• Tue, Feb 25 - 12:30 pm ET

I’d Rather Set A Pile Of Cash On Fire Than Pay $44,000 A Year For Preschool

shutterstock_126138524__1393347962_142.196.167.223I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of a “preschool interview,” but I just can’t. It’s not that I don’t think preschool is important – it is. But the whole “admissions” process is becoming unreal. Clearly, it’s not something I am supposed to understand – because I could never afford to pay the upwards of $40,000 a year these places charge. Frankly, I’d rather set a pile of cash on fire than act like that was an acceptable amount of money to be charging for preschool.

I read about a preschool application process in the NYT Motherlode blog today. One mother talks about preparing for the “interview.”

I thought, we could sit back and listen to the preschool’s spiel, doodling with their branded pads and pencils. But the director, sitting at the head of the long table like a C.E.O., began. “Let’s go around,” she said. “One by one, describe your child in one word. Then, explain why this school is a good fit.” My heart galloped. She was asking us to pitch our kids — in public? Though this environment was contrived (some might say insane), it brought up a question I’d been contemplating: What is the best way to talk about my child?

Now, the woman never mentions the name of the school in the story, but there is a caption under the picture that was chosen to illustrate it. It reads, “Jean Schreiber conducting a block workshop at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Manhattan.” If I ever go to something called a “block workshop,” just stab me – but I digress. Back to this school; it’s $43,265 a year for pre-k. Students are “furnished with books, supplies and lunch” – so there’s that. They better be eating foie gras for lunch every day. And those books better be made of solid gold. These parents are happily lining up to pay $43,265 a year for pre-k – then they are also being asked to “pitch” themselves? To prove why the school is a “good fit” for their child? WHAT?

I understand the college admissions process. Universities demand to see how seriously prospective students take their studies, how much extra curricular stuff they can tackle while doing so, and just how badly they want to succeed. But four-year-olds? What could I possibly say about my four-year-old that would stop him from being “considered” to play with blocks, color and eat peanut butter crackers?

A $44,000 pre-k may be an extreme example, but in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn parents were clamoring to be considered for a co-op preschool that was $14,000 a year. It’s becoming increasingly more common to pay a lot of money out of pocket for things like pre-k. And if you question this system at all, you are someone who doesn’t value early childhood education. This makes me sad. I have idyllic visions of my tax dollars being used towards education, and teachers and early childhood educators being payed more. This isn’t the case, so early childhood education has evolved into a pay-to-play system.

Well, I can’t afford to play. Sitting in wonder that these “interviews” even exist is all I have.

(photo: Iaroslav Neliubov/ Shutterstock)

Share This Post:
  • Valerie

    I would love to go to one of those interviews and ask the admissions person with a straight face WTAF is worth $44,000 at the pre-school level. Do they use Gold-leaf fingerpaint? Mini Investor Portfolio seminars? Field trips to the Eiffel Tower? A Who’s Who of the Hamptons Memory card game?

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      I just LOL’d at the Who’s Who of the Hamptons, good one!

    • CMJ

      There’s definitely a “Top Three Under Three” feature in the NYPost.

    • Jillian

      Clearly there arts and crafts projects are made only with the finest diamonds and rubies the world has to offer. Said artwork is then hung in galleries all over Europe. Don’t miss out the first class trip to wall street! These kids get to prepare their investor portfolio’s only a few weeks into school and they are just sooo excited! Little Brayden Snowflake can’t wait to attend his first preschool social cocktail party – bring your own expensive wine!

  • Blueathena623

    Ok, I used to work at a place that had an expensive pre-k program (not 44k, but high 20′s, low 30′s). The reason the school had the ritzy pre-k was that the tuition from it would allow the school to give scholarships to its other programs for kids with special needs.
    Is it worth it? I don’t know what other pre-k programs look like, but all of the teachers had masters or above, lots of ongoing training, tons of assistant teachers with bachelors, so a room with 20 kids would have 2 lead teachers and 3-4 assistants. Lots of exposure to outside stuff, and access to OTs, SLPs, etc if needed. Plus the school has been around long enough that its name means something to the upper classes of the area.

    • Williwaw

      I don’t know – that kind of implies that daycare is just somewhere you park your kid because all you really care about is that they’re alive at the end of the day. The day care I use gives the kids music, art, playtime, interaction with other kids, and my kid loves it (and it’s about a fifth the cost of the pre-k described here). The teachers are great, but I have no idea whether they have master’s degrees, and don’t really care, because they’re doing a great job. If it were available, I’d pay for something enriching like a bilingual environment, but apart from language immersion options (which I can see getting expensive), I don’t think there should be that much difference between daycare and a good pre-k. I think people just have this idea that if they fork over enough cash from preschool onwards, their kid will be guaranteed an MBA from Harvard someday. I don’t think there’s that much difference between a good day care and a good pre-k.

    • SarahJesness

      Yeeeeah, I would have to agree, for the most part. There’s really only so much that preschoolers can do; I can’t imagine how this kind of money could ALL be spent on stuff that actually benefits the students. All I can imagine is that BS stuff that rich hipsters do with their kids to feel more “cultured” but the kid isn’t really learning anything cause s/he’s too young.

  • Alex

    Be honest, though. If you realized that you could trick parents into paying you $40k each to provide sandwiches, play blocks, and crayons… wouldn’t you at least consider making a business out of it?

    Even if it’s a demand that you created, these parents are essentially shouting at you to shut up and take their money. I have to admire the diabolical genius in such an innovation.

    • Blueathena623

      I’m not sending my kid to ritzy pre-k, but I think some of the outrage over cost is that people don’t know the long-term value of a good program. Sure, if you think its just food and blocks and coloring, then I’m glad you aren’t running a pre-k, because that’s daycare, not pre-k.

    • TheGiantPeach

      Or some people, including me, don’t think that a good pre-k should be limited to only those people who can afford to pay the ridiculous costs. I know how important early childhood education is, but I just can’t afford to pay $14,000 a year to make sure my child gets it.

    • Blueathena623

      Ok, hoping this can clarify since apparently I am coming off like I support expensive prek, despite all my comments saying I don’t.
      I think all kids should have access to high quality pre-k. In fact, studies show that kids from low-income families benefit the most in terms of long-term gains from a good preschool program.
      I also think all kids should have access to a high quality education, free of charge. But I don’t run the department of education so I can’t reform the whole system.
      My whole point is that pre-k should be taken seriously, it’s not all coloring and finger painting, and *IF* a parent didn’t think it was weird to spend money on an elementary education! they shouldn’t think it weird to spend money on preschool.

    • ABC123

      Actually, the most current research on child development shows that pre-k *should* be all about colouring and finger painting and blocks (basically, free play and exploration). In fact, kids from countries that provide play-based curricula up until age 7 fare much better in standardized tests than their counterparts in academic-based preschools.

    • m

      Yeah, my country does really well in those PISA tests, and we totally just played and colored and stuff in preschool. I also think free play is good for kids :)

    • Blueathena623

      But there are ways to use things like coloring to enrich knowledge and enhance language, etc., and there are ways of coloring that is just coloring. The awesome thing is that it all still feels like play to a kid, but there is a difference.

  • SA

    It is basically just setting your money on fire, isn’t it?

    Block worship?!

  • Blueathena623

    And a question for you Maria — are you opposed to paying that much for ANY schooling, or just pre-k? At what point (in years) would you think it worthwhile to pay for a private education?

    • Rachel Sea

      A year of law school at UC Berkeley (which always ranks in the top 10 best law schools in the country) is $22,000, so I’m gonna say never.

    • Blueathena623

      And I’m cool with that. I am seriously not the shill for expensive pre-k. But it seems like sometimes people who wouldn’t have a problem with paying something for private school for elementary grades and up think its crazy to pay for pre-k. But if you’re willing to pay for education, why is it crazy to pay for pre-k? Do you get where I’m going with this?
      And hypothetical “you” in this comment, etc.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      When does it stop if you’re paying 40K for preschool? How much are you going to pay for private elementary school, junior high and high school? You’re not dishing out that kind of money for pre-K to then send your kid to public school for kindergarten.

    • elle

      You are correct. You are definitely going to be shelling out lots of money until your kid graduates college. But honestly? These are people that have the money and CAN shrug off 40,000-100,000 a year. I agree, it isn’t fair and I think everybody deserves a chance at a top notch education.

    • Blueathena623

      I’m assuming it doesn’t stop.

    • TngldBlue

      I might consider paying that for later years (say 6-12 but I wouldn’t ever be able to afford it IRL so this is pretend) but not early years for the simple fact that the purpose of education in those years is repetition and memorization. A circle is a circle whether it costs nothing or $40k for them to learn it. I can see the advantage of paying more when they get into the more involved areas of education-literature, mathematics, physics etc-because those are difficult subjects and there may be a benefit in having very well educated or experts in the field teaching those subjects.

    • Blueathena623

      But that’s sad, because the purpose of the early years should not be memorization (and is not the point in good programs

    • bl

      Recognizing that this is for Maria, but I’ll chime in. I would argue that it’s rarely worth it to pay for pre-K through 12. (Unless pre-K isn’t offered via the public school system in the area.) Most people thinking of handing over $20,000+ for pre-K likely have some money at their disposal. Even if you’re scraping that together, you have 20,000/year at your disposal. Given that most places near enough to a ritzy private school are likely to also be near to one or two “good districts” for public schools, I’d almost always rather purchase a home in the “good district” than say goodbye to $20,000-$40,000/year/kid. At least I’ll get the benefit of living in a nice area with hopefully increasing property value while my kids enjoy “free” school.

      That being said, I don’t get too judgy about what people spend their money on. And this logic might not apply to NYC as I’ll admit I’ve never heard anyone praising any public schools there.

    • SarahJesness

      Possibly true for most people, but if you live in an area with REALLY shitty public schools, (as in, badly run, stupid, and violent) it’s understandable. Though that does depend some on costs altogether; if paying for a private school while living in a crappy area costs more or the same as sending your kids to a public school while living in a good area (assuming the parents in question have these options; not everyone can relocate) the latter is probably the better option. In addition to the better schooling, you also get a better overall environment for the kids. Less drug and gangs for them to run into.

  • elle

    I can’t really judge honestly, but I also recognize that I’m,um, very financially secure. These schools are a pipeline to the very best private/prep schools which are then a pipeline to the Ivies. But I’m also preparing to shell out a lot of cash for my son to start montessori school in the fall so maybe I’m just a sucker. Although I will say I find 44,000 a tad ridic since I’m pretty sure that’s how much my prep school was only I was in high school and living there.

  • momjones

    I used to ask my students (private college prep all girls high school – 99% went to college), “Do you know what the difference is between a BA from Duke and a BA from, for example, Michigan State University?” They’d answer with a number of different reasons, and finally I would say, “$200,000.00.” Same formula applies…the difference between a local or public school preschool and an expensive private one is (fill in the exorbitant amount).

    • Emily A.

      Going to object here. That’s *a* difference. There are others, often not quantifiable… strength of alumni networks… access to professors… the list goes on.

      Plus, there’s deciding what the kid *wants* in a college. Some are going to learn more in a small classroom setting that is most likely to be available in a smaller, and likely more expensive, school. Some are going to do well if they’re in larger classes. Some want a school where many people commute, and some want a school that’s largely residential. Maybe for some kids, the cost difference is worth it if it gives them the chance to attend a college that will actually be the ideal learning environment for them.

      Taking all of these variables into account, I believe that it drastically oversimplifies things to say that *the* difference is the cost.

    • Blueathena623

      Yeah, I’m going to say thats why we see a lot of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, etc. at the tops of companies and the country, even though kids going to really great state schools are equally smart.

    • Alex

      The types of parents who can afford to pay $200k for Yale/Harvard/Princeton are likely those who already have substantial networks and access to educational resources beyond college.

      Bill Gates WAS smart enough to go to Harvard (briefly). But he also had wealthy parents who provided him with computer training (in the 1960s, no less) and the financial support to drop out of school and start his own company.

    • Emily A.

      That is correct. But once again, it’s a pretty big generalization, and a major exception to the “normal” situation.

    • CMJ

      I have to say – I went to a State School and I have a very strong alumni network, access to professors, etc. I took classes with 10 people and had lectures with 150. I can make the case that State schools DO have all these things.

      The problem is, we’re made to feel badly that we went to “cheap” State schools because we couldn’t afford to pay the money to go to overpriced private schools (and yes, many of them are overpriced). “Just look at all those CEOs that went to Yale!” As Alex says below, many of those people are already tapping into the vast networks their parents have already made for them. I don’t feel bad. I made an identity for myself where I went to undergrad and then moved on from there. I know people who went to Duke who sell speedboats. I know people who went to Indiana University who are EVPs of advertising agencies.

      Essentially, for me, I believe that it’s the person that makes the most out of their schooling experience…not the school.

    • EX

      I went to a prestigious private college and feel pretty strongly that it was a waste of money. With a liberal arts degree I had to go to grad school anyway and the only thing grad schools cared about was my gpa. And once I had my graduate degree no one cared where I went to undergrad.

    • Shea

      I also went to a moderately prestigious private college, and while I do think it was overpriced, the personal access I had to professors did, I think, make a difference in my education, including when it came time to apply for grad school. The professors at my college were primarily focused on teaching, classes were small (the largest class I ever had was Linguistics 101, with about 60 students; most of the classes I took in junior and senior year had no more than 20, and in one class there were only 5 of us) and the profs were personally invested in their students educations and lives. Because they knew me personally, they were understanding when I had a personal problem one semester that caused some issues with my class attendance, and when I applied to graduate school I was able to ask for letters of recommendation with full confidence that they would write good, personal recs. I agree that private schools are ridiculously over-priced, but there’s a lot to be said for the personal touch they provide.

    • EX

      Perhaps I should have said it was a waste of money for me – I have never been the type to take advantage of the personal access to professors. I preferred to sit quietly in the back of a lecture hall. Also, the personal touch can be obtained at small, private colleges that are less prestigious and less well known and a lot less expensive. I just don’t think the price tag of Ivy League (and other big name) schools is anywhere near worth it. IMHO Paying $200,000 for a degree in philosophy/psychology/English/etc. from [insert name of prestigious school here] is never going to be a good investment. If you’re a very driven person with a specific career goal in mind who will take full advantage of the access to professors and the networking opportunities, well, then maybe.

    • keelhaulrose

      I agree with you for colleges, a Yale degree will be impressive than a Western Montana State degree (not sure if that’s a real place). However I don’t think it works the same way with preschools unless a preschool has an automatic-enrollment agreement with an elite primary school. I don’t think a private school is going to look at a preschoolers record and say “oh, you were with Mrs. Miller, her phonetics lessons are impeccable, and you got a super-smiley face. Quite impressive!” From what I’ve seen most primary private schools prefer their own testing when it comes to admissions.

    • pixie

      I wish I got super-smiley face for my marks….right now while I’m in grad school.

    • CMJ

      There are schools here that do that for undergrad. (well, not smiley faces, but just evaluations)

    • pixie

      I know there are schools/courses that just do evaluations, I’ve never been in one, but smiley faces just seem a lot happier and more friendly.

    • CMJ

      One of my Husband’s good friends went to Evergreen State College in Washington and he INSISTS they got graded in smiley faces.

    • pixie

      My friend who I TAed with last semester put stickers on the essays she graded for the first year undergrads. I totally would have done that if I had stickers, and I also totally wish I had a TA like her as an undergrad.

    • CMJ

      My mom checked in all her papers with a Viola Swamp stamp. it was the best ever. Really, stickers and stamps are the best ever.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      I 100% believe it. Evergreen is a special kind of place.

    • Williwaw

      Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” has an interesting perspective on attending “mediocre” schools. He makes the argument that attending a top-notch school can make you more likely to fail in your education. I want to think about that a lot more and am not sure I want to make a stand one way or the other, but his arguments are kind of convincing…so forking over loads of money for the most expensive education options might in some cases be worse for your kid. Maybe simply being in a good school (but not necessarily the “best”) is just as good, if not better?

  • Kay_Sue

    If you have the money, go for it. I personally couldn’t imagine spending that much…but that’s almost as much as I made per year in my last job, so there’s that.

  • Alexandra

    NYC is a strange and special creature – unfortunately, the pre-k kids go to dictates the next levels of education. They don’t have an “in” otherwise, unless their parents are on some board with someone in the school. NYC private schools are ridiculously competitive, so you’re basically paying $44k for one year to ensure that your kid will get into a grammar/middle/high school track that you want them to be on for future education – like college and grad school.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      NYC is also home to the greatest income inequality. You have parents that can afford to pay $40K per year in preschool the 10 blocks away you have families that live in housing projects that can barely feed their kids. It really is a shame.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I don’t see the point of actual education pre-kindergarten. Give small kids some stimulating things to play with, stories, opportunities for exercise and crafts, a nap, nutritious food, other kids to socialize with, some structure and boundaries and you have all you need. And you can get that at a good daycare for a fraction of the cost.

    • bl

      I’ll agree, though only if a parent has time to do some basic school-type teaching at home–letters, numbers, shapes, etc. When my brother started kindergarten at an average/good public elementary in a small town 7 years ago, he took a mandatory test a few months before. It was such a surprise. He passed, but if you didn’t know the alphabet, the sounds for letters, colors, shapes, basic counting, you were required to take pre-K summer school and possibly be held back a year.

    • pixie

      This is actually a lot different from when I started junior kindergarten in 1994 when I was 3 (turned 4 within a month). The school (though not the teacher, she was a fantastic lady) was upset that I could already read, write, and count, not to mention my shapes and colours. I guess it was because I was ahead of the class and not all the students were from English speaking families, but my parents weren’t about to not teach me those things.

    • Blueathena623

      If you are doing that with your kids, great, but not all parents do. And a good program does all that and more, like using multiple ways to introduce and reinforce literacy, introduction to math concepts, the scientific method, languages, social skills, etc.

    • Emily A.

      OK this is a USA Today article, but it does a nice job of summarizing a University of Minnesota study that was published in the journal Science.

      “Preschool’s benefits linger into adulthood, study finds”

      http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/06/09/preschools-benefits-linger-into-adulthood-study-finds

    • Kay_Sue

      Let me preface this by saying: I fully support early childhood education, especially for kids that are at risk to begin with. I believe every child should have access to it.

      But I have to take this with a grain of salt. For one, it followed very specific programs–three, actually–that had a very specific set up. For another, it can’t track all of the variables involved. For instance, is it the program that is responsible for the difference–or is it having parents involved enough to get them enrolled in it at a very early age? That makes a difference, in my opinion. If the parents were interested in enrolling them, was it because the family placed on importance and value on education? That makes a difference too. Did they explore the role that funding had in the efficacy of the programs they followed? It just leaves me with a lot of questions.

    • SarahJesness

      It’s not just your opinion; studies show that the biggest factor in how well a kid does in school is how seriously s/he and the parents take education.

    • Kay_Sue

      I don’t know that I’ve ever read a study on it, but I have definitely seen it bare out for people that way. Good to know it’s more than just anecdotal.

    • SarahJesness

      There’s a study. I’m lazy, but I can look for it, if you want. Even if a kid goes to the worst school in the world, the kinds who self-educate, and have parents who help them learn, can still do well. My middle and high school were… okay. Texas public school standards, you probably can’t get a WHOLE lot better. (but that isn’t saying much) But what’s helped me most through college is the stuff I’ve learned on my own.

    • Kay_Sue

      For kids from lower income strata, having a structure pre-k program can be huge. It allows them to make up time and skills that they may not have developed at home. It also helps, by introducing them to different backgrounds and activities, to build a schema for them to continue growing from throughout school. It makes a big difference there.

      For many people, though, it’s not necessarily a requirement. My older son never did pre-k. Neither will my younger. Because my mom has a background in early childhood education, we worked together to figure out the best ways to make sure they were/are ready for school when it comes around. Most of those are things parents I know do pretty regularly–taking them on trips, reading, playing Play-Doh, fingerpainting to learn colors, counting whatever we come across, pointing out words on signs, etc.

      There are things that are incredibly important that kids can pick up from pre-k…but there are also a lot of ways for parents to infuse that knowledge too.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    We’re talking about families that probably bring in $500K and above annually. So to them, $40K a year on preschool isn’t that much money. For me, paying less than $1K a month for my son’s preschool is hurting my pockets but that’s because I don’t make much to begin with.

    • bl

      I think this is good point that’s easy to overlook. Of course it sounds obscene to pay $40K on pre-K. That’s probably close to many readers’ yearly salaries. For people who have lots of money to spend, though, they’re just doing what people in their peer group are doing–like everyone else. In fact, I bet people who are much less wealthy actually spend a much higher percentage of their income when paying for daycare, pre-K, and private school.

  • Alex Lee

    “describe your child in one word”

    “Macabre.”

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Only if ”stinky” is taken.

    • Williwaw

      Voracious.

    • Valerie

      I would love to see the interviewers faces if a parent said “asshole”.

      Andddd…..scene.

    • Andy

      Oooo, after the evening my husband and I just had with our three year old, “asshole” is being mild. In fact I Googled “My three year old is an asshole” while nursing my five month old to bed and had over 1,500,000 hits-good to know I’m not alone.

    • Marianna

      Completely off topic, whenever I heard someone say “And scene” I always thought it was “End scene”, didn’t even cross my mind it was the other way.

    • Valerie

      You’re probably right. Lol. Or maybe it can go both ways?

    • Marianna

      I have NO idea. I’ve said this before in another comment, but English is my second language and I don’t live in an English speaking country, so when I see things that I had previously thought were written or spoken in a different way I have a doge moment, you know? Wow, such English, much good.

    • Valerie

      That last sentence made me legit lol.

  • MaebykittyRN

    I mean, if you can afford it, go for it. I just can’t help but think there are better things to spend that money on. The kid is gonna learn their shapes and colors whether you shell out 40k or not.

  • pixie

    I’m one of those people who thinks high-quality education should be free for everyone, including college/university. Though I do know what goes into a lot of tuition costs, I sometimes feel like with the big name schools, like the Ivy League, students are paying a lot more for the name. Yes expensive schools can pay for better professors and have the latest technology and access to more publications, but a student can also do incredibly well at a less expensive school. Great professors also exist at less fancy schools, just as great teachers exist in public schools. Also, it seems like a student could graduate from the bottom of their class at Harvard and still get more respect than someone who graduated at the top of their class, and with a much higher GPA, from a less expensive state or community school because they don’t have the school name backing them. I say this as a Canadian who has had interaction with American university students and compared school systems with them. I also think SATs are kind of dumb, too, and have thanked many deities many times that we don’t have them up here.

    In Canada, while I feel like university and college is still way too expensive, I think there is less emphasis put on the name of schools. Certain schools are known for things, but getting a music degree from Lakehead in Thunder Bay (which is what I did) and getting a music degree from the University of Western Ontario in London are more or less held on the same level. Western’s program is better known and better established, but they’re the same degree (for the majority of employers). That being said, there are still elitist attitudes, just less obviously prevalent and more obvious at the elementary/high school level between public and private schools.

    I think it’s sad that there’s an elitism in education, especially beginning so young. Like others have mentioned, there’s probably not a whole lot these kids will be doing different than children in a less expensive pre-k program, they just get higher quality stuff.

    And there’s so much more I’d like to say about how it could be good for higher and lower income children to intermix and learn about each other’s differences and how having a better educated population is better for the nation, but my rant is long enough. I’ll just keep dreaming of a future filled with free, high-quality education over here.

  • Alicia Kiner

    Hubby and I are trying to figure out how to come up with 6k/year to send our kids to private elementary school, because the public schools around us are getting worse and worse every year. I’ve even been considering home-schooling, which tbh, is really not something I ever though I’d do.

  • Angela

    Preschools are pretty reasonably priced in my area but the options are pretty limited and it’s really hard to find one with a play-based program, qualified teachers, etc. The only NAYEC accredited programs within 50 miles of me are Head Start or the school on the military base, neither of which we are eligible for. What I really wish is that the Head Start program could be expanded to include all children regardless of income level. I’d be totally willing to pay income-based sliding scale tuition. I also wouldn’t mind if some of the services (like home visits) were still only offered to low-income or special needs students. I don’t necessarily expect preschool to be free for everyone (though I wouldn’t mind paying slightly higher taxes to make this available) but I do wish that quality, affordable preschool was an option to everyone.

  • Nica

    Meh, I think this is more a social thing than an educational thing… (ie, “Hey! Look at me! I can send my kid to a $40k/year preschool!”). Honestly, what is a four year old really “learning” in a pre-K — social skills, some rudimentary reading/writing/math, how to play well with others? Personally, I think it’s a great way of separating fools from their money.
    I firmly believe a preschool program can be beneficial, but your child is not doomed to failure if attending is not an option. You can work with your child at home, you can look into the availability of public and magnet schools for that age group which are becoming increasingly common or let them go straight to K with no preschool and marvel at how quickly they grow and catch up to the kids who went to preschool!
    Speaking from my own experience, I attended, as the “token Catholic”, a synagogue-based preschool in my neighborhood. My mom sent me there because we could walk there (my mom didn’t have a car a the time) and it was super-cheap because it was just starting up.
    From there, I went to the local Catholic K-8 school and then the local Catholic HS (the public schools were and are very bad). From there, I attended an Ivy League college mostly financed by grants and scholarships (I graduated with just shy of $25K in loans, which I paid off in under five years). See, it can be done without the $40K/year preschool.
    I 100% believe you get out of an education what you put into it – whether it’s a $40/K year private school or the most inner-city public school…

    • SarahJesness

      Fun fact: the biggest factor in how well a child does in school is how seriously the child and his/her parents take education.

      Anyway, I agree. Most of the people who send their kids to these skills probably make a lot of money anyway, but still. There’s only so much you can do with preschoolers, so spending so much on them seems kind of pointless.

    • Alex

      But how else can everyone in Starbucks possibly know how seriously you take your child’s education unless it comes with an expensive designer label?

  • Bethany Ramos

    The pre-K at the elementary school down the street from our house is FREE, so I will happily “pay” for my son to go there, even if he eats glue all day. Paying an average salary in Texas for pre-K does not compute for me. I don’t understand the draw whatsoever.

    • Valerie

      Ditto. Especially since I went to an average suburban upstate NY public school and the entire top 10 of my class went to Ivy League colleges. And I can promise you none of them went to a pre-school that cost more than $75/month..

    • aliceblue

      Just make sure that it is organic, gluten free glue. ;)

  • Jallun-Keatres

    Kay. So. My husband is not only anti-preschool, he’s also anti Kindergarten and wants our kids to only begin public school for first grade. Now, before everyone thinks this is nuts, keep in mind that we’d of course be teaching them all they need to know before they get there and not have them worry about really super-academic stuff. I’m not sure how I feel about this but I am not opposed IF if works for the child. If I have like 4 kids by the time MK starts school I’ll probably send her to some kind of schooling just to get her used to the idea and to give her something worthwhile to do while I’m with my other kids (man, that makes it sound like I’m putting her in daycare…). If she or any of my future kids are clearly ready or need the experience of school before they are 6 then I’m not going to hesitate at all.

    The reason he is like this is because as a kid he moved about every 8 months and so he was :home schooled” until 3rd grade. He wasn’t even officially homeschooled. He just didn’t go to school and his mom taught him stuff. It worked out for him because when he finally got to public school he was miles ahead of the class (he picks up on stuff wicked quick) but I’m not counting on all of our kids being the same.

    Actually, my sister didn’t go to kindergarten either but she was in early intervention and all that special needs jazz and just attended an extra year of the awesome preschool program she was in (we were both in it- it was half special needs and half typical kids. great experience!).

    I guess what I am driving at is I just can’t justify paying for schooling that young because ^^^reasons. If it works for you and your child though I pass no judgment except the ridiculous (to me) cost.

  • Joy

    “What could I possibly say about my four-year-old that would stop him from being “considered” to play with blocks, color and eat peanut butter crackers?”

    I think you’re already disqualified if you let your kid eat peanut butter. Somebody’s little $44k a year snowflake could have a peanut allergy! You know the meals in this place have to be organic, gluten-, hormone- and allergen-free, vegan affairs. For that kind of money, they had better not be feeding the kids Tyson nuggets and box mac & cheese!

  • EX

    I’m thinking the one word I would use to describe my 2.5 year old – goofball – would not do much to “sell” her to a $40K preschool.

  • Kelly

    It’s their money. I do know people who pay $20,000+ a year for their children’s middle school and high school educations and, because of that expense, they will not be able to pay for college. They’ve already got the double mortgages and they’re drowning in debt.

    That just reeks of stupid to me. It’s why we decided to homeschool instead of sending our son to private school. We can actually send him to college, which I think is loads more important. I’ve never been asked which high school I went to in a job interview.

    But if it doesn’t break their budget, more power to those parents. Like I said, it’s their money.

    • SarahJesness

      What’s the point of going into debt for middle and high school? Maybe they’re counting on the kids getting full-ride scholarships or something, but if that doesn’t happen they just wasted a lot of money. Not gonna be worth it. (unless they get the full ride) Unless the parents are SERIOUSLY undereducated, homeschooling would probably be a better option.

    • Emil

      But doesn’t homeschooling usually cost upwards of 20,000 per year? At least when you figure in potential lost income? I am always curious about how people can afford to homeschool.

  • andrea

    I didn’t send either of my kids to preschool, and guess what? They both are excelling academically.

    The ONLY reason I could see paying for preschool would be if it was in place of daycare, which can easily cost $10-20K for 1 kid annually.

  • val97

    Hm, my child’s pre-school was around 14k per year. I don’t live in NYC, but I do live in an expensive part of the country. To me, 14k is exactly standard. That was for full-day pre-school plus after school daycare. It’s mind boggling considering I think I used to support myself on 14k a year.

  • SarahJesness

    So, what’s the point? I get that parents want their kids to get ahead, but I have a hard time believing that even the best of preschools can put them SO far ahead to the point where it’s worth this much money. Is it more about networking and image, or what?

    Also, I’m wondering what a preschool could POSSIBLY be doing with that kind of money. Do they take constant field trips to faraway places? Are those school lunches 5-star? Are the kids all being taught multiple languages by only the very best teachers? State of the art athletic facilities and equipment? I imagine the people paying this much money for preschool are probably super rich anyway, but still. It’s not like preschoolers can do a whole lot anyway, so I can’t imagine they’re getting much out of it.

  • Jillian

    The same types of parents that enrol their kids in preschools this expensive are the same kind of parents who are anal about planning their kids whole future before they turn one years old. Hell your lucky if their kid is even conceived before they start enrolling the fetus in early daycare/preschool and setting them up to send them to Harvard. I watched an interesting documentary following rich New York parents fighting, I mean literally sacrificing everything they could, to get their kids as young 1 and 2 enrolled in the most prestigious, expensive upper class preschools. Look I understand wanting a good educational start for your kid because who doesn’t want their kid to have good opportunities in life but come on people do you think just because you send them to some prestigious school it is a given guarantee they will grow up to be the successful, rich, harvard or Yale attending student you want them to be? A five year is a five year old regardless of if their at a school that cost several thousand a year or a school that cost $44,000 a year. they still just want to eat candy, play with crayons and run like a hyper ball of energy.

  • Jillian

    I want to create my own expensive precious private preschool for rich suckers to fight their way into. I shall call it “special snowflake kindergarten for the spectacularly gifted children of wealthy parents”. I will arrange a series of pretentious, high class tests for parents and their children to perform in order to be allowed in. First test have your child recreate a perfect replica of a Van Gogh painting if they can’t do it at fives years of age they are out I simply have no place for normal five years, come one now. Second test parents must describe their children in an intense interview in just the right manner that meets my approval. If any word is used that I feel does not properly fit with my schools high class image I shall deny that child. Last test is simple: I put the little pupils in a room filled with classic historical images and art – on the other side of the room is toys, crayons, stuffed animals. If your kid wanders to toy side they are out, asap. I want some real motivated future Harvard lawyers and John Hopkins doctors already working their way up the career latter now dammit! Not normal, happy little five year old kids, okay. ;)

  • KT

    It truly don’t get this at all. What is the end game? To get into an ivy league university? How is that worth 40,000 dollars per year for 12-14 years of education? Is any other college so bad? I’d argue that 12-14 years of private school won’t make your kid any smarter, and only very marginally will give them access to these ivy league colleges parents are apparently so desperate to send their children to. Hi, my name is Kate, I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania (ivy league, top ten in the nation) and I went to a church-run daycare until kindergarten where I spent K-12 in a rural public school. (And now I work 4 part time jobs to pay my way through.)

  • Pingback: Day Care Now Costs More Than College

  • Pingback: Desperate For Space, NYC Parents Move Their Babies Into Bathrooms