As poor schools struggle with brutal budget cuts,
some affluent schools are engaging in an opulence arms race.
with Trevor Dodge
Acouple of years ago, my daughter transferred from a public high school to Beaver Country Day School, an independent
school outside Boston. On the first
parent night, I asked another parent his
view of the school. Beaver, he com-
plained, “doesn’t have enough land.”
What was he talking about? Beaver is
cradled on 15 acres of generous, lush,
rolling hills and athletic fields. Picking
up on my puzzlement, he clarified, “You
should visit other schools around here if
you want to see what’s possible.”
True enough, two nearby schools
have more than 10 times as much land.
And this kind of luxury is not atypical.
Increasingly across the United States,
independent schools boast not only lots
and lots of land, but also state-of-the-art
theaters, Olympic-size swimming pools,
gleaming squash courts, posh cafeterias
with multiple high-quality choices, and
ultramodern fitness facilities.
The gaps in resources between these
independent schools and most public schools are vast. I wasn’t puzzled
because I didn’t know that some schools
have far more land than Beaver; I was
puzzled because this parent somehow
thought Beaver, modest though it is
compared to some other independent