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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cost Cutting Brainstorm

In the last post, 'Thinking' put forward some suggestions for cost cutting in day schools and yeshivot. I figures I would open up the board to brainstorming now that we are back to talking about tuition. Perhaps those with a voice in their local schools can pass along suggestions that come this way and float them in their own community.

From 'Thinking' [my comments in orange]:

As someone who works in Change Management in the corporate world it never ceases to amaze me how the Yeshivos and other NfP's are so blind to what is going on and always seem to be behind the 8 ball. They need to see what the corporate world is doing and borrow the best practices. To borrow from what the corporate world is currently doing.
1.Identify the percentage of annual budget that will be decreased for 2009. It will need to be big, 25-35%. This will be accomplished by cutting office staff, teaching staff, nice to haves and other non-essentials (conferences, extra curricular activities etc). The cuts will have to mirror the expected losses incurred by lower tuition collections and fund raising.
2. Stop passing on non-essential costs to parents. Instead of a petting zoo @ $12 a head, next year might be the year to forgo the petting zoo for a dvd about animals.
3.In general, cutting back on parent requests for money for extras. The focus should be on tuition and covering the budget before any extras at all.
4. Schools/NfP's pooling resources. This has been suggested before. Without going into this at length, the reason this is not done more often is because of the fear of one school defaulting on their portion of the costs and the liability falling on the other schools. Schools and not for profits need to reconsider this option and pool non-risky resources and potentially, staff. In addition, offices, phone lines and others could be shared. [Brainstorm question: what is the first area that could be consolidated with little risk? If I was looking at consolidating staff, I would look at
combining students from two or three schools for PE or art class, or any other
once a week offering.]
5. Cutting office expenditures. This needs to be a directive, "Cut 25%!".
6. Engaging all of the staff to look for creative ways to save money. Why should this responsibility just rest on the administration and not the rest of the staff? [I mentioned before that public schools give yearly allotments for allowable photocopies. I am always amazed by how many projects come home with students in frum schools. I imagine most former public schoolers who read this blog will agree with me. Many of those projects are laminated and include printed photographs. I know many of these projects are meaningful to the parents and students, but there is certainly room to cut. If I was running a school, I would put all staff on a budget immediately].
7. Now is the time to tell the staff that there will be no raises next year. Don't wait until the annual raise conversation time for that conversation to happen. Let people make the long term decisions they need to make now.
If schools and NfP's get focused on 2009 now, they have a shot at making it. If not, some will definitely fail. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
A few of my own suggestions/questions:

1. All positions that are vacated and are necessary should be opened to the community for application, consideration, and even bidding.
2. I know a college student that had a great deal of hakarat hatov to his school and taught a lunch time academic elective GRATIS. Brainstorming question: Is there a possibility of picking up quality volunteer labor?
3. Goodbye disposables! I went to a kindergarten where every student had their own plate and fork for lunch. After lunch, you lined up to quickly wash the crumbs off your plate and set the plate to dry. Not too long ago, I stopped by a school around breakfast time to drop something off and the boys were setting up breakfast. Out came disposable bowls, plastic forks, and disposable tablecloths too. Time to institute a some leaner measures. Either let the kids bring their own container/bowl from home, or buy a set and let them quickly wash them after breakfast. I don't even want to think about the amount of disposables used at the Beit Midrash level. There has got to be a better way. (I'm sure I will be flamed, but it wouldn't hurt to assign dish duty.).
4. An observation and a question: I don't believe I had an elementary school class with less than 25 students. There were no teacher's aides. It seems that having both a teacher and an aide is standard practice in frum schools. Is the aide an absolute necessity? Could aides be shared between teachers? I got a call from a friend at 10PM one night asking if I could substitute as a teacher's aide in her place in a 4 year old nursery class. Since they let me bring my kid, I obliged. After 4 hours, I was very tired. I spend an entire four hours setting up activities, cleaning up activities that kids were not able to successfully clean up themselves, cutting, gluing, and stapling. I imagine parents love to see all of these projects. But, let's be honest, much of the work is done by staff and is rather costly.
5. See what other private and public schools are doing to reduce costs. Other private schools are in trouble too. Two brains are better than one.

77 comments:

tesyaa said...

Wow, I never thought about the cost of some of these projects, not to mention the teacher aides. Really food for thought. Class size is another story, because in many of the smaller yeshivos there aren't enought kids to fill 25 to a class. Have you considered that teacher aides are needed because yeshiva teachers are not as well trained or experienced as public school teachers? And that even in neighborhoods that are not particularly wealthy, there are still parents who have certain expectations which raise costs for everyone? Or that parents who are not paying full tuition may not object to paying $18 here and there for "extras", while those who are paying full freight feel more strapped? I don't know where to begin.

Anonymous said...

Sephardlady, I think your heart is in the right place but you fail to see the big picture.

Plastic/paper goods SAVE money. Think about the cost of having teachers and children out sick and the cost to bring in exterminators, etc. No joke, a local day school had to close down for 3 days and spend close to $10K to disinfect the premises. And in the scheme of things paper adds up to maybe a couple of hundred dollars a year and is a tremendous convenience.

If you want to talk about real costs though..

My wife was treasurer of my kids high school last year and frankly, the biggest way to save real money was to consolidate courses. Eliminate non-core essential subjects like Spanish. And teach secular subjects co-educationally. It is abhorrent to some, but the alternative is closing the school and sending the kids to public school or to another city. Question for all here - is segregated secular classes a luxury?

SephardiLady said...

tesyaa-I don't know where to begin either. The train is going downhill with no brakes.

I've considered the possibility that teacher's aides are necessary because of education techniques, as well as behavior issues.

Anonymous-Perhaps you are correct about paper goods. So leave the paper goods and cut out the lamination, or some of the art projects, etc. Something has to go and alternatives need to be found. I certainly wouldn't rule out exploring co-ed secular, but then again I'm not strongly on either side of that fence.

Commenter Abbi said...

I honestly don't understand this obsession with lamination in frum schools. Years ago, I taught at a progressive Jewish day school in manhattan that emphsasized child directed learning. Classes were mixed (K-1) (1-2) (3-4-5). Believe it or not, the school did not own a lamination machine! And we got along just fine. Actually, great, because the children, even kindergartners, did their own work, took it home, and the parents did with it what they wanted.

After that, I taught for a bit at my old day school, tutoring new immigrants in Hebrew.

Teachers spent entire free periods laminating God knows what. I really never understood the point. The teachers made nice projects for the kids to take home. Where's the learning?

mother in israel said...

Good post. I'm just afraid that cutting out extras could cause families sitting on the day school/public school fence to leave. So in some schools with large non-Orthodox populations, especially out-of-town, you might end up without enough tuition dollars to keep things running. Especially since cutting out these extras is unlikely to result in lower tuition.

anonymous mom said...

Hi. Teacher here. A little annoyed as usual when people who aren't actually in my profession begin dictating to my profession. Should schools rethink the costs of certain expenditures and cut down? Absolutely. Should changes be made that directly affect success in the classroom without consulting the educators your school has hired? Nope. So, allow me to begin with plastic. Eating utensils? Plastic is necessary. You can't ask your kids' teacher to be a dishwasher too, although some parents do equate us with their cleaning help. Yes, I know you want the kids to wash the dishes themselves. That just won't work for a combo of many reasons--ask any pre-school teacher and she'll tell you why. Lessen the aides? Um. Over 30...ahem...years ago, I had three women as pre-school teachers and two in first grade. In younger classes, you need more hands. It's not just the art projects. Little kids need help in all areas. The head teacher is usually there all day and needs a break. Even only morning teachers, need a bathroom break every now and then. Good schools supply an aide until second grade. Whenever reading is taught, an aide is essential. Above second, I actually see it as an indulgence so I can hear you there. Laminating? Yes. The booklets, projects, etc are getting way out of hand. My husband and I call one of the first grade teachers our children had "the Laminator." Our son came home with many more sheets of printed paper that Pesach than actual knowledge about the Chag. So, yes, we could cut down there. I suggest something that many schools are not doing which is to reach out to college ed programs like those in Touro and YU to get volunteers or interns. I don't know why my school isn't already doing so. It is a win/win sitution for all. And, finally, I do think that our salvation will be in an appeal to donors, making the financial support of our institutions of learning a priority again. The wealthier among us need to start coughing up some more.

anonymous mom said...

Oh and...
Combining classes? Best not to if you can get away with it. We are dealing with so many learning levels on grade as it is that if you throw in another grade level, you greatly challenge our ability to reach as many as we can and that is our goal and for what we have been trained after all.
Co-ed? I'm pretty open-minded about co-ed classes in elementary school, but once kids hit adolescence studies show that girls do much more poorly in co-ed situations than boys. Plus, even among boys, achievement is higher when they are educated (and I mean educated not warehoused) in a single-sex environment. Some public schools are opting for that. I know teenagers pretty well and I've worked in co-ed schools. It's not as bad as people think, but I do think it is best to separate them for classes. And, I'm not even talking about concerns as Orthodox Jews.

Anonymous said...

But are single sex classes a necessity? I dislike the idea too, but I abhor having to send my kids to public schools if the Jewish schools have to close their doors.

Thinking said...

SL- Thanks for posting my comment.

I just want to address some of the comments here.
Mixed classes are not a solution for everybody. Let's face it there are many yeshivos and bais yackov's that are just not going to for it. Maybe though, they could start to share resources. For example, a rebbi who teaches in yeshiva in the morning could possibly teach a class or two in halacha or navi in the afternoon in a girls school. Instead of having 2 salaries the schools could provide a single, combined salary. This would save the schools money, while providing additional salary to a rebbi.

Anonymom - If your schools is not doing what you think it should be doing, are you saying something about it? The solutions must come from everybody and everywhere. Schools must solicit ideas from all sources.

The notion that more money will come from donors is not realistic. Many major donors I have spoken to have explained the issue to me.
1) They cannot currently liquidate assets. Many large donations are made by liquidating some investment that is performing well. In this market that does not exist, so the ability to make a large donation is diminished.
2)Even many large donors who have some liquidity do not plan on having any income from their investments for the next 2-3 years. This means that they have to live off their accessible funds for now and are more hesitant to give large donations from that.

I don't think that the solutions will be simple, there have to be major budgetary cuts made. Like any other industry, those that make the adjustments will make it, others will not.

ProfK said...

"I would look at combining students from two or three schools for PE or art class, or any other
once a week offering." I don't see how any savings would be possible with this and I do see how it could add extra expenditures to the budget. For one thing, you would have to add in extra transportation costs to get schools A and B to school C. You are also not figuring in the extra time involved which would extend a school day. Would cause havoc with the existing school schedule. Three times the students with only one teacher? Doesn't make educational sense nor would the teachers go for it. At a minimum they would insist on multiple aides in the class, so where is the savings? Too much effort for too little return, if any.

SephardiLady said...

Hi. Teacher here. A little annoyed as usual when people who aren't actually in my profession begin dictating to my profession.

I would LOVE to hear from professionals where costs can be cut. But the cry I mostly hear is underfunded and understaffed. Maybe that is the case. But, if the situation is not shored up quickly, I'm afraid the word will be underemployed. Sorry to sound harsh, because I personally am very appreciative of my own (public) school's teachers and I am very appreciative of the teachers in the school of our choice. I am predicting high school where I live will cost $20,000 by next year and something must be done. I already knw a set of parents who have pulled their kids out. Few in the community believe that there are more than a handful of kids from Orthodox families in the local public schools. But, I am friendly with about 5 of those kids and they tell me the number is growing.

Did they all leave for financial reasons? I'm not sure. I believe some of them have needs that were not being met. But, none of the families are rolling in dough either.

SephardiLady said...

Yes, I know you want the kids to wash the dishes themselves. That just won't work for a combo of many reasons--ask any pre-school teacher and she'll tell you why.

I was thinking high school boys could wash their own cereal bowls. I was not suggesting pre-schoolers do this, although I did.

Incidently, there are early childhood programs that focus on life skills, Montessori being one, I believe Waldorf being another.

SephardiLady said...

Good schools supply an aide until second grade. Whenever reading is taught, an aide is essential. Above second, I actually see it as an indulgence so I can hear you there.

Pre-schools have legal requirements for hands. And I'm not really interested in discussing pre-school because pre-schools are generally money makers. And the the cost would be just about the same at a non-Jewish pre-school.

Let's talk elementary school. I'm interested in having a good dialogue. I'd like to know why it isn't possible tody for a 1st or 2nd grade teachers to do without an aide. My schools never had one, although there was a reading specialist shared between district schools for testing and specialty help. Were parents simply more involved then? Was the behavior far better 25 years ago, allowing for more productivity? Classes were also bigger back then. A class could be as large as 30 students. By the time I was in high school, a state law was passed limiting the number of students in class down to 20.

ProfK-I live "out of town" and could see the possibility if you had a once or twice a week evening gym. I can also see parents up in arms. But, as is said in business board meeting, brainstorming is about getting any idea up on the board. So, that is what I'm doing.

Out of town, schools aren't filled to capacity. You might have a class with only 10 students in one school. Another school might have 15 students. A PE class in public school might have up to 50 students in a class, no aide needed. I could see the possibility.

SephardiLady said...

Here is another question:

Why are administrators, who are being paid as administrators, teaching classes at all? This is another thing I really don't understand from a financial standpoint.

SephardiLady said...

And, finally, I do think that our salvation will be in an appeal to donors, making the financial support of our institutions of learning a priority again. The wealthier among us need to start coughing up some more.

There are a lot of accounting articles being published by accounting publications on not-for-profit management. Donors are giving more and more restricted funds. Donors are looking to exercise control over how funds are used. I believe that if relationships could be developed with new donors, and I believe that possibility exists, that schools will need to meet expectations of cost cutting and efficiency. So, perhaps part of the 'salvation' is tightening the bolts and making that known.

N said...

I spoke to a friend who is a member of the board of the yeshiva my children attend. He told me that due to an anticipated drop in donations they would likely be forced to raise tuitions again. I told him that I thought that was extremely irresponsible in this environment -- especially as the bulk othe increase is likely to be borne by parents already subsidizing (a) scholarship students and (b) bloated administration/administrative salaries.

My view is that schools (especially those in the NYC metro area likely to most impacted by Wall Street, jewelry & real estate industry slowdowns and layoffs) need to communicate the following as soon as possible.

(1) The scholarship fund is likely to be smaller next year while the families requesting tuition assistance are likely to increase. Families currently receiving tuition assistance should expect a smaller tuition reduction next year and should begin to take steps now to address the issue (i.e. summer camp and vacation expenditures, if any may need to be reduced as well as charitable contributions other than shul membership dues, mikvah fees. The schools will be required to reduce tuition assistance for amounts contributed to other causes. While the school is not claiming that it is necessarily a more worthy recipient than other charities families may be contributing to, the school is not in a position to tell other families that are paying full tuition that it is granting reductions to a family that is choosing to favor another cause over the school.

(2) The school and board needs to inform staff that a budget cut of x% (whatever the projection is) will be required for the next fiscal year and that administrators and staff are asked to identify cost savings (consolidation of classes, conventions, vendors that can be renegotiated (busing, etc.) in order to help avoid salary reductions and/or layoffs.

Sorry for the gloomy tenor, but from my perch on wall street I absolutely believe these steps are necessary--unless a yeshiva feels comfortable not being able to meet payroll.

A constructive suggestion on dealing with cost cutting is to identify a list of itmes to be cut (special lunches, guest speakers, trips, computer equipment, "smartboards" etc.) and solicit people willing to sponsor those activities in memory of a loved one, etc. It is typically easier to obtain sponsors of specific items than to raise contributinos for a general fund.

SephardiLady said...

N-Thanks for your comments. Don't be surprised if you comment ends up being featured, as was thinking's comments.

David said...

No cost cutting initiatives will be successful at the level they need to be until some of the more basic structural questions have been addressed:

1) How much does it cost to educate one student in facility X?

2) What is the incremental cost for educating student X+1? Where are the discontinuities in the graph?

Given that every enterprise lends itself to some economies of scale, the X+1 student should, discontinuities excepted, be less expensive to educate than the X student.

3) What is the differential between the value of (1) and the school's tuition?

I have not seen a Jewish school system which can coherently answer either question 1 or question 2 above. Many non-Jewish schools cannot either, but they are willing to turn away people who cannot afford the school.

Spending less money on frippery is a good idea, and while infrastructure like real dishes and kitchen hardware is expensive the first year, I suspect it's cheaper over two or three, even including the labor of someone to wash them.

However, I suspect that doing the analysis required to answer the above questions would dramatically open the eyes of teachers, administrators, and parents about where their money is really going.

Anonymous said...

David-

Great comments.
One company I have been doing some work for recently is having there first downturn since the company started 15+ years ago. As they started their cost cutting and lay offs, the first ever in their history, they also began to open up the books to employees and show them their P&L statements. Employees were literally crying as they had never understood the business side of their organization and had never seen that side of the business. Many employees have since confided in me that they felt that they could have had more input over the years in more revenue could have been generated or how more costs could have been cut.

Yeshivos could probably get a tremendous amount of support and potential savings if they would allow members of the community to have access to their P&L's and provide insight.

I have seen yeshivos that have brought in outside CPA'a and other financial professionals turn around their financial situations very quickly.

JLan said...

Responses to a few comments on here:
"Why are administrators, who are being paid as administrators, teaching classes at all? This is another thing I really don't understand from a financial standpoint."

From a financial standpoint it's likely illogical. However, on the middle and high school levels, administrators SHOULD teach a class or two- this allows them to get a feel for the student body, which does change year after year. Different grades and mixes of kids have different characters, and unless the administrators are aware of that, all sorts of havoc can be wreaked when the wrong approaches are used.

"(2) The school and board needs to inform staff that a budget cut of x% (whatever the projection is) will be required for the next fiscal year and that administrators and staff are asked to identify cost savings (consolidation of classes, conventions, vendors that can be renegotiated (busing, etc.) in order to help avoid salary reductions and/or layoffs."-

An odd note. I teach at an MO high school which counts several limos among their bus fleet. There's actually a reason for this- sometimes there are too many kids from a certain area to fit on a small bus (typically 16 passenger capacity), but fewer than would be necessary for a full sized bus. They've found that the super-stretch SUV limos are, for an 8:00 arrival and 5:15 departure, cheaper than full sized buses or a second short bus. Alternatives definitely exist in odd places.

"2) What is the incremental cost for educating student X+1? Where are the discontinuities in the graph?

Given that every enterprise lends itself to some economies of scale, the X+1 student should, discontinuities excepted, be less expensive to educate than the X student."

This can actually be incorrect. Keep in mind that we might set a maximum class size- say, 30 kids per class. In that case, going from 60 to 61 students (or if we're willing to bend the rules, 62 to 63 or whatever) could significantly add to the cost. In NY areas especially, pooling of resources and attempts to strictly regulate class size could be particularly important, even if it means shifting a few kids here or there.

anonymousmom said...

I would like more transparency. I truly don't understand the numbers. I do feel that my school handles these things better than most.

SephardiLady said...

Jlan-A class or two a week, or a class or two a day, in your opinion?

I have to say, I'm fairly baffled by the idea of a principal teaching regular classes. But, I went to public school and that isn't done. Principals did visit classroom and there were teacher observations. But principals didn't prepare for classes and teach classes.

SephardiLady said...

I suggest something that many schools are not doing which is to reach out to college ed programs like those in Touro and YU to get volunteers or interns. I don't know why my school isn't already doing so. It is a win/win sitution for all.

A mystery why internships and even student teaching for future Rebbes isn't standard.

anonymousmom said...

I looked into it again. Red tape.

anonymousmom said...

Any administrator worth his salt gets his behind into a classroom every now and then, especially in MS or HS. That way in the school I'm in as it should be.

Lion of Zion said...

" I imagine parents love to see all of these projects. But, let's be honest, much of the work is done by staff "

i actually just told my son's teacher that i want to see HIS work and not her's

"A mystery why internships and even student teaching for future Rebbes isn't standard."

because semicha is considered enough of a qualification.

re. administrators in the classroom: everyone is always complaining that there are too many administrators doing nothing, so why not let them at least teach some classes instead of just being dead weight.

SephardiLady said...

I'm willing to listen to the argument that a principal should get behind a desk and teach. But, I don't believe a single principal or vice-principal ever taught in any (public) school I ever attended, and I looking back I would say the schools were well run. Perhaps there is a more effective structure with departments heads within the school.


LOZ-The arguement I am making is that if the principals spend their time administrating, rather than splitting their time between teaching and administrating, that you might need less administrative staff. I'm not the first to note that some schools, not all, are a bit top heavy. This was pointed out to me by a friend who has taught in both public school and Jewish schools. She noted one local school has as many administrative staff as a high school with well over 3000 students.

tesyaa said...

I'm so discouraged reading this. By and large schools are not going to change and become ruthless cost cutters. By and large people are not going to put their kids in public school; they'll just exhaust all their resources and take on more debt. Even I, who has put my sons in public school to deal with special needs (rather than hire a shadow or send to a special needs yeshiva), cannot bear to envision the social adjustment issues that would ensue to my daughters were I to put them in public school.

There is a moral hazard angle of the whole tuition scholarship situation. Why should someone receiving a 40-50% scholarship be willing to put up with service cuts? I realize people need assistance, and I realize that scholarship recipients are required to help out the school with fundraising and in other ways. However, what incentive is there for these folks to demand that the school be run like a business?

SephardiLady said...

From what I understand, there is less credit available. Certainly that is true where home equity has dropped. Where do you think the needed credit will be coming from? I was just reading that credit card companies are starting to drop the available credit lines, which has a side effect for those who have revolving credit of lowering credit scores since amount used: amount available is part of the credit score.

I agree with you that schools are unlikely to become agressive cost cutters. I also think you make an important point that we have a large number of parents who are 'dependent' and won't share the same interest in cost cutting. In other words, we've got a problem.

Great hearing your thoughts. I'm sure we share the same long look on our faces.

Anonymous said...

what happens when the teacher needs to go to the bathroom? no teacher aides...no bathroom breaks. Have a little rachmanus on the teachers and their bladders. teachers aides are almost essential for classes bigger than 12.Brad

Anonymous said...

Then let me ask, what do public school teachers do when they need to go to the bathroom? Something tells me there's a cheaper and more creative solution than employing aides just for this (admittedly real) need.

SephardiLady said...

Goodness gracious! We will never solve any problem if we think every teacher with 12 students must have an aide. . . . so they can go to the bathroom.

Someone. . . . run (don't walk) to your local public school and ask what elementary teachers do when they need a break.

Here are some possibilities:

1. They go to the bathroom.
2. They let the next door teacher know they are going to the bathroom, and the wall or door is opened up a crack so one teacher can supervise two classrooms.
3. They call the office and the secretary/princpal steps away from her desk/station for five minutes to supervise. (In Jewish schools there are also development directors, fundraisers. Certainly someone can step away for 5 minutes).

Perhaps public school teachers just don't have to go to the bathroom like their private school counterparts.

anonymousmom said...

SL, the public school teachers have aides in lower classes. That's pretty standard. I guess it may be different in your community. Teachers in older grades get "prep periods" during which you are expected to relieve yourself. When I taught full-day in an MO day school (3rd Grade/no aide), I had half an hour when they went to gym to relieve myself and clear my head. It was ok, sort of, except they required that we serve the kids lunch at that place and that just made my head spin. Also, sometimes the gym teacher didn't show up. Here's the deal, the teachers among us know what it means to be shortshrifted. It happens from the right-wing Chareidi environments on up to the MO schools. Cost cutting is important, but short-changing your teachers is not cool. So, here's a thought: Why not convene a panel of business people, teachers, parents, administrators and brainstorm together. I'm in whenever this happens. I think it should be done in person, though.

SephardiLady said...

AnonMom-All I know was that there were no aides in my day, not in my own public schools, nor in my husband's Jewish day school. If it is a necessity and there are not costs than can be cut, I imagine parents will have to decide to keep paying or find alternatives.

Commenter Abbi said...

SL: I know it's hard over the internet, but try to listen to what anonymousmom is saying. I've taught in a Jewish day school, so I know exactly what she saying, which is why I don't teach anymore. By and large, Jewish schools take advantage of teachers. It's not uncommon for teachers to get absolutely no break time from 8:00 am to 3 pm. Can you imagine working in an office like that? Think in sweatshop terms. You poo poo the bathroom time (sorry for the pun) but it's a reality for many teachers in Jewish schools. If you're responsible for the children for all school hours including lunch and you're school isn't constructed in such a way that you can easily access other teachers, now what? And many times an aide is needed in order to give that teacher a half hour break.

Bathroom time is the tip of the iceberg. Costcutting is necessary, but until you fully understand the reality for teachers in today's schools, cost cutting suggestions can't really be that effective.

Try spending a month in a typical day school and then make your list.

anonymous mom said...

Thanks, Commenter Abbi. Why not do the in-person summit? We could then publish the transcripts and draft a coherent list of suggestions.
And we get companies who sell to Yeshivas and other schools to sponsor it from the writing pads to lunch.

Anonymous said...

I often hear teachers saying that teaching is the hardest job in the world. With all due respect, do you really believe that? Harder than construction jobs, exposed to the elements? Maybe harder than certain desk jobs, but harder than a lawyer who sleeps with her blackberry under her pillow because she's really on call 24/7? Really, a sweatshop? Is than an honest, fair analogy? If it really is then we should close down all Jewish schools right away.

Commenter Abbi said...

Your welcome anonmom.

I'll go a step further. I think a lot of Jewish schools do abuse (and I don't think that's too strong of a word) teachers because the attitude is "We're all family, of course you'll do this favor for us. How could you endanger Jewish neshomos by: not covering lunch; not supervising this extra curricular; not covering recess; not volunteering for this fundraising event." The list can go on.

I think by and large teachers in Jewish schools devote a tremendous portion of their lives to their students and the school Claiming that they're spoiled because they need aides borders on motzi shem ra.

SephardiLady said...

I will apologize for my harsh tone. I don't think teacher's are spoiled. I believe the teacher's are tremedously dedicated. And I think they put up with a lot from administration, from other parents, and especially from students. I've made the case before, and will make it again, that getting BEHAVIOR in line should be a #1 priority, perhaps the #1 priority even before the budget.

Anyways, I'm just frustrated. I expect tuition to increase another 6-7% and I also expect taxes may increase. Certainly there will be no economic stimulus check in the mail of the amount we received this year. So where will the money come from for the klal to keep up the pace?

Commenter Abbi said...

Anonymous, a lawyer might sleep with his/her Blackberry under his/her pillow. A teacher, even in a frum a day school, could very well go to sleep with one or more of these issues on his/her mind: A child in his/her care that might be emotionally/psychologically/sexually abused by family members or peers but there isn't enough evidence to report. A report has been made but authorities are not doing anything about it. A child who needs fine/gross motor coordination help but the parents don't believe it. A child who doesn't have enough to eat. A child who has a sick/dead parent/sibling. A child whose parents are divorcing/constantly fighting. A child whose main breadwinning parent has lost his/her job. A child whose parents are never available. A child who's alone every afternoon. A child who never gets a break from extracurriculars. A child who needs more extracurriculars. A child who won't speak/eat during school hours. A child throwing up in the bathroom after lunch. A child with no friends. A child who bullies. A child who is being bullied. A child doing drugs. A child contemplating suicide. A child being medicated for depression. A child who needs to be psychologically evaluated for depression/anxiety but the parents refuse to do anything about it.

To me being on call for annoying clients or even braving a bit of rain or snow sounds great compared to the above.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm anonymous and I sure wish I had come in contact with teachers who sublimate their whole lives worrying about my kids! Mostly they were worrying about me sending in the Pringles cans!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and worrying about their upcoming weddings, and breaking their contracts midyear when they got engaged (what a surprise) and moved to Lakewood...an annual event when my kids were in preschool.

Commenter Abbi said...

Anon, did it ever occur to you that while the biggest challenge your family faces is how many pringles cans to finish per week, other families might not be so fortunate? And that, while you might not even know the details of the challenges that other families face and how they impact how their children behave and learn in school, they nonetheless exist?

It sounds like you chose a very unprofessional preschool if they didn't have at least one head teacher above the marrying/quitting for Lakewood age. Sorry you chose badly.

I worked in education for 5 years and taught all ages between nursery and 5th grade. When you have a 5 year old child who cannot hold a pencil or crayon and the parents refuse to do an occupational therapy consult, that's not an issue that the teacher simply "sublimates". That's an obstacle the teacher must overcome every day in order to help the child learn and grow (especially when the child cries in terror when faced with the challenge of drawing with a crayon).

When a child writes in detail about suicidal thoughts and is subsequently medicated but remains in the classroom, this is, again, not simply an idle pre-bedtime "sublimation". This is every day life.

Anonymous said...

Abbi, I don't understand why ANYONE, ANYWHERE would choose a career in education if it's as bad as you make it sound. You've described one of the worst jobs in the world. Why do people keep taking teaching jobs year after year, then? Maybe so they can work the same schedules as their kids? Maybe so they have summers off to do what they want or work in camps and get free camp tuition? Maybe (in the case of yeshiva teachers) to work in a Jewish environment and stay in their comfort zone? Or are these the most altruistic people in the universe? Because, from what you've described, I would much rather work as a cleaning lady (happens to be I don't mind cleaning). What gives?

Commenter Abbi said...

Wow, is it that hard for you to believe that there are actually people who dedicate there lives to helping children learn to become fully developed Jews and productive, successful human beings? Are you that cynical that you believe that all teachers are just in it for the vacation time and free camp tuition? (They sure as heck aren't in it for the money).

How sad.

Yes, for someone who does not have the goal helping children navigate the difficulties that life throws at them, while learning to read and write English and Hebrew and what's Rashi asking, teaching probably is the worst job in the world.

Which is why, getting back to the original post topic, we should be very careful when talking about what we think really needs to be cut from the school budget.

anonymousmom said...

Anonymous, I mastered in Education and chose to stay in the field for close to 20 years because I love teaching. For me, it is a combination of enjoying being around children and having a knack for explaining new concepts in a creative way. I improve my craft, take workshops, subscribe to professional magazines, network with other teachers and just work hard to do my best. I know a lot of others in the field like me. Is it the hardest job in the world? Not necessarily, but it is unique in that teachers must please three distinct groups of people simultaneously. We need to keep your children interested, engaged and learning (at different levels in large groups) while we meet the requirements and standards of our administrators while we communicate and partner with the parents of these children. Each group that we are expected to work with has unique needs and demands. Among each of these three groups are many unique individuals, some dysfunctional, some merely demanding, some a pleasure to work with. While, our hours in the classroom vary, we do put in hours of prep time and grade-marking time that no one but our spouses see. While not all of us put in as much, you'd be surprised how many of us log countless hours "off the books." In good schools, we attend team meetings, one-on-one parent conferences (in addition to the regular PT conferences) and conduct help-sessions with our students (in upper grades). I'm sorry your attitude is so cynical. Based on your Lakewood comment, I'm going to guess you have your kids in a Chareidi school. In our school, if you get engaged you finish the year, no matter what. Perhaps, you need to choose schools more wisely. Either way, your kids will benefit greatly if they see a respectful attitude from their parents with regard to their teachers. This way, you're just sending them off to school with half a tank of gas. They may not get as far as you want them to. Good luck with that.

ora said...

I don't get why public school is being seen as an ideal here. Yes, my second grade public school teacher had 27 kids all to herself. It was horrible. There were 4-5 kids with serious problems who took up 90% of her time, and the rest of us played with paste and smacked each other with rulers and God knows what else while waiting to go home so the day could start. Switching to private school--where one teacher had 20 students and an aide--was like night and day. A school where the focus was on learning and not just crowd control--bliss. (Although that was also due to the student body, so if you're willing to kick out troubled kids (and if parents live in fear of their kids being kicked out), you could probably keep decent discipline even with a large class).

I think you also have to keep in mind that most parents might not have such a realistic grasp of the costs involved, and are going to be very unhappy if they're paying however many thousands of dollars a year just so their kids can be learning in the same conditions as public school students. If you cut back on the things parents can see (not laminating, which most would probably be happy to see go, but things like teachers' aides), you might also end up cutting back on your student body.

SephardiLady said...

Ora-I think you make some good points. Perhaps stabalizing or lowering tuition is a completely lost cause, damned if you do, damned if you don't. Get rid of staff, the full and almost full tuition payers find alternatives. Keep up with the same and no one can keep pace.

My public school didn't have tons of behavior problems. And, unfortunately, I know professional teachers who would rather teach in public schools, even rough public schools, than in certain frum private schools because of the behavior problems. Small class size isn't the be all and end all of behavior.

Thinking said...

It still seems like some people are not getting the gravity of the current fiscal situation. This time next year there will be some well known large banks no longer in existence, some airlines no longer flying, some car companies that no longer produce cars. In the same vein there will be schools, kollelim and NfP's that will be forced to close down. Cost cutting and other measures that will lower the overall budget is only for schools that want to avoid this inevitability. Those that "cannot" find ways to cut their budget's will cease to exist. And oh by the way, those teachers that could not find a creative way to share aides, find interns to be aides or do away with aides as a whole will be unemployed.

There is a good reason not to cut anything out of the school budget. Each item has a purpose and a benefit. There comes a time when, unfortunately, we need to learn to go without. If we don't learn to go with out the next step is being forced to go without.

In addition, I don't think anyone has the right to say that any one job is more difficult or more strenuous then any other job. Sure being responsible for 25 children is tough, so is running a 50,000 person company. So is finishing a difficult work task that requires you to work 18 hour days. So is divorce mediation, mental health counseling, construction work, parenting, finance etc. Pick your job and do it to the best of your ability. It's the hardest job you have.

cool yiddishe mama said...

I am a "shadow" for a special needs child in a local charedi school. One of our "unwritten" job requirements is to also serve as a classroom aide (so as to not make our charge feel "different"). The bulk of the people doing this job are "sem girls" (19-21 years old) who don't think twice about being "volunteer aides". (I am employed by a local non-profit organization which placed me in the school with this particular student.) Meanwhile, in several staff positions in this school are a multitude of secretaries and other sem-age girls (including the education director's 20 year old daughter teaching sixth grade girls Chumash). The school has made mumblings of being "broke" and feeling compelled to raise tuition. They had made several of their secular studies staffers become "indepedent contractors" due to lack of budget.

SephardiLady said...

Thinking-Thanks for coming back to this post. I second your comments. It is "sink or swim" time.

anonymousmom said...

Thinking, if we are going to have an informed, open conversation about the tuition crisis, then we need to respect what people here are bringing to the table. I find your comments as they regard to teachers and their concerns to be condescending at best.

"And oh by the way, those teachers that could not find a creative way to share aides, find interns to be aides or do away with aides as a whole will be unemployed."

We don't have to "find a creative way" or be unemployed. We will be asked to do whatever they ask us to do and then we will either choose to stay or leave. Most of us will opt to stay as we usually have strong reasons for being where we are. If we opt to look for other employment, we will do so and see if the options pay off for us. We are professionals, after all.
We also don't have to find our own interns or have the power to do away with our aides. Again, whatever is in store for us will come and we will make the decisions we need to make.

"Each item has a purpose and a benefit. There comes a time when, unfortunately, we need to learn to go without. If we don't learn to go with out the next step is being forced to go without."

We all agree that most (not all, btw) items have a benefit. What we do not necessarily agree on is the nature of the benefit and the priority of what needs to go first.

As to your comments about whether one should view their job as more difficult than that of someone else, that was brought up by another commenter who undervalues teaching as a profession on this thread. What needs to be said is that the job is quite a mystery to laypeople and yet most laypeople, many parents, assume they know exactly what we need and do not need and how much we need it. I have brought up before the fact that most people would not think to opine on what their accountants need or do not need or should or should not do and yet they do this with teachers. Many have children and they think that teaching is similar to child-rearing which it is not.

Bottom line, there will need to be cuts. Bottom line, teachers can and should be part of the discussion. Bottom line, teachers will do as they are told or seek employment elsewhere just as anyone in any profession will do this coming year. We will all do our best to make do however we can.

anonymousmom said...

Oh, and while you are giving us the "Grow up" lecture, I'll add this:

Many day school teachers, both PS refugees and lifelong committed Orthodox day school teachers, will probably jump ship to PS where at least we can get great health benefits and where--in some areas--there is a real shortage.

Commenter Abbi said...

"Bottom line, teachers will do as they are told or seek employment elsewhere just as anyone in any profession will do this coming year. We will all do our best to make do however we can."

Hear hear! (Dammit, it's NOT "Here, Here!" How many times have you seen this on comments?!)

Anonmom, I really value the sane voice of reality you bring to this discussion. And as you can imagine, I totally agree that many parents don't have a clue about what teachers do in the classroom and what they deal with on a daily basis.

As for the "take it or leave it" attitude. Many of the most talented and dedicated teachers are the ones who can most easily leave it. The crappy pay in many schools makes the most entry level jobs in other professions look great.

I now live in Israel where most schools have a ratio of 35 kids to one teacher. However, the day ends at 1:30 and there are many "specialty teachers". Classroom teachers here do not teach all subjects, even in the youngest grades. The kids usually respect and behave for the classroom teacher, but as you can imagine, discipline for the teachers who come in and out of the classroom is spotty at best.

Oh, and kids are left unsupervised at many points of the day here. I taught a first grade class of girls after lunch and many times they were left alone for lunch. I was supposed to come in just for benching but I would often come early to make sure everyone had eaten, because invariably there were two or three girls who hadn't. Would you like that for your kids? I don't, but I don't have much choice here.

Israel gives kids a semblance of a Jewish education for little to no money. But you get what you pay for.

anonymous mom said...

Thanks again, Abbi. Since I respect this site because of the emphasis on numbers and facts, I will throw some out at all of you. At worst, I can jump to PS in September and make 40,000 for a 6-hour day with full benefits, including dental. That low figure is because I have been told that my 20 years in private school are not necessarily going to count as experience when switching to public. On the QT, I've been told I can do better than 40. If I get in the door this year with subbing positions (there are plenty of those, especially maternity/sick leave, on the job board in my district), that will help. I currently make the equivalent of 30 for a 41/2 hour day with no benefits. Those in Science/Math will start much higher. There will be a nice jump after the first couple of years and my ceiling is much higher than it would be in Yeshiva day school. Those of us who specialized in reading instruction or have dual majors in Ed and Special Ed can do extremely well starting out. Believe it or not, guys, many of your day school teachers are degreed and wanted in the PS sphere. I don't even have to go inner-city, as there are districts right around me that are actively looking for teachers due to their "inconvenient" locations away from NYC. I'm already out of the city so I don't mind a little commute further North. It's all good over here. My options are fine. The only thing holding me back is my desire to be on my children's vacation schedule and if it comes down to it and we need the money, I will have to give that up. The benefits alone make it hard to pass up. I'd like to hear from some PS teachers or those who have access to statistics about PS entry level salaries in different parts of the country. Those who make the budgeting decisions at day schools would be wise to know these statistics when they make the difficult choices that we all agree need to be made.

tesyaa said...

anonymous mom,
I was reading a piece by Bob Schieffer in which he pointed out that for years American schools got amazing teaching talent for a pittance, since until the 1960s the only acceptable professions for working women were teaching and nursing. Nowadays, there are more career options. I think the yeshivas also get teachers for a pittance, since they know that there are mothers who, like you, would rather be on their kids' schedule if possible. This will change with the economic times. I have had kids in yeshivas and public schools and I attended public schools myself. The only advantage I see to the yeshivas is the Jewish education they offer. Good luck!

Thinking said...

Anonymom - Your comments illustrate the very points I am trying to make:

1)"We don't have to "find a creative way" or be unemployed. We will be asked to do whatever they ask us to do and then we will either choose to stay or leave. Most of us will opt to stay as we usually have strong reasons for being where we are. If we opt to look for other employment, we will do so and see if the options pay off for us. We are professionals, after all"
You assume that but just continuing to do your job the way you have always done it you will continue to have a choice about your employment. Tell that to the finance professionals, engineers, kollel members and multitude of other formerly employed people who hoped that just "doing their job" would be enough. It's not. To assume that you can continue to do what you are doing and will have the choice as to whether your employment will continue is, I apologize, somewhat naive. Maybe just too overly optimistic.
If PS is an option, then maybe you do have employment options and my message is to those who want to be employed by yeshivos.

2)"We also don't have to find our own interns or have the power to do away with our aides"
Everyone needs to be creative now and look for solutions. Maybe you can be the one who brings forth a solution that results in a huge savings for your school. My point is not that it's about doing away with aides or finding interns, my point is thinking "they'll do what they want and I'll do want" is not called working together. That's called "yenem's problem". It's like saying "why should I get involved in creating shidduchim? I am married." You're essentially saying that since you have options you should not have to do anything differently. I don't get it.

Commenter Abbi said...

Thinking, your first point doesn't make a lot of sense; neither does your second for that matter. A teacher's job is to teach his/her class. It's not a teacher's job to decide how to run a school efficiently and cut spending/tuition costs. I believe that's the administration's job. A teacher might have some ideas here and there about saving some money, but that's about it.

What else would a teacher do aside from do the job that s/he has always done? What exactly are you proposing? Many teachers in day school currently function in sub-optimal situations. I'm not kidding, I actually taught classes in a large coat closet. So accusing teachers of brushing off some kind of responsibility for effecting change is specious at best.

What you don't seem to understand is that teachers are masters of change and adaptation. They do it every day. They simply refuse to accept further degradation of their teaching situations. I will teach in a coat closet, but I will not teach in a bathroom. So now I'm the obstacle to the survival of Jewish Education in America? Sorry, I don't buy that.

Unless the economy hits some kind of absolute nuclear standstill where even schools can't function, which I don't think happened even in the Great Depression, teachers will always have the option of jumping to ps. As long as there is a law for compulsory education, teachers can always find work.

Why don't you try spending 6 months to a year actually working in a school and then making your change analysis. You can guilt teachers into doing many things for the community, but you can't guilt them into responsibility for saving the system.

anonymousmom said...

Thinking, you are absolutely correct. You don't get it.

anonymousmom said...

"we will either choose to stay or leave"
By which I mean that depending on what is being asked, we will either adapt (as we do quite often, thank you) or opt to leave. I find your comparison to the world of Shidduchim is in line with the rest of your comments, degrading. My point to you--which was obviously lost on you--is that if this is all about dollars and cents, then you will have to account for the possibility that some--if not many of us--will opt for PS if conditions in day schools and salaries become untenable. It isn't personal; it's just business. Isn't that your party line anyway?

anonymousmom said...

You know what would help the day school world? Getting loads of fresh blood. Fresh blood, young recruits mean energetic, enthusiastic, LOW salaries! While younger teachers do have to learn the ropes; they have a lot to offer. And yet...and yet...Modern Orthodoxy is not doing a good job at reaching out to them. I have personally tried to begin an intern system at my school and so far it hasn't worked. We need YU to actively work on this and right now, it is officially on the table, but not front and center, in-your-face getting it done. And are we actively reaching out to our high school students who may not attend YU or Stern? Are we getting connected so that we may spark young people to go into teaching and pursue education in whatever college they attend? No. We are failing. The Chareidi schools have built-in streams of young people because many girls and boys go into "Chinuch" immediately after high school/sem/a year or two in Beis Medrash. Secular studies teachers in Chareidi schools are a different story. But, I am more concerned with MO day schools whose tuition is skyrocketing to ridiculous levels. So, am I trying to find solutions? Yep. I see one right in front of my eyes. It's going to take a lot of hard work, foresight, and cooperation between institutions. But the payoff is for generations to come.

Dave said...

If I were teaching in a Yeshiva, I'd be making sure my credentials were in great shape for a move to the secular world (either private schools or public schools).

I simply don't see the Yeshiva system, as it is currently constituted, lasting more than another decade. And that last is being optimistic.

anonymousmom said...

Dave, I don't know what you think will happen within the coming decade, but I do know that most of us will never substitute PS for Yeshiva when it comes to the education of our children. What isn't covered in a dollars and cents argument is the richness and beauty of what goes on in a Yeshiva day school day after day. Torah is alive. Connections to wonderful role models. Community is reinforced. Lifelong friendships are forged. It's pretty wonderful. That's why many of us would be sorry to leave that environment as educators. We understand what we would be giving up. We can be concerned about the escalating costs while still keeping in mind the value of the day schools and the teachers who teach in them.

Dave said...

What do I think will happen?

A confluence of events:

1. A multi-year deep recession coming out of a financial bubble that has already deeply reduced the amount of available wealth, even among the affluent.

2. A very tight credit market.

3. The continued trend towards both large families and lack of secular education among large sections of the frum community.

4. The death or forced retirement of the generation that has paid the bills for itself, its children, and now its grandchildren.

5. The simple mathematics of things. Even in the case of perfectly run schools, the cost per student is going to put it out of reach of large families (especially with the cost of living in New York). And even if the frum community were to start to reduce family sizes, there are still the large existing families to educate.

In short, I expect large sections of the frum community to have to make a choice between food and housing, and private schooling. And I find it more reasonable to expect them to chose public schools and after school tutoring (or home schooling) than to forgo Kosher food and move into less expensive neighborhoods.

Thinking said...

Abbi-

I taught for 6 years in 2 different yeshivos. The last 2 as an administrator. I moved from being a Rebbi to being an administrator when I realized that beyond teaching I had a skill for helping schools creatively cut their budgets and remain solvent. I was able to help ensure that the banks would not foreclose on their buildings, that donors would not give up on them and that at the end of the day they could fulfill their commitments.

I have been fortunate to sit on various sides of this issue and to be able to see the challenges that each side faces. I remember in 2001, after the dot com crash, sitting in a room full of rabbeim and teachers being told that we would not get paid that month. No one got up and stormed out, no one waived their graduates degrees and no one threatened to leave the school. The overwhelming attitude was, "what can we do to help". Some of the most creative and lasting ideas came from the teachers. No, it wasn't their "job" but they felt the weight and responsibility.

One example: Instead of a retreat, that year each rebbi had his class come to his home in his neighborhood for a shabbos. The rebbi also arranged all of the sleeping arrangements and some even worked out all the catering.
Do you know what a shabbaton for 300+ students costs? That's called creativity in the time of necessity.

I taught for an entire year in the gym, that year I was teaching the remedial class. I managed. It was less then ideal, but I learned to adapt and came up with creative ideas to be able to get the class focused even in that environment.

My comments are not in anyway made to degrade the efforts of the Morahs, Teachers and rabbeim, it's the opposite. I want them to continue to have the opportunity to succeed, but unfortunately, like Dave, I only see this happening if reality sets in quickly.

Anonymom-

This may sound cruel to you, but in times like this attrition sometimes is just another way for schools to cut costs without having to lay anyone off. In addition, as you mentioned, they can bring in younger talent and a lower price. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

anonymousmom said...

That's sad. Let's see. I hope people will choose to move to less expensive neighborhoods or make Aliyah and that a combo of downsizing and shifting of fundraising priorities will help alleviate the pressure at our schools. What I do know is that G-d has a place in this conversation and I do think He will help us find a way to continue to educate our kids as a Klal. I do believe he would like us to have our eye on that ball, though, and make it non-negotiable in our minds. Sorry, but I believe we create our own reality and our own successes. I've seen that happen privately in the lives of the financially successful.

anonymousmom said...

That last comment was a response to Dave. Thinking, just know that I wouldn't be waving my degree at the table. You have no idea what my husband and I have done over the years to support the schools. It's just that the tone you adopted earlier wasn't in line with who many day school teachers are and what we are worth. Based on your descriptions, I can tell you did not work in a MO day school. We are dealing with different cultures and different choices, you know. We all face the same grim reality, but the solutions and challenges will not be identical. Again, you'd be hard-pressed to find an Orthodox teacher in a day school who isn't on-board to help the school in whatever way they can. After 20 years in day school education, I can say that we all want to help the cause. And, we all should be heard and valued. I appreciate the tone of your last comment.

SephardiLady said...

In business there is a term "value added." The way you ensure your job stays in tact is to make yourself indispensible, or at least more indispensible than your collegue.

Coming from the business end and given the possibility of a multi-year slumped economy, I don't understand the resistance from educators to being the ones to suggest ways increase financial stability of their own schools. Perhaps a public school teacher wouldn't want to step into that realm because he/she has a fairly high level of job stability.

But, private schools are dependent on tuition paying customers and share a lot of commonality with the businesses of America from the software company, to the tax practice, to the karate studio, to the pizza shop.

I'd like to think that Jewish Education will retain clientele no matter what. But, I'm more skeptical. As a homeschooling parent told me. . ."I have friends who have mortgaged their home to pay for 2nd grade. I'm not willing to do that." Obviously many are willing to do so. But what happens next year when their home is mortgaged at the full value and the bank isn't going to lend anymore?

SephardiLady said...

I don't think Hashem has left us without a way to educate our children as a klal. The Jewish people have been blessed with creativity and passion. But there is a mindset, which anyone who has ever sat on a finance committee can attest to, that is of no help. And that is the "but, we've always done it this way" line.

Dave said...

For those who own their homes, moving is the least practical option. For those who rent, moving, especially if it can involve moving to a community which has a far lower cost of living would be more practical, but only if their employment situation works.

Dealing with financial issues, you pretty much have two options. Increase income, and decrease expenses.

Most people cannot simply choose to increase their income. Some can, usually because they have been forgoing potential income for other reasons.

Decreasing expenses can be done, the question is where to cut. And, frankly, if you are looking to keep private schooling, there aren't a lot of easy ways to make five-figure cuts in other expenses.

Commenter Abbi said...

Thinking- I think the problem is that we have been talking about different populations here. You seem to be referring to rebbis and morahs in Charedi schools when you speak of teachers. Anonmon and I are thinking of teachers in MO schools. The former would certainly fit into your threat of "Change or lose your job". The latter don't. It has nothing to do with "waving graduate degrees". It has to do with the vastly different realities of the charedi and MO worlds. Yes, I agree, if yeshivas collapse, rebbis and Morahs with Beis Yaakov certification will be up a creek.

I'm not surprised that you worked in administration, because the threatening tone of most of your comments. It sounds very much like many of the scared administrators I've encountered, who started with the "Do this or else" when their backs were up against the wall.

Commenter Abbi said...

I would like to add that I'm not sure why Thinking assumes that teachers are the only ones who would balk at instituting change. How many administrators would be willing to do radical things like moving to an open classroom structure? Doubling up classes and having teaching teams instead of one teacher per classroom? The yeshiva model from grade 2 (extended chavruta time + shiur). Democratic schooling? Multi age classrooms?

All of these ideas would probably be much cheaper or more effective in terms of discipline than the current frontal model used in most schools today. They are certainly worth looking into. As a change analyst, how many schools are seriously considering such moves?

anonymousmom said...

Good points, Abbi. SL, I encourage all forms of creative thinking, but putting our children in PS should not be considered an acceptable choice. It's tying their hands behind their backs. I work in Kiruv with PS teens. I'm sorry, it just shouldn't be discussed as a viable option. If your ground zero for creative solutions is not in PS, then I am with you.

anonymousmom said...

I don't mean to get off on a tangent, but isn't there a recently published book that pushes the idea that the left-brained people will rule in the coming years? I'm wondering what the left-brainers out there are thinking about the tuition crisis?

Dave said...

If public schooling isn't viable, what are the viable options?

Significantly smaller family sizes coupled with a push for high income professions could do it, but that is even less practical, both for cultural reasons, and because the large families already exist.

A solution has to be something that can be applied now, not something that assumes either wise decisions made in the past (liquidating New York real estate before it was over-leveraged and moving en masse to cheaper parts of the country) or that will only apply a generation later (a move towards much smaller families) if at all.

Dave said...

For what it's worth, what I expect to see is some combination of:

1. Public schooling
2. Home schooling
3. Greatly reduced family sizes (i.e. 2-3 children)

I also expect to see a lot of resistance to all three of these alternatives.

anonymousmom said...

Smaller family size is probably the immediate result in certain circles. Home schooling will be limited. The force of "keeping up with the Joneses and copying the Joneses" is way too strong in both Chareidi and MO circles. Many sheep in all Ortho circles. For what it's worth on my end, my husband and I still have yet to figure out a way to pay for high school and the possibility of future elem tuitions.