Can We Mitigate Some of the Moral Costs of Expensive Jewish Education?

What do you think of these objectives from the article “The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School” from Jewish Ideas Daily?

This model corrects many of the current system’s moral deficiencies:

It makes the tuition-setting process transparent and predictable.

It moves many middle-class families off the rolls of those receiving financial aid.

It defines day school education as a public good to be communally supported instead of an individual good, privately purchased.

It makes clear that the rich, even when they pay the maximum tuition, are assessed a lower percentage of their income than the middle class.

Please read the article.

4 comments on “Can We Mitigate Some of the Moral Costs of Expensive Jewish Education?

  1. My kids attend(ed) a very large Yeshiva (approx 1,000 students) in the western US. I would gestimate there are approx 300-350 families. Some parents have only 1 child in the school but some have 5 or 6 concurrently. Well over 50% of these families receive some form of assistance, including us. This does not include employees who get anywhere from free tuition to a reduction. The income levels of families who send their kids to our school span the spectrum from very wealthy to below the poverty line. There is also a fair amount of financial support from the community at large including grandparents and alumni. Our school is much more “no frills” than many of the Orthodox Day Schools in our city while trying not to sacrifice (mostly limudei chol) education.

    Many parents have cash businesses, so the 15% of your tax return idea would be a disaster. The article was very interesting, but I feel would probably work better in a non-Orthodox school b/c those families are generally better well off and have fewer kids (at least in my city). Yeshiva for frum kids is non-negotiable. For the other streams of Judaism, when money’s tight, they send their kids to (public) magnet schools where the (secular) education proximates private school.

    We are seeing an unprecidented number of frum kids being home schooled or (nebach) going to public school because they feel they have no choice.

    Even with “tweaking” I cannot fathom that the ideas stated in the article would at all be a viable solution.

    We are a family who started out paying full tuition. After a number of years, we fell on financial hard times & due to a number of factors, have never recovered our previous income level. Health issues prevent either my husband or I to take on any (more) extra jobs. We do not own a house, we rent because home ownership is way out of reach. We live a much simpler life than most & my kids work to pay for the extras. They are very careful with their own money as well. However, we are by no means alone in our situation.

    I would love to hear of eitzas to the tuition crisis, but I have no realistic ideas of my own. I think vouchers are our only hope, but that measure gets voted down at every election it is proposed.

  2. I read the entire article as well as the comments. A lot of articulate people contributed to that discussion and it was nice to read. One of the first people to comment just barely brushed the idea of home-schooling. Although it is certainly not a community-wide solution, many Jewish families are discovering that it is a valid option that can resolve many of the moral issues outlined in the article.

    Just a few weeks ago I attended the 4th Annual Torah Home Education Conference in Baltimore, MD. There were well over 100 parents in attendance from all across the country – some experienced homeschoolers such as myself and many parents who were there to explore their options. The main message of the conference is that Jewish Home Education is on the map now and should be considered by families as one of several Jewish educational choices available to them.

    You can read all about the conference here:

  3. Schools don’t have to merge completely in the educational sense in order to share buildings, equipment, support staff(secretarial, accounting, maintenance) and even some faculty, such as math.

    If the problem were only that disparate groups have different viewpoints, communities would be able to conserve resources by having fewer schools with separate academic tracks within them. They could even have separate dress codes for separate classes if they wanted. But a lot of people don’t even want their kids exposed to kids from other groups.

  4. This feature of the proposed model caught my eye:
    “It defines day school education as a public good to be communally supported instead of an individual good, privately purchased.”

    In many areas, it would be hard to find a broad-based community in the traditional sense of an old-world kehillah. In fact, one reason why the educational system is often fragmented is that the Orthodox population is likewise fragmented. After all, when there are 52 distinct Torah viewpoints, each with its own constituency, how can we not have at least 52 schools?

    So the plan can only work if disparate groups can at least join in a common effort and work out some allocation of resources they can all agree on. Getting such an effort going in the absence of a kehillah with quasi-police powers will be a real challenge.

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