Service of The Sky’s the Limit

January 7th, 2013

Categories: College, Excess, Luxury


Last week NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke with morning talk show host John Gambling, WOR Radio, about the looming public school bus strike. The city pays almost $7,000 a year to transport each of 150,000 children by yellow bus compared to approximately $3,000 in LA, which claims the next highest public school transportation cost.

yellowscoolbusNews4 New York in “NYC Preps for Possible School Bus Driver Strike” reported: “The city has not used significant competitive bidding for new yellow bus contracts since 1979, according to [Mayor] Bloomberg and Walcott.”

Regarding another example of excess, I saved The Wall Street Journal‘s “Mansion” section from early December because the headline “Resort Living Comes to Campus” caught my eye. In light of the struggles of so many students to pay for college and the debts they incur, I marveled at Dawn Wotapka’s headline.

bubblebathWotapka wrote: “Welcome to University House, a $65 million private college dormitory that just opened near the University of Central Florida. Built by Inland American Communities Group, University House is one of the latest upscale communities sprouting up in college towns-including East Lansing, Mich., Tempe, Ariz., College Station, Texas, and others. Developers say that colleges provide a steady stream of new customers every year, and that students-and their parents-are willing to pay for luxury amenities.”

These include custom furniture, walk-in closets, private bedrooms and bathrooms and shared kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. A one-bedroom solo costs nearly $1,000/month.

Wotapka addresses the financial risks for the developers of the luxury dorms as more and more enter the field and the economy continues to drone but I’m more interested in the concept and the fact that it worked for even 10 minutes in this or any other economy.

Who sends children to college to live in luxury’s lap? I’m sure that the University of Central Florida is a fine school but wouldn’t whoever pays the bill be better off covering the tuition in an even better school than forking over money for fancy living accommodations? Is learning no longer the point or is it more important for precious offspring to take a bubble bath for as long as they want [which was what one student raved about her apartment setup].

Nothing’s too good for our children but for less than $7,000/year per student [imagine the money to be made for a family of four kids and/or several neighbors], I bet the New York City school system could find a taxi service or retired neighbor willing to drive children back and forth to school and put the money where it belongs–better teachers. Further, I’m ashamed at the success, even if only fleeting, of the luxury dorms. Your thoughts?


8 Responses to “Service of The Sky’s the Limit”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    My personal preference is to teach children a work ethic early, and not to have them grow up thinking the world owes them something. Eventually, many of these pampered creatures, descrbed above, are in for rude awakenings after reality kicks in and parental protection drops off. Others, learn to profit by their parents largesse, and go on to greater things, with said parents serving as an example, not only of generosity, but of ambition as well. So how can anyone judge how another spends his money? Over and above that, is it anyones business?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    The example is a bad one and emphasis for a scholar off the mark.

    As for public funds squandered for lack of negotiation in a city with high taxes + only a few excellent public schools, thank goodness that the current administration is looking into this! Kudos.

  3. Amy Said:

    Aw that’s cute that $1000/month will get them luxury dorms. Not to many years ago, that was the price of my dorm room in NYC. Although we were 2 to an 8×10 room and 4 to a maybe 250-300sqft “suite”.. no walk in closets here! Needless to say, I lasted a semester.

    Although I can’t fault them for wanting nice spaces for their children. I moved in to my own apartment a year or so later and while I know it was a great expense, I had the pleasure of a quiet place to study, no loud parties or drunken roommates, and the ability to cook for myself. It was priceless!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    I had to be president of the dorm to get the only single room in the building (the president got first choice) so I know what you mean about being squished.

    Rent-wise, NYC isn’t central Florida obviously.

    You figured out your own way to be comfortable + to be able to work which I get the feeling was not Ms. Bubble Bath’s first priority.

    I almost fainted when I found three other young women in my first dorm…we all survived! That’s where the library helped!

  5. Scott Ossian Said:

    Those are two interesting, and at least for me, although there is nothing new about the last one, shocking examples of what’s wrong with American education.

    The first reminded me of a cousin’s namesake, who was sufficiently eager to learn that in 1841, at 15, he walked from Norwalk to New Haven to plead with the clergyman who was the proprietor of a then well regarded college preparatory school to let him swap manual labor for school lessons. (Fatherless and with four sisters and a penniless widowed mother, he couldn’t afford carriage fare.) By the time he was 25, he owned his own Connecticut newspaper, and at 35, he was elected a State Senator.

    At eight, I walked almost a mile a day each way to school.

    Fire the bus drivers; save the $7,000 per student a year, and you’ll find that the kids who really want to learn will still show up. As to the others and their parents,if they don’t like it, turn them over to me and, with the help of a few marine drill sergeants, I’ll put them to productive use. But don’t tell the ACLU!

    The second reminded me of a New Yorker I knew at college. Unless married, and few of us were in the day, we all lived on campus. I still remember my astonishment the first time I walked into his dormitory room, and hanging there on the wall opposite me was a major Turner painting of considerable quality.

    His mother had her own box at the old Metropolitan Opera, to which apparently he had access whenever he pleased. He invited me to share it with him for several Saturday matinees. He would drive me down to the city in his MG, but I had to go back to college by train, because he always seemed otherwise committed on Saturday nights. (I never did meet his parents.)

    He was able to spend most of our spring term, senior year, at his house in Bermuda, because he had gotten himself admitted early to Phi Beta Kappa, which meant that he didn’t have to attend classes, and since he made sure that the courses that he took required minimal written course work, all he was really obligated to do was show up to take the finals. That, at least, he did.

    His parents gave him a seat on the New York Stock Exchange as a graduation present, but the one time I ran into him on Madison Avenue some years later, he told me he was dabbling in the theater. I lost track him after that, but what a waste!

    Those rich parents who rent fancy digs for their kids may be doing them no good, but it is still a free country, at least for now.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What an ancestor–amazing drive! Some of the students I mentor have similar drive. I trust that they will be as successful as your cousin’s namesake.

    I’ve known people with every advantage who haven’t applied themselves and I feel sorry for them. I suppose it’s difficult to spark drive in a person when they have everything they want–stature and money from family connections.

  7. Scott Ossian Said:

    Thanks to your blog, my curiosity got the better of me. I decided to find out whatever happened to my privileged college friend.

    Turns out, frankly, to my great, at first blush, astonishment, that he has led a remarkable and highly productive life contributing much in many ways to society and the intellectual life this and other countries in a field about which I know little. He has also been greatly honored both by his peers and nationally.

    To quote George Bernard Shaw, “You never can tell.”

    But more importantly, the moral in this is that educators (and the general public) would be well advised to be tolerant when the very bright defy convention and act unorthodoxly.

    Maybe one of your “fat cat” prima donnas enjoying her bubble baths at Central Florida State, will turn out to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    From your keyboard to God’s ears. Here’s to bubble head, I mean Ms. Bubble Bath.

    I have long been interested in what inspires some to work hard and others to take it easy. I am fascinated by people who have a million opportunities and the skill to accomplish projects or jobs to generate income and would prefer to hang out and refuse well-paying projects or jobs. It’s not that they have so much money they don’t need to work or that they would prefer to generate income in another way–they simply have little drive.

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