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Purpose of elite schools?


Replies to: Purpose of elite schools?

  • NYCMomof3NYCMomof3 Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    @SatchelSF Trinity is still known to be tops, followed by Horace Mann, Riverdale. But this is a list by those who care about name, prestige, bragging rights. All of the private high schools in Manhattan (let's include Brooklyn too) send their kids to the same universities as as Trinity, HM and Riverdale. I can say that in my daughter's 8th grade graduating class, the kids all went on to different HSs in the city. They sent two kids to Trinity, Stuyvesant, HM, Riverdale, St Ann's, Packer, Brearley, Chapin, Friends, etc. (including some boarding schools). These kids went to all different private and public high school schools and they all just got into their First choice university via ED Last month. I guess my point is that one doesn't have attend what people feel are the best private HS in order to get into top universities.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,761 Senior Member
    @ChoatieMom "I’ve also never understood the idea that you need to be rich to value education for its own sake. Can someone please explain this? We believe solely in education for its own sake and raised our son that way."

    You don't need to be rich to value education for its own sake, but if you are not rich it is more critical to have a plan about where you are headed and how you get there. Most families can't afford a $250k for an unmarketable college degree that ends with the kid moving back into their basement with no job and no plan.

    For example, if a rich kid wants to major in classic Latin, that may be a much better choice than if a low income, first generation student is making that decision.


    P.S. As member of an average public school family whose kids are doing reasonably well in college, I am really enjoying the insight into the private school parents perspective. Please keep posting!
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 38,327 Super Moderator
    edited January 12
    I really don't see how talk of IQs and AMC scores relates to the topic of the Trinity head's letter.
    Nor do I. Or which private NYC school has the "best" matriculation results. Or if Trinity is better than Stuyvesant. Please stick to the topic or I will end up closing the thread.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,240 Senior Member
    edited January 13
    @doschicos and @skieurope It seemed to be that the reference to IQs and other scores is because they are hard facts that with which to validate absolute intellect and talent from school to school. Somewhat like SATS are used to validate grades from high school to high school. Private schools have so many other influences on their student bodies --full pay students, legacy, possibly athletes at some schools (more boarding than city) and the requisite diversity bucket whereas most gifted and talented schools across the country are free, have little to no sports and tend to have admissions based primarily on test scores . The OP/question was "the purpose of elite schools." Elite can mean many different things and how elite are schools like Trinity, Collegiate, and Dalton that, for example, use the parents' college as a component of admission? It would be nice if there was more consideration of facts in many of these thread discussions where it is clear that political doctrine/opinion is underlying opinions.

    If were considering applying to a school today, I would want to know about incidents like these. I would also think that graduates of elite institutions (many of whom are on these threads) would want all facts about any topic to inform their own opinions even if they decided that they still essentially believed a certain set of policies or agendas was preferable.
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    This Head of School could start "giving back" by agreeing to a lower salary! The tuition at Trinity is only slightly less than the median NYC household income, after all, and only about 20% of the kids at Trinity are on any sort of financial aid. The school as a whole only "gave back" 14% of its rack rate total tuition. (Cf. Part VIII, Line 2a and Part IX, line 2, here: http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/135/135563003/135563003_201606_990.pdf).

    I guess I am the only one put off by someone who is taking $1.1MM+ from a "non-profit" lecturing parents and students on "giving back" and "service"? If he would only go back to his salary of two years ago, they could increase the number of kids on financial aid by at least 10%. He'd still be making upwards of 18 times the median NYC income, and he's got a nice UWS brownstone to live in (approx value i'm guessing > $15MM) for free! This is the example the kids should follow? Giving back 14.4% of your rack rate tuition is walking the walk? It's like the old joke about the original Hawaiian missionaries in the 19th century: They came to do good; and they did very well, indeed.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 19,313 Senior Member
    I like your post, @CaliPops, and agree with most of it except for #6 which is more applicable, IMO, to college than a high school education which should be more broad-based and focused on students as generalists not specialists between the ages of 14-18, although that opportunity to delve often does exist.
  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 Registered User Posts: 922 Member
    edited January 13
    @DeepBlue86 - Regis has 26 NMSF in Class of 2017 (latest data available), I think Trinity has approximately the same. Regis is not coed BTW, so it does not seem like you are as familiar as you think you are. Horace Mann and Trinity are both larger than Regis as well
    Um, no, @SatchelSF - on September 13, 2017, in the article I cited, which actually contains the latest data available (because it's for the class of 2018), it was announced that Regis had 16 National Merit Semifinalists. You are correct that Trinity had approximately the same: 15, as I said. Check the link. Your number is from an earlier year.

    Horace Mann has 734 in grades 9-12. Trinity discloses 960 in grades K-12. Regis has 534 in grades 9-12. As best I can tell, Trinity's upper school is about the same size as Regis (although it could be smaller); HM's is somewhat larger. Maybe HM's relative performance was a little worse based on the larger class size, but it doesn't change my conclusions in any significant way.

    And, by the way, even in a year where Regis had 26 National Merit Semifinalists, that would just about put it in the same category as Stuy, Brearley and Collegiate (and behind Hunter) percentagewise. All of those schools, by the way, have plenty of smart kids, who are getting a great education - Trinity is most certainly not in a class by itself. I don't have the data to say which school's smart kids are the smartest of the smart, or which school has the highest average smartness - and neither do you.


    I'm sorry for accidentally referring to Regis as coed when I grouped it with the other bigger privates - I'm fully aware that it's all-male.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited January 13
    My apologies, @DeepBlue86, for not immediately recognizing that you were using the latest NMSF data (Class of 2018). My bad!

    The moderator has threatened to shut down this side discussion, but if he or she allows your comment to stand, perhaps he or she will allow an acknowledgment and rebuttal, and my attempt to relate this back to the thread topic.

    First, I’m glad to see that you are using NMSF data to try to validate impressions. I am usually the “testing” person on this forum – and I invariably get called out on it – so when another poster brings it up I am always happy. I have often made the same argument on this forum that you implicitly make: namely, that objective data like SAT, PSAT, NMSF, SAT II scores, etc. do have a valuable role in evaluating schools and student bodies. Matriculation at “elite” schools doesn’t tell us too much, of course, as so many are “born on third base” with respect to college admissions.

    Second, you are basing your whole criticism of my characterization of Manhattan private schools on one year of data, but I think they are roughly representative, so let’s go with them. (As an aside, numbers of NMSF are down significantly for Class of 2018 at many top high schools – I have noted this on another thread with respect to PEA, and now we see that is true with respect to Trinity and Regis as well).

    Third, my original comment that seemed to set you off (post #10) was that Trinity represents one of the very few private schools in Manhattan with a “good number” of “very smart” kids, and I acknowledged that the characterization depended upon one’s definitions. I am happy to add Collegiate and Brearley to that list, although I note that each is very small, comparatively. I know Collegiate reasonably well, and I never pretended to know much about girls’ schools in Manhattan.

    Fourth, with regard to Regis, my only comment was that it “walks the walk” with regard to service and giving back, starting with its being tuition free, of course, despite its not having the funds to spend $45MM on a renovation or pay its headmaster more than $1MM per year. I said that “on average” Regis kids are “a bit smarter” than at Trinity (post #15), and made no comparisons with the elite public schools. Once you understand the selection process (Trinity doubles the size of its class in 9th grade, taking already “proven” kids in relation to its elementary school cohort who were evaluated back when they were 4 years old), which primarily involves testing at Regis and a smattering of other factors at Trinity, it’s not a large jump in logic to get to my “a bit smarter” conclusion. I stand by it.

    Fifth, I didn’t mean to exclude Hunter College High School. I’ve known many, many kids at Hunter over the years. They are smarter, on average, than kids at Trinity or Regis or any other private or parochial. I never claimed differently. I also think Stuyvesant kids are a lot smarter than at any of the non-publics. Really, how could it be otherwise? The NMSF results that you brought up (and other things like math competition results) confirm this. You didn’t address the outliers issue at the top end of the scale, but again given the admissions processes at Hunter and Stuyvesant, can there really be any doubt?

    Last, many people on this forum wonder why I go on so much about testing. Many people simply try to equate scores with preparation and socioeconomic class, which of course is largely nonsense, as demonstrated by the fact that free schools like Hunter and Stuyvesant outclass even the toniest and wealthiest of schools, in which students presumably have every environmental advantage possible. (As if this needs to be validated – there have been reams of studies confirming that SES is not very important after controlling for intelligence.) Even Regis punches well above its weight here – ok, I’ll give you Collegiate (another $50K+ school with very limited financial aid), and of course well mannered boys would never fight with girls, Brearley included! BTW, I disagree with your characterization of HM as “somewhat” larger – it’s 40% larger than Regis, has fewer NMSF, and of course also costs $50K+.

    Testing represents the only plausible avenue for relatively disadvantaged kids to distinguish themselves – the same kids that the Trinity Head of School purports to care about in his missive to the elites on “noblesse oblige.” Every single time tests are dumbed down, grades are inflated, and character and extracurricular activity screens are instituted, relatively disadvantaged but smart kids lose another chance to distinguish themselves - and collectively academic measures are really the only way reliably to distinguish themselves in what is becoming a rat race. No one is calling the admissions offices on their behalf, their parents can’t afford to pay $7,500 so that they can pretend to build a house in Nicaragua over the summer, and the wealthy parents don’t want the competition anyway. The Trinity Head of School does nothing – and will do nothing – to upset this dynamic, which has been evolving for about a hundred years now. But as I said in my first comment on this thread (post #3), purchasing indulgences is easy when you are not the one paying.
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 4,769 Senior Member
    This head of school could start “giving back” by agreeing to a lower salary!

    Why is that? What do you think his salary should be? At what salary would you be more comfortable with the ideas he espouses in his letter? I don’t know this man, so I don’t know how he chooses to give or give back with his time and money outside of his job. Do you?
  • NYCMomof3NYCMomof3 Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    @doschicos I am 100% with you. Being a part of such a great school community has taught me so much when it comes to understanding education. To me, it's not about IQ scores, test scores, etc., it's about educating the whole child. It's about my children becoming all around skilled learners and good people.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited January 13
    "What do you think his salary should be? At what salary would you be more comfortable with the ideas he espouses in his letter?"

    I'll take the bait. His education attainments are modest (degrees in English Lit, no Ph.D.), he has been at Trinity for over 9 years and evidently hasn't changed the culture to his liking - that's a lot longer than he'd get in the corporate or finance worlds - and he's only worked as a teacher or administrator so far as I can tell. He also misunderstands basic concepts like contracts versus covenants (hint, they are analytically the same). I'll say, given the cost of NYC which I know well, $400K more or less in salary. Plenty of people work harder for much less, even in NYC. After all, it is still about 7 or 8 times median NYC income. I'd still let him live in the free brownstone of course. If he loves education, he'll take the deal. I mean it's still the chance to live quite comfortably, especially after the housing allowance, and how many people get to mold one of the very finest secondary education institutions?

    The savings for the school would mean more than 10 additional full financial aid scholarships, at least a 50% increase from what they are now. Perhaps more once you translate the cash salary savings into noncash tuition charges (just what is the marginal cash cost of each student?). I'd suggest a transparent merit competition open to the whole city, with guaranteed meeting of any financial need for the winners. They could use the SHSAT, as it has already been validated by hundreds of thousands of test takers, and has a high enough scale to allow fine distinctions at the top. My guess is that there will be some important - and humbling - side benefits for the existing parents and students alike once the winners get on campus. A win-win!

    Of course, he'll respond that his salary is set by a compensation committee after being benchmarked by an outside consultant. In other words, he'll rely on the same credentialing factories that he decries. And, of course, that relying on a test for admissions - even for a small portion of the class - is just so unfair.
This discussion has been closed.