Lower tuition, increase diversity

SPA charges too much to be realistic for average Minnesotan families.

If you are reading this it’s very likely you go to Saint Paul Academy and Summit School.  If you go to Saint Paul Academy and Summit School it’s very likely you are a student, and if you’re a student at SPA your base tuition this year was $30,030. If we lowered that outrageously high number a myriad of benefits would appear, specifically an increase in the diversity in our community. In 2017 the United States median household income was $61,375. That’s the income of a householder, and all other individuals fifteen years old or older in the household added up over one year. Considering SPA’s tuition is 48% of that number, the range of people who can send their child to SPA is pretty limited. The vast majority of people living in the United States wouldn’t think of SPA as an option to send their child to school, and that takes a toll on the diversity of the SPA student demographic.

“The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences.” This is how the SPA website describes diversity. Another aspect of a students identity is their relationship to wealth, and it’s a characteristic with a massive range. Without even getting to how tuition affects our racial, LGBTQ+, or religious diversity; on the most basic level there straight up isn’t a wide range of financial diversity in the SPA community. Welcoming people of diverse income levels also means welcoming people with other diverse aspects of their identity. Due to the unequal nature of our economic system there are major divides among income levels, especially racially. The median white family’s net worth in the US is $116,000, but the median black family’s net worth (when you deduct a car as an asset) is only $1,700. Nearly 40%, or 5.6 million African American households in the US have a negative or $0 net worth. With that much racial inequality within our nation there’s no denying the connection between race and class is factoring in the makeup of our school.

In a community full of diverse opinions and perspectives we’d all have a greater opportunity to discover who we are and who others are.”

The average public school in Minnesota has a diversity score of .33, meaning if you took 200 kids from a school and put them in pairs, 33 of the pairs would be made of students who racially identify differently. In the average private school 16% of students identify as part of a minority ethnic group. There’s a big gap there. The same data collectors state that Saint Paul Academy and Summit School’s percent is only 17%. That’s not something to be proud of. The major differences between public and private schools that would inform this gap are 1. The neighborhoods in which schools are located, 2. The predispositions people have attached to public and private education, and 3. The huge difference stated in the name of the two types of school, public school tuition is $0, private schools cost an average of $11,184 in Minnesota, and SPA costs $30,030.

The tuition shouldn’t be changed just because we don’t want to pay as much. We shouldn’t care about this topic because of our own greed, we should care because an education in a diverse community is a 100% better education than one not. In a community full of diverse opinions and perspectives we all have a greater opportunity to discover who we are and who others are. SPA’s pride and joy the Harkness table requires diverse opinions in order to delve into discussion and thought. I’m so incredibly thankful for the financial support the school puts forth to 24% of the families in the SPA community, it opens doors to unique opportunities for many people who would not have been able to have this experience. I hope that SPA will open up to more students; creating a more inclusive, diverse community.