CAROLINE HALL was supposed to sign the contract a month ago guaranteeing a kindergarten spot for her son at an Upper East Side private school. He had already spent two happy years attending its early-childhood program.
But Ms. Hall, a corporate counsel, began ducking the school’s calls. Where was her deposit toward the $22,000 tuition? The school had an eager waiting list.
Her son, 4, knew the answer: “I can’t go here next year because Mommy didn’t get a big enough bonus.”
An annual rite is well under way, as families around the country receive their private-school renewal contracts or acceptance letters. In conventional years, grumbling over tuition aside, their outgoing mail would include signed forms and a registration fee.
This year’s hand-wringing over tuition might be dismissed as the latest hardship for the patrician class, which, like everyone else, can simply educate its young in the public system. But of the more than three million families with at least one child in private school, according to the 2005 census, almost two million of them have a household income of less than $100,000. According to a Department of Education survey, in 2003-4, the median annual tuition of nonsectarian schools was $8,200; for Catholic schools, $3,000.
So for every family that pays $30,000 and up to attend elite schools in Manhattan, thousands more will pay tuitions closer to $2,700 — next year’s cost for St. Agnes Catholic School in Roeland Park, Kan....
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This from the New York Times, illustration by Peter M. Fisher: