. It wouldn't do any good because she has a mind of her own, but that's what I would tell her.

Posted by: reino on March 3, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?"

Not to mention rather lazy about parenting.
Posted by: Fred F.

Don't forget that all Chinese are inscrutible, all Jews and Scotman are cheap, and that all negros are shiftless.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: In a rather amazing coincidence, I am leaving for South America, including Brazil, tomorrow. Cross my palm with silver, baby, and I'll see what I can fit in my carryon coming back.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I eventually realized that the argument wasn't actually about maximising her college odds but was simply about status...it's crazy, but very real.

Though there's nothing simple about status. Status determines your, well, status, which can have rather large effects on your position in life, income, opportunities, etc. To be truly happy we should be able to overcome our concerns about status -- but, being human, we all find that hard to do.

Caveat: no, it's not completely causative, but it is correlative.

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Unfortunately, a government in the pocket of corporate capitalism has been busy destroying the American family for decades.

There are other schools of thought on what's been destroying the American family for the past few decades, but that's another thread.

ExBrit:

Spoken by someone who never stayed home to look after a toddler for even a day, no doubt.

I've spent a lot of years working out of my home. For a lot of my kids' lives, I was the stay-at-home parent. Other times when I worked in an office, my wife was. Sometimes we needed day care, but it was in a home with a friend. When I was starting a launch company, my infant daughter came to work with me, one of two "rocket babies" at the firm.

I suspect that anyone who could afford one of these fancy schools could also, with some minor adjustments, afford to have one parent not working. Just an observation.

I just noticed...my youngest is in high school now, and I'm still stuck doing the damn cooking.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

"Though there's nothing simple about status. Status determines your, well, status, which can have rather large effects on your position in life, income, opportunities, etc."

Of course...my point was that it was about their status...not the girl's (her's will be determined more by what she does and who she meets in college...and after)....that's what I found insipid.

Posted by: Nathan on March 3, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

And yes its crazy...but you CAN determiine your fate.

Golly, I didn't realize this. Thanks for pointing it out!
Seriously, I'm going to Oregon in a couple of weeks to check out property. Real estate is cheaper and the schools are much higher rated.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 3, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

ExBrit: Real estate is cheaper and the schools are much higher rated.

Plus, thethirdpaul can help you with your garden planning. He and I are mapping out my summer deck right now. You're the best, Paolo!

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the fact is that running a really high-quality preschool is just expensive. I used to work as a preschool teacher at an excellent progressive non-profit preschool, and the school was barely scraping by despite huge tuition (>$2k/month for some families). This was not an inefficiently-run place, either- the Directors frequently went home without paychecks and they were constantly trying to make ends meet. Unfortunately, a really good product is just expensive and preschool is one of those products that you can't compromise too much with.

Posted by: Ruck on March 3, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, I'm going to Oregon in a couple of weeks to check out property. Real estate is cheaper and the schools are much higher rated. Posted by: ExBrit

You're spot on when comparing the first to NorCal. However (cue Paul to the 3rd Power for great detail), Oregon schools are in a world of hurt as the state's utterly fucked legislature will not raise taxes, and the schools had to cut two weeks out of the year a couple years back. On top of that, they have this stupid surplus revenue cap that requires the state to refund income tax when the revenue exceeds some ridiculously low threshhold. Therefore, Oregon never has a rainy day fund during recessions, unlike the vastly superior Washington, Paul.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I get a kick out of the intranorthwest rivalry you guys have!

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that anyone who could afford one of these fancy schools could also, with some minor adjustments, afford to have one parent not working. Just an observation.

One of these "fancy schools" costs around $10,000-$15,000 a year in tuition, while the average parent of a child at one of these schools earns well in advance of $100,000-$150,000 a year, and often quite more than that. How on earth does being able to afford ten thousand dollars mean that you can afford to forgo an income of, say, two hundred thousand dollars? Sending your child to school is far, far cheaper than giving up your job.

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK
I'm trying to sign my grandson up for kindergarten here in NorCal and the choices are appalling in public schools. There is no middle anywhere on the SF peninsula.

The SF Peninsula is something of an extreme case, even for Northern California.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I get a kick out of the intranorthwest rivalry you guys have! Posted by: shortstop

Hey, bus stop, that's IntraGreatPacificNorthwest to you!

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

ExBrit,

I wasn't trying to be snarkey. Just I have been flamed before for even suggesting someone might move out of the SF or DC or NYC to improve their lot in life. Heck, we lost long time friends in NVa when I accepted my current job. They didn't believe we 'tried' enough to stay. They thought we were insane to move away from the 'perfect' place in NVa. I can now take vacations again instead of paying a hefty mortgage. As a bonus I cut my commute from 1+ hour to 15 minutes. And no more snow...

Posted by: buffpilot on March 3, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I swear to God, Jeff, I almost typed that, but couldn't face the retorts.

I am so not finishing all the work I have to do. Going to be up all night and it's my own fault.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't trying to be snarkey. Just I have been flamed before for even suggesting someone might move out of the SF or DC or NYC to improve their lot in life. Posted by: buffpilot

DC I can see - no reason to live anywhere near the capital unless you're connected to the federal government. And even then . . . But SF and NYC? Surely jest? Now if you'd thrown in St. Louis or Jacksonville or Cleveland or Phoenix or . . . Different kettle of fish and all.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's kinda easy, Kevin:

  • Most preschool teachers aren't in it for money, but love. Besides, this makes them more popular with Liberals.
  • Having a large list to choose from is the sign of being desired and exclusive - not a high pricetag.
  • Posted by: Crissa on March 3, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

    I think Ruck hits is basically on point here. It is quite expensive to run a decent preschool. I'm on the board of a similar school in the LA area and we barely make ends meet at over 10k per child, and that is with subsidized rent. Teacher/child ratios are mandated by the state, and at market cost we spend over 70 of budget on salaries alone. That is before supplies, rent, snacks and the rest of it. In fact, without significant fundraising we would lose money each and every year. And let me assure you, no one is getting rich in the non profit preschool industry.

    Remember, prices are often driven by costs, and in big cities like LA, NY and SF everything is more expensive - especially salaries and real estate. However there is an upper limit on what preschools can charge, and it is directly related to the cost of hiring a "nanny" to care for your child.

    Posted by: wrharper on March 3, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

    But SF and NYC? Surely jest? Now if you'd thrown in St. Louis or Jacksonville or Cleveland or Phoenix or ...

    Because paying $1500 a month for a room in a cramped NYC apartment on the lower east side makes so much sense. Especially on entry-level to mid-level salaries in science/engineering. In order to completely derail the thread, I moved from North-Central NJ to Syracuse, NY and took a slight pay increase while halving my housing costs.

    There's no point in living in an insanely-expensive city when all one can afford to do is sit in an their over-priced apartment.

    Posted by: ChrisS on March 3, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

    Fyodor is a great guide. Vanity and stupidity are timeless.

    Posted by: Jimm on March 3, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

    There's no point in living in an insanely-expensive city when all one can afford to do is sit in an their over-priced apartment.
    Posted by: ChrisS

    True. To live in both SF and NYC in decent buildings in the good neighborhoods (which now includes just about everything across the East River in Brooklyn!) costs a fortune. But, very few cities compare to them if you are a true urban dweller.

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

    Every day I gotta juice the guys I gotta juice, so I can get more money, so I can juice the guys I gotta juice.

    Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 3, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

    But, very few cities compare to them if you are a true urban dweller.

    Chicago is cooler than either. Colder, too, but if you're an urban dweller, cold really doesn't matter.

    Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 3, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

    Chicago is cooler than either. Colder, too, but if you're an urban dweller, cold really doesn't matter. Posted by: Jeffrey Davis

    One of my best friends lived there for about five years when he was doing his PhD. Lived through those hideous back-to-back winters in the early 1980s. I never got to visit him then, but I did rush around the city in 1980 for half day thanks to Amtrak. The Art Institute is wonderful. I love the architecture. But better than NYC? Don't be silly!

    And colder does matter. NYC get's a foot of snow and it's usually gone in about two days. But no sensible person goes outside when the wind chill's been 20 below for three days. Might as well move to Fairbanks.

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

    Where to begin? (disclosure: I've worked in ed. research, testing, evaluation esp. early childhood, since 1989; fatehr of two sons who went to excllent Pre-K's) "Toddler" - ages 1 - 3. Most are at home. "Preschool" and "Pre-K" generally = 3 - 4 year-olds. Most U.S. Pre-K kids have at least some center-based experiences. Quality varies WILDLY.

    First, one size does not fit all, and for many kids, the best preschool experience is a place called "home." (for some kids, it's the worst place to be, but I digress)

    Of course the NYT article is nuts. "I can give you the name of a preschool where your child has the best chance of getting into Harvard." - "Alice" (1992)

    What to look for your your child? Develpmenally appropriate practices; learning centers; lots of motor skill opportunities; assessment through trained teacher observations. Ask what assessments they use. Are they NAEYC-certified? (that's now uneven, but still a good sign) Look for use of things like the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS - a true classroom measure; internationally adopted, great metrics, reliable); things like the Child Observation Record (COR), for kids. Anything from the Perry Hi/Scope Project.

    The big things to look at for kids this age is inquiry on the "academic" side, which takes place in the form of play, social-emotional skills, and motor skills (especially for boys, who are developmentally behind at this age).

    Play counts at this age! And give them multiple choices!

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

    Instead of raising tuition, preschools could simply increase class sizes from, say, 20 to 30. With 50% more kids admitted to every school, the market forces would stabilize. But then a class size of 30 doesn't make for a very good environment for learning. Raising the tuition stabilizes the market forces as well, but limits the field of students economically, which is usually not what the directors of the school aspire to. Of course, some enterprising soul could open a new preschool to cater to all those folks who can't get their kids in anywhere else. But the profit margins are extremely low, if they exist at all, so not many people are lining up to do this, either. The point is: preschools, like all private education, does not follow free market model of supply/demand/price because both the producers and consumers have other objectives and ideals besides what the market can offer.

    Posted by: dl on March 3, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

    I hate to say it, but Jeff's right. Nothing is better than NYC. But the spouse won't move there and Chicago is a fine city, except for the weather. (Cold DOES matter to urban dwellers; I hate, hate hate it.)

    Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

    Where to begin? (disclosure: I've worked in ed. research, testing, evaluation esp. early childhood, since 1989; fatehr of two sons Posted by: MaxGowan

    That sounds like something that should be in the sex thread above. That or it's German I've forgotten. Stefan?

    Columbia Teacher's College?

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

    Generally laws (rightfully) prohibit more than 18 Pre-K kids per classrrom, unless you add a paraprofessional. You can pay teachers big $$$, still run a quality program for a half-day of around $4,500 and maybe $7,300 for all-day. (Larger cities will be somewhat more costly). The school system I work in, and we are highly recognized for an excellent Pre-K system - lager, too - most of our cities 4 yr. olds; about 2,000 kids overall. Our teachers are well compensated, which is how you get the best teachers and the lowest turnover (probably the biggest single enemy of quality child care). So you don't need to pay a ton of money to have high quality. Not on the cheap, either, but a moderate cost.

    Again, look at credentials, assessment, where they get their curriculum, etc.

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

    (Cold DOES matter to urban dwellers; I hate, hate hate it.) Posted by: shortstop

    There is cold and then there is cold. As a "winter sports enthusiast," I live for winter. But that's a winter of mid-20s to teens during the day time without 30MPH winds. I skied once at zero this year, and that's too cold, even in dry Colorado. Got just a touch of frostbite on my over large nose.

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

    Make that "larger," not "lager," although some days, lager would feel better . . .

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

    Is this full-time preschool (i.e. daycare)? Because I've gotta admit, $10,000 a year for full-time daycare sounds like a bargain to me! I'm not interested in fancy status preschools or anything like that, but I pay substantially more than that per year to have my 4yo son in a small home-based daycare, here in SF Bay Area. And the on-site after-school care when he goes to Kindergarten next year is not actually that much cheaper either.

    I don't consider myself rich. That's just what it costs for childcare.

    Posted by: pluto on March 3, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

    Oregon schools are in a world of hurt as the state's utterly fucked legislature will not raise taxes,

    I hear you, but it couldn't be worse than the impact of Prop. 13 in California. My house has property taxes of $7,800 a year. The neighbors across the street and next door pay $1500/year for the SAME square footage (but, hey, they get to go on their cruises, so stfu). Everytime I get a phone call from dedicated parents asking for support for a school bond I tell them I'm paying more than my fair share already, and suggest they work to repeal prop. 13 instead.

    Posted by: ExBrit on March 3, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

    The majority of 3-year-olds are not developmentally ready for pres-school. They SHOULD NOT GO.

    Erg, look when I am a parent I will make a huge effort to actually teach my kid myself until they hit 4-5 when they go to preschool mostly to learn social skills. Argh.

    Posted by: MNPundit on March 3, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

    ExBrit, where are you thinking about in Oregon? I heartily recommend Greater Portland, as I'm sure Paul#3 would, a number of cities on the coast, and Bend. You want to really go off the beaten path, Joseph.

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

    We hired a trained (Waldorf)teacher from Scandinavia and opened our own school. We got certified by New York State, took out insurance and everything. My daughter went there for three years. She is now at U of Chicago.

    Posted by: Harold on March 3, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

    Full disclosure:

    1) I'm a stay at home dad.
    B) Our daughter is in a religious based pre-school two days a week.
    iii) We don't spend 10K a year for that. Instead, we get 10K a year in loans so I can attend a private college (part time) to finally get my degree.

    We've had our daughter on several waiting lists - she's actually attending the "safety" school, rather than our first choice. And she'll be attending the safety school again next year, because she won't get in our first choice - even though she was 17th on the list last year. So this isn't a phenomenon just at the upper levels of the SES spectrum.

    tbrosz: I'm going to guess you don't have kids? We put our daughter in pre-school so she gets some more intense interaction with other kids her age. It also allows the stay at home parent some time to do things they would like to do, or need to do. Like, say, homework?

    Al: Did you ever hang out at David Coursey's blog?

    KW observed: Once again, we're all missing the point. Shouldn't the finest schools, Pre-K or not, be available to every child? The fact that the rich can afford better schools is the shame of this country.

    The rich are always going to be able to afford better schools. Always.

    I see Stefan made the point as well. And very well, I might add.

    Nathan wrote: On the other hand there is no statistical evidence (and there is evidence of the obverse) that pre-preschool education, let alone preschool education, does anything at all...especially for kids coming from educated, upper-class families to begin with.

    On the other, other hand, our daughter, who is quite shy, is learning how to interact with kids in a safe environment, where she can't hang on to daddy's pant leg, and simply observe. We're not expecting educational miracles. That's what SportsCenter is for, right? [joking].

    Posted by: J on March 3, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

    where are you thinking about in Oregon?

    I'm thinking of Lake Oswego, but realize that could cost more to buy in. Please make a suggestion.

    Posted by: ExBrit on March 3, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

    I hate to say it, but Jeff's right. Nothing is better than NYC.

    We're number one, baby! Number One!

    But the spouse won't move there and Chicago is a fine city, except for the weather.

    Saying "Chicago is a fine city except for the weather" is like saying "Baghdad is a fine city except for all the bombings."

    (Cold DOES matter to urban dwellers; I hate, hate hate it.)

    I hate, hate, hate, real cold, too, but I do like winter clothing. My life is a mass of contradiction...

    Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

    The majority of 3-year-olds are not developmentally ready for pres-school. They SHOULD NOT GO. - MNPundit

    I don't know where you heard this, but it's certainly not the experience that I had as a teacher. A quality place will understand the child and their developmental needs, and will provide what is best for them.

    Besides, even if this were true, for most people there isn't much of an option. Especially if you are living in an area with high costs of living, as noted above.

    Posted by: Ruck on March 3, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

    I'm thinking of Lake Oswego, but realize that could cost more to buy in. Please make a suggestion.
    Posted by: ExBrit

    TheThirdPaul is the man to consult on this. But I would think that after the Bay Area you'd be able to buy the Governor's mansion in Corvallis. Lake Oswego is one of Portland's tony 'burbs, but nothing compared to the prices you'd pay in a similar city in the Bay Area, or around LA or even Seattle.

    I want to move to Bend but must face the annoying fact that we'd both be unemployed when we got there and that my knees will be 47 this April.

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

    Nathan wrote: On the other hand there is no statistical evidence (and there is evidence of the obverse) that pre-preschool education, let alone preschool education, does anything at all...especially for kids coming from educated, upper-class families to begin with.

    This is also misleading, because the studies that Nathan is referring to generally are testing scholastic aptitude, which isn't the point of preschool. There are, however, countless studies that verify that preschool kids are statistically more likely to have well-developed social skills, less likely to commit crimes, etc...

    Posted by: Ruck on March 3, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

    Saying "Chicago is a fine city except for the weather" is like saying "Baghdad is a fine city except for all the bombings."

    Oh, now you had to go and be gratuitously nasty. I hate when New Yorkers snottily do that after I've just graciously complimented their city.

    Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

    I'm tired of reading stories about this. These parents belong to a strange subculture that I've never had any contact with and which does not deserve anyone's sympathy or attention.

    Posted by: dan on March 3, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

    Here's the thought process. You want, of course, the best for your child. If you are both professionals, as was pointed out above, you probably already have a nanny after about age 1 or 2, perhaps not, but if you do, you are already spending that $10,000 per year anyway.

    Evey if you are not, the next question is, are you going to send your child to private school? If you are, and if New York is anything like Los Angeles (probably worse) you don't simply waltz up to the private elementary school of choice plop down some money, and send your kid the next day. Its hard to get in.

    Why, exactly, well, the schools fill their classes in the following order (roughly) First group: younger siblings of existing students, children of teachers, children of legacy families who have donated a building or something. Second group: everybody else.
    In many schools these days, the first group takes up the vast majority of spots. So, if there is theoretically room for 20 boys, after filling in the first group there might only be room for 4 new boys that year.

    There is not reall a vast WASP-ish socioeconomic conspiracy about admissions, but the kids are invited to sort of a play date (it would be stretching in to call it a "test") where the elementary schools decide who to offer the new spots to. Sometimes the parents interview as well, but my sense was that the parents think that their interview matters more than it actually does.

    Now, if your kid acts up, has trouble following instructions from strange adults, are overly shy, overly rambuctuous, etc. Forget it.

    How best to prepare your kid to not be overly shy, not be overly rambuctuous, and to take reasonable instruction from teachers? Well, pre-school, in particular a pre-school with some record of kids going on to the private elementary school you want to attend.

    That's pretty much how it goes. All of the above is subject to debate, but its not as if you wake up one day and decide to spend $10,000 per year.

    Pre-school is actually a fair ways into the trip.

    Posted by: hank on March 3, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

    $10,000 a year for tuition. Why so cheap? I think many of you are missing the point. In the SF Bay ARea, daycare for a child is $200 to $300 per week. OUrs is $250. That's much more than $10,000 per year. I'm sure New York is the same. These people are clamoring to get these kids in because it's a good deal.

    I'm exaggerating a bit here but the point is that the cost is not all that much when you consider that you'd be paying that much anyway. I have 3 kids age 2, 4, and 6 and I fork over about $2400 a month in child care and school costs and that's because I have scholarships and student subsidized care. It would be over $3000 without it and $2500 even if I sent my 6 year old to public school. Boggles the mind, eh?

    Posted by: kj on March 3, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

    The underlying problem may not be not enough preschool places available, but not enough Harvard places available and too much anxiety over that. My kids attended a neighborhood half-day preschool on the Upper West Side, Rocking Horse, with a couple of months' notice, but they don't promise anything about the kid's college career.

    Wasn't there an analyst who adjusted his opinion of a stock in order to get his twins into the 92nd St Y preschool? Sanford something? And...the Y! Seriously.

    I work at a hospital, and a doctor who recently moved to Manhattan overheard two nurses talking about preschool applications. After listening to a description of the program that one of their children attends (Fieldston), she decided to look into it for her own child. She was surprised to discover that she couldn't possibly afford it. It was gently pointed out to her that the two nurses are black.

    Posted by: Shamhat on March 3, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

    Oh, now you had to go and be gratuitously nasty. I hate when New Yorkers snottily do that after I've just graciously complimented their city.

    *hot blush of shame*

    *furious backpedaling*

    *stammered apologies*

    Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

    *hot blush of shame*

    *furious backpedaling*

    *stammered apologies*
    Posted by: Stefan

    You left out the embarrassing incontinents. (Chicagoans like the humiliation factor.)

    Posted by: Jeff II on March 3, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

    Sure, you're now deeply concerned that I'll fail to bring back your Brazilian souvenirs, Stefan. But it's too late, yes, too late for reparations. Hee.

    Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

    With a preschool that practices developmentally appropriately, three year-olds are just fine. Good programs make their program fit the particular child. Sometimes 2 - 3 day/week schedules are better for some three year-olds.

    The other key thing here, take comfort in knowing that many of these rich people's Pre-K's are getting inferior programs when compared to some that exist in the inner city - no lie. Upon reflecting my previous posts, I do want to caution that prices vary mostly on where people live. But it really doesn't take an arm and a leg to fund a high quality Pre-K, and still pay well to get the better, certified teachers. (That's the other thing - look at master's level teachers with certification.)

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

    Kevin: Manhattan elite preschools don't discriminate solely on price because their reputations depend upon their discriminating heavily on IQ -- absolutely literally.

    All toddlers aiming for prestigious private nursery schools in New York City must take the 60-75 minute Wechsler IQ test administered by the Educational Records Bureau for $375.

    Here's the New York Magazine article that explains about the mandatory IQ testing of 4-year-olds:
    http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/urban/education/features/1508/

    Yet, liberal Manhattanites' private obsession with their childrens IQ hasnt stopped the Manhattan media mafia, ever since the Bell Curve brouhaha, from publicly denouncing IQ testing as a racist and discredited concept.

    The typical white intellectual considers himself superior to ordinary white folks for two contradictory reasons. First, he constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they dont. Second, he has a high IQ, but they dont.

    Posted by: Steve Sailer on March 3, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

    The problem with them IQ tests at the four year-old level, is bit of unreliability. More than a bit. And these big state tests - error rates at the individual level approaching 50% in large swaths. (fabulous at the aggregate level, but nearly useless at the individual level) They are almost getting "random assignment" the reliability is so poor.

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

    I just spent a couple of weeks in Mumbai. One big issue in the local paper was entrance exams for preschool. This is the egalitarian position, against the position of raising fees until only rich kids can attend.

    The state Mumbai is in just passed legislation guaranteeing half of new preschool slots to underrepresented castes and tribes. They said there's no sense reserving college slots (which they already do) if they start out behind in Kindergarten.

    Posted by: anandine on March 3, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

    Instead of raising tuition, preschools could simply increase class sizes from, say, 20 to 30. With 50% more kids admitted to every school, the market forces would stabilize. But then a class size of 30 doesn't make for a very good environment for learning.
    I can't tell--are you making a joke? Do you not know what a preschool is? I don't know about New York, but the maximum child:teacher ratio for preschools in California is 12:1, and most preschools consider that way too high. We're talking about 3 and 4 year olds. Some of them still shit and piss their pants.

    Full-time preschool for $10K/yr is a bargain for a decent preschool that's not just a kiddie warehouse and not subsidized, and for that amount of money the teachers get paid very little.

    Posted by: me2i81 on March 3, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

    tbrosz: I'm going to guess you don't have kids? We put our daughter in pre-school so she gets some more intense interaction with other kids her age. It also allows the stay at home parent some time to do things they would like to do, or need to do. Like, say, homework?

    Two kids, actually.

    Look, I should make it clear that there's nothing inherently wrong with preschools as such, if the kid is happy with it, and they're basically learning to get along with other kids and maybe pick up a few simple skills. My kid went to one for a while--just a simple neighborhood one with playgrounds and stuff--and had fun.

    When I was a kid they were called nursery schools, and I went to one, too. I learned to make stuff out of clay and color. I could read when I got into kindergarten, and that wasn't learned at preschool. It was from parents who read to me since I was old enough to focus on a book. So, preschool in general is fine.

    But parents who are trying to get into heavy-duty schools with the idea that this will make or break their future have an attitude problem, especially if the school is being used to try and replace the attention kids need at home.

    Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

    Preschool can give economically disadvantaged kids a tremendous compensation - a levelling of the playing field - that can last a lifetime (under certain circumstances).

    "It is difficult to imagine a more cost-effective investment for a (high poverty) community than in quality preschool." - Council on Economic Development (1998)

    The advantages of pre-k for middle class kids has not been much studied, so we don't know much. But there is an evident $7.12:$1 benefit-cost ratio for the economically disadvantaged (Hi/Scope; 1998; 2004).

    Again, don't need to spend $10 K to get quality, usually.

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 3, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

    ExBrit, my empathies, I'm in a similar boat with two kids in private school in the Bay Area; soaking up all our disposable income plus some. The local schools are a joke for bright kids, and even UC Berkeley is a joke compared to other state schools. Starting to thinking about the move, hope you end up somewhere nice.

    And yes, it was hell trying to get into the private schools -- "please, take all my money!", we begged. But the insane competition doesn't start until grade K, so we have a way to go.

    Posted by: mtraven on March 3, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

    I'm in the Bay Area (Oakland in fact) and I can vouch for the pre-school madness - it's here, too, even in Oakland. My younger son spent age 3 at a subsidized low income public pre-school in the neighborhood because I was hit with a cancer diagnosis and needed a place to put him - he got in on a medical disability waiver. It was a terrific program, great teacher, enriched curriculum, plenty of love. So his classmates were all black and Asian, so what? Also they fed him snacks I don't approve of, but I was bald and nauseous, I was just happy he was taken care of all day.
    Then this year I celebrated recovery by going to grad school at an elite women's college nearby (Mills, ok?) which has an 80-year-old Children's School. The pre-school is very prestigious, very lovely, and hard to get into. Unless you're a grad student...I even get a discount (after paying full fee for grad tuition, let's be clear)

    Anyway - you'd be amazed at the number of people who instantly think I'm somebody special because my kid goes to Mills. Sheesh.

    Now my kid is very, very happy, and I love the philosophy at Mills. They are great with kids. He's having an idyllic year.

    Next year for kindergarten he's going to go to the public school in our neighborhood that his older brother attends. It's a new magnet school with a special education focus; there are slots for "typical" kids in the classrooms so the special ed kids, who are high functioning, get to interact with all kinds of abilities. We thought about it and decided that even though younger sibling has a pretty assured ticket into swanky kindergarten and Children's upper school, with tuition discount next year too, it's better for the family that he go to the public school. The curriculum there is all about accepting differences. Plus they have all kinds of arts grants for great dance and art programs. Older sib is on the special ed side, you see.

    People who are willing to think outside the box in the Bay area can find decent public school options for their kids.

    Re: local public schools being a joke for bright kids - I was the kid who found my local schools a joke, 30 years ago... I ended up at an elite college. I want my kids to have the experience of public school - they'll gain life skills they'd never get at ShelterGate Country Day. I don't want my kids being the poorest ones in a class full of investment bankers' offspring either; and I want them to feel comfortable around people of different race, class and social background.

    Jonathan Lethem, the writer who just won a $500,000 MacArthur genius grant, went to ghetto public schools in Brooklyn in the bad old days. Parents who dismiss the public schools out of hand only to put themselves into debt for private schools are just not thinking clearly.

    That said, I realize every kid and every family is different; my older child, with special needs, may not do so well in the public system later on. If the day comes, we'll look at private for either one. But until then, we feel good about having them in Bay Area public schools.

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    Posted by: vdee on March 3, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

    It is for this reason, among many others, that I've decided to forgo having young children and will instead adopt twenty-one year old Brazilian twins. I'll save a bundle on tuition....

    What were the many other reasons? I have to talk my wife into this...

    Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

    Y'all are forgetting one important thing: by the time the little bugger is 3, you'd pay almost any amount of money to get him out of the house for a few hours each day.

    Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

    One factor in pricing has to do with the downstream effect. My reform synagogue has a very popular preschool, and the price point could possibly be raised to make us more money, except that what we want is to earn the loyalty of the family and have them join our community down the road, for life. We can choose a preschool clientele that we think would want to join down the road, rather than going for the wealthiest possible clientele....

    Posted by: David Richter on March 4, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

    Going down the posts, and reading the stories of different experiences, it strikes me how important a wide range of choices is in picking schools for a wide range of kids. One size definitely does NOT fit all.

    Posted by: tbrosz on March 4, 2006 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

    Cut to the chase: preschools are little more than glorified day-care centers.

    Posted by: raj on March 4, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

    The first sentance of the NYT exerpt cited should more accurately read:

    "This is the moment of maximum anxiety for an extremely small number of parents, who mostly live in NYC and happen to have more money than sense...."

    Posted by: Chris Brown on March 4, 2006 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

    "This is the moment of maximum anxiety for an extremely small number of parents, who mostly live in NYC and happen to have more money than sense...."

    Again, no. These parents are my friends and colleagues, and there's no lack of sense at play. What is, though, is an understandable concern for their children, a desire to give their children what they think is going to be the best for them. You can't the individual parent for trying to deal with a system that they themselves would never have designed or want to be a part of.

    Also, let's remember that this is Manhattan, so an income of hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn't make one "rich," but merely moderately well-off. People pay more here for the rent on a one-bedroom apartment than people in other parts of the country pay for the mortgage on their houses. Or, as John Guare wrote in "Six Degrees of Separation", it's "hand to mouth, but at a higher level."

    Posted by: Stefan on March 4, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

    Nope, one size does not fit all; this is the consistent theme of both my own research (since'89), and a growing body of national research. (the research keeps getting better, too)

    No, Raj, in a good Pre-K, it ain't nothin' like glorified day care. Of course, you get "day cares" that are so good, they really ought to be considered bona fide Pre-K; and, sadly, the reverse is probably more common, at least that's what I've seen.

    Three and four year-olds only need 2 1/2 hours of instruction, and not necessarily five days a week, to get all the benefits of a good instructional program. "Wrap-around" (the time for many working families - the remaining however many hours) is typically more custodial, more day care, if you will.

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 4, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

    Yup, the parents even fight over their kid being in the "gifted" class in preschool.

    It's school as a surrogate for what the parents can't do, even when the kids are pre-K, just wait till they're in highschool.

    Posted by: jerry on March 4, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

    My daughter was not accepted into an elite preschool.

    Washed up at 4.

    Posted by: ctm on March 4, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

    Tbroz: you said
    Frankly, I think this whole phenomenon is nuts. I firmly believe that a toddler would benefit far more from having a full-time mom or dad reading to them every day at home than going to an elite pre-school.

    What these schools will turn out someday is a large load of customers for the therapy industry.

    I live in in NYC and have a 3yr daughter in preschool. Do you? Do you have a clue?

    Kids need to play with kids. In a city, you can't just shoo your kid out the front door to go play. And with space at a premium, lots of us don't have lots of kids at home.

    Preschool for me is from 1pm -3:345. It is not like dropping them off for the whole day and I resent anyone thinking this is less than great for the kids. My daughter LOVES her friends and can't wait to go. All they do at school is play, read stories and have music time.

    Unless you live here and know what life is like, and that includes you Kevin, please refrain from uninformed opinions.

    Posted by: lilybart on March 4, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

    MNpundit....how would you know what most 3 year olds are ready for? and just what do you think they need to be taught?

    My daughter is taught nothing. The first hour is free play, then music, then a snack, a story and more free play. she is there for 2 3/4 hours. She loves it.

    She is taught the "flip trick" for putting on her own coat, and how to wash her hands after finger-painting and a sign language for animals.

    I can't tell you how insulting it is for people with no children to think they know what is best for someone else's child.

    I don't know what you think you are going to TEACH your child from home. And trust me, until you have a child at home, you don't know what it means to "read to them all day" as others here have said.

    Posted by: llilybart on March 4, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

    Lilybart - You can be confident that you are doing right by your three year-old. If I may paraphrase tbroz, my own experience as a dad and as a public school administrator in early childhood education, what works very well for your child or mine may not be true for other kids. For some kids, home is better. For my younger son, when he was three, a similar situation to yours was ideal. His first year in Pre-K was pure magic. For my older son, who has special needs, he began 5 day/wk, 1/2 day Pre-K (integrated setting) before he turned three, and it, too, was pure magic, setting the stage for him to be the successful fourth grader his is today.

    Remember Chevy Chase back in '76 - "wait, you're both right . . ."?

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 4, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

    Rich people sure are weird, aren't they?"
    Not to mention rather lazy about parenting.

    DO YOU HAVE KIDS IN A LARGE CITY?
    I BET NOT.

    Do you even know what preschool is?
    They play with other kids there. A little story, some songs. Period.

    Kids need to play with other kids and kids who are kept home with parents only until kindergarten will not know how to share or wait their turn and they won't have friends. Is that better?

    I am not sure what people here think preschool is in big cities, but kids need to play with kids and because i can't send my kid out the door like people in the country, we have preschool, which is really just a big playdate.

    And we are not RICH.
    It is not about money, it is about making sure your kids get to play with other kids, and in an apartment, fingerpainting is just not possible.

    I cannot tell just how annoying this thread is.

    Posted by: lilybart on March 4, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

    Lilybart - just blow it off. Many of these posters don't have kids, so they have no clue; don't bother with that. But since you have much to offer other folks in your situation, and since you seem to konw what you are talking about (not always present at this or other sites), better to light one candle . . .

    (I felt the same way about a posting a couple of days ago on parents waiting an extra year to start their kids in kindergarten - it was a clueless-fest.)

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 4, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

    They WOULD be weird if someone somewhere wasn't buying into what they believe about "who knows who, who goes where, who has what credentials, who can BUY what/whom"...remember this is AMERICA where a bumbling idiot from a rich, powerful, connected family has posed as president for the past 5+ years..he, and his brothers, have made careers out of being WHO, not what, they are! Until this country (or any other) begins to value the "content of one's character" instead of superficial or monetary trappings it will ever be so and the rich fools will flock to the trendy preschools.

    Posted by: Dancer on March 4, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

    The reason there is madness, is because NYC has become such a great place to raise kids, that people don't leave anymore, but no one is opening new preschools. More kids, no more places.

    And by the way, both of us work at home. She needs the 2 hours away from us or instead of feeling neglected, she might need therapy for too much parental attention!

    Posted by: lilybart on March 4, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

    They are nonprofits in large part because it allows the families to make donations to their children's school and get the tax write off. I can't tell you how many wealthy families I know give a significant portion of their donations each year to the elite schools attended by their kids. Lovely.

    Posted by: A. Miller on March 4, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

    [Oregon] Real estate is cheaper. Posted by: ExBrit

    But still considered over-valued by 30% though obviously nowhere as feverish is SoCal.

    Lot's of downside to that market. If I were you, I'd rent for a bit and hang on some serious $$.

    Posted by: CFShep on March 4, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

    Whenever I say "I would never want to raise my kids in New York", this is exactly what I'm talking about. Maybe Brooklyn wouldn't be so bad though...

    As for people who worry about the "crime", I don't get that at all.

    Posted by: MDtoMN on March 4, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

    Well, no. Rich people, like people everywhere, want the best for their children. The problem is that in Manhattan and in parts of Brooklyn there are simply a limited number of pre-school slots available compared to the number of wealthy, bright, highly driven, Ivy League or equivalent educated parents. There's x number of spots and 2x, let's say, number of children, so quite obviously there's going to be some winnowing going on.

    And heaven forbid if they had to attend public schools, having to co-exist with the "wrong" kind of people ("wrong" both from a socio-economic and ethnic perspective). They might have to eventually settle for Berkeley or Ann Arbor instead of an Ivy. The shame!

    The point everyone is missing here, maybe due to not living in NYC, is that this is not about school. Nor is it really about kids. It's about parental prestige. In NYC, among a certain social class, where your kid goes to school is a big part of where you "fit" in the stratum of prestige. This is nuts, of course, but it's very real here. Your kid's school can determine which dinner parties you are invited to, which boards of directors you can join, which clubs will admit you as a member. And, ultimately, it could determine whether a multi-billion-dollar M/A deal succeeds or fails. Looney, but real.

    Posted by: Jack Lindahl on March 3, 2006 at 3:23 PM

    Agreed, Jack. You just want to get on the top of a building with a huge loudspeaker (a la the guy in those New York Lottery commercials) and shout, "Prestige is bullshit!" Because, of course, it is.

    Posted by: Vincent on March 4, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

    I don't know if anyone is still reading this thread, but the answer to Kevin's question I think is something that I only saw one commenter mention: tuition is by no means the only money that gets paid. There are tons of fundraisers. And if people feel that being in that school is a status symbol, that their kids are special for having gotten into this special school, they are going to fork out some serious donations to make sure that school stays more special than the competition. The more exclusive, the more of a status symbol, the bigger the donations.

    Posted by: J.B. on March 4, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

    I think it is safe to say, except for the trolls, that everyone posting here would welcome a instant 25% increase in federal funding for education.

    Well I guess I'm a troll then, because I don't favor an instant 25% increase in education.

    Just about anyone who has looked at the issue has concluded that lack of adequate funding is not what ails American public education. Other countries, especially in Asia, spend much less per pupil than we do and yet get better results as measured on international comparison tests. What's needed are better teachers, flexible, results-oriented school management and better support at home for students. Money isn't going to solve any of that.

    Posted by: BradtheDad on March 4, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

    Actually, the bulk of the quality studies do point to money mattering. When you see those upper middle-class district spending upwards of $19K per student, they are hardly being irrational consumers.

    Of course, many of us joke how the wise spending is washed out by the foolishly spent monies (in them professors' fancy statistical modelling).

    With a number of those "reputable" studies (we won't name names, but look at the how Mike Rebbel [sp?] has demolished these folks), when the data was re-run - suprise - money mattered more than the original run. There are numerous examples. And what better example than what Prop 13 did to what was for generations one of America's finest K - 12 public education systems?

    That having been said, I sure have seen a lot of $$$ pissed away (that's a technical term) in public education. What seems to work best are targeting specific programs (suprise again, Pre-K), using more categorical grant monies ("No, you can't spend it that way, you have to spend it the way we tell you or you can return the money.") - this is where I've seen the best proverbial bang-for-buck.

    Posted by: MaxGowan on March 4, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK




     

     

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