Bloomberg News reported on Friday that ERB test takers and applications to private schools were slightly down.

True, many people’s finances have been battered, and many no longer want to take on the burden of private school tuition.  However, there’s more to the story:

  • In NYC, there are still loads of wealthy people who are eager to send their children to the top schools.  While the middle class may not be stretching, many on Wall Street and in the entertainment world are doing just fine.  I know–these families have been calling me for admissions assistance.  I also know, because 2010 was a very competitive admissions year.
  • It is now well known that without a top ERB score, it’s very hard to get into private school kindergarten.  That’s why there’s rampant test prep, a trend that was pronounced in 2009 and 2010.  Many applicant parents pull their children out of the process when they realize that Junior’s subpar ERB scores won’t get her into Dalton and its ilk.  That explains why Dalton saw a minuscule drop in applications.
  • At the same time, many people don’t want to pay $35,000 or so for a non-status brand school.  Hence, in economic downturns, these lower status schools are vulnerable.  That said, even with the current economy, many formerly so-called “safety schools” are now taking only high ERB kids.
  • Public schools in many of the better zones are in chaos.  People who can afford it are going private, people who can’t are relocating.