New York, New York

I think the main point, at least at this time, of this post
is how much money is sloshing around New York City,
and how so much money has raised expectations inordinately,
unsustainably, and possibly immorally.
(The best solution, in my opinion:
a transaction tax on financial trades,
which would discourage trading
and encourage investing to strengthen companies.)


As the Data Show,
There’s a Reason the Wall Street Protesters Chose New York

New York Times, 2011-10-26


Bracing for $40,000 at New York City Private Schools
New York Times, 2012-01-29

THERE are certain mathematical realities associated with New York City private schools: There are more students than seats at the top-tier schools, at least three sets of twins will be vying head to head for spots in any class, and already-expensive tuition can only go up.

Way up.

Over the past 10 years, the median price of first grade in the city has gone up by 48 percent, adjusted for inflation, compared with a 35 percent increase at private schools nationally — and just 24 percent at an Ivy League college — according to tuition data provided by 41 New York City K-12 private schools to the National Association of Independent Schools.

Indeed, this year’s tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory ($38,340 for 12th grade) and Horace Mann ($37,275 for the upper school) is higher than Harvard’s ($36,305). Those 41 schools (out of 61 New York City private schools in the national association) provided enough data to enable a 10-year analysis. (Over all, inflation caused prices in general to rise 27 percent over the past decade.)

The median 12th-grade tuition for the current school year was $36,970, up from $21,100 in 2001-2, according to the national association’s survey. Nationally, that figure rose to $24,240 from $14,583 a decade ago.

With schools already setting tuition rates for the 2012-13 school year — Brearley’s is $38,200 — parents at Horace Mann, Columbia Grammar and Trinity are braced to find out whether they will join families at Riverdale Country School in the $40,000-a-year club. (Riverdale actually charges $40,450 for 12th grade.) In fact, it appears to be a question not of “if,” but “when.”

“Within one to two years, every independent school will cost more than $40,000,” said one board member at a top school who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the school had not yet set tuition.

And that is before requests for the annual fund, tickets to the yearly auction gala and capital campaigns to build a(nother) gym.

Parents are reluctant to complain, at least with their names attached, for fear of hurting students’ standing (or siblings’ admissions chances). But privately, many questioned paying more for the same. “The school’s always had an amazing teacher-to-student ratio, learning specialists and art programs with great music and theater,” said one mother whose children attend the Dalton School ($36,970 a year). “It was great a decade ago and great now.”

“They are outrageous,” said Dana Haddad, a private admissions consultant, referring to tuitions. “People don’t want to put a price tag on their children’s future, so they are willing to pay more than many of them can afford.”

Administrators at several of New York’s top schools attributed the tuition inflation to rising teacher salaries, ever-expanding programs and renovations to aging buildings. They noted that tuition still covered only about 80 percent of the cost of educating each child (that is what all the fund-raising is about). As at most companies, a majority of the costs — and the fastest-growing increases — come from salaries and benefits, especially as notoriously low-paying private schools try to compete with public school compensation.


“Parents are just expecting more and more of independent schools,” said David B. Harman, the headmaster at Poly Prep. “Trying to meet that demand, that expectation, is expensive.”

But some parents and school consultants note that many of the schools
have long had lush facilities and expansive academic and extracurricular offerings.
What keeps the prices rising, they say, is
the seemingly endless stream of people more than willing to pay them.

The median number of applications to New York schools has increased 32 percent over the past decade, according to the association, and in some schools the acceptance rate is staggeringly low. At Trinity, only 2.4 percent of children from families with no previous connection to the school were admitted to kindergarten last year. Far from being deterred by the sticker prices, more families seem to be hiring consultants — at an additional cost — in hopes of getting a leg up.

One consulting firm, Manhattan Private School Advisors, said it worked with 1,431 families this school year, up from 605 three years ago. The company’s fee has gone up, too: It was $21,500 this year and $18,500 three years ago.

“In the rest of the country, the admission funnel is shrinking,
and you have to moderate tuition increases,”
said Patrick F. Bassett, head of the National Association of Independent Schools.
if the pool is six, seven, or eight deep for applications for preschool —
that’s way higher than for maybe 20 colleges in the whole country —
there is no perceived need not to increase it.”


That Dress Is So Preschool
New York Times, 2012-04-26


“I just can’t justify the prices,”
said Chantal Scott, a mother of a 5-year-old,
who owns Livie & Boo, a children’s resale shop in Brooklyn
Having once worked for a luxury brand, she added,
“I know how much things really cost.”
She meant the standard markup,
which for luxury brands is roughly 7.5 times cost.
So if the price of a dress is $375, the cost is $50.
By contrast, a vertical retailer — a chain like the Children’s Place —
uses a 3.5 markup.

Not long ago, a customer brought Ms. Scott a Marc Jacobs dress,
hoping to recoup some of the $400 she had spent for it.
“I told her the most I could ask for it was $50,” she said.
“That’s what people are willing to pay for a resale item.
She was expecting more.”

It’s easy to feel a sense of nausea at such prices
and at the idea that children, especially little girls,
are being groomed to be future shoppers,
though a Gucci bib is scarcely a prequel to a Gucci bag.
But it’s also not a new concern,
as writers and academics like Daniel T. Cook,
an associate professor of childhood studies at Rutgers University, Camden,
have observed.

“So much of kids’ and parents’ lives, compared to the early ’60s,
is centered around commerce and the media,”
Mr. Cook said.
“It’s kind of the lingua franca.”
More interesting to him is how high-end brands,
with all of their celebrity dazzle and easy entry points (children’s clothing is one),
feed a transnational middle class,
with the same styles appearing in Paris and Beijing as in Rio.
“There is a kind of global childhood that’s starting to emerge with the professional classes in the world,” he said.
“Clothing is related to that.”

[What is being described is middle-class?
That shows how truly sick the New York media is.]