Why I’m Front-loading School Costs

Susan Gregory Thomas

For families with even a drop of cash liquidity, the question almost invariably comes up: public school or private?

For my three-child family—for whom “liquidity” is ephemeral at best—the answer should be “public.” But I’m not doing it. I feel so strongly that when I got divorced a few years ago, I gave up child support for my two older children in exchange for my ex-husband paying for private school.

I know. With no college savings, no retirement, I must be crazy or stupid. Not only will we have to pay for college for my older girls, this decision means I’m on the hook for private school tuition for the son I had when I remarried.

But here’s the thing. I live in a city whose public schools are, well, not good. While some are being transformed by active PTAs, the results of their efforts might not be evident for years. I hate how this sounds, but my kids need a good education now.

Second, I’ve read study after study that showed that it’s tough for kids to thrive in chaotic environments, such as overcrowded classrooms. Their brains are marinating in stress hormones, rather than learning.

So, I’m front-loading my educational costs, on the premise that by learning from the start in peaceful, stimulating, small-school settings, my kids will be confident thinkers and nimble decision-makers by graduation. With any luck, they’ll be scholarship recipients as well.

Got money worries? Kathie Lee and Hoda talk to DailyWorth’s editor-in-chief, MP Dunleavey and SELF deputy editor Meaghan Murphy on TODAY.

Teach your children well. How much do you spend on your child’s education, in or out of school?
Susan Gregory Thomas lives in Philadelphia, and is the author of “In Spite of Everything,” a memoir.