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Friday, January 11, 2008

Islamic Day Schools

Don't worry, you haven't tuned into the Islamonomics blog by accident. In the past, discussions about tuition have turned to other private schools, including Catholic schools known for their range of tuitions, some of which are quite low. Some of my readers don't particularly like to compare Catholic Schools to Jewish schools, although I think we need to be extracting as many good ideas from as many places as we can get them to combat the tuition issues.

One of the reasons they believe Catholic schools cannot be compared to Jewish schools is that they rely on nun labor and take students who are not Catholic (and who pay higher tuitions than parish members). From what I am told, nun labor is a relic of the past and that longer teachers are hired on the free market (as well as fired, if you recall the somewhat recent case of an out of wedlock pregnant teacher). And, blog reader and commentor Charlie Hall tells me that in NYC the Catholic school teachers are even unionized. Others do not believe that the schools can be compared because Catholic schools do not offer the same intensive religious curriculum. Never having attended a Catholic school, I don't know how intense the dual curriculum offered is, but I can tell you that Catholic schools tend to have highly competitive sports teams and extracurriculars like dance and band, and I joke not when I tell you that this costs lots of money too.

So what other school model(s) could we use for comparative and learning purposes? Recently on a drive outside of frum New York, I spotted a large building with Arabic writing. I promptly said, "That building is huge, what is it?" and made my husband circle the block. Call us "country bumpkins," but we were unaware that there are large Islamic private schools throughout the country popping up in major city centers, that boast intensive Islamic studies side by side with College Prepatory tracks.

And the tuition is astoundingly INEXPENSIVE. Unfortunately, the schools seem to have about as little internet presence as a Bais Yaakov or Yeshiva, but I was still able to extract some interesting information (financial only, as what some journalists report they teach is nothing but downright dangerous from the perspective of this Apple Pie eating Jewish American).

An example of one such comprehensive Islamic day school is the the Al-Noor School in Brooklyn, which runs from PreK-12. While the school day appears to be shorter than that of your normal Modern Orthodox high school, the tuition is inexpensive. Perhaps they have major donors, a wide base of supporter, offer less extracurriculars, or some other secret (my husband pointed out they are organized into their own "diocese" or district, keeping out duplication, a problem I've talked about in regards to Day Schools/Yeshivas). But, with tuition for high school running $4,200 and tuition for K-7th running First child: $ 3600 for the first child, $ 3400 for the second child, $ 3200.00 for the third child, $3,000 fourth child, $2,800 for the fifth child, and $0 (yes, free) for the sixth child, one must wonder how they keep tuition so manageable. A school in the DC area charges a higher amount for the 1st child ($5250), but gives a 40% discount for children 3, 4, 5, etc. In addition, this school gives a 10% tuition waver based on your IRS 1040 if your family income falls below $75,000 for 4 children in school, $65,000 for 3 children, $55,000 for 2 children, and $45,000 for 1 child. Unfortunately, the website for the school I located in Portland, Oregon is down, so I am unable to pull the tuition rates, but as I recall, they were ridiculously low for the first child, and were significantly discounted for each additional child. IIRC it was around $3300 for the first child and discounted from there.

Unfortunately, there is nothing on guidestar so it is impossible to extract any information or even theories about administrative pay, staff costs, or tuition scholarships. And, while I often meet Catholic school parents at the library or doctors office and have been able to ask questions about their schooling system, I have never met an Islamic school parent and tried to start up a conversation (can't imagine that would be a success anyway!). So I can only wonder how they manage to keep tuition so low.

But I can tell you this, I'd sure like to learn more!

Can you even imagine being able to send five (plus) children to school for just over $20,000 a year (without begging and groveling)? (Actually you can do that at the local Catholic school down the street from me if you are a member of the diocese). I can't even put two children in my local Orthodox elementary school for $20,000. It is no wonder tuition is called the best form of birth control (and what a shame).


Lion of Zion said...

yeshivot get no type of central funding. do rc schools get diocese or papal funding? and i am going to assume that these muslim schools are funded by our friends on the arabian peninsula.

also, you wrote that the muslim schools have a dual curriculum. do the rc schools really have a dual curriculum in the sense that yeshivot do?

Halfnutcase said...

From what I understand no they do not. Yes I'm pretty sure that they teach latin, and maybe even greek at upper grades, and a couple of other things, but for the most part, catholic layity aren't expected to be as well religiously educated as jewish laity are.

(and y'know, catholic schools produce their own textbooks from a central office. They're called "beka books" and their content is downright funny to this jewishly educated kid. Even the math problems are highly amusing, and lets not get in to the science textbooks) :)

I would tend to agree with above in asserting that they are probably funded by countries like saudia arabia and iran. They have every interest in funding such schools in america, in order to increase their support base here.

(I have known plenty of muslims who were quite as assimilated or moreso than reform jews. They evidently have quite a problem with it in this country.)

SephardiLady said...

I'm not sure how much central funding Catholic Schools get. I do know that the diocese has shut down entire schools in certain areas in combined them with other schools. So, even if there is no central funding, there is more efficient management of resources. Remember, if class size is 25 and you have a school with 15 in a class and another school with 10 in a class, one school can essentially be absorbed into another school with little cost.

I fear Islamic schools are receiving funding from other foreign governments. But, if they aren't, how are they running schools with such low tuition? And what can we learn?

anonymous mom said...

We have danced around the simple issue of textbook cost. Our Jewish Studies curriculum necessitates at a minimum--in younger grades--a Siddur in a foreign language (Hebrew) and then it escalates to the following: Chumash, Navi, Mishnayos, Gemara. This does not include the accompanying workbooks, many of which are in Hebrew. Don't ever underestimate the cost of hard-cover texts. I doubt that these other parochial schools use that many texts in their "dual" curriculum.

anonymous mom said...

Also, the Rebbes are getting a higher salary for a half-day job than they would in a Public School (if a public school offered half-day jobs). The Rebbes are being supported as part of our culture. As I mentioned, this is not enough for them and they do need other jobs which all of them have, but they do get paid more for their time than teachers in public schools.

JS said...

textbooks? we're paying $12,000 a year per child and you think it's because of textbooks?

why are muslim and catholic schools so much cheaper? it's because their fundraising and charity money is focused on the schools whereas we have a million charities all devoted to different causes (and sometimes these causes even compete with one another).

Lion of Zion said...


"and maybe even greek at upper grades"

i'd be very surprised if greek were part of the standard rc curriculim.

"I have known plenty of muslims who were quite as assimilated or moreso than reform jews."

i have quite a few muslim amaratzim in my class as well. the high propensity for assimlation is, after all, the great common denominator of all immigrant groups in america


i'm not sure how many "rebbes" are actually only teaching a half day worth of classes. in some (many?) MO high schools schools the jewish and general studies classes are interspersed throughout day, which means that that teachers really are full time.

and in many RW schools general studies can be limited to 2 hours at the end of the day, which again means that rebbes are working a whole day.

Lion of Zion said...

also, a lot of comments complain about overpaid teachers/adminstrators. can someone who actually knows what they are talking about give specific examples of salaries/benefits in specific types of schools?

when i applied for a full-time job at a local MO high school (of the higher paying type) in 1998 the starting salary was about $33k. health benefits (no dental) kicked in after 3 years and there were no retirement benefits. i don't think i even asked about tuition benefits for children back then, but from what i understand this benefit is no longer honored at this school.

Lion of Zion said...


even if rc schools don't get help from the diocsese (are higher up), all the rc schools i known of are connected (physically at least) to a church. i wonder if the schools get help from the collection plate of the church next door.

also, rc schools are older than many jewish schools and may not have mortgages. (of course then this does not explain high tuitions at older jewish schools).

"I do know that the diocese has shut down entire schools in certain areas in combined them with other schools."

this has happened here in new york also (generally to much negative media attention)

twinsmommy said...

My husband earns $45K as a half time teacher, half time adminstrator at a Solomon Schechter day school after over a decade of experience plus a masters. $1200 a month for basic health insurance for our family of 4 and the school pays roughly half and we pay roughly half. No dental, vision, retirement. I *think* we might get a break on tuition, but we'll be sending our kids to frum schools.

He only made $5K more ($50k) in Los Angeles.

$33K for starting at a MO high school is about right, unfortunately. Knowing that one of us needed to make MORE than $45K because we are $200 K in debt and a large chunk of it is student loans, I decided to leave the field after also getting a masters in ed.

I personally don't know ANY teacher or administrator who is overpaid.

Lion of Zion said...


"Knowing that one of us needed to make MORE than $45K"

i like to teach, but in retrospect i'm glad i didn't get the job. among other reasons, the $ just didn't make sense.

anonymous mom said...

Just to clarify. No one is overpaid. That's for sure. The salaries suggested by Twins make sense. In terms of Rebbes working half day, remember I work in an elementary school/middle school. All our Rebbes work half day unless they teach an English subject in the afternoon or Hebrew Language which is taught in the afternoon. Most elementary schools who are middle of the road MO or to the right of that teach Limudei Kodesh in the morning. I have taught in MO schools where Limudei Kodesh is taught in the afternoon, but then the Rebbe or Female Hebrew teacher is teaching two different classes the same thing and is paid a full day salary. Concerning my suggestion with regard to textbooks, I am trying to figure out how it all adds up and lay people don't have a clue how much hard covered texts and/or Sefarim cost. I know there are other reasons for the high tuition. Aside from the texts, the extra administrators needed to run a true dual curriculum and the fact that in more right wing and some MO places, the half time Rebbes do get paid more than they would in public school for the same hours, I can't think of much. The fact that our communities do not support the schools as much as other charities may be a point worth addressing; however, I think it is laudable that we do give as much as we do and that we do address so many communal needs. Now the repeat effect of too many cooks in the kitchen addressing the same communal needs is a real problem, but I don't think it accounts for the discrepancy in how much people give to other charities as opposed to the schools. I think that problem is systemic whether we had the repeat effect or not. And, I would like to know as I mentioned earlier, how much in dollars each school allots to carry less fortunate kids. I think it's great that all schools left to right carry kids who need to be carried. I don't mind personally paying more so that can happen and I don't think it amounts to that much of the bottom line, but I'd be curious to know. Also, what are the maintenance and heating costs for the large schools we have? Do the Islamic/Catholic schools have that many kids? How many kids are in the average Islamic School? How many hours are students actually being taught? Our kids are taught approximately 8 hours a day for elem/middle school. That's how long you have to be paying the teachers. We do begin earlier and end later across the board at our schools.

JS said...

In terms of textbooks, in college my hardbound textbooks were about $110 a piece for the larger ones. Even assuming each book costs that much to the yeshiva buying them, if there are 15 books it still wouldn't be more than $1650 a student (plus, I know for the YU seforim sales at least that gemaras and chumashim, etc can be had for far less than this).

In terms of charities, when was the last time a non-tuition paying person gave charity to their local day school? The entire idea just sounds absurd. People give their tzedaka money to soup kitchens and other charities to benefit poor and sick Jews. I think anyone who doesn't have children in a school would never give to a school period and if I have my kids in school A I'm sure as anything not giving money to school B. Furthermore, I think everyone is sick and tired of solicitations in the mail and shlichim begging for money for yet another small yeshiva. And I think large donors are just as turned off to giving to yeshivot. Every once in a while you hear of another mammoth donation to the birthright program or some other "sexy" cause. It's very simple, no one wants to give to yet another yeshiva.

anonymous mom said...

That's true. Sexy causes always win. Yeshivos aren't sexy. Using your term, though, maybe the cause of rising costs in tuition is not sexy. Maybe it is just adding up the textbooks, length of day, carrying costs, programs for kids with learning disabilities, nuts and bolts. I just want to break down the nuts and bolts and I don't have enough information. I want to hear from those board members and business administrators out there.

SephardiLady said...

Public schools share short term textbooks, media, novels, and equipment from classroom to classroom and school to school. They also purchase as a block (which Catholic schools might do also do). I don't believe frum schools do any of the above (but they really should).

You still can't sell me that the cost of equipment in frum schools exceeds that of public schools (although I will believe it exceeds that of other private schools).

Public schools don't just buy textbooks, they buy sheet music and playwrights, musical instruments (which have to be tuned), vocational equipment (car repair, graphic arts, construction classes, metal working and woodworking classes), chemical supplies (our high schools chemistry labs were used at least weekly by 20-30 students a period times 5-6 periods), biology supplies, art supplies, sport supplies, newspaper printing, sports uniforms (owned by school), and on and on and on.

I do believe that part time staff is super costly. Another thing that is costly that I have seen is using administrators to teach kodesh classes (at administrative salaries). Here again, we should be looking to share part time staff, but must form our own "districts" even if that means we have to get along.

Anon Mom--You might want to check out the Islamic school I linked to. It has 703 students which is equivlant in size to many MO day schools. There is a lot of info on their web site about all sorts of things. It is worth a look.

DAG said...

A major part of the problem si that there ARE Yeshivas and orgs out there that have no (or at best, minimal) board involvement. These are run by Rabbis with NO experience in business or running organizations, and we don't even make them publish their 990's. Why is ANYONE surprised by this financial devastation?

Lion of Zion said...


"In terms of textbooks, in college my hardbound textbooks were about $110 a piece for the larger ones. Even assuming each book costs that much to the yeshiva buying them, if there are 15 books it still wouldn't be more than $1650 a student"

i think it should be far less than this. college textbooks are not a good example because:

a) college level textbooks are more expensive
b) college textbooks are yours to keep (unless you chose to resell them for a few pennies). e.s./h.s. books (excluding workbooks) are recycled and are reused year after year as long as condition permits
c) certain types of books never have to be replaced (condition aside), especially humashim, gemaras, nachs, etc. Even science/history books don't have to be replaced as frequently as on the college level.

also, i don't know what the situation is today, but i'm pretty sure that when i was in school books (like busing) were provided by the board of ed.

twinsmommy said...

Using administrators to teach classes, at admin salaries--- good point-- it's an expensive idea. So now I'm thinking the other way around.

I wonder if there are more suckers (um, I mean people) out there like my husband who have not (yet) gone back for a doctorate or smicha after their masters who could be tempted into teaching half time and doing admin work half time--- at a teacher's salary. Works for him because he likes his work environment and is undecided as to whether he'd like to go into full time administration in the future--- giving him a taste of admin work without requiring the doctorate or the smicha upfront works for him, and it works for the school since they're paying him peanuts but he's taking admin work off the full time administrator's plates.

I would imagine there are others out there who could deal with this arrangement.

Books--- why don't the parents pay for the textbooks separately from tuition?? I would have no problem with a lower tuition but a textbook bill that varies year to year contingent upon the curriculum.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Are Islamic schools getting money via some route from Saudi Arabia? A lot of Saudi money finds it's way to Islamic organizations in 'hutz l'aretz' (sorry).

As for textbooks, many (most?) good Jewish schools are buying texts from the major publishers. These are produced in far larger numbers than college texts, and are correspondingly less expensive per item (though still not cheap).

Elliot Pasik said...

The New York Archdiocese, covering Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester, and other southern New York counties, does give funding to its Catholic schools. One can donate to either the Inner City Endowment, which is trying to raise $100 million, and contribute interest of $5 million per year to the schools; or, you can donate to the Inner City Scholarship Fund, which seems to donate the money directly.

Something like this just started for all of the Chicago yeshivas and day schools. Rabbi Harry Maryles wrote a post about this venture a few weeks ago on his blog, Emes v'Emunah. They've already millions.

We have nothing like this in NY.

anonymous mom said...


ora said...

My first thought was that Islamic schools are probably getting money from overseas, as some here have already said. IMO, this isn't a good reason for Muslim schools to be cheaper, because Jewish schools should be getting resources from Israel (if not money, then at least national service volunteers or something similar). Unfortunately the Israeli government has little to no desire to strenghthen Jewish religious life, and prefers to dump its money into secular programs and non-Jewish aliya. IMO if Israel had its priorities straight US schools would be getting more help, or at the very least, US Jews would have fewer requests for help from Israel and might use more of their funds at home.

As I believe I've said before, the only real way (IMHO, of course) to make US schools noticably cheaper is to make everyone in the community pay, including singles, childless couples, and couples who just finished paying their own kids' tuition and will undoubtably balk at the suggestion. Perhaps shul fees should include a certain amount that will be set aside for local schools, if they don't already?

frumskeptic said...

Ora, I was in Israel a while back and our tour guide was telling us how majority of Israeli institutions are largely funded by American Jews. Therefore, your idea that Israel should fund some of the American Jewish Schools, is a bit ridiculous. If anything, maybe American's should stop funding Israel and contribute more money into American Jewish schools.
Not that I beleive we should do that, considering Israel is very important to us, but your idea is definitly not feasible.

Lion of Zion said...


"Jewish schools should be getting resources from Israel (if not money, then at least national service volunteers or something similar)."

let israel keep its $
there are some sherut leumi girls in america. my "mishpahah meumetzet" from when i was on kibbutz had a daughter who came to baltimore (?) on sherut leumi about 12 years ago.

i know there are sherut leumi girls in teaneck. there are also girls in my own alma mater, although this has not brought the price down (and it remains the most expensive school in brooklyn).

Lion of Zion said...

also, sherut leumi girls are good as assistant teachers and other support staff, but there transient nature makes them far from ideal to use in regular teaching positions.

anonymous mom said...

The Sheirut Leumi girls are wonderful resources for any school, but they aren't ready to classroom teach--at least not ours. I still say we need to get the MO college kids to wake up and consider teaching as a viable field and then we can have an expanding pool of bright, young, energetic--low-paid--teachers. Oh, but they would get paid very little money so why would they go into our field? And the cycle continues. How can we save a buck on our teacher pool while getting youth and creativity when saving the bucks is what is driving them away from teaching? In recent years I have taken to a variation on "youth is wasted on the young." I believe youth is wasted on the teachers' assistants and therapists in our schools.

Lion of Zion said...

"I still say we need to get the MO college kids to wake up and consider teaching as a viable field"

won't happen.

personally i think this is one of the causes of the "shift to the right." in many cases we send our kids to "MO" schools were they are taught by RW teachers. same thing in most parts of the kiruv world.

this is one of the strong pillars of the RW that MO should be envious of: viewing chinuch as a respected and desired vocation.

JS said...

anon mom, loz,

I know many MO youth who go into chinuch though admittedly more women than men. I don't think chinuch is not respected, I just think men (who see themselves as breadwinners) feel more pressure to obtain higher paying jobs and thus if they have chinuch leanings usually go into another career.

In terms of MO teachers being more right-wing it's because MO itself is moving to the right. I can't even count how many friends' parents growing up had parents who never learned, never covered hair, wore pants, etc. By today's standards these parents would probably be considered conservadox (if such a term existed nowadays, which it doesn't). Their children all went to yeshivot which engrained the importance of mitzvot (in particular shabbat, kashrur and taharat mishpacha) and of learning. They then went to Israel and perhaps even YU/Stern or the like. It is the most frum and most committed to yidishkeit that then go into chinnuch, and the cycle continues. So why is it surprising that MO yeshivot are taught by more right-wing teachers?

JS said...

If you just do a logical analysis of the education system you'll see that the entire yeshiva system is a study in subsidizing.

For example, consider the kindergartener. Usually there is a class of 25 students that has one teacher and perhaps one assistant. In MO yeshivas at least the cost for kindergarten is roughly $10,000. So, even if there is an average payment of 50% tuition (I wish I knew real numbers), the yeshiva brings in $125,000 for this kindergarten class and has to pay a teacher and an assistant (may be paid less than teacher).

For an 8th grader, the same class of 25 students has a gemara teacher, a navi teacher, a chumash teacher, an ivrit teacher, a math teacher, a science teacher, an english teacher, and a history teacher. If the tuition is now $14,000 per child at 50%, $175,000 now must cover 8 teachers.

In a perfect system each teacher would teach 3 classes of 25 students each per day in order to have the same or better ratio as the kindergarten class. But, this is rarely the case - especially since there are only 4 judaic/secular classes per day at most. Thus, there are inefficiencies when you get into the higher grades where you have more subjects and the students are often placed in tracks. This doesn't even take into account other higher expenses for older students such as computer and science labs.

Regardless, it should be clear that a kindergarten teacher could never make more than $62,500 (including benefits) or the school would simply lose money. And of course there are maintenance costs and administrative and support staff costs, etc. So, I don't see how lowering tuition will ever be compatible with raising teacher salaries.

Lion of Zion said...


"I know many MO youth who go into chinuch though admittedly more women than men."

many? exactly how many? maybe i travel in different circles, but i have no MO friends or close acquaintances in chinuch. a sister of a friend and a neighbor of another friend, but that is all i can think of.

"I don't think chinuch is not respected"

define respect

JS said...

By respect I mean if someone in chinnush says "I am a teacher" or "I am a rabbi at such and such school" no one looks down on them or snidely says "ohhhh, how.... nice". And I think although teachers aren't shown respect on a daily basis by students or parents the community does value and respect the position - though that doesn't translate into better treatment or pay (see my above post on teacher salary vs tuition).

In my apartment building there is a couple who are both teachers, in my community I can think of 2 other women and from people I know from growing up with them I can think of 2 men, 2 women. I'm sure there's 1-2 I'm forgetting.

Anonymous said...

perception is definately such that peopel generally assume that the more RW looking/acting women are teachers. I constantly get people saying, you're a teacher, right?! NO. im not! while my friends and other moms in my kids school NEVER get asked taht b/c they "seem" more "typically" MO.

Anonymous said...

I spoke with a Muslim co-worker about this. He thought it fairly implausible that these schools were being funded by Saudi Arabia or Iran.

He said fund-raising in the Islamic community is typically focused on Mosque and school and that these institutions are usually co-located. Maybe this cuts down on cost.

Perhaps the ratio of fund-raising to school is lower (higher?) than that of the frum schools. In other words more Muslims giving to their "frum" schools and fewer of their children actually attending these schools.

My coworker is a Muslim "baal-teshuvah" (ie frummer than his parents) and went to a shtatty local private school NOT an Islamic school. Perhaps his parents gave money to an Islamic school. Pure speculation, but this type of behavior would result in a larger base of fund-raised dollars as opposed to tuition-raised dollars.

Charlie Hall said...

"do the rc schools really have a dual curriculum in the sense that yeshivot do?"

The curriculum is more analogous to a modern orthodox day school curriculum than to a yeshiva.

The points regarding aggressive consolidation are well taken. There are HUGE economies of scale that happen when you only run large schools.

BTW, not only are the Catholic schools unionized, but the union sometimes engages in job actions:

Note the salaries mentioned. How do they compare with what Jewish schools offer?

Lion of Zion said...


"The curriculum is more analogous to a modern orthodox day school curriculum than to a yeshiva."

i meant day schools and not a rw yeshivah. but anyway, are you sure? i'm a bit skeptical for a few reasons:

1) a typical day when i was in high school was from 7:30 to 5:30, whereas from what i see rc schools have public school hours (i could be wrong)

2) are all those non-catholic kids in the rc schools really spending hours every day learning about catholicism?

3) i've never met a catholic graduate who actually knows latin, so there is no comparison with the amount of hebrew language instruction. in general, what religious classes do they have? they study bible in depth with commentaries, the intricacies of canon law, etc.? i always assumed some bible, church history, catechism and some ethics. nothing that compares to the scope of a day school (again, these could all be misconceptions)


"By respect I mean if . . ."

by respect i mean that you don't flinch when your son (or future son-in-law) states he wants to go into chinuch

anonymous mom said...

Lion of Zion, I know that you are correct about all of this. I wish, though, that we could turn the tide somehow. I think it was JS who mentioned on another thread that we need to make giving money to day schools sexy. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I hope I'm not the only one when I say that I hope we can make education sexy somehow to our MO youth. I think getting them into schools to "sample" being in a classroom, making it part of the YU requirements or something so they can get a taste of it, pushing it more with the Semicha guys. I don't know. But I really think YU should face this more head on and brainstorm a bit. It is--I think--a really important avenue to pursue. Center for the Jewish Future, I'm just saying.

Abbi said...

anon mom: I have many friends who "tasted" teaching- myself included, I taught for five years and even got an MA in Jewish Ed. The end result was that it just wasn't worth it, financially or emotionally to stay in the game, certainly after I started having my own kids. It was just too draining, the work never ended (prep time, etc.) and i had so little salary, it barely covered my childcare.

I don't think "tasting" will make young pple want to make this a career.

Anonymous said...

when in shidduchim i did not want my daughter to marry a chinuch person for a number of reasons (beyond the reason that i felt a 'chinuch lifestyle' was incompatible with my daughter's persona). chinuch, and lower-school education in general, speaks of low ambition and little growth. you basically stay the same (professional) person at 30 as at 50. there a few reqs to become a teacher, and fewer to stay one. you deal with the same population/demographic for your entire career.

JS said...


I wouldn't flinch. As I've stated before on these boards, I think there's dignity in every job and I would never look down on anyone who puts in a day's work. I think chinnuch is a very idealistic field to go into, and I think given the way we treat our teachers, you not only have be idealistic but made of stronger stuff than most.

If my child wanted to go into chinnuch or wanted to marry someone who did, I have no problem with that. I just think they need to understand what they're getting into. I would say the same for a child who wanted to work in a huge law firm - understand what you're committing yourself to, what will be asked of you in this job.

I do think that chinnuch is a raw deal, and I would advise someone who say wanted to teach a secular subject to consider teaching in a good public school as their salary and benefits will be better for roughly the same work.

As I mentioned before though, the problems of teachers salaries and tuition are not mutually solvable by any solution that doesn't involve external funds - The only way for salaries to go up is for tuition to go up.

I don't think anyone goes into teaching (whether at a yeshiva or a PS) to be rich, but the frum lifestyle ironically seems out of reach for those teaching frumkeit to our children.

I think at least one solution is we need to train our teachers to do more than "just" teach ivrit or "just" teach "chumash". As I mentioned in another post, as children enter higher grades they have different teachers for each subject and this is where inefficiencies enter the system as you have more teachers for the same number of kids (the teacher to student ratio goes from 1-2 teachers to 25 kindergarteners as compared to 8-10+ teachers to 75 6th-8th graders).

If a teacher could teach chumash, navi, math, and science that teacher would not only earn more money (they'd be working full-time) but the tuition dollars are used more efficiently (and may even allow for lower tuition). This one teacher could take the place of 2-3 teachers but cost far less than 2-3 teachers while making a good living.

Maybe this suggestion is counter to encouraging people to go into chinnuch - I don't think it is. I think we need the RIGHT people going into chinnuch with the RIGHT skills. I don't think it's enough to just be able to teach 1-2 subjects part time.

twinsmommy said...

abbi, where did you get your MAED? My husband and I both did the UJ back in the mid 90's. We became frum while students there-- THAT was interesting.

ora said...

Did you read my post? I didn't advise that Israel give to Jewish schools on top of everything else, I said priorities should be different. The truth is, the government already gives millions to programs benefitting American Jews (birthright, sochnut activities, etc), and additional millions to absorbing hundreds of thousands of non-Jews as citizens. If we shifted those millions to US Jewish schools American Jews would benefit, or, as I said, if we just kept the money and used it elsewhere (eg for our own schools) American Jews might use more tzedaka money at home and would still benefit.

As it is now, the Israeli Jewish community is actually in much better shape than the American community in many ways, but Israel keeps asking America for money and America keeps giving. IMO that's not right. Maybe it's not realistic to think that things could be the other way around, but at the very least America should put local needs first.

As for sherut leumi girls, of course they can't be professional teachers at age 18, but they can offer private tutoring for kids who are struggling, help with secretarial work, etc--all the things they do in Israeli schools. Or better yet, US Jews could do their own form of sherut leumi.

Charlie Hall said...


Regarding the difference between Catholic and Jewish schools, I have known Catholic school grads with pretty good Latin skills, but you are right that it is probably not the norm.

One other huge difference is that Catholic schools educate a lot of non-Catholics. The most famous recent example is probably Bill Clinton. Non-Jews almost never attend orthodox schools except when they are in the process of conversion. If and when public funds become available in the US (probably a very long time off), we will probably have to figure out a way to accept non-Jews if we want the funding.

Anonymous mom,

I did once hear Richard Joel in private conversation say that he would like to use the fact that YU is the only Jewish University in America that has a rabbinical school, a high school (two, actually), and a school of education to make Jewish education a higher priority. YU unfortunately has a long tradition of divisions ignoring each other but this is changing.

Abbi said...

twinsmommy- I got my MA Ed at Hebrew U. in 2001. I currently edit content for an online financial website.

frumskeptic said...

Ora, I understood what you meant. funding programs you described are good investments for Israel (promote Aliya, and general tourism).Also, even if Israel doesnt exactly "profit" off these programs, they are spreading Jewish culture through them in a form, no american organization can possibly do. Funding American Jewish Schools, would not be a great investment, considering the Jews that go there are ALREADY aware of their Jewish culture.

frumskeptic said...

Ora, I definitly agree with you that Israel should prefer American Jewish Schools over assimilating the non-Jews. Heck, I don't think that shold be a priority at all, but thats a separate issue.

twinsmommy said...

abbi, with MY MA Ed, I'm a sales director in the cosmetics industry. :) Sad how many of us need to leave Jewish ed to make money.

My husband, however, opted to stay in the field but this year he ALMOST quit 3 times to be a stay at home Dad so that I can work full time. What's holding us back is health insurance.

Abbi said...

twinsmommy- it is sad that that's the case. I really loved teaching and found it rewarding when I did it in the US.

But since I ended up settling in Israel, getting married and starting a family at the same time, I was never really able to manage the switch in education cultures to really make a go of teaching here.

And, as I mentioned previously, the 30 shekel per hour I was getting just didn't make it worth it to keep trying.

That's annoying that health insurance dictates your career/working choices. :(. That's one thing I really love about living here, not having to worry about that.

jewchick said...

LOZ - I went to college with a lot of catholic hs grads. None of them spoke latin. They had an hour a day of religious study--including latin. That's it.

anonymous mom said...

Charlie Hall,
I hope they pick up the ball at YU. It's worth it for everyone. The dividends will be paid out for years and years to come.

twinsmommy said...

jewchick, surprisingly, I speak latin. :) (I took it in junior high and remember some of it!)

salve, quid agitis hodie? satis bene gratis, et tu? que diez hic est?

I'm in a punchy mood tonight. :)

Ahuva said...

Actually, here is one Muslim private school that "receives much of its funding from the Saudi government" :

Saudi Arabi has provided large donations to U.S. universities:

"According to the Campus Watch article, King Fahd, predecessor and brother of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, donated $20 million to the University of Arkansas to build a Middle East Studies Center. Other U.S. schools have since been beneficiaries of donations from Saudi entities whether public or private."

If you Google, you'll find an instance where Saudia Arabi developed a curriculum for U.S. teachers and paid to train them in it.

There really isn't any doubt in my mind that there are quite a number of schools supported with Saudi money. Maybe if Israel was sitting on a lot of oil, they could do the same for Jewish day school. But, other than that, I don't think we have a whole lot of learn from their low tuitions.

Lion of Zion said...


i think it's pretty standard for middle east studies departments to be funded by gulf countries. this goes a long way to understanding the anti-israeli nature of these departments.


"with MY MA Ed, I'm a sales director in the cosmetics industry"

i was doing some research at a library recently and i met this frum girl who is getting an MA in jewish studies. i basically said to her "what's a nice frum girl like yourself doing something like that for? shouldn't you be studying to be a PT or speech therapist?"

"I took it in junior high and remember some of it!"

good for you! i took it in college but remember none of it (other than some etymologies)

deeni said...

I don't know anything about Islamic schools but I do know that there are two different kind of Catholic schools. Diocese schools are very inexpensive, teach a broad population of Catholic and non-Catholic children, and are a good alternative to bad inner city public schools. These are not the schools with the highest academic standards (not that education isn't good, but they aren't the kind of schools that spend lots of time on Latin etc) and often only go through 8th grade. There are also many private Catholic schools-- these are basically prep schools, some are very "modern" and others are very "strict" and "right wing"-- no knees showing for example. These private academies are as expensive as the best private schools. And they have very high educational standards.