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From the ED 11.21.13

Dear Colleagues,

A number of years ago when I first began to speak at conferences while working with NBOA, the economic recession was just beginning and the impacts on our schools had not yet been felt, I read a book, Trading UP: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods and How Companies Create Them by Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske. This led me to think about independent schools as a luxury brand and the choices our families make when deciding to send their children to an independent school. Clearly the choice to pay tuition (probably high tuition) has to be balanced with other options and choices that are available to a family. For the most part our families are privileged and have the ability to make a choice.

  • Do I pay independent school tuition or take my family on an overseas vacation for 2 weeks?
  • Do I pay independent school tuition or own a second home?
  • Do I pay independent school tuition or purchase a new BMW (Mercedes, Ferrari, etc.)?
  • Can I pay independent school tuition for one child and send another to private college?

The questions and choices are endless. Independent schools have been talking about articulating our value proposition for a long time and we have been more intent in the past 5 years. It is the right discussion for our Boards and school leadership to have. We must be clear about what differentiates our school from the multitude of alternative schools, not to mention all of the other spending choices that confront our families.

In his November 2013 Head’s letter, Charles D. Baldecchi, Head of School at The Lexington School talks about privilege, entitlement, and gratitude. I encourage you to read his letter and watch the TED Talk he references on vulnerability by Dr. Brene Brown which can be found here.

In his letter Mr. Baldecchi says “Privilege carries a negative connotation at times as well, but it can also carry a positive connotation. There is recognition of GRATITUDE in the word. We will say sometimes it is a “privilege” to be included at an event, to let others know we feel lucky to be there. We will also say it is a privilege to spend time with someone or work with someone. For example, I would say without question it is a privilege to work at The Lexington School and teach with this faculty.”

I do believe that many of our families are privileged and many may feel entitled (simply by the act of paying tuition), but I also believe that the vast majority of our parents and our students are grateful for the opportunities they are given at our schools and in their lives.

As the parent of a college freshman at an independent liberal arts college, I am very grateful that we have the ability to afford her this opportunity. She has attended both public and independent schools and has had the privilege of traveling extensively over the past 8 years. I believe that she has learned gratitude over this time and as a result of these experiences.

I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to do work that serves a purpose, is meaningful, helps our schools, and most importantly provides benefits for the children that attend our schools.

This is a time of year when we think about what we have to be thankful for. I wish each of you a wonderful holiday. I hope you have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends and have time to step back from the daily grind of your work and contemplate what you are thankful for.  What are you grateful for?


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO
Twitter:  @marcll    @MISBOconnects

From → MISBO

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