Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I just realized that I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in almost 4 years.

There are a lot of wealthy people in this city, and nothing makes that more clear than reading the NY Times real estate section. Three people and a couple of grumpy cats squeezed into a 700-sq-foot apartment (roomy by Manhattan standards) leaves a gal pining for the finer things in life. Namely a second bathroom. While I love playing "What Would I Buy" in the For Sale section, I'm always staggered by what people are able to spend. Like, say, $23.98 million.

$23.99 million. For an apartment.

And get this - the sellers only used it as a pied-a-terre. (That's a vacation home, for those who skipped 9th grade French.) Which means they probably only visited the place 2 or 3 times a year. How much money do you have if you can comfortably part with $24 mill? I really should have gone into hedge fund management...

I don't know why crap like this makes me so mad. It's not like I'd have more if they had less, but it feels like I would. Maybe this person funds orphanages or opens schools in West Virginia, who knows? But nobody needs a $24 million house. Nobody.

Want more ridiculousness? How about a preschool that costs more per year than my entire college education?

This, from Forbes.com:

Ethical Culture Fieldston

Where: Manhattan and Bronx, New York

Two schools rolled up into one, Ethical Culture on the Upper West Side and Fieldston in the Bronx, which go from nursery through high school. The tuition for preschool is an astounding $30,440 (if you were wondering, this includes supplies, books, lunch and insurance!). It was founded by Felix Adler in 1878 as a free kindergarten to children of the working poor, and it was then called the "Workingman's School."

Mr. Adler would be so pleased by his legacy. More from Forbes:

"But paying the tuition is easy compared with getting in. Entrance to an exclusive private preschool is a painful right of passage for thousands of upscale New York moms every year, kicking off with a mad rush of speed dialing early in the morning the day after Labor Day to secure applications before schools run out of them.

The way the game works, at least for many top private nursery schools: You call to get the application, rush it back to the school and wait anxiously for word you will be granted a tour and your child will be invited to an on-site pseudo-interview the schools call a "play-date."

Some schools dispense with the play-date and just meet with families individually. Some ask for essays. Some just want to know where you live and work. (Presumably much information about your potential as a big donor can be gleaned from your address and employer).

Then there is the bone-chilling, mind-bending wait during which you agonize over your kid's performance during the play date and handicap her chances vs. the others (including that kid who went fishing in the classroom fish tank). While the process starts in September, it doesn't end until early March, when the notifications are mailed."

Nuts, right? But parents are a little stuck when it comes to preschools in this city. Almost all are private (including ours). Even at "cheap" schools (again, ours) the costs are impressive: Full-day will set you back $22,000. But aside from bucking the system and homeschooling (or "unschooling", for those who supertrendy) we don't have much choice. It all makes my stomach hurt.

Parents: What did nursery school cost for your kids? Was it worth it? And did you pay it while living in a $24 million penthouse?

*I should not that we love our school and don't pay anything close to those fees because of generous financial aid.


Missy said...

Well at it's most expensive, which was when #2 was in 4 half days and one full day, which was her last year of preschool before Kindergarten, I think we paid around $175/month. The other two years she was in three half days a week and I think it was around $50-$75 a month.

Obviously that is no where near the numbers you are talking about. I do however feel that it was worth every penny. Both girls went to the same preschool and loved their time there. We loved it too. The teachers were well seasoned, and had been with the school for many years, which can be a rarity.

I felt both girls were well prepared for school and have both done extremely well. They have had very few social problems, and generally have a very positive attitude about school.

Of course preschool is not the one key to later success in school. Preparation and attitude that happen at home are tremendous keys to success as well.

Having had the opportunity to do some preschool consultation around here, I have gotten to see some different schools and approaches, and I have to say in my opinion one of the best preschools in town is actually the Head Start preschool. Great teachers, nurturing environment, great creative learning opportunities and lots of good socialization work. One of the most solid programs I have seen.

Big money doesn't always been the best bang for your buck. Head Start is free.

b said...

Speechless. And that's sayin' something, because I live in LA....

Tor said...

We're paying $67 a day or part thereof for a 2yr old (so if fulltime it's over $16k/year. Alot less than you). It's about average for here and goes down a few $$ per year of age as they can have more kids per carers.
I wanted it more for my sanity than for his learning (at his age its basically all play anyway) but unless he's happy enough to stay there at least half the day then it's not worth it so I am on the verge of pulling him out (unless tomorrow goes miraculously well). I'll try again when he's old enough for the pre-school part of it.

Missy said...

You must buy really sturdy shoes when you do buy them.

Genevieve said...

flabbypants it must be nice to be able spend all that moola on jr.
he's just so darn cute...previos post.
good luck in school

Colleen said...

WOW. That's all I can say, wow. I cannot imagine having to pay $22K a year for preschool. That will still buy you almost two years at KU! And it would be TWO YEARS of my current salary. Impossible.

When Dinah was going to preschool two mornings a week, we paid $45 a month, and provided snacks 4-5 times a year. When she did Pre-Kdg., that was three afternoons a week at a Pre-Kdg.-grade 6 school, and that cost $55 a month(this was 18 months ago). Daycare for the rest of the time ran about $60 a week--more if she was there more hours than usual, of course. Very reasonable!

Gotta love the Midwest sometimes!

If school is so crazy in NYC, I think you may have to start thinking about homeschooling. I'm sure there are lots of coops there (we even have them in little Great Bend, Kansas)--you could find one with other like-minded parents and share teaching duties, go in together for field trips and extra stuff--it might not be so bad.