Is Private School Worth It

Sometimes I wonder if old Jack is an idiot or a fox in disguise. Every year I write about the struggle to keep the kids in private school. Every year I spend time talking about the pros and cons and wonder how I have managed to do it for as long as I have.

Tuition Woes- Or Tuition, Tuition, Tuition
The Day School Dilemma- Paying For Private School
Paying For Private School- Part II
Private School Woes
What Should Children Learn in School?
Private School Blues & What is a High IQ Worth Anyway

And here I face my arch nemesis, one more time. "Hello tuition, so we meet again." The thing is that this time around I think that the supervillain might actually win. Every year I have managed to pull a rabbit out of my hat. Somehow, some way I have managed to find a way to make it work.

I should be proud of my accomplishment, but instead I feel sad and foolish. I joined the rat race and played the game. Like a hamster on a wheel I ran and ran and now I am spent and broken down.  And I have to ask myself how I ended up in this place.

The unspoken truth is that I feel like I have failed. And if you are one of the 17 long time readers you know that I believe that it is important to teach children how to lose and to let them fail. You know that I consider it to be critical because they have to learn coping skills.

Jack has failed. I own that.

I did it, I said it and now I am moving beyond it. I don't need to provide a laundry list of all the things that I did wrong anymore than I need one that lists what I did right. I am one of millions of people who got caught in the net of this terrible economy. A perfect storm of epic proportions has helped to create this mess.

I keep saying that 2010 is the year of Jack and I will die before I let it be otherwise. Now the only question is how to make that happen.

So here we are, facing the question of what to do about school. The local public school remains unacceptable. I don't believe that it will provide the children with the education that they deserve. So now what? What options are available?

Moving might be an option. It is something that has been on the back of my mind for a long time. It hasn't happened because it seemed to require too many sacrifices.

1) Leaving the state- I have applied for positions outside of here, but haven't been hired. It seemed foolish to move to a new place without a job.

2) Moving within the city- Up to now hasn't been affordable. The increase in mortgage has been more than the cost of the private school.

3) Give up the house- Well, thought about this a bunch of times and it never seemed like a good option. But I am starting to reconsider.

I am not totally giving up on the school but I am not relying on it either. I can't. I am facing the reality of the situation. My children will be very unhappy about leaving. It won't be easy to tell them, but I am not going to let that keep a bad situation going.

However, if I do figure out how to pull that rabbit out of my hate again they can stay. It is not a great plan, especially as it applies to the long term. But sometimes you have to adopt short term measures to get to that long term place.


john cave osborne said...

jack, i've missed you, my friend, caught up in my own turmoil, if you will. running a biz, pimping a book, and enduring the holidays with three toddlers has taken a toll, as well as taken some time.

but i looked fwd to reading, as well as to communicating. so here goes:

i am a product of private school. from fifth grade through my senior year in high school, then four more years at Vanderbilt University where the values are questionable, and the women a SMOKING hot.

IF we send the trips to private school in my fair town, that would be four total, and the nut would be close to 50 grand a year. i don't care who you are or what you do. 50 grand a year in my humble opinion, is too much to pay for school.

when i look at all my private school cohorts and compare them to the public school guys, it's hard for me to argue with one fact. "success" was a crap shoot with either background. the biggest common denominator of success, i believe, is family.

that's not to say i'm against private education. i like who i am (i think), and my education played a crucial role in making me who i am.

i'm sorry to hear of your private school wranglings, and can only tell you that from what little i know of you, i have confidence of two things.

the right situation will emerge.

and 2010 is the year of jack. Godspeed, brother...(OH, and don't move out of the city. Lakers game. remember?)

Jack Steiner said...

Hi John,

Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I'm a public school child. I went the whole way through, but I had a lot of friends who went to private schools.

My personal experience is similar to yours. The most successful among us had parents who were active in raising their children.

I don't worry about the kids ultimate success because I am confident they will get there. The question is how long it takes for that to happen.

Really it is worthy of a new post, what success is etc.

We're living through an economy that is the worst in decades and hopefully will never be seen again. It has to improve one way or another.

We'll see.

Anyhoo, you let me know when you are in town and we'll see about that Laker game. Hope you are recovered from the holidays- time to save a little energy to keep up with the kids and get that book going. :)

therapydoc said...

Oh, it bankrupts us, the private school thing. On the other hand, what a way to grow up, such a secure little wonderland. For some.

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Doc,

The kids have received a fabulous education. I couldn't be happier with it. There is no doubt that we work hard to provide for the happiness, security and well being of our children.

But at what cost to ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Agh. I too agree that the measure of a child's success is how engaged the parents are in their upbringing. No-one in my family went to private school - it just wans't an option. Being the ultimate result of a very working-class family - I was the first in all the generations to even get to university!

So, it sounds to me that you are a fabulous parent and your kids do really well by you. But that realisation that the status quo might have to stop very soon - that must be a really bitter pill to swallow.

I wish you well in your decisions...


westbankmama said...

I feel for you Jack - it is really tough. This was just one of the reasons that we made aliyah.

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Rachel,

Parents make the difference. As children most of us would rather have spent our time playing. Our parents make a huge impact upon developing good habits and influencing/assisting the school.

We'll have to see how this all shakes out.


Back in '94 when I was on the verge of making Aliyah several of spoke of this. Since I didn't have children then it didn't make a real impact upon me.

Live and learn.

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Oy. What a tough issue. I work for a private school. I like my job. I think it's a safer place to be than a public school Jewishly and otherwise. I sometimes feel like my task is to place words on closed hearts so that one day when the hearts open the words are there to go in. There are a lot of complexities around this issue of tuition...

Another meshugannah mommy said...

This post is breaking my heart. While I am generally happy with the public education my kids are getting, I do often wonder if they would do better at the local Schecter. Neither here nor there...not going to happen for us. In any case, I cannot imagine having to tell my kids they have to change schools. I do not envy your position, and I truly hope you can work something out.

Is there any avenue for financial aid??

Jack Steiner said...

. I sometimes feel like my task is to place words on closed hearts so that one day when the hearts open the words are there to go in.

I love that because there is so much truth in it. A great teacher touches you in your present and your future in so many ways.


It is a very challenging position. Not unlike so many others my business has been all over the place. This is a decision that is making my hair fall out.

If a few of the deals I am working on come through than life is different. But I can't guarantee that they will and I am not sure how long I can keep this up.

Years of it have taken a toll.

bernthis said...

I was just thinking about how to deal with my kid's school situation today as thanks to the state of California, next year she will have 28 other students in her class. I want to send her back to private school but it costs just way too much and like for you and so many, 2009 was the worst year I've had in so long.

I'm going ot apply to a local charter school and the private school and see what happens. Unfortunately,I can't leave the state or even the city for that matter so I'm truly stuck here.

I always believe that thing have a way of working themselves out.

Jack Steiner said...

We're living in a time in which we will find out if things really do work out. I am going to do all that I can to help facilitate things.

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