Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

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hammond
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Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by hammond » Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm

We live in the Bay Area where sending kids to private schools seems like a status symbol. Or perhaps it's just the emphasis on education out here.

Me and SO make 450K before taxes and we have a kid who will soon hit the age for preschool/school. The public school in our district is not very good for elementary so it's not an option. The private schools we were looking (stratford/challenger) seem to be ~20K per year. This is doable if we stretch our budgets. But a few of our colleagues send their kids to other private schools in the area Keys, Challenger etc. They range from 30-40k. It seems like at the elementary school level the difference b/w a 20k school and 30-40k is minor so that I would much rather pocket the difference.

It seems like the basic human nature to give the best for their children but it's a bit overboard here. Does anybody have some perspective on avoiding to keep up with joneses when it comes to private schools.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by eagleeyes » Mon May 25, 2020 11:49 pm

could be poor public schools. Could also be high income parents who would send their kids to PS anyways.

I have to say, I’m sure Bay Area living is pricey, but do you really have to stretch to accommodate 20-40 in your budget? Seems like it shouldn’t be hard. Perhaps a hard look at the budget may help you locate some loose change under the sofa cushions

Where I live, that sounds about right. Most tuition from elementary to HS is about 25k. You are paying SF prices, so I’m sure 40 is not out of realm of possibility

Would also consider a 529 plan if you are considering Private school.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by MiddleOfTheRoad » Mon May 25, 2020 11:52 pm

You need to define what is “best”. Define “success”. Define “good education”. Once you do that the answer become clear to you. In k-8 it is more important to learn “how to learn”. I am proud to have my kids in public school in the bay area. We are lucky that we can spend a lot of time with our kids, but after the first few years they developed good work ethics and are now very independent.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by 123 » Mon May 25, 2020 11:55 pm

hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
...Does anybody have some perspective on avoiding to keep up with joneses when it comes to private schools.
You can avoid the syndrome completely by using the public school system. There are plenty of prior threads, just put "private school" (without quotes) in the google search box that is usually in the top right corner. Fundraising and extras, including extended hours child care at a private school can raise the cost to 150% of the cost of basic tuition. Whether a child qualifies or is admitted to some private schools can depend more on the ability of the parent to fund the school with additional donations, such as directing corporate funding donations, then the abilities of the child.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by luminous » Tue May 26, 2020 12:04 am

hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
Me and SO make 450K before taxes and we have a kid who will soon hit the age for preschool/school. The public school in our district is not very good for elementary so it's not an option.
What do you want your child to get out of elementary school? What does "not very good" mean to you? I think these are the questions you have to answer for yourselves.

I send my children to public schools in SF and am very pleased with the experience. But what I want for them in school and what you want for your kids in school may be different. To me, elementary school isn't about test scores or getting ahead. It is about learning to socialize, make friends, understand how school works, and meet people different from themselves. They are getting all that and more in their public school. They can walk to and from school by themselves, which gives them independence and confidence. They are learning a second language. They are learning conflict resolution.

For the most part, in conversations with other parents, "not every good" means bad test scores. But dig a layer deeper and you'll see that for most schools there is a mix of good and bad test scores that split on family economic lines. So your kids will be fine at any school they attend.

Finally, you may ask when should the pressure cooker of life start for kids? For my family, we want to delay that a while. When they are older and have intrinsically motivated goals for themselves I will help them pursue those goals to their fullest. But I don't want to put pressure on my adolescent kids to get ahead yet.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Starfish » Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am

First of all, the real winners go to Harker :D
I have a friend with a kid in Challenger and it has it's own problems. Classes in his particular school are very small, there are not enough people to find compatible friends. He believes that sooner or later he will have to transfer his kid to a public school.
On the other hand, academically, it's a decent school. By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication. All my colleagues and friends with kids in "good" public schools have similar opinions.
It's a mystery to me why its so 'hard in BA to get a good education. There are so many educated people and high achievers, how come schools are so bad?

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by newyorker » Tue May 26, 2020 12:27 am

I was raised in affluent area with great public school. IMO better than wasting money on private school.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am

What’s wrong with the public schools?

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by mighty72 » Tue May 26, 2020 12:32 am

I personally think of you can afford it then sending kids to a good private school is an option you should consider. We have income very similar to yours but 2 kids. We have decided to keep the kids in public k-5 and switch to private middle school onwards.
In lower grades, school is close by and they get to make friends with neighborhood kids. We can help them with their school work.
In middle school, things change. The focus is more on studies and they need more help which we might not be able to provide. Also, our local public schools are over crowded with classes in temporary classes.
As for which one, I don't think the price tag is really that important. Look at the school you like and feel comfortable sending your child.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Raryn » Tue May 26, 2020 1:04 am

Starfish wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am
First of all, the real winners go to Harker :D
I have a friend with a kid in Challenger and it has it's own problems. Classes in his particular school are very small, there are not enough people to find compatible friends. He believes that sooner or later he will have to transfer his kid to a public school.
On the other hand, academically, it's a decent school. By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication. All my colleagues and friends with kids in "good" public schools have similar opinions.
It's a mystery to me why its so 'hard in BA to get a good education. There are so many educated people and high achievers, how come schools are so bad?
I vaguely recall learning multiplication in third grade. I don't think it set me too far behind though, given a successful straight path through college and med school.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by minimalistmarc » Tue May 26, 2020 4:16 am

Raryn wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:04 am
Starfish wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am
First of all, the real winners go to Harker :D
I have a friend with a kid in Challenger and it has it's own problems. Classes in his particular school are very small, there are not enough people to find compatible friends. He believes that sooner or later he will have to transfer his kid to a public school.
On the other hand, academically, it's a decent school. By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication. All my colleagues and friends with kids in "good" public schools have similar opinions.
It's a mystery to me why its so 'hard in BA to get a good education. There are so many educated people and high achievers, how come schools are so bad?
I vaguely recall learning multiplication in third grade. I don't think it set me too far behind though, given a successful straight path through college and med school.
Yea, I think private school is a bit of a con.

My daughter is 6 and goes to our local U.K. public school and is doing multiplication, but I taught it to her. I definitely don’t feel it would have been worth the 13k to send her to our local private school, which is where all the professional football players send their kids.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Cruise » Tue May 26, 2020 4:18 am

OP:

If your child is bright And inquisitive , you might consIder surrounding him with others with the same qualities. In a public school, you are at risk of regression toward the mean, and that mean may be well below your child’s abilities.

This really is not a question of keeping up the the Joneses, but finding the optimal environment for your particular child.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Xrayman69 » Tue May 26, 2020 9:37 am

Starfish wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am
First of all, the real winners go to Harker :D
I have a friend with a kid in Challenger and it has it's own problems. Classes in his particular school are very small, there are not enough people to find compatible friends. He believes that sooner or later he will have to transfer his kid to a public school.
On the other hand, academically, it's a decent school. By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication. All my colleagues and friends with kids in "good" public schools have similar opinions.
It's a mystery to me why its so 'hard in BA to get a good education. There are so many educated people and high achievers, how come schools are so bad?
Public servants and teachers in the BA and seattle do not have the highest compensation compared to the “educated people and high achievers” you are likely referring in the highly compensated jobs. As result the teachers and administrators for the public schools or even the independent private schools are potentially considered “lower” tier for the populace. You still get what your paying for but unfortunately it’s hard to get what you feel you want even regardless of price.

I would argue that the higher education in the BA and tech heavy cities, even the public universities are world class. Many would be getting a tuition decrease when kids go to college compared to elementary school tuition. My kid has been in an independent school since the age of 3, initially for social purposes. During this Covid 19 pandemic the continuation of some semblance of “normal” daily classes for her third grade is a COMPLETELY different experience from the public school she would have otherwise attended in our neighborhood. We feel fortunate and see this as the insurance plan or dividends payout for having “invested” in this independent school education.

I was a public school kid in a very very very humble system. I’m pretty sure less than 25% of my high school went on to higher education. I was naive when it came to the kids education and assumed that the public school 2 blocks from our home in a privileged neighborhood was the natural choice “it must be good because it’s in a good neighborhood”. Then why spouse informed me that the teachers and administrators probably drive from 1 hour each way for the commute and the class size was very high (around 25-28kids per teacher). My kid would have failed miserably during this pandemic in a system in which there was not the resources to be “face to face” with each child for several hours a day and maintain personal one on one discussions leveraging technology. Our donation to the schools annual fundraising actually went up this year as this pandemic confirmed to my family the “value” of the kids experience and education environment. The fundraising for our family annually is well over 2x the tuition and most of that is directed to tuition support to help families that would otherwise not be able to attend.

Paying for the pre K-12 education was a tough pill for my to swallow at first (tuition to date has far exceed my entire college and multiple post graduate degrees). However the pre K - 12 public education system is probably not the best run system and thus lower value and efficient as it is a requirement to be provided by the federal and state government. On the other hand the pub,if universities are a smaller more efficient “non mandated” or required system and thus more selective and likely efficient.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by leeks » Tue May 26, 2020 9:57 am

Move to a neighborhood with good public schools? You can obviously afford that.

I don't understand why so many incredibly high-income boglehead parents seem to own houses in places where the public schools are poor. Are they not researching school districts when buying their home? Or is their standard for "good" just impossible for any public school to achieve?

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by aristotelian » Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am

oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them. Most of the college profs I know have noticed a major dropoff over the last 10-20 years in the abilities of kids entering college to write a research paper or essay. There is a domino effect where now even college grads struggle with writing and research (we regularly hire college grads at my work and I see this).

We have had a great experience with public school through elementary, but really not impressed with what we are seeing at the high school level so we are starting to looking at private options.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 10:06 am

leeks wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:57 am
Move to a neighborhood with good public schools? You can obviously afford that.

I don't understand why so many incredibly high-income boglehead parents seem to own houses in places where the public schools are poor. Are they not researching school districts when buying their home? Or is their standard for "good" just impossible for any public school to achieve?
It was years ago, and in NJ, but we moved to a school district with a sterling reputation, among the best in the country. Politically, we are in favor of public schools. But, they were profoundly failing our kids, so we moved them to a private middle and high school. In addition to paying $40k+ for property taxes, we got to pay somewhere around $40k per child per year for the private. It wasn’t about keeping up with the neighbors. I would not change a thing, other than not move to the pricey suburb with over-rated schools.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by eye.surgeon » Tue May 26, 2020 10:09 am

I live in California. I chose to live in a school district that is among the best in the state, Clovis Unified. Personally I would never live where public schools were so bad that I had to send my kids to private school. I also would not want my kids to miss out on public school experiences like sports and social events that were an important part of my formative years. But then again I would also never live in a HCOL area in the first place like the Bay area, too much sacrifice for zero gain at least for physicians.
Last edited by eye.surgeon on Tue May 26, 2020 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 10:15 am

aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them.
It's interesting what people focus on. As best as I can remember, my high school didn't have a debate team.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by montanagirl » Tue May 26, 2020 10:20 am

oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
From reading teacher forums elsewhere, apparently many poor schools have significant behavior issues that disrupt classrooms but can't be corrected due to fear of litigation.

Students are rarely flunked even if they do no work or clearly copy/plagiarize. Social promotion us rampant k-12 and the problems are passed on to junior college or law enforcement.

If your kids don't mind the distraction, intimidation, violence etc then you're good.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Elysium » Tue May 26, 2020 10:21 am

hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
We live in the Bay Area where sending kids to private schools seems like a status symbol. Or perhaps it's just the emphasis on education out here.

Me and SO make 450K before taxes and we have a kid who will soon hit the age for preschool/school. The public school in our district is not very good for elementary so it's not an option. The private schools we were looking (stratford/challenger) seem to be ~20K per year. This is doable if we stretch our budgets. But a few of our colleagues send their kids to other private schools in the area Keys, Challenger etc. They range from 30-40k. It seems like at the elementary school level the difference b/w a 20k school and 30-40k is minor so that I would much rather pocket the difference.

It seems like the basic human nature to give the best for their children but it's a bit overboard here. Does anybody have some perspective on avoiding to keep up with joneses when it comes to private schools.
You can get a good education at public or private schools. Opinions tend to vary, and could get very passionate on either side.
More important is (a) your ability to pay for private school quite comfortably (b) pay for the experience and choice and do not compare value (c) do not worry about the Joneses, that should be least of your concerns.

You send to private not for superior education but an education and experience you like to get for your child according to your choice, not something designed for millions by the state and county education departments. As I said you could get good education at state/county level, but do not compare it that way. If you decide private it should be only based on merits of a private school, and you should be comfortable paying for it without worrying about value.
Last edited by Elysium on Tue May 26, 2020 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by MMiroir » Tue May 26, 2020 10:22 am

leeks wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:57 am
Move to a neighborhood with good public schools? You can obviously afford that.

I don't understand why so many incredibly high-income boglehead parents seem to own houses in places where the public schools are poor. Are they not researching school districts when buying their home? Or is their standard for "good" just impossible for any public school to achieve?
Much like retirement success, buying a house in a good school system takes foresight and sometimes sacrifice. When we were buying a house for our young family many years ago, the quality of the public school was the biggest priority driving what towns and neighborhoods we looked at. We ended getting an older, unrenovated house in a town with a great school system. At the same time, some of my co-workers with similar incomes bought similarly priced but much newer/larger/fancier houses in areas with lower ranked schools. One of them ended up sending their four kids to private schools after a disappointing experience in elementary school, and another ended up selling and moving to a different town for the same reason.

Fast forward 15 years when college acceptances come out, and these co-workers kids are either going to directional state schools, no-name privates or, at best, a state flagship. Our kids are at top 10 privates, and the reasons why are rooted in decisions we made as a family 15 to 20 years earlier.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by aristotelian » Tue May 26, 2020 10:24 am

oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:15 am
aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them.
It's interesting what people focus on. As best as I can remember, my high school didn't have a debate team.
Just using as an example. The bigger issue is the culture of "teaching to the test" on the schools part and kids graduating not ready for college.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by eye.surgeon » Tue May 26, 2020 10:30 am

aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:24 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:15 am
aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them.
It's interesting what people focus on. As best as I can remember, my high school didn't have a debate team.
Just using as an example. The bigger issue is the culture of "teaching to the test" on the schools part and kids graduating not ready for college.
Obviously there are a lot of passionate opinions about standardized testing and teaching to the test. But as a physician every stage of my 12+ year higher education was contingent on high performance on standardized tests and even keeping credentialed in my 50's I take standardized tests. Keep that in mind when you shelter your kids from the horrors of standardized tests. I tried to prepare my kids to live in the real world not the theoretical better world where achievement is based on forum debating whatever that is.
Last edited by eye.surgeon on Tue May 26, 2020 10:36 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:31 am

What is good and not good? Having been there, done that with 2 kids, I have some idea about the schools they attended. You don't know about cliques and bullying until years after they're out. Private schools may put strong emphasis on one skill and neglect another. For example, my older son went to a private middle school because the town's middle school had the nick name "the black hole". Talking with the principal there, they clearly didn't care at all. The good: He types 120 wpm (tested) and can type 100 wpm while holding a conversation with you. His English skills are good. He started middle school strong in math. When coming back to public for high school, 3 years later, he was a full year behind his class and ended up taking a summer school math after his senior year to enter engineering college.

We had several other schools we tried with both sons. In the end, I think unless the kid has a demonstrated learning disability that your public can't address, leave them in public. Well, unless they're getting beaten up every day (that would be the vocational school).

Keeping up with the Joneses? Farthest thing from my mind. Just finding an appropriate school is hard enough. I suppose if you're only looking for bragging rights, we do have a school for that. It's very expensive. They have boarding facilities if you want to bring your horse. My take away is that students there will either graduate and become a CEO or hang themselves in their dorm room.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 10:35 am

montanagirl wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:20 am
If your kids don't mind the distraction, intimidation, violence etc then you're good.
Talk about ridiculous stereotypes of public schools, as if all public schools are hotbeds of gang violence.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Count of Notre Dame » Tue May 26, 2020 10:35 am

luminous wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:04 am
hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
Me and SO make 450K before taxes and we have a kid who will soon hit the age for preschool/school. The public school in our district is not very good for elementary so it's not an option.
What do you want your child to get out of elementary school? What does "not very good" mean to you? I think these are the questions you have to answer for yourselves.
Absolutely has to be defined by the parent for their own children. For us, we sent our daughter to public school for kindergarten and saw first hand how crowded the classroom environment was (30 students to a teacher) and how little attention our daughter received. Additionally, there was a bullying situation that was not dealt with quickly and my daughter disliked going to school for this reason. Another parent would have seen this as a challenge for their child to overcome - I didn't. It's not a challenge when a 5-year old girl is bullied by a larger, 6-year old boy to me.

We sent our daughter to a private school the following year and have been very happy with it since then. The classroom size is 15 students and we have seen how my daughter is flourishing. The parents and teachers communicate much more closely and the parents are deeply involved in their children's development. Sometimes you just have to see things for yourself and then define what is "good" for your child.

Regarding the money, we make around the same income level as you do and honestly we can afford it pretty easily. It's a conscious decision we've made as the only other place this money would go would be to accelerate our financial independence or be spent on things we don't really need.
Last edited by Count of Notre Dame on Tue May 26, 2020 10:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by eye.surgeon » Tue May 26, 2020 10:38 am

I have experienced bullies and cliques throughout my life and it's been helpful to have not been sheltered from them as they don't go away after high school. I'd rather my kids had coping skills than avoidance skills. This is an unpopular opinion I know.
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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 10:44 am

aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:24 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:15 am
aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them.
It's interesting what people focus on. As best as I can remember, my high school didn't have a debate team.
Just using as an example. The bigger issue is the culture of "teaching to the test" on the schools part and kids graduating not ready for college.
Like it or not, after GPA, ACT/SAT/AP scores may be the largest factor in college admissions for non-ALDCs.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by jpelder » Tue May 26, 2020 10:46 am

Public School teacher here, so I have an agenda. I'm also an alumnus of a selective private K-12 school, so I've seen both sides from a certain perspective.

The metric that I put the most trust in for grading a public school is teacher turnover. If the teachers are leaving, it means that there's something deeply wrong with the administration or school culture. Having worked at a school with high turnover (20% or more each year) vs. low turnover (10% or less per year), the difference in culture is palpable. Another factor to look at is teacher experience. If most of the teachers are in their early career, it generally means that the school is a less-desirable workplace. Overall, schools that can be picky with staffing will be better. California might have a school data dashboard where you can see this information for the public schools in your area. As they head to high school, faculty stability will also help with building long-term relationships, club availability, and getting recommendations for college.

Test scores are important to individual students, but they mostly reflect home environment and parents' income/educational attainment. Most of the research out there suggests that children of educated parents will generally do fine in any school. So I'd ignore most of what's on Greatschools, Niche, etc., since they mostly look at test scores. Anecdotally, the public high school near where I live has a 4/10 rating on Greatschools, but routinely sends dozens of alumni to UNC Chapel Hill each year.

Private schools all have different cultures. The school I attended had high standards, but was also a nurturing place. There was a certain cultural conformity that was unofficially enforced, though. This can be good or bad, depending on what you want for your child. The school I attended was also religious (Episcopalian). Religious schools have benefits and downsides depending on your relationship to the sponsoring ecclesiastical body as well as the influence of the religion on academic instruction. I was thinking the other day that it did affect my attitude to pray the school prayer each day that included the words, "patient with each other’s faults, mindful of each other’s needs, gentle in words and helpful in deeds." My wife is a teacher at a public elementary school, and her school starts each day with a school motto, which includes similar sentiments, so private schools don't have an exclusive hold on moral/social instruction (my wife jokes that her job is half teaching children how to read and half teaching them how to human).

All that is to say is that maybe moving to a better public school district is a good idea, and maybe a private school is a good idea. But don't get caught up on public school ratings.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by MiddleOfTheRoad » Tue May 26, 2020 10:50 am

eye.surgeon wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:38 am
I have experienced bullies and cliques throughout my life and it's been helpful to have not been sheltered from them as they don't go away after high school. I'd rather my kids had coping skills than avoidance skills. This is an unpopular opinion I know.
Well, not as unpopular an opinion as you think! :sharebeer

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 26, 2020 11:00 am

Starfish wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am
By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication.
Multiplication is in the 3rd grade curriculum pretty much everywhere. None of my kids learned multiplication until the third grade. 2 are now SDE’s at FAANGs, and the 3rd is an animator at Pixar.

I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Put them in public school, and if there’s a problem, then adjust. Two of ours did just fine in public school. The 3rd (the artist) had a learning disability, and spent middle school in a private school where she got a lot of individual attention and specific help for her disability. Since we had the money, a specialist private school was a better choice for this. A high powered, elite private school would have been a disaster for that kid. She took what she learned back to public school for high school, and did fine there.

I would be more concerned with the fact that OP makes $450k, but is financially stretched by the prospect of paying $20-40k for tuition. That seems like a bigger problem than school choice.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by aristotelian » Tue May 26, 2020 11:02 am

eye.surgeon wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:30 am
aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:24 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:15 am
aristotelian wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:58 am
oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:29 am
What’s wrong with the public schools?
This is going to stray into politics but... they have been massively defunded as well as hyperfocused on standardized testing. Even in so called "good" public schools, kids are no longer challenged and taught to think and write. I volunteered at our local high school debate tournament and I asked one of the kids why there was no policy debate, only the less advanced "forum" debate. He said the students flat out wouldn't do it. Now, that partially falls on the students but IMO the program should be pushing them.
It's interesting what people focus on. As best as I can remember, my high school didn't have a debate team.
Just using as an example. The bigger issue is the culture of "teaching to the test" on the schools part and kids graduating not ready for college.
Obviously there are a lot of passionate opinions about standardized testing and teaching to the test. But as a physician every stage of my 12+ year higher education was contingent on high performance on standardized tests and even keeping credentialed in my 50's I take standardized tests. Keep that in mind when you shelter your kids from the horrors of standardized tests. I tried to prepare my kids to live in the real world not the theoretical better world where achievement is based on forum debating whatever that is.
My kids do just fine on standardized tests. The problem is they arent learning anything else.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 11:09 am

quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:00 am
I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Put them in public school, and if there’s a problem, then adjust.
I agree, but we fell victim to the pernicious effects of cognitive dissonance. I have very few coulda woulda shoulda moments as regards our kids, but I feel guilty about the years I had one of ours in the public middle school. We just didn’t see it.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 11:20 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:09 am
quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:00 am
I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Put them in public school, and if there’s a problem, then adjust.
I agree, but we fell victim to the pernicious effects of cognitive dissonance. I have very few coulda woulda shoulda moments as regards our kids, but I feel guilty about the years I had one of ours in the public middle school. We just didn’t see it.
Didn't your son go to Yale? I think he turned out fine.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by gr7070 » Tue May 26, 2020 11:20 am

At 450k income I'd think you'd be better off financially and as good or better academically living in an area with very high quality public schools and spending that extra money on housing costs. If one even needs to spend extra to find a high quality public school.

Surely great public schools exist in SF and not just the most affluent areas of the city.

Even with that, I'm certain there are many good to very good public schools readily available in areas affordable to a 450k income.

The below already sounds of confirmation bias. Even for the "lowly" cheap private schools.
hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
Or perhaps it's just the emphasis on education out here.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 11:25 am

oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:20 am
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:09 am
quantAndHold wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:00 am
I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Put them in public school, and if there’s a problem, then adjust.
I agree, but we fell victim to the pernicious effects of cognitive dissonance. I have very few coulda woulda shoulda moments as regards our kids, but I feel guilty about the years I had one of ours in the public middle school. We just didn’t see it.
Didn't your son go to Yale? I think he turned out fine.
Yes, he did turn out fine. Thank heavens that the private school decided to reassess him and not take the public’s word for it that he belonged in the lowest math track. Had they not, he would not have been accepted to the private nor excelled at, you guessed it, math.

His turning out fine does not release me from wishing that we had not subjected him to the public middle school experience.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TheOscarGuy » Tue May 26, 2020 11:29 am

hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
We live in the Bay Area where sending kids to private schools seems like a status symbol. Or perhaps it's just the emphasis on education out here.

Me and SO make 450K before taxes and we have a kid who will soon hit the age for preschool/school. The public school in our district is not very good for elementary so it's not an option. The private schools we were looking (stratford/challenger) seem to be ~20K per year. This is doable if we stretch our budgets. But a few of our colleagues send their kids to other private schools in the area Keys, Challenger etc. They range from 30-40k. It seems like at the elementary school level the difference b/w a 20k school and 30-40k is minor so that I would much rather pocket the difference.

It seems like the basic human nature to give the best for their children but it's a bit overboard here. Does anybody have some perspective on avoiding to keep up with joneses when it comes to private schools.
My personal experience: we contemplated it but could not justify it as we found a really good public school district with home prices in our range.
In your shoes I would consider the following: there are two choices:
1. I buy home in best possible district vis-a-vis public schools. Lets say Cupertino. How much would I be paying for mortgage there.
2. I buy home in OK neighborhood. Safe but not stellar public schools. And send my kids to private school. How much does public school + mortgage cost me there.

All things being equal you are paying more towards home payment for #1 option. But you have to be able to pay for it, and you have to be convinced that public school in #1 is almost as good as private school. In our case, we were convinced so we chose route # 1 (not in Bay area, but a HCOL area).

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Watty » Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am

hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
It seems like at the elementary school level the difference b/w a 20k school and 30-40k is minor so that I would much rather pocket the difference.
'

The extra $10-20K a year for 12 years adds up.

Most likely what will happen is that the extra money would be invested and growing until your kid inherits it 50 years from now when it is worth millions of dollars.

I don't know how it is with private schools but were I live in some of the affluent areas there are problems with the "rich kids" having cliques in the public schools that can make it difficult for the other kids who cannot keep up with the "rich kids". There may be extreme cases but I have heard of;

1) When we were house hunting we drove through the student parking lot at a public school in an affluent area and in addition to some Mercedes and BMWs and even one late model Corvette. Even if you can afford it who gives a 17 year old a Corvette? We choose a less affluent area in part because of seeing those cars. (Just a side note, years later when my son was in high school he told me that many of the fancy cars that students had were leased. The parents would drive the car the first two years and put on a lot of miles. They then let their high school kid drive it the last year of the lease since they would not put on many miles.)

2) This could be suspect since I heard second hand but I also heard how one kids parent had access to a corporate just so they flew their kids and some of their friends to the Bahamas for spring break on the corporate jet.

Having the latest cell phones, clothing, spending money, vacations, etc will also separate the "rich kids" from the other kids.

If you are worried about "keeping up with the Joneses" the tuition is just the tip of the iceberg.

I obviously don't know anything about the quality but if you choose a private school the less expensive one might put less social pressure on your kids to keep up with the Joneses.
Last edited by Watty on Tue May 26, 2020 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 11:50 am

Watty wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am
2) This could be suspect since I heard second hand but I also heard how one kids parent had access to a corporate just so they flew their kids and some of their friends to the Bahamas for spring break on the corporate jet. .
My ex-wife was at a Girl Scout meeting shortly after we moved to Short Hills, NJ. The discussion was about where to take the annual field trip. My ex was expecting Wash, DC or something similar. Ex came home wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, as one of the girls said: “Susie’s Dad has a jet; let’s go to the Bahamas.” The trip was to DC.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Krui24 » Tue May 26, 2020 12:10 pm

The problem with this issue is that you get a million anecdotes (e.g. "I went to public and look at me, my friend's kid went to private and he's a disaster").

I'm in a similar situation to you (in Seattle) and I've looked at some studies, e.g. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10 ... 9X18785632 and others.

I've never found a study that supported paying up for private school. There is no doubt that fancy private schools produce higher-achieving graduates on average than public, but it's because they accept higher-achieving applicants. In all of the studies, once they control for parents' income and / or parents' education, all of the effects of schooling go away completely.

In other words, it's not schools that determine kids' outcomes. It's other factors, including parents' income, parents' education, and maybe other environmental factors + the kid herself. Schools don't appear to have any effect, at least in the research I've done.

My personal opinion is that fancy private schools prey on rich parents' sense of guilt.
Last edited by Krui24 on Tue May 26, 2020 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by stoptothink » Tue May 26, 2020 12:18 pm

Krui24 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:10 pm
The problem with this issue is that you get a million anecdotes (e.g. "I went to public and look at me, my friend's kid went to private and he's a disaster").

I'm in a similar situation to you (in Seattle) and I've looked at some studies, e.g. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10 ... 9X18785632 and others.

I've never found a study that supported paying up for private school. There is no doubt that fancy private schools produce higher-achieving graduates on average than public, but it's because they accept higher-achieving applicants. In all of the studies, once they control for parents' income and / or parents' education, all of the effects of schooling go away completely.

In other words, it's not schools that determine kids' outcomes. It's other factors, including parents' income, parents' education, and maybe other environmental factors + the kid herself. Schools don't appear to have any effect, at least in the research I've done.

My personal opinion is that fancy private schools pray on rich parents' sense of guilt.
Definitely my perspective as well. As someone else said earlier, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". If your child is doing fine in public school, ask yourself what you would be gaining by going private? If there is an issue, then for sure consider alternatives. We were fortunate to win a lottery to send our daughter to the highest ranked elementary in our county (a charter, not a private) and it turned out to be terrible (primarily due to a bad teacher, but administration was bad as well), and our mediocre local public has been infinitely better.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 12:24 pm

Krui24 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:10 pm
The problem with this issue is that you get a million anecdotes (e.g. "I went to public and look at me, my friend's kid went to private and he's a disaster").

I'm in a similar situation to you (in Seattle) and I've looked at some studies, e.g. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10 ... 9X18785632 and others.

I've never found a study that supported paying up for private school. There is no doubt that fancy private schools produce higher-achieving graduates on average than public, but it's because they accept higher-achieving applicants. In all of the studies, once they control for parents' income and / or parents' education, all of the effects of schooling go away completely.

In other words, it's not schools that determine kids' outcomes. It's other factors, including parents' income, parents' education, and maybe other environmental factors + the kid herself. Schools don't appear to have any effect, at least in the research I've done.

My personal opinion is that fancy private schools pray on rich parents' sense of guilt.
I have only 2 anecdotes that matter to me. Small sample size and I don’t care.

Re “fancy private schools pray [sic] on rich parents’ sense of guilt,” we weren’t rich when we started the kids there, at least 30% of the kids were on financial aid, and the school had to turn families away who had checkbooks out.

FWIW, Richard Thaler’s (Nobel prize winning economist) family (mother was a teacher and then RE agent and father an actuary, so probably comfortable but not rich) decided that the education at my sons’ High School was worth it. He turned out well :D
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Krui24 » Tue May 26, 2020 12:45 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:24 pm
FWIW, Richard Thaler’s (Nobel prize winning economist) family (mother was a teacher and then RE agent and father an actuary, so probably comfortable but not rich) decided that the education at my sons’ High School was worth it. He turned out well :D
Thaler would be the first to admit people do many things that are irrational. Also, as a Nobel laureate and best-selling author who probably gets $50k speaking fees, he's likely way further out on the marginal utility of income curve than i am, so maybe $40k per year makes no difference to him. To me it makes a lot.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Count of Notre Dame » Tue May 26, 2020 12:46 pm

eye.surgeon wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 10:38 am
I have experienced bullies and cliques throughout my life and it's been helpful to have not been sheltered from them as they don't go away after high school. I'd rather my kids had coping skills than avoidance skills. This is an unpopular opinion I know.
As long as the way to cope / avoid does not mean physically, I would agree with you. There are no physical bullies once you are a grown up and working a "white collar" job.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 12:49 pm

Krui24 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:45 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:24 pm
FWIW, Richard Thaler’s (Nobel prize winning economist) family (mother was a teacher and then RE agent and father an actuary, so probably comfortable but not rich) decided that the education at my sons’ High School was worth it. He turned out well :D
Thaler would be the first to admit people do many things that are irrational. Also, as a Nobel laureate and best-selling author who probably gets $50k speaking fees, he's likely way further out on the marginal utility of income curve than i am, so maybe $40k per year makes no difference to him. To me it makes a lot.
You misread. It was his parents who decided that the school was worth it. A school teacher and actuary living in East Orange
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Krui24 » Tue May 26, 2020 12:56 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:49 pm
You misread. It was his parents who decided that the school was worth it. A school teacher and actuary living in East Orange
Ah, got it. The data would suggest Thaler would have ended up as a high-achiever regardless of his school choice - his parents obviously valued education and he's certainly intelligent. Also, he's achieved a lot in life despite not attending highly-prestigious schools (Case Western Reserve + U. of Rochester -- not bad at all, but not ivy league / top-10). I'd say people achieve more due to their own work ethic & smarts (+ luck) rather than where they went to school.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by oldfort » Tue May 26, 2020 1:11 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:24 pm
Re “fancy private schools pray [sic] on rich parents’ sense of guilt,” we weren’t rich when we started the kids there, at least 30% of the kids were on financial aid, and the school had to turn families away who had checkbooks out.
If you had a gross household compensation of at least $200k/year, including any stock options or bonuses, you were rich. This forum often has a skewed perception of what rich means.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by Dottie57 » Tue May 26, 2020 1:12 pm

Raryn wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:04 am
Starfish wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:19 am
First of all, the real winners go to Harker :D
I have a friend with a kid in Challenger and it has it's own problems. Classes in his particular school are very small, there are not enough people to find compatible friends. He believes that sooner or later he will have to transfer his kid to a public school.
On the other hand, academically, it's a decent school. By comparison my kid goes to a 10/10 public school and it's pretty bad. He finished second grade and they are not even learning multiplication. All my colleagues and friends with kids in "good" public schools have similar opinions.
It's a mystery to me why its so 'hard in BA to get a good education. There are so many educated people and high achievers, how come schools are so bad?
I vaguely recall learning multiplication in third grade. I don't think it set me too far behind though, given a successful straight path through college and med school.
Yeah. Multiplication was in third grade for me too!.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by heilwasser » Tue May 26, 2020 1:13 pm

gr7070 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:20 am
At 450k income I'd think you'd be better off financially and as good or better academically living in an area with very high quality public schools and spending that extra money on housing costs. If one even needs to spend extra to find a high quality public school.

Surely great public schools exist in SF and not just the most affluent areas of the city.

Even with that, I'm certain there are many good to very good public schools readily available in areas affordable to a 450k income.

The below already sounds of confirmation bias. Even for the "lowly" cheap private schools.
hammond wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:30 pm
Or perhaps it's just the emphasis on education out here.
Yes, $450k combined salary is sizable sum, though not exceedingly rare in the bay area. I still think 30-40k expense on private school would be hard to swallow, when there are options available for free. Also a "livable" 3b 1ba home on the bay area for top public schools will cost minimum $1.5 mil, which I agree is doable at that salary after a few years is saving. If it came down to it, I rather have the annual 30-40k go towards my portfolio.

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Re: Avoiding keeping-up-with-the-joneses w.r.t. private schools

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue May 26, 2020 1:16 pm

oldfort wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:11 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 12:24 pm
Re “fancy private schools pray [sic] on rich parents’ sense of guilt,” we weren’t rich when we started the kids there, at least 30% of the kids were on financial aid, and the school had to turn families away who had checkbooks out.
If you had a gross household compensation of at least $200k/year, including any stock options or bonuses, you were rich. This forum often has a skewed perception of what rich means.
Guilty as charged, but I was still getting over the effects of a financially ruinous divorce, paying for kids of my previous marriage, etc. So, rich but not rich.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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