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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And What About Next Year?

I don't care to be critical, but I'm getting a bit worried if this is the creative thinking being promoted in regards to the very real "tuition crisis." Perhaps I'm not particularly astute and am therefore missing the train of thought in this 5TJT article "The Yeshiva Bailout Proposal," but if the current pattern being experienced in regional day schools and Yeshivot is "a sharp reduction in on-time tuition payments to private schools and a sharp increase in requests for tuition assistance and scholarships," than pray tell, how do we expect a community to provide a meaningful and lasting bailout?

The author proposes the following:

It is with all this in mind that I propose a bailout for the yeshivos and day schools of our community. The bailout goes like this: Every family in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns Jewish community (approximately 15,000) makes a commitment to give a contribution, according to its means, of between $100 and $500 to the yeshiva or day school of its choice. In order for it to count, this has to be on top of any other dues like the dinner or capital fund; that money is already part of the school’s budget. If the bailout averages a contribution of $250 per family, it would result in nearly $4 million infused into the Five Towns/Far Rockaway yeshiva/day school system.

Pardon me for doing a little math. I can't help myself and I seem to always have a calculator at arm's reach. First of all, the math does not result in a nearly $4 million dollar infusion, but rather in a $3.75 million dollar infusion, best case scenario. I don't round up to the nearest million when I multiply. Secondly, I hate to be doom and gloom, but does anyone have any idea of what the annual expenses for all 5 Towns/Far Rockaway schools is. Well, I don't. But I once saw a school budget, and this was about 5 years ago, and the somewhat large school was spending just about $10 million dollars a year.

Third, lets get real about how many households can or will donate. The author mentions 15,000 households in the area. I have no idea how many households in the area are current tuition payers, but let's assume 50%. This is probably a bit high, but given that so many grandparents already help with tuition, it might be a bit low. So, I'm sticking with 50% unless someone can provide a better estimate. A miracle could happen and 7,500 non-tuition paying households commit an average of $250 to local schools, resulting in a cash infusion of $1.875 million. Articles on the "tuition crisis" state that somewhere between 1/3 to 3/4 of all Orthodox day school students receive some type of tuition assistance. This of course does not mean that 1/3 to 3/4 of tuition paying households receive assistance, but I think we can fairly say that among tuition paying household, collecting an average increased donation of $250 on top of all other pledges and obligations, resulting in $937,500, would be good.

If this campaign were to result in a total of $2,812,500 spread amongst however many schools are in the area (?), the question is how long would such an infusion help hold area schools over until the next infusion is needed?

Answer: Not long. And herein lies the problem. Unless there are real changes and new thinking, a "The Yeshiva Bailout Proposal" won't get some schools through 2009. Recently, I've been receiving a number of emails from readers. One reader told me about a letter that went home from his children's school regarding the serious financial situation and asking for increased donations. That letter went out shortly after the start of the school year. Another reader told me about one school that has notified teachers that a payment will be delayed, as well as two other schools that have been missing payments.

We just read parshat Miketz where Yosef put together a financial plan for Mitzrayim during the years of plenty. Unfortunately, the general financial behavior during our years of plenty was to consume more. Now we have to play catch up while the pot of available funds decreases. It is not going to be easy. We tried to increase our donations to our own local schools for a time, but at this point, it is no longer possible because we have to meet our own tuition obligations. I've pushed increasing donations to schools in the past, but I'm not ready to endorse a "bailout package" because I simply don't think concentrating solely on the income side of the balance sheet is going to get any school (public or private) through a recession.

48 comments:

triLcat said...

You're absolutely right. A temporary bailout can only help so much.

Child Ish Behavior said...

If they are not going to provide tax rebates for the money that we all spend on taxes for public schools, we should all flood the public school system with new students. Then lobby the state and city for funding for the school we choose to infiltrate. Learning Limudai Kodesh will be brought back to the shul's which get donations anyway to pay the utility bills, and all the kollel people can become Rebbeim.

Modern Orthodox schools dont have a problem with the whole coed thing. So what is the problem? If we can't afford education on our own we might as well leech off the government, we are paying for it anyway, and hey, everyone else is doing it. And at least this way there is a bigger pool of funds to draw off of when it comes to funding.

Many people blame the leaders in Europe for not seeing the writing on the wall that the holocaust was coming. They say that if only we would have gone to America in droves instead of telling individuals not to go many people would have been saved. Safety in numbers. The same idea can work for schooling.

It will never happen, I know. But it's an idea never the less.

Anonymous said...

Every now and then someone says we should flood the public schools with students, and the board of ed will be forced to give tuition credits as it struggles to deal with the influx of students. I don't think this is true. The New Yrk City public school system currently serves a million kids. Thats as many kids as there are Jews in the city. The public schools might have some difficulty absorbing another few thousand kids, but it would probably just result in increased class sizes, fewer services, and stressed school staff.

G*3

Margaret said...

This is interesting. I went to one of those super expensive boarding schools and my parents took on obscene amounts of debt to pay for it. (I think that may have been how I originally found your blog, actually.) My alma mater, which has a several million dollar endowment, is desperately fundraising right now. They're worried they won't be able to pay bills, and they draw from a wealthy donor base.

A headhunting agency for private school teachers has signed me, and they are warning that the number of jobs available is going to be lower across the board in all markets and grade levels, another sign of cutbacks.

--Token Gentile

ProfK said...

There is also this. There are at least a dozen schools in the FT area, perhaps more. The proposal states that people should donate to the school of their choice. Even if we use your figure of 1.75 million in donations, that amount needs to be divided by at least 12 to arrive at a figure that each school might get. If donations were equally divided among all the schools that would be about $145K to each school. Since there is no way to know which school someone would donate to, the donations could be quite lopsided, with one school getting a great deal more than another.

And you are also right SL that until the schools open up about what it really costs them to run then any bailout program is only so much hot air. I have yet to hear a school say "we need $117,462.98 because that is our shortfall for this year" or something like that.

If we're going to be talking about dollars and cents for the schools then let the schools first talk about dollars and sense to us.

David said...

We as a community apparently cannot afford to provide a day-school education for all of our children. We therefore have a choice: do we provide a day-school education for some of the children, or do we restructure the whole endeavor to provide a less-expensive education for a larger number of people?

I'm on record as supporting the latter approach, starting with doing what we can to make the public school system fit our needs, the way Ben Gamla does. That can be supplemented with additional tutoring for a fraction of the cost of a full-time day school.

JS said...

Personally, I'm pretty sick of hearing the old "flood the public schools" nonsense or that vouchers will save the yeshiva system. They're both pipe dreams for various reasons - mostly because you can't get 3 Jews to agree to anything let alone all sending their kids to public schools and because making these changes will bankrupt the local school systems making our local communities less habitable.

I also deeply resent a comparison between the yeshiva system failing and the Holocaust. It's downright offensive. The yeshiva system collapse is our own darn fault. People don't make nearly enough money, rely on parents and grandparents, and then somehow expect money to magically appear to make up the shortfall in the yeshiva budget. Not to mention mismanagement, sectarianism, and lack of priorities.

I think if we're going to be serious about this problem wide-scale changes have to be made in the community. This isn't an issue of "if we have an extra million everything would be OK" because the problem is exponentially growing such that every year the shortfall is more and more.

Other than the obvious solution of people need to make more money, be more financially responsible, and wait to get married and have kids until they're financially ready for such commitments, I think we need to reevaluate the entire goal of the yeshiva system.

What is yeshiva education for? Is it to learn to daven? Learn how to learn? Learn Hebrew? To keep our children away from non-Jews? To become well-versed in halacha? To learn midot? To ensure our kids date and marry Jews? To keep our kids away from bad elements? To have our kids come home with Jewish themed art projects? To have a nice d'var Torah to share at the Shabbat meal?

Once we figure out what our goals are for a yeshiva education we can better figure out whether the current system is in line with those goals and, if it's not, what the solution should be. Perhaps the same goals can be met with far less.

Ariella said...

In addition to the (usually $500) dinner, schools already asses various other charges on parents under various names like building funds or capital appreciation funds, which could range from $200 to $5000, usually a one-time payment for the larger amount but often assessed yearly for amounts up to $3000. And some call a $900 mandatory contribution a registration fee (generally registration fees are $400-$600 in elementary school). So we already pay quite a bit in fees. And consider, those of us who send boys and girls to separate schools, usually have 2 building funds, dinners, etc. even while all children are still in elementary. High school may introduce a third school with its own fees. Now, if the parent already has to request a scholarship because full tuition on 4 children can easily exceed the national average household income before taxes, how could this family swing extra contributions?

When I lived in Passaic, the schools had very steep donation requirements assessed per family. In addition to the building funds plus another $1000 per year "fundraising obligation," one school required $15,000 to be spent in its scrip purchased from the school only during designated selling hours. The only way people were able to pull it off is if they somehow had more convenient access to the scrip and had grandparents of the children in the area to buy it on their behalf.That was just beyond our means, especially as many places did not accept the scrip, so I resigned myself from the start to the donation of the 5% profit they expect in lieu of scrip. That means another $750 required donations. That was required even for only one child in the school. It was quite a burden for a young family.

Al said...

JS, you hit it on the head... nobody knows the goals... If the goal is learn Hebrew, the Ben Gamla approach in Florida is perfect... state pays for secular education, Hebrew language, and kosher food being available.

If the goal is to keep non-Jews out, that won't entirely work, and it depends on definition of non-Jews... You won't be getting devout evangelizing Christians at a school like that, but you might get the child of an Israeli father and a nominally gentile mother... kid isn't halachically Jewish, but has some connection... I think that it's not as simple as Jew vs. gentile in those cases, we have "Jewish" non-Jews that ought to be treated with a little more sensitivity if they want to join our ranks (not dismissing the need for a conversion, just suggestion more politeness and compassion).

The goal of art projects applies to preschool, in my opinion, not really beyond there, and can be accomplished with an afterschool enrichment program that includes learning, art projects, etc.

I think that there should also be some consideration of age appropriate learning. Young children should learn Hebrew (easier the younger you are), and the basics... bible stories that catch their attention and art projects... which is the perfect program for a SHORT Sunday school or after school program... older children that are ready to get into learning can start with a few afternoons, increasing in time as they get older.

Let's not pretend that children "learning" in day school in 2nd grade have a real advantage when you get into Gemara in high school. Perhaps Yeshiva education makes real sense for high school boys... and some separation from society as puberty/Bat Mitzvah/Bar Mitzvah come into play, but come on, funding 6-7 years of private school is WAY cheaper than 13... and starts when the parents are older and more professionally established.

Dave said...

You won't be getting devout evangelizing Christians at a school like that

I wouldn't be so confident in that assumption. I would be entirely unsurprised to see the Messianics enroll children in a school of that sort.

Anonymous said...

Ariella, the $15K in scrip is tough, but it's not take it or leave it. If you only use $5K, you only pay the prorated charge of $500. No reason to give up the ghost entirely.

SephardiLady said...

Thank G-d we don't have to buy scrip. But every other school I know of has this requirement.

We spend far less than the scrip requirement. If I had to do script, I guess some frugality practices would go out the window. Ironic, isn't it?

Ariella said...

I did spend what I could, Anonymous, but I accepted the fact that there was no way I would not have to make up the difference. It was nearly impossible for me to even spend the $5K b/c those who held the scrip refused to sell it when it was not their designated hours -- only a couple a day. Plus even places that took the school scrip, like the local kosher store, did not accept it for 'sale' items. So what I spent was mostly Shop Rite gift certificates. And my my parents were not in the area, so I could not palm any off on them.

The other school, though it had a lower scrip requirement, made sure that it got accepted in a lot more places, including stores in NY, so, theoretically, it would have been possible to have our parents buy some on our behalf. Plus there were a lot more people available to sell you the scrip who did not restrict you to buying only at specific times of day.

Anonymous said...

Ariella, now they sell it in that same school (the school you used) from 8 - 10 am every day -- we just picked some up this morning.

Ariella said...

Sephardi Lady, it was very much a relief not to have to deal with scrip in the NY schools. For a while TAG offered it as an option, and I did purchase the chessed dollars to help the school out, though I did not feel the weight of the requirement for astronomical amounts on my back. But they dropped the program a couple of years ago; I guess they felt the time involved was not worth the bother for them. I believe that Darchei requires it of parents, but I don't have chidlren there, so I don't know first-hand. Schools can make money when purchases are made through a credit card registered through specific programs and with online purchases that source from a site -- it works like upromise.com, but the percentage goes to the school rather than to a 529 account. TAG issued a letter that said, essentially, they cannot advocate use of the internet, but if you do make purchases online to any of the vendors listed, please go through the site.

Ariella said...

I'm glad it works for you, Anonymous. But I found it inconvenient and burdensome. When TAG did handle scrip, I could buy it at any point during the school day from the woman in the office. SIn fact, I think I usually bought it when I picked up my daughter from kindergarten at 3 -- out of your selling hours.

Anonymous said...

"What is yeshiva education for? Is it to learn to daven? Learn how to learn? Learn Hebrew? To keep our children away from non-Jews? To become well-versed in halacha? To learn midot? To ensure our kids date and marry Jews? To keep our kids away from bad elements? To have our kids come home with Jewish themed art projects? To have a nice d'var Torah to share at the Shabbat meal?"

It's to make frum Jews. That's it All the other goals all subservient to that, which is why the Jewish education is lousy. How many frum Jews do you know that have read even a majority of Tanach or can tell you whether a name in the gemara is a tanna or an amorah? Now, how many frum Jews do you know who know how to be frum? That's because the schools taught them what it they are built to teach them.

Anonymous said...

JS - What is yeshiva education for? Is it to learn to daven? Learn how to learn? Learn Hebrew? To keep our children away from non-Jews? To become well-versed in halacha? To learn midot? To ensure our kids date and marry Jews? To keep our kids away from bad elements? To have our kids come home with Jewish themed art projects? To have a nice d'var Torah to share at the Shabbat meal?

Yes.

JS said...

Not sure if it's the same anonymous each time, but you haven't answered anything.

What does it even mean to be a "frum Jew." You haven't defined that. You seem to say the goal of yeshiva education is to be a mensch and not to learn a majority of tanach or be able to know a tanna from an amorah.

You're placing too much hope in what a yeshiva can even accomplish. You can't make a "frum Jew" whatever that is if the parents and community aren't "frum Jews." This SHOULD be the role on parents and supplemented by the yeshiva.

But regardless, I think we can all agree yeshivas aren't meeting the unstated goals we have for them and if we're ever going to get anywhere (either on cost or quality), someone needs to start thinking about and articulating these goals.

Shoshana said...

Forgive my ignorance... what is scrip?

Elitzur said...

JS, frum/ religous/ MO/ yeshivish /Orthodox Jews have a culture just like other American sub-groups do. The main job of the schools is to make sure as much as possible that kids remain part of that culture. Different schools go about this in different ways partly because each school is part of a slightly different sub-culture which is usually defined by that sub-cultures approach to how to keep kids as part of their sub-culture.

Hopefully there are some schools that aim higher than that and want kids to become righteous, learned, etc. But at the end of the day if the schools keep kids within the culture they are successful and if not they may as well go to public school.

Ariella said...

Shoshana, scrip is a money-substitute. Some schools sell gift cards and gift certificates to particuar stores that participate in the program by allowing the school to keep about 5% of the dollar value. Others issue their "chessed dollars" in demoniations of $5, 10, 25, etc. that are accepted by most of the local Jewish stores who will cash the "dollars" in at the school to get money minus the 5%. Some schools, supposedly, try to collect a higher percentage, which makes the merchants rather reluctant to participate in the program. The thing about this is you have to remember to purchase (which means you are laying out actual cash rather than a credit card) the scrip before you go shopping. If you don't you lose out on using the scrip, which can be annoying when you have such a large quota required by your school.

tesyaa said...

Ariella, you do have to be organized to use scrip, and the large quantities can only be fully used by large families. But you have to be organized to use about 95% of the moneysaving tips SL promotes on this blog, and this one's no different. Not everyone would be happy to see a fee of $750tacked on, and some people can use the scrip.

SephardiLady said...

I don't think I could be organized enough to juggle scrip and bargain shopping. And some of the stores I shop in aren't even part of the scrip programs, especially ethnic markets that tend to have better produce prices.

tesyaa said...

I'm not defending scrip, especially since with margins of 5%, a school of 100 families adds "only" $75K to its income. That's about 8-9 marginal tuitions (tuitions that don't put a class over its limit and force the hiring of another teacher).

When I said "organized", I meant not forgetting to buy before you go to the store. Since I have to buy scrip, I pick up enough for a month at a time. Yes, I'm not earning interest on the scrip, but have you seen interest rates lately?

Lion of Zion said...

personally i just pay the donation and forgo the headache (and unjustness?) of scrip. (although the truth is that in brooklyn there a lot of stores that accept it)

i wish they would let me do the same thing with the annual dinner, but they don't. i am going to try and be more insistent next year.

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

i can't define the purpose of a jewish school is (other than to say it is to acclimate one's progeny to the parents' idealization of frumkeit), but whatever it is, the schools are not succeeding. is there even one school that can guarantee they will produce a good jew (according to the definition of their choosing) without needing a finishing year(s) in israel?

Lion of Zion said...

i should add that i'll buy script when you can use it at costco

Ariella said...

Lion of Zion, do you mean that you are compelled to attend the dinner? We have to pay for the dinner but do not attend.
Tesyaa, I believe that TAG gave up the scrip because it didn't add that much income and was a headache to manage. n fact, Supersol extends a payment option through a school that allows the tab to be paid with a percentage going to the designated school. This is in place even though SuperSol accepts scrip. In Passaic, it has been forced on the parent body so they just have to adapt accordingly, but it has not been enforced to that extent here. And Sephardi Lady makes a valid point that needs to be considered. For example, someone I know has a scrip obligation at a local school -- it may be required because of the scholarship. She does have a large family and could spend quite a lot on groceries. But she has a card that gets her a 10% discount at Brach's. (They issued that to kollel and chinuch families when they first opened). Brach's will not extend that discount to a purchase made with scrip. So, economically speaking, it makes sense for her to keep her 10% discount and pay with real cash rather than pay with scrip that earns the school 5% -- even if she will have to make up the 5% in a donation, she still comes out ahead by taking the 10% savings. And, as I said, there were stores that would not accept scrip for sale items.
Personally, I do not like to carry a lot of cash or even have it in the house, so I would not like to haul hundreds of dollars worth of scrip around. I I think others also see it that way, which is why schools started to look into credit cards that would pay them a percentage.

Lion of Zion said...

ARIELLA:

we are not compelled to go (this is my first year, so i don't think so), but we have to pay the full price even if we don't go. when i paid my tuition bill i told them i don't want to pay for the dinner but i'll give them whatever portion of it is for the donation. they refused.

so now that we've paid, the lioness says we might as well go. i say i'd rather do anything than have to get dressed up, listen to boring divrei torah and speeches, and eat overpriced (and subpar) catered food. if i am going to arrange for babysitting i'd rather go out for the night.

and if they make me pay $500 for a fundraiser, why can't they least give me $500 worth of fun?

Mike S. said...

I am not really sure what purpose calling part of the tuition a "contribution" to the building fund or a mandatory payment for a dinner is. If you have to pay this to the send your kids to the school, you can't deduct it anyway. Why not just add it to the tuition and be done?

Ariella said...

You're right about that point, Mike S. But the schools do send out receipts that declare the building fund and dinner donations tax deductible. Some more scrupulous schools do not allow for the entire cost of the dinner, as the part that covers the cost of the food cannot be considered a donation.

anonymousmom said...

LoZ, I'm glad to read we are on the same page. We opt out of scrip and pay the cost. We think it's a big headache and I believe the scrip woman thinks that we are mentally unfit (that is a slight problem when you work in the school).

JS, as a Jewish educator, I can tell you my goals: I wish to educate, inspire, and surround your children with Yiddishkeit for a few hours a day. That includes Jewish history, Tanach, Ivrit, Parshat Hashavuah, Midot, Yediot Klaliot, Dinim/Halacha, Beur Tefilah and eventually Mishna/Gemara. As for knowing who a Tana and who an Emora is, my own personal Jewish education provided me with that knowledge. I also had to know every Rashi in Chumash and how to dissect a Ramban, compare/contrast Meforshim, speak and write fluent Hebrew (my Ivrit skills are due only to my elementary school education as my HS Ivrit classes were lower level). I learned Hilchot Shabbat, Kashrut, Brachot, Mezuzah... I learned to respect some pretty wonderful male and female role models who knew more Torah than I. I learned to daven with sincerity. I learned the meaning of most of the Tefilot that I say. I learned to navigate the events of my daily life--big and small--through the path of Torah (and that was because I was communicative and open with my teachers and principals and asked for their advice, got their guidance, but even those who didn't had to pick up on a few things by example). I learned how good it feels to lead the bentching in a room filled with 400 children following with me (don't forget Yaaleh V'Yavo today, we could remind the Klal if it was our turn). I played the lead in two Rosh Chodesh plays and sang the chorus of a few others. Later on, I wrote, produced and directed some plays for my students--allowing my creative and sometimes less academically successful students to shine while performing an entertaining play about Shmirat Halashon or Pesach in front of an audience of hundreds. My son beamed recently when his Jewish educational environment allowed him to have a surprise Siddur celebration with surprise guests from the "big kid classes" who ran in with their Rebbes and the Principal in tow to sing and dance with the first graders that day.
Guys, if you are still reading, the merits of a Jewish day school education are not easy to quantify. It is a cocoon-like experience during years of your children's lives that are quite formative. Many minimize the elementary years, but they are quite powerful. For every inspired Jew who became enmeshed in his Judaism later on in life, there are three more who can honestly say that elementary school did make a difference in the Jews they grew up to be.
If it's just a game of statistics and numbers that need to add up, then flood the public schools, by all means. If it's poetry, well then how could you even consider giving that up or treating it like some tutoring session?

Anonymous said...

anonmom:

After a lot of tears and conversations, we have decided to put our oldest, who will be going into kindergarten next year, in public school. We NEVER thought it would come to this, never. In fact if you had suggested this just a year ago, we probably would have laughed at you.

But money only goes so far, and whether we like it or not, we have to make a choice. We've decided that middle school and high school are probably more important than elementary school, and if something has to give, it will be elementary school.

The 17-20k/year for kindergarten (and its more for first-fifth) in our area is simply unreasonable- and for two working parents, we're adding to that tab before- and after-care, full day summer camp, and baby sitters to fill in the gaps around the year.

This doesn't take away from all that you wrote here- we agree with you, which has made this decision all the more painful. But again, the money just isn't there.

We're exploring pubic school options (we wish we had a Ben Gamla-type option!) and Jewish education options for him now. We hope to come up with some pretty innovative ideas. We'll see what happens. We'll re-evaluate year-to-year...

One of the things that have been so interesting is that the more we tell our friends about this, the more their interest peaks. From what we can tell, those on big scholarships and those with "old money" (read here, grandparents footing the tab) won't even consider this option (why would they?). But our friends in our boat- who make decent money but would be living in abject squaller to pay these bills are looking for other options.

Another thing that has made this so difficult is that we have been lead to believe that we cannot give our child the things they need to become good, learned Jews without the day school system. We cannot teach them to love Judaism and being Jews. But we won't be afforded the opportunity to lean on the day school system; we'll have to rely on ourselves and the educational opportunities we can piece together for him.

So we're sad but optimistic. Maybe we'll start a revolution. Maybe not. The most we can hope for is that our own children will come out the other end in love with their religious lives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:23 -- don't let any outsiders make you feel guilty. You have to do what's best for your whole family. Chazak v'ematz.

tesyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SephardiLady said...

Wow anonymous-Your story brings tears to my eyes. I hope you will check in from time to time with reports on how things are going.

If you would like to share your story as a guest post, I'd be happy to post it in confidence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, if it makes you feel better, a friend came over crying to us when the local day school wouldn't adjust the scholarship (they could pay what they were paying, not what the committee now decided that they should pay) that they had to enroll their children in Ben Gamla.. cried to us because we've been vocal about thinking that the day schools are pretty crappy and a stupid way to accomplish your educational goals... they produce plenty of ignorant "Frum Yidden," that may no know Tanach, may not know Gemara, but know how to talk with a Yeshivish accent, etc.

Well, fast forward to school starting, and she's a bigger mess... being in public school and having to meet educational standards was tough, the kids were struggling with the work load, and while it's only elementary school, they realized that the day school had them at least a grade level behind academically already.

Come Hanukkah, this is what they had to report, the academics were WAY better, being on a normal schedule was great, they were having two incomes because the mom could take some part time work (has a new born, so not much), but getting away from the half days randomly, travel days, etc. let her work.

The downside, they have to get the kids excited for holidays, etc. The after school Judaic program isn't great, but it's a start, but it's educating, not excited. In the Day School, the kids were excited for Sukkot, Chanukah, etc., now they have to get them psyched.

OTOH, having disposable income, being able to do an occasional meal out, make nicer Shabbat and Yom Tovim meals because they aren't broke has really increased their love of Judaism.

So there was a trade off from losing the environment, but the parents are now thrilled.

Anonymous said...

Another local brain here in the five town suggested that the cure to the tuition crisis was a 10 cent a slice tax on kosher pizza, My sources in the pizza industry indicate that about 3 million slices are sold in the neighborhood a year so this would raise $300,000.

anonymous mom said...

Um to the anonymous couple who is now choosing to put their kindergartner in ps, shoot me, but I don't buy it. It's not that I don't feel that you are being sincere and that you feel pain about your decision. It's just that some of your statements are upsetting me.

"The 17-20k/year for kindergarten"

Where on earth do you live? Those numbers speak to possibly the Upper East Side of Manhattan and there are day school options there that would be lower. I know the system and I can't imagine where a person could live that would have only one day school option that charges that much.

"We've decided that middle school and high school are probably more important than elementary school"

You wouldn't be the first or the last to think this, but you would be wrong. Your kids are going to make lifelong friends in their elementary school years and so are you, btw. I'm not one to say that non-Jews and Jews that aren't Orthodox are not worth knowing or befriending. That's not how we roll in our home, but I do know that it is a great thing for your kids and you to make friends who share your religious values. It's possible to do that in synagogue or Sunday programs, but your child is going to be invested in that public school for a minimum of 6 years at 7 hours a day. Big investment. Plus, when he/she moves on to middle or high school he/she will want to stay with friends. That time of life developmentally and emotionally is a tough time to be shaky socially. I can't tell you how many children have entered my class in middle or high school as new kids on the block and had to struggle with their new environment. It can work out well, but it doesn't always. It's a challenge

"But money only goes so far"

I just don't get it. Didn't you guys consider the cost of day school where you chose to live? Did you discuss your commitment to day school or actually evaluate individually how important this was to you before you chose to live in your community? It's just that I know way too many working stiffs like my husband and me (many who are not in teaching) who are making do with the first one or two tuitions. It's the third or fourth that are getting to them. Many are paying about 11 or 12 right now. I know that some opt to face the tuition committees at some point and that's just the way it goes. But, to say you can't afford the first kid in day school just speaks to a lack of forethought or commitment or both. I can live with that, but I can't live with your saying that you are committed, but cannot afford it. Something's not right. And, SL, forgive me for being so not touchy-feely and supportive about this as you seem to be, but solutions are not going to come from a baby/bathwater decision.

Lion of Zion said...

ANON:

"Your kids are going to make lifelong friends in their elementary school years"

baloney.
there are good reasons to prefer a jewish elementary school (and there are some reasons that i personally feel elementary school is more importnt than high school, if one has to choose), but creating lifelong friendships is not one of them. most people i know don't even have any friends from elementary school.

Anonymous said...

anonmom- I don't have any friends from elementary school. All of my school friends are from high school and college. Yes, we always assumed we'd put our kids in day school and it has been a very painful decision- but I'm not here to convince you of that. Oh, and in our area, this is the cost; we don't live anywhere near NY.

Anonymous said...

One more point... The price is high here, in part, because so many families are on scholarship. It's a cycle that is falling apart. We've spoken with two other families Shabbat who are doing the same thing next year...

SephardiLady said...

Anonymousmom-No need to be touchy feely.

To the anonymous poster-If you don't mind emailing me a tuition schedule, I'd keep it in full confidence. I am unaware of any Orthodox day school that is this expensive in an isolate area, although if you add in scrip and building funds and more, I know it can creep up.

Back to the subject. . . . .perhaps the reason I am not as skeptical is because I have worked with young families who have serious budget woes and no one would know and few would have any sympathy anyways because they are high earners. But behind those incomes are astronomical student loans, high costs associated with working (moving costs for residencies, e.g.), day care is wringing them dry, etc.

All I'm trying to say is that I too know high income earning couples that are headed towards some hard, tough decisions.

anonymousmom said...

I did a little survey at work, with relatives and among friends who didn't attend elementary school with me. Many stay in touch and consider close friends those that grew up with them which includes elementary schoolmates. That doesn't mean they didn't make great friends later, but they do count the "first friends" as dear and very much still in the picture. Sister-in-law grew up in a small town, tells every secret to her best friend from down the block (and the local day school), Catholic coworker has a yearly vacation with her school friends from "grammar school" as she calls it, neighbor flew in for her son's Bar Mitzvah two friends from her childhood with whom she has been speaking by phone regularly... I'm sorry for those of you that didn't grow up making lifelong friends. If you need to throw out an argument for Jewish Day School, go ahead, but--as you see--there are others.

anonymousmom said...

Anonymous, I stand corrected. I just did a quick random search of some day school tuitions in big cities. I see Shechter in Boston is charging that much for K and so is the San Diego Day School. Couldn't get stats in Chicago and at Maimonides in Boston. Not clear from the websites. I don't know what to say. Even if you got tuition assistance on the first, I assume that the second or third would be tough. Sad state of affairs. Does everyone get tuition assistance as someone mentioned here?

SephardiLady said...

I am told that many Modern Orthodox schools have a 1st child pays full tuition policy, a minimum tuition policy of sorts. So, no, I dont believe every child can get assistance.

Al said...

Anonymousmom -- multiple anecdotes doesn't make for data. That said, my brother has an elementary school friend that is a life long friend, and one of his roommates. Amongst the more educated people, you are more likely to keep your friends from high school, college, and grad school, then elementary school, simply because the further you are in education, the more tracked you are, and the more likely you are to have something in common with them.

OTOH, I'm the best man in a friends wedding that my friendship dates back to the two year old class in pre-school... However, we later went to high school together which really solidified the friendship.

People make friends whenever, but I'm not sure why that's a problem. Are you concerned that your children will have close friends that aren't Jewish/observant? Lifelong friends are few and far between, and while the grad school educated amongst us are more likely to pick them up in high school and college, the less educated are likely to pick them up in elementary and middle school, but it all depends where you meet someone.

However, the peer group concern... the social pressure to not be observant, etc., is kind of irrelevant. If you move the child from public elementary school into day school for middle school, are you really worried that they will keep in touch with their Catholic friend from down the street? They aren't going to be with them during the day to provide peer pressure. Either the friend fits into their new, Jewish centric life, or they'll drift apart.

I think your self-reported survey at work probably picked up your biases, since your wording probably made it clear that you wanted to see who had childhood friends. My wife will talk about her close friend from college, lived across the hall, blah, blah, blah, they chat online occasionally, haven't seen her since her wedding 3 years ago, etc., but your "survey" would capture her as a close friend.

Everyone has to do what's right for their family. But those that free ride on the system, pushing their costs onto others, not work because the tuition committee will take it all, keep popping out kids that they can't afford and putting the tab on the community, the free ride will come to an end. Every family that would pay full tuition that chooses a single year of public school basically pulls the scholarship money out that would cover 2 kids, and the system is crashing down... So if you want your kids in Yeshiva/Day School, you better make sure you can pay for it with escalating costs each year. Talking about coupons that save a few hundred dollars/year is all well and good, but you're talking about 80k - 100k/year tuition bills...

I suggest less time clipping coupons, and more time learning new skills to earn more money. Plenty of career paths that can make money, but clipping coupons isn't one of them.