Suggestions to Address the Tuition Crisis

Although some commentors had suggested a desire to get Beyond Tuition, we clearly see this issue is causing much pain for the frum middle case. We thought it made sense to “promote to post” some suggestions Charnie, Tzvi, Sefardi Lady and others in the Beyond BT community have made on the tuition issue to date.

Please add any additional thoughts in the comments.

1) that all parents – baring the most extrememe circumstances, pay at least a minimum;

2) that yeshiva boards not be made up only of the wealthier end of the parent body, but have a broader representation economically;

3) that schools look to cut costs by combining facilities where it is geographical feasible;

4) that every school makes sure it is taking advantage of every possible grant out there. BYQ is a wonderful example, as anyone who’s seen their computer lab can attest;

5) accept the fact that a Rebbe or Morah’s reduced tuition is a barter – they’re making less then many of us, but they’re providing an important service;

6) we work together with other groups (Solomon Schector, Christians, Catholics, etc) to gain more in the form of vouchers &/or tax credits;
a) that also means considering political candidates positions on these issues when we go to vote.

7) scholarships should not be given out based totally on an applicant’s 1099.

8) that in NYC we learn from some OOT yeshivas that require parents to help out at a school in exchange for financial aid. Some schools might even be able to cut salaries that way.

9. Along with point #1, we must state that NO CHILD will be denied a yeshiva education because the parents can’t afford it.

10. Aside from schools “combining facilities” (a pipe dream IMO, unless the crisis — for them — becomes severe), schools should at least coordinate efforts
a) to encourage community members (including non-parents) to direct more $$ to the community’s schools,
b) to ensure that every child has a place in a school, and that scholarships are available and equitably distributed across the schools (ala Chicago’s Kehilla Fund)
c) to pool resources for expensive special programs (ala the 5 Towns / Far Rockaway’s CAHAL)

11. Yeshivos should seek help from parents and others on how to increase fundraising, especially from alumni.

12. Parents must be encouraged to take a hard look at their priorities, and be reminded that tuition (full if at all possible) must be the first item budgeted and paid, before vacations, camp, new cars, home additions, etc., etc.

13. Community members, especially those pre- or post-tuition years, and those with fewer children and more resources, should be reminded to direct their generosity first and foremost to their community yeshivos.

14. Look at the possibility of combining duplicate functions and providing enhanced functions through cooperation (a big example being the need for vocational courses and the lack of an adequate size classroom if one school where to provide such).

15. We should also look at the possibility of spreading tuition out over 12 months, instead of 10

16. Tell the schools to stop making our children the middle man when it comes to requesting money

17. Stop punishing parents who pay over 10 months with “fees.”

61 comments on “Suggestions to Address the Tuition Crisis

  1. I’m not exactly sure, from your wording, where you are going with number 6 (and maybe number 2). But, if I think I know where you are going, I will just say that these “solutions” have an air of illegality (and it would be a terrible idea to go there).

    Regarding number 4: Every school should be looking for retired professionals to teach at lower costs. This is an excellent idea if it would take off. (I’m afraid many frum professionals would turn down the opportunity due to behavior issues).

    Regarding number 10: Great idea.

  2. Here are some suggestions for increasing Jewish schools funding:

    1) Pray to Hashem

    2) Establish partnerships with companies that donate either funds or supplies in exchange for tax deductions and publicity.

    3) When school staff are owed money – and they have another income – staff can pay school maaser money – by receiving payment from school and giving it directly back – thus reducing the maaser money they owe.

    4) Search for retired teachers to volunteer to teach classes.

    5) Appeal to Foundations.

    6) Pay rent by tax deduction. If your rent is $1000 ask landlord if he would like a tax deduction instead of the rent.

    7) Cold calls to donors every day.

    8) Adopt a project appeals.

    9) Barter services for tuition.

    10) Just like Hatzaloh has a day every year to make a synagogue appeal – Jewish Education Orgs. should have 3 or 4 appeals a year at synagogues.

  3. David-at the risk of bursting this balloon, IMO, parents are entitled to believe that their children will be safe from some two-legged predators called teachers within the premises of their schools. Parents have a right to know and expect that their kids are safe.As of this date, we have seen zero movement or recognition of this basic fact by either Torah UMesorah or Agudah.

    IMO, our schools and the educational leadership do our entire community a grave disservice by avoidng the referral of these issues to a mental health professional and by seemingly protecting the careers of those who perpretrate criminal acts at the expense of the defenseless-the child. One can ask whether such a course of conduct is a proper application of the halachos of lashon harah and mesirah,especially when there is a repeated pattern of conduct on the part of a teacher that is known about by a school’s administration. Those of us who are expected either to give maaser or fund raise IMO are entitled to be told in no uncertain terms that our kids are safe in their school. Look at it this way-would we knowingly place our kids in an environment that is unsafe? Why would anyone be expected to raise money for such institutions if they fail to realize that a physically safe environment is as paramount to a child’s education as a great rebbe?

  4. I’m curious to see Natan’s answer, but since I know a number of homeschoolers, I have seen that the father’s have fairly flexible schedules that allow them to be involved.

  5. Natan,

    Who works in your home? Where do you get income if you both homeschool? What is that income? How many kids do you have? What age?

  6. From everything that I have heard, read, and seen, Chicago is one of the few communities where there is any organization communally for schools.

    We visited Chicago and were impressed that each and every shul and school had a huge banner posted in their lawn advertising the 5% plan.

    Imagine that everytime you drive down the street, you are given the same important message.

    Advertising is a powerful medium! We need to utilize it for good, and not let the only messages that we see or that our children see be for sugary cereals and snacks, the latest automobiles, or even Pesach resorts (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you haven’t driven into the 5 towns in the months preceeding Pesach).

  7. That last idea is exactly what has started to happen in Chicago. The Kehilla Fund is becoming a real entity. They have reported that by next year there will be enough in there to pay $1,800 for each child in day schools throughout the city.

    Of course the parents who are on scholarships won’t be seeing any of that. So essentially this will be a big boon for the schools and have no direct impact on the average family.

  8. David Linn-Your conversation is sobering to say the least.

    What did the administrator say about the idea of having “school districts?” I think it is necessary to have “school districts” to even start to capitalize on planned giving, including te 5% plan. Planned giving should also include life insurance plans that a system of schools could be named as a local beneficiary.

    I just had a conversation with my neighbor, an older lady with a great-grandchild entering pre-kindergarten, and she was telling me about the price of her future great-grandchild’s preschool and how the school claims that those who don’t go to pre-school won’t have a place in the school later!

    Then she said, I don’t know how anyone does it anymore. I asked her what she thought of community support split up among the whole community and she said, “the shuls should just send us all a bill.”

    I think there is a willing market of people out there who just need told that they are expected to pay up to remain members in good standing. But, the shuls cannot bill for each school individually. There needs to be some concerted efforts to collect money together from this market.

  9. I was talking with a friend who is an integral part of the. administration at a large yeshiva. (And, no, for those of you who know me, it’s not who you think it is)

    In addition to a full-time Alumni relations staff member, he offered some of his thoughts on reading the tuition posts here on the blog.

    “I noticed that once you get past the griping, the suggestions are ok, but will not solve the problem. I don’t believe that cutting costs will solve it (there will still be significant expenses). I think the problem is on the income side. There is simply not enough money coming in from non-tution sources. I also dont think there is enough money in the frumer communities to make the required impact.

    I would sooner invest school resources in swinging for the fences by doing kiruv and reaching to guys like Mort Zuckerman (have an all star Rebbe learn with a person like him) than to run a fundraiser that brings in $10,000. If the schools served the community and did Kiruv maybe they will get lucky with a guy like this. Hashem cant fedex us the check, but if we put ourselves in potential situations for hatzalchah, he can make it happen.

    On one level, if a parent could take advantage of his relationship with vendors/businesses… (ie:owner of kosher supermarket tells food companies if they want shelf space, they need to take a $3600 ad in the dinner journal), if someone owes you something (you found them a job, found them a good piece of commercial real estate to invest in) you say, do me a favor and write a check to my favorite charity, my school.

    Ultimately, the fundraising is key. Fundraising is an acquired taste, yes, but schools need to do it and to do it a lot more effectively. Every member of the board of trustees MUST have a fundraising responsibility: a) minimum donation (ie: $10,000); although if someone can bring in the money, or they have a certain expertise, they should be invited to be on the board, but these people should be limited. b) they should make a minimum of one appointment per year to bring someone to the school, or to get a donation of say $5,000.

    There should be more focus on planned giving and bequests; either the 5% solution or at least that people leave a portion of their will to the schools of their choice. Maybe even recognize them in their lifetime. Wouldnt it be nice to see that a percentage of the school income is coming from interest from an endowment fund?”

    He also shared an eye opening example of a physician making aprox. 300K who shoulders an 80K tuition bill and is struggling to get by.

    Quick side point: many of the examples people have been given are talking about maiser as if it is to be figured from pre-tax income. All of the prominent poskim state that maiser is to be calculated from after tax income. Consult your LOR for your particular situation.

  10. By staying at home – homeschooling my kids in Jewish studies 09:00 – 13:00/6 (my wife does the general studies part) we get more than a regular job would give us: $ 12,000 x 4 (boys) = $ 48,000…no taxes….and we have a wonderful time with our kids…. Jewish Day Schools are for the upper class….

  11. If anyone is interested, I received a tuition story from a reader of BeyondBT and posted it on Orthonomics. It is really a difficult read, but I think it brings the tuition crisis to life. I’m open to more submissions, but due to the nature of them, I will not post more than one story in a row.

  12. I don’t think that you are overreacting at all Steve. Once children are in school (and camp), they spend more time under the care of others than under the care of their parents.

    Their is a lot to say on this subject (and it really should be relagated to a separate thread), but I will say that our schools do NOT institute any appropriate controls, like background checks and fingerprints.

  13. Just curious-can anyone recall whether student safety in our schools has been discussed at an Agudah or Torah Umesorah conference or convention or written about in the JO, Yated or Hamodiah? Let’s face it-whatever the causes of spousal abuse or kids at risk are, these issues became real when they were discussed openly within our community and in its media.R Pam ZTL and R D A Twerski broke the silence on spousal abuse and the JO pioneered on the kids at risk issue.

    We have discussed a lot of nuts and bolts issues. With no amount of disrespect to anyone in chinuch, we need to insure that our kids are as safe in school as they are at home. Maybe I am overreacting to an article in a local magazine that described disgusting conduct, but the issue has to be discussed openly if we can ultimately be credited with policing the issue ourselves without state intervention, statutes and regulations.

  14. SphardiLady — so if a middle class family can’t pay full tuition with a $200K mortgage, how much can they pay with a $440K mortgage? What can the community as a whole do if even the minimum required tuition is too much? You can’t force a family to sell their home if there’s no cheaper home to buy… so what does the school do?

  15. Even a mortgage of $200,000 can leave many middle class couples without enough cash for tuition for a few kids after they pay for necessary expenses like basic food, utilities, and insurance.

    Unfortunately, the housing boom, is only going to make things harder for young couples that are not milking a cash cow. There are not enough Orthodox communities out there with homes or condos that sell for $250,000 or less.

  16. Once people make themselves ‘house poor’, the yeshiva day school is in a bind. How can you ask them not to pay their mortgage and taxes and pay tuition instead? And, you ask, how did the couple amass enough money for a downpayment on a $650K house? Why, gifts from parents and grandparents, of course. The same parents who don’t want to cover their grandkids tuition. I understand why… yet I don’t have a solution to this dynamic in the frum community.

    And btw, before everyone jumps down my throat about the home price, there ARE newlywed couples I know personally who have bought that expensive or even more expensive when the husband is learning or in grad school and the wife is not working.

  17. Sfardic Lady-we are not that far apart. I agree with you re simchos, fashions masquerading as tznius, and the gift craze that seems to mark many engagements. FWIW, while we would not consider the Ivies for a variety of reasons other than just cost, we don’t have a lot of options other than Stern, Touro of a senior college in the CUNY system such as Queens. Boys in some families know that they are not cut out for the Beis Medrash/Kollel lifestyle. As far as summer sleepaway camp is concerned, I think that we should agree to disagree,

  18. >>SepahdiLady, about camp, don’t you think a lot will depend on what every other kid in your neighborhood is doing? If your kids are the only ones home on the block, will they not feel resentful if they are told they must stay home?

    Fortunately I live in a neighborhood with a lot of variety in terms of what is done (thank G-d), and we plan to try to keep our children in environments where people do different things, rather than walk in lock step.

    Part of the stress of frum life often comes because you live in a community where everyone is doing the same things!

    This doesn’t mean we won’t ever take advantage of camp. But, I don’t consider yearly camp a necessity (sorry to disagree with Steve Brizel, he has much more experience as a parent, I admit), especially when the county offers a tremendous amount of low cost programs that can keep a kid busy and let them explore new things.

    Let’s face it, if people in our communities would operate within their budget, rather than looking at what everyone else is doing:

    *smachot would become more modest (how can I possibility give Aryeh only a kiddush for his Bar Mitzvah when everyone else is making a seudah complete with a band, even though we will have to put it on the credit card?)

    *(modest) fashions would become more varied (how can I possibly dress my children in anything less than European clothing for Yom Tov when everyone else is dressing their children in the latest Italian styles, even though we don’t have $100 per child to spend?),

    *post-college choices would become more varied (how can I possibly tell Malki, Esti, and Faygi they aren’t attending [Ivy League, Stern, Maalot, etc], even though we will be paying off for the next 20 years?) (Or, how can I possibly tell Shlomo he is getting a job after one year Beis Medrash and helping pay his own way through Junior College and Public College?)

    *the craziness of engagement gift expectations and other wedding related expectations would fall (how can I possibly let my daughter-in-law be the only kallah without pearl earrings/necklace in the yichud room?)

    Tuition and housing are difficult enough expenses for families to meet. I don’t think we should guilt families who are living within their budget (and maybe even saving for a rainy day) by saying they are not providing their children with a necessary experience.

  19. YCQ not only doesn’t waste a paper clip, its teachers and venders get paid on time.We were once on vacation in New Hampshire and I met a Chasidishe businessman who told me that he was YCK’s computer consultant. He told me that YCQ was such a “msudar school” and that he always was paid on time every month!

    Its students are frum , knowledgable, have a love of learning of Torah and respect their secular studies teachers . The post bar mitzvah boys and emjoy guest shiurim from RIETS RY such as RHS.They are highly sought by yeshiva high schools throoughout the Metro NY area. R Brander, its longtime principal, ran the tighest ship and most organized dismissal I have seen outside of visits to West Point and Annapolis. From 5th Grade, its grades are separated by gender .

    Many of the girls teachers are BY grads.The girls know far more textual material than their competitors. That being said, and having kids who went thru both BYQ and YCQ, I think that it is fair to state that both are excellent schools that serve their entire communities, albeit in different ways.

  20. Menachem,

    You’re assuming that community building cannot occur in multiple waves (and in new locations, too). As soon as our demand is going to exceed supply again, organize to build more! The skyrocketing prices come from a stand-pat mentality that we don’t need now and never did.

    We’ll always have people without vast sums to throw into their housing. Many of these are newlyweds or young families who want to get in on the ground floor.

  21. “We need more planned Orthodox communities with affordable housing of all types (not only near-mansions) and the necessary Jewish infrastructure and access to workplaces. This should be a really good investment opportunity.”

    Bob, your last sentence sums up the problem with this idea. New communities are only affordable for the early “pioneers”. Once an orthodox community reaches any sort of critical mass prices skyrocket and they do indeed become good investments for the pioneers.

  22. Can we revisit the Torah UMesorah issue raised in Steve Brizel’s post (#20). Sometimes at work the subject of my sacrifices to send my kids to Yeshivas comes up. By comparison, my co-workers who are part of the Catholic school system are getting an absolute bargain – very rarely is tuition higher then $5,000 per child. This is because the Parochial school system has always been under the auspices of the Archdiocese, which provides the majority of its funding. It is only since all the legal woes that this system has suffered that tuitions have even been raised (and schools closed/combined). As Steve noted, neither Torah UMesorah, nor any other organization represents every single Yeshiva and/or Day School – be it in terms of minimal educational requirements, or financially. As I tell my coworkers – we’re basically all “independent contractors”. What I don’t tell them is that we’re also all competing for a very limited pool of funding. Just as all our differences in hashkafa, which often lead to one group looking “down” upon another, are keeping Moshiach from coming sooner, we are also limiting fundraising capabilities. This is a subject that has been touched upon elsewhere, and I won’t elaborate on it here. These factors may well be a part of the problem in obtaining more global funding by local Federations for their local yeshivas and day schools in the USA.

    Occasionally there are schools that truly run a tight ship. In Queens, YCQ has a reputation for not even wasting a paper clip. Whether or not that’s (still) true, I do not personally know. By the way, YCQ has mixed classes until 5th grade, but for those of us who really want a “Bais Yaakov hashkafa”, there still is no substitute for the real thing, ditto the love of learning that is implanted in a yeshiva.

  23. Steve, my main point wasn’t about those we shouldn’t be sending. It was that in many cases we should send our kids to Israel, or so it structured right now. That is putting way too much stress on a lot of people.

  24. At the risk of disagreeing with Sephardi Lady, I disagree with her view on camp. First of all, not all camps have Marriott like conditions or expenses. Moreover, I do feel that camp reinforces what is learned in school and helps kids become independent, etc. I do agree with Gershon that the year in Israel, while important for many kids’ relgious growth, is not for for everyone-especially a child who has “at risk.”

  25. SepahdiLady, about camp, don’t you think a lot will depend on what every other kid in your neighborhood is doing? If your kids are the only ones home on the block, will they not feel resentful if they are told they must stay home?

    And then, when they get a bit older, there’s the kids who would be better off at camp than staying home. There are many at-risk 8th and 9th graders who’s negative turning point was a summer of staying at home bumming around.

  26. Regarding #12: It is important to remember that camp has become a somewhat unnegotiable expense for families with two working parents. We can’t have it “both ways” and expect mothers to work and camp to be an optional (although I think it is fine for a dual-income family on scholarship to be told that certain camps are outside of the range of what is considered reasonable).

    I do not feel that camp is a necessary expense for all frum families (e.g. I don’t believe we will budget for it so long as I am a homemaker who only takes on paid work that can be done from the home on my own time) and that is certainly not a necessary expense every year.

  27. One point that was not raised here is that when it comes to sending your child for a year in Israel (which for many kids is a must – and yes I know for others it shouldn’t happen at all) there is often no discussion of scholarships. I know of many families who barely scrape by for all the years of elementary school and high school tuitions and then are hit by a weight they cannot bear when it comes to $11,000 or more of tuition for just one of their kids, plus airfare, equipping that one child with clothing for the year, health insurance for overseas, a cell phone (which is required by many seminaries and yeshivos), and of course monthly spending money (even if only to cover basic travel expenses and buying a small gift for host homes for Shabbosos). Add it all up and it comes to well over $15,000 for that one child. Most of the seminaries demand that it is paid in full before midway of that year. If a family was getting a scholarship for that child until now for and were paying, let’s say, $4,500 a year tuition, they still have to find $15,000!!! So what do people do? I know of many that have borrowed money and are pulling their hair out trying to find a way to pay it back. Refinancing and taking money out of your home equity can only be done when the market is right, and only so many times. Of course when they return home, it’s time to think about marrying them off! Hmmm… time to refinance again?

  28. We need more planned Orthodox communities with affordable housing of all types (not only near-mansions) and the necessary Jewish infrastructure and access to workplaces. This should be a really good investment opportunity.

  29. One other isssue-Parents are entitled to a safe school environment for their children which the school ensures that there are no episodes of physical violence between students or even allegations of inappropriate conduct or behavior by any staff person. As of this date, we see little movement, if any, for such a representation on a system-wide basis or even within individual schools, some of which require parents to sign documents “understanding” that faculty members may us corporal punishment against students, a practice severely criticized by R Wolbe ZTL as wholly wrong. Perhaps, the trend towards home schooling would be less if parents felt more confident that their kids felt safe in schools.

  30. Dave H (comment 26) says:
    I purposefully bought a home outside the Eruv. I need to walk a full mile every shabbas each way to shul. Those in the Eruv walk between 1 block and 1/2 a mile to shul.

    Did I do the right thing?

    Dave, here we are having this whole discussion about financial realities, and how difficult it is to make ends meet, given all the costs of living frum in our society. And you made a conscious decision to do something innovative, at relatively low cost, so you can make ends meet. And you ask if you did the right thing??? I wish everyone would have the courage to do that kind of thing!

    For most families, housing is the second biggest budget item (after tuition). One of the reasons we have such problems paying tuition is that every family feels they MUST live in the middle of a frum neighborhood, which drives up housing costs. If more people would consider options such as Dave’s, we’d all be better off.

  31. As the other of point #12 in the original post, I’d like to respond to Gershon Seif’s comment (#22).

    You said:
    Is it not true that full tuition actually means full tuition plus paying for a second child?

    When my oldest started in yeshiva, and I heard the tuition figure, I asked the yeshiva head: “How much does it cost to educate my child? I’m willing to bend over backwards to pay the full amount it costs to educate my child, but not to subsidize someone else’s.” He responded that full tuition does not even cover the real cost of education, and without fundraising the school could never break even.

    I don’t know if this is 100% true, or if it’s representative of other yeshivos, but I use it as a starting point in assuming that full tuition means the cost of one child’s education and not more.

    You said:
    Are you saying that if a parent works day and night and finally has a way to take a small vacation to breath a little bit, they should not…? …Is it so selfish for a family to take those few days to do something together as a family …?

    I was referring to expensive vacations (e.g., Disney World, etc.) that take thousands away from tuition, rather than inexpensive family outings. If you take your family on a car trip for a couple of days to a motel, or on a camping trip etc., without spending a fortune, kol hakavod.

    You said:
    What about camp? …

    As you point out, and as Steve Brizel said, for many children and families camp is a necessity, not a luxury. I still would like to encourage people to explore alternatives (e.g., day camp, less expensive camps (e.g. federation), or even having children work part of the summer to earn money to go to camp the rest of the summer) before assuming the right to prioritize paying for camp over paying tuition.

    Bottom line: There are no hard and fast rules, but many families paying less than their share of tuition manage to find money for other expenses that are not clear necessities. As the original post said, “Parents must be encouraged to take a hard look at their priorities.”

  32. Steve,

    I have stated before in this forum and possibly another one, that it starts @ home. I make absolutely sure that there is learning going on at SOME point during Shabbos, whether with one of my girls, or (preferred) both. This is in addition to Pirkei Avos which has become a staple of our family in the afternoons between Pesach & Rosh Hashanah. True, the girls read other things, and may go outside for a bit, but I am insistent on learning with them, as well as learning on my own.

  33. Two unrelated but important points- Gershon mentioned the importance of camp. There is no doubt that camps, especially sleepaway camps, are where the values that are taught at home and school are concretized by kids interacting with their peers and counselors.Camps are the closest thing to a yeshiva or seminary in elementary and junior high school without the competition of homework, tests, etc and IMO enable kids to grow in their committment to Torah,Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. IMO, camp is a necessity and not a luxury.

    At the risk of sounding either like a darshan, Baal Musar or RY, which I am not, I think that the following point warrants emphasis.Many on this issue have mentioned home schooling. Whether you send your kids to yeshiva or home school, every parent has to “home school” in the sense of inculcating a child with a basic positive notion of the fundamentals of Torah observance. The notion that we should trust yeshivos and mchanchim/menalhim for all of of our childrens’ education IMO and WADR cannot be supported by any Torah based Mesorah of child rearing., I would include as fundamentals basics of Tefilah, and a positive attitude towards Torah , midos tovos and mitzvos, including Shabbos and YT. How many of us have seen people either engaging in “clock watching” towards the end of a long Shabbos or even describe Shabbos as “25 hours of dead time” or worse? Those attitudes begin at home and IMO are at least one part of the “kids at risk” syndrome. IOW, while probably most of us cannot teach our kids the heavy duty Torah subjects, there is simply no excuse for a Shabbos table without Divrei Torah, Zmiros and appropriate Shabbos clohing from all family members. There is so much high quality Torah literature on all subjects in English that there is IMO no excuse for at least spending a chunk of Shabbos learning something with your kids. Parents really can’t complain about kids not wanting to learn when they demonstrate that learning isn’t a parent’s priority. I apologize for this if this seems like an anecdotal rant-but there is much evidence out there these issues start in the house and that some parents, who are frustrated with the system of chinuch, then adopt a tragically negative view towards learning and the chinuch system in general.These parents need as much as help their kids who are falling thru the cracks of our educational system.

  34. Thanks Dave for sharing. One of my pet peeves is when a new shul opens up (sometimes) literally accross the street from an existing shul.

    It would be a huge service if a new shul could open up and expand the borders of a community, rather than keep the community “confined.”

    Of course, the breakoff is usually made up of people who are living in the original community, but since we all end up supporting breakoff shuls in some way, it would behoove us to insist they do a service to families who have not purchased and expand the neighborhood.

  35. I concur with response #1.

    I purposefully bought a home outside the Eruv. I need to walk a full mile every shabbas each way to shul. Those in the Eruv walk between 1 block and 1/2 a mile to shul.

    Why would I choose this? Well Here is my list of reasons (no particular order reason)

    1. ~60K less for similar sized house
    2. $1500 less a year in property taxes
    3. I need the exercise
    4. To have that extra money to not need handouts to send my kids to school.

    How many frum families in my side of the neighborhood (outside the Eruv)?

    The underlying question? Did I do the right thing?


  36. —Is it not true that full tuition actually means full tuition plus paying for a second child?—

    Some schools have separate scholarship funds to pay for those not able to pay the full amount. So, no, in not all cases is full tuition the cost of your child plus another’s.

    And anyway, sheilas need to be asked even if the cost structure is how Gershon described it. Even if some of that money is maaser, doesn’t even payment of maaser take precedence over vacations/camp, etc?

    And if by paying full tuition a person really cannot take even a few days away every now and then, perhaps he needs a tuition break! I think the poster who was talking about priorities was talking about those who really abuse the privilege — those who go and buy new model minivans while on scholarship. If you talk with members of tuition committees, they are grappling with those who are not just trying to breathe a little, but who could well afford to pay but try to wriggle around so as not to.

    Believe me, I have sympathy, but I don’t think we can dismiss our tuition obligations so easily. It seems like rationalization to argue like that.

  37. “More important than possibly all of these is opening the books. Let’s see why tuitions are so high, and how the money is being spent – and where money is being wasted.”

    I believe this is the most important suggestion. I have heard varied reports from people in a position to see books in different yeshivas. Of course tuition is generally high due to real costs, but in some cases, especially in yeshivas that are privately owned and run, there is room to wonder why the tuition is so high. If parents can see tuition is high exclusively due to legitimate expenses, that alone will make them less resentful.

  38. Item #12 read as follows:

    Parents must be encouraged to take a hard look at their priorities, and be reminded that tuition (full if at all possible) must be the first item budgeted and paid, before vacations, camp, new cars, home additions, etc., etc.

    I have some bones to pick with some of those points.

    Is it not true that full tuition actually means full tuition plus paying for a second child? If so, are you saying that if a parent works day and night and finally has a way to take a small vacation to breath a little bit, they should not because they must send a child from another family to school? Is that so simple? I’m not talking about a major trip abroad, but even a few days for a family can add up. Is it so selfish for a family to take those few days to do something together as a family instead of send a child from another family to school?

    What about camp? Are you saying that a parent should send a child from another family to school and not send their own child to camp? What do you recommend the child who stays home does for 8 weeks? Many children get into all kinds of trouble during the summer by just sitting around. Many homes get very stressed out by having all the kids on top of the parents for 8 weeks. Parents who are working day and night.

    I have more to say but that’s enough for now…

  39. I too would love a report from the Torah U’Mesorah convention, although I would love to attend one of these conventions someday.

    Does anyone know if there will be speakers addressing the financial aspects of running a Yeshiva and who will be speaking about those aspects (hopefully someone who works in the business and financial world)?

  40. Once upon a time Torah UMesorah was a great umbrella organization for all types of day schools under Orthodox auspices. Dr Schick has noted that it has drifted awaty from this role and is not of the greatest help to or even sympathy for schools in out of town communities that have to do with mixed genders, etc and other issues that many, if not most of us, never have to deal with in schools in major Torah communities. It services some, but not all of these schools vis a vis personnel and curriculum. There is a consortium of MO day schools (whose name prsently escapes me) that is servicing such schools on an increasing basis.

  41. Hello all! Just letting the chevra know that I have started a new blog entitled On Yeshivish that deals with just that, issues in the Yeshiva world today. Please come and contribute. I was immersed in the Yeshivish culture for quite a while and I have a lot of questions and thoughts about my experiences. So, please come and look.

  42. There should be a channel to route parents’ comments and suggestions (anonymously if necessary) to a responsible Torah Umesorah person who will organize the best ones for thorough consideration by the group’s leadership. I’d like a public report to be delivered at each convention, giving an overview of the parent submissions and recommending initiatives in response.

  43. MRN,
    I guess they’ve paid full tuition ;-). Seriously, though, where do you expect them to have their meetings? This is not exactly a vacation.

  44. Tzvi, don’t you think it is a little inappropriate for an organization to tell yeshiva parents “don’t go away to hotels for Pesach before you’ve paid full tuition” when they are away at a hotel?

  45. Give me a break! If there’s one organization that is frugal and efficient with community resources, it’s Torah U’Mesorah. There’s nothing wrong with them having an annual convention at a hotel. They don’t overdo it.

    And if we want to be heard, Rabbi Fishman and his staff are very accessible (although as mentioned, the agenda is pretty much set).

  46. Chaim, it’s just so typical that the Torah U’Mesorah convention is at a hotel in upstate New York, sending more frum dollars to a hotel instead of keeping them in the frum community. I guess they aren’t interested in hearing the voices of those of us who (1) can’t afford to go and (2) have too many children to go. SephardiLady, are you going to go and shake thinks up for us over there? Maybe we could all chip in!

  47. Well, Tzvi, I agree with you on the kiruv issue, but I have been accused of intolerance by (former) friends on the more Modern end of the Orthodox spectrum. I’m going to leave that to another thread since it’s got nothing to do with this one.

  48. The Torah U’Mesorah convention is coming up this weekend at the Friar Tuck Inn in upstate New York.

    I’m sure that by now their program is set and we can’t have Mark and David present at one of their symposiums. Still could we synopsize this thread as well as the “Fiancial Realities in the Frum World” thread, including all salient points, out of the box thinking and constructive criticisms, and deliver copies to the powers that be at the convention? (We’ll probably need a human being to shlep up there as most of the powers that be abide by the internet ban and don’t have email adresses. And no I’m not volunteering to go…)

  49. MRN said (in comment 10):
    Unfortunatley if a boy does not start learning with the ‘rebbe’ system by first grade, there is little chance he will be able to learn in a ‘yeshiva gedolah’ environment later on.

    This is simply not true. Children from “OOT” who move to a Jewish metropolitan area are regularly accepted into yeshivos. It is true that many yeshivos will assume that a boy is “behind” in limudei kodesh and will propose starting him in a lower grade for kodesh, but this can usually be dealt with if his competency and skills can be demonstrated.

    In any event, the proposal was to separate for the younger grades, not for all of elementary school. If an OOT yeshiva has separate classes starting, say, in 4th grade, then the boys can still have a rebbe thru 8th grade, and could be on a par with other yeshivos for Mesivta.

    MRN also said: I have struggled with whether I have an obligation to send my childrent to a particular school in order to mekarev other children.

    Please discuss this with your Rav. While there may be many good reasons to send your children to a particular school, including a more diverse one, I would be very wary of using children for kiruv in this way. Who’s to say they won’t be influenced more than they will influence others? This is a dangerous area.

  50. M. Lipkin said “encourage the right-wing element in OOT communities to be more tolerant and realize that it’s not the end of the world if the classes are mixed in the early grades.

    Unfortunatley if a boy does not start learning with the ‘rebbe’ system by first grade, there is little chance he will be able to learn in a ‘yeshiva gedolah’ environment later on. (Even if he is qualified, would he be accepted?) So what you perceive as intolerance is largely practicality at least in reference to boys. From a limudei chol aspect, I agree, there is little downside. And I am frustrated by those who bus children to a quite distant school on single-gender buses rather than sending them on mixed-gender buses to a nearby separate gender classroom. I am aware of a school that sends two buses from NY to NJ to pick up children, which is extremely wasteful.

    As a BT I have struggled with whether I have an obligation to send my childrent to a particular school in order to mekarev other children. My conclusions are best left to another string.

  51. Each community (or region) should have a “United Yeshiva and Day School Fund” that provides professional development and management for incoming donations and outgoing support for Orthodox Education. The fund should ideally support existing schools, so as to not encourage breakoffs.

    Those who do not have children in day schools and yeshivot, but are interested in giving, are often unsure of which school they want to direct their donations to. Grandparents are often in a more difficult prediciment, since they are likely to have grandchildren in 3 or 4 schools.

    A United Fund would go a long way towards encouraging long-term giving options, such as including Jewish education in an estate plan and developing other methods of giving, such as families taking out an additional term life insurance policy to benefit the school upon death (may they life to 120).

    I wrote about all of these subjects back in February 2006 and still believe it is imperative that we develop education funds that can change with the changing needs of communities.

  52. There is an enormous amount of Jewish philanthropic money out there. A coordinated effort needs to be made to tap into this money. It would start by embarking on a major PR campaign to convince these donors that Jewish education is the single most important element in continued Jewish survival. They have to be convinced to stop giving money to holocaust museums, university endowments, arts, etc.

  53. “Encourage OOT day schools to provide single gender limudei kosdesh starting first grade so as to reduce the need for a breakaway single gender option.”

    Or alternatively, ecnourage the right-wing element in OOT communities to be more tolerant and realize that it’s not the end of the world if the classes are mixed in the early grades.

    The last thing you’d want is for some non-frum families to pull their kids because they think the school is becoming to “frum”.

    A generation ago most day schools were mixed, at least in the early grades, and frum kids stayed

  54. Before we try to insist that all members of a community direct most of their contributions to the yeshiva, shouldn’t we take a look at whether those contributors feel the yeshiva is doing a good job, or doing its job at all? A family that feels satisfied about the level of chinuch their children (and others they know about) received, are more likely they are to feel disposed to donate to that yeshiva.

    In various venues I have tried to bring up the very serious problems (other than tuition) that families are encountering in yeshivas, but have typically been hushed with words like “yeshiva bashing”. Painfully slowly yeshiva stories are beginning to come out, connected to the “kids at risk” issues.

    Is it possible to have a forum to openly discuss what Yeshiva parents appreciate and OTOH, disapprove of or want to see changed in their childrens’ yeshivas?

  55. More important than possibly all of these is opening the books. Let’s see why tuitions are so high, and how the money is being spent – and where money is being wasted.

    Learn also from “out of town” schools how it is that they spend their money.

  56. Under current IRS law, tax credits are a near impossibility. We need to have lobbying efforts and support rallies, like the NY Rally that the OU organized buses too. But, IMO, too many people talk about tax credits like a solution when tax credits may be a bigger pipe dream than any other workable suggestion and it is a mistake to concentrate all our hopes and dreams on such while forgetting to work on workable solutions.

  57. I agree with all of the suggestions, and regarding the one that suggests to budget tuition 1st before any other “luxuries”, you have to take into account “non-luxuries” called “neccesities, also know as “cost of living”.

    Also, what about tax credits?

  58. Encourage the building/extending of eruvim to lower-cost and/or lower-tax neighborhoods. Rabbis should publicly hold by the expanded eruv.

    Encourage OOT day schools to provide single gender limudei kosdesh starting first grade so as to reduce the need for a breakaway single gender option.

    Create safe, low-cost and efficient busing for all students so that mothers can work, not carpool.

    Create safe, low-cost and efficient daycare and preschool aftercare so that mothers can work even if they have young children.

    Allow homeschooling parents to ‘buy into’ half-day options to supplement homeschooling, when space allows.

    Provide vocational options in highschool. Encourage career exploration.

    Instead of having students solicit donations, have them ‘work’ off extra-curricular fundraising through lawnmowing, babysitting, snow shoveling etcg. End the required volunteer work for frum girls, which punishes low-income girls disproportionately.

    Make the menahel’s salary public.

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