Weird piece in NYT on private schools. Though expensive ($40,000 or so a year), they can't cover their costs by tuition -- donations must fill the gap.
The author of the piece claims that, if tuition doesn't cover costs, the gap must be covered by past and present donations; that this is both financially unviable and unethical.
Sorry, but I don't get it. My understanding is that David Swensen, who manages the endowment for Yale, is seen as a financial wizard - if donations give him serious money to play with, he turns this into super-serious, or even super-super-serious, money. He doesn't mainly spend his time wheedling more money out of alums; he spends it gaming the market.
So. Um. If you've got a private school that is allegedly the fast track to being a hot shot like Dave Swensen, over time you should have a crop of alums some of whom are hot shots like Dave Swensen. But, um, Yale only needs ONE such hot shot to multiply its endowment to the point where savvy investors are following Dave Swensen. So, um. If the school is REALLY the fast track it claims to be, it can deploy the brilliance of a single alum, no? Or, ahem. If the school is NOT the fast track it claims to be, it could just buy in outside talent. If its best plan is to bully parents into donating over and above tuition, this suggests a level of-- That is, the reasonable inference is, not only has no alum EVER achieved the gifts of Dave Swensen, but the people running the school are so stupid they're not smart enough to buy in an alum of some other school with Swensen-calibre alums.
Anyhoo. There's all this browbeating about the hideous costs, bla. Seriously? A few years ago I tried to get some kind of teaching job at Northfield Mt Hermon, which I attended in 12th grade. I was very strapped for cash; I just needed accommodation and a little money for expenses. My contact sounded people out. If I had really PUSHED for a job maybe I could have wangled something, but I was very tired, in no position to push. So it fell apart. A reader who had been to Phillips Exeter Academy, gone on to Harvard, had corresponded with me for years; I put out feelers for a possible job; no interest. So, OK, fine. I have a doctorate in classics from Oxford; I'm what I'm told is a critically acclaimed novelist; and I am very, very cheap because I am very strapped for cash. Is there any sign that the schools facing this alleged gap between tuition and costs are open to overqualified cash-strapped staff? Ääääääääähm.....