Private School Is Becoming Out of Reach for Middle-Class Americans

July 20, 2017

By Jordan Yadoo

These days, private school really is just for rich kids.

While the enrollment rate for children from middle-income families in U.S. private elementary schools has declined significantly over the last five decades, the level for high-income families has been relatively steady, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study released this month ― a trend that could come to perpetuate the nation's growing wealth divide.

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"The combination of rising income inequality and rising tuitions has meant that middle-class families increasingly can’t afford private schooling," said Sean Reardon, a Stanford University professor of poverty and inequality in education, who co-authored the study with Harvard University economist Richard Murnane.

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