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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guest Post: Stop Whining!

I pulled this comment from the comments section in the last post. 'AnonYMous' tells us to quit whining, get up off our collective bottoms, and do something about the tuition problem. I thought I'd put it up for comments. And after that, perhaps everyone can add their ideas of what they can/will do or report results from attemptsto make changes. In the meantime, I've got committeee meetings to prepare for.
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I'm getting very tired of this line of thinking.

I'll tell you why. One set of my grandparents were holocaust survivors. The other survived the Depression. They had NOTHING. Their friends had NOTHING. And yet, they managed to build Jewish schools for their children. They killed themselves to do so. Worked very long hours and gave to the schools in money and body for years to perpetuate the Jewish community.

After their kids graduated these schools my grandparents were still not rich. But they continued to kill themselves for these schools. They invested their blood, sweat and tears to make sure there would be a day school for the children of their community.

Look at the difference between the comments here and them.I hear a bunch of whining.

How can this go on? Tuition is so high!!! What will be, what will be? The schools are asking my parents! The chutzpah! I'm going to just educate my own kids and forget about everyone else. Whine, whine, kvetch, kvetch. The hands are wrung, we purse our lips in self-righteous disapproval and continue to blog and comment.

How about stepping up to the plate and solving the problem? There is no easy solution to something this valuable. The solution is elbow grease, hard work and lots of self-sacrifice.

You think the schools should coordinate buying to get better deals. Spend the time you do on blogs making calls and organizing it. Schools need to raise money. Figure out a fundraiser and do it. Every PENNY counts. Tell your kids you are cutting back on one thing and contributing to Jewish education. If you are single, or a grandparent, or have no kids shouldn't make a difference. GET INVOLVED.

My grandparents didn't care that they had no kids in the schools in their community. They didn't care that the principal made mistakes and that the board wasn't perfect. They gave and they worked.

What happened to the next generations? Why can't we be as communally minded and open to pitching in? Why do we demand that it is each man for himself yet expect Rabbis and Administrators to solve the community's problem? It's time to start acting like adults.

As a collective gasp of indignation goes out over the blogosphere I ask you, do you have so much harder than the Holocaust survivors and those who survived the Depression who had nothing? Or perhaps can WE be solving this "crisis" by just acting like they did.

Finally, lets keep in mind that there is a G-d. The Jewish people aren't going away so fast. He'll help out if we just start acting like we will do our part.

121 comments:

Ahuva said...

Our lives aren't the same as that of our parents and grandparents. My grandmother was married in her parents' living room. They didn't have the large engagement rings that my generation takes for granted. My father loves to tell me how he'd get a new box of crayons as a birthday or Channukah present. They didn't splurge on fancy bar mitzvahs or send their children to camp; their kids worked as soon as they were old enough.

There are only so many dollars to go around. You can't ask grandparents to keep on giving as our lifestyles get ever more elaborate and expensive. If education is important, then we need to make that statement as a community. The less important extras have to end-- or at least we need to stop pressuring people to keep up with the Goldbergs. A lot of people are putting everything they have towards living this expensive "Orthodox lifestyle." They are not building wealth and will not be able to afford to support their grandchildren because I'm not sure how they're going to support themselves once they're unable to continue to work.

It is not whining to recognize a real problem in our community.

rosie said...

But Ahuva, what if the real problem is the whining? The generation that built the Orthodox community in America knocked on doors to get disinterested Jewish families to enroll their kids in day schools. There were rebbitzens who cooked in yeshiva kitchens. There were people who had sparse homes so that they could pay for chinuch. These people worked hard and built shuls and schools. Our generation is resting on their laurels.
We are spoiled. We buy now, pay never. We define what we need by what we want. It appears that the attitude is that it is better to commit fraud than go without something. Some even make heroes of those who get caught (although they should not pay a heavier penalty for being Jewish).

Ahuva said...

Rosie, isn't the issue then one of priorities and not "whining"?

My Partner In Torah told me this week that I was obligated to buy a shabbos-only wardrobe. My task, before our next meeting, is to go ask my local orthodox rabbi which is more important-- giving to tzedakah (which would include donating to the local schools) or reducing that amount so that I can buy a fancy new shabbos wardrobe (since, according to her, I am halachically obligated to have dedicated shabbos clothes that are nicer than the dress suits I wear to the office). It amazes me that this is even a question, but apparently it is.

There are only so many resources to go around. If I have a total of $500, it can't both go to support the school and towards buying what my peers are telling me I "have" to purchase.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but to me saying that "the problem is whining" is saying that we just need to shut up and dish out the money, not reorganize our priorities both as individuals and as a community.

If we believe that education is important, then we need to take away some of these "must haves" to make more room for education.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be hard for parents to implement this because so many schools are run by incompetent and self-serving individuals. Who would want to break their backs for administrators who are just as happy to suck them dry, make no real changes themselves, and then just spit out said parent when they are no longer "worth it." These are harsh words, but they are based on many incidents that I know of first-hand in my community.

SephardiLady said...

Ahuva-Your last comment reminds me of a family that was convinced they had to buy all of their children new outfits from head to toes for every single yom tov. They had quite a debt load (and growing). But mitzvos are mitzvos, right? Until the majority of the community can sort out what is nice from what is necessary, we are up a creek. We are told we need this and need that. In our old residence, I believe my husband was one of the only who didn't bring flowers every Friday. Chattanim are told flowers are a "must do."

Rosie-We are spoiled, no doubt. And that is part of the reason we are in up to or heads. How many boards figure they will make up the budget difference by more fundraising? And that is in good years.

On that note and for the "guest poster," I have had friends who have approached pre-schools volunteering to buy supplies or food at less expensive places and are brushed off. Unfortunately, getting involved to a significant degree involves knowing the right person and being allowed to have the information necessary to help. There is little transparency. Even if you sit on a board or financial committee, it is hard to get the full story.

SephardiLady said...

Here is a difference between our generation that theirs. Our generation is addicted to credit and sees no need to pay bills when due.

I've been on some financial committees and the amount of receivables on the books is a shanda. I'm sure my experience isn't unique. Getting people to pay what they have said they will is a huge challenge for many organizations. I can't imagine our grandparents/great-grandparents allowing a debt to fester. But plenty in our generation do.

Another difference is number of children. The average number of children is far higher. I just read that the lower average age per locale in the entire US went to Kiryas Joel and Lakewood. And, the average age of first time employment is far higher, and parents are encouraged to let their children hold off entering the work force.

We have friends just entering the work force for the first time as they near 30's. This is an economic issue.

Anonymous said...

i really feel as though i am missing something here. where are the priorities? why can't the newest, nicest office suit be taken to the cleaners and then put aside only for shabbos? and can't one wear the same suit more than once?keeping up with the goldsteins can be very costly. men have it much easier. they wear black suits and white shirts. who knows if they are wearing an office shirt/suit or a shabbos shirt/suit once the garment comes out of the cleaners. are the "must haves" really "must haves"? or are the parents going to be asked to pay for these things also?

Shoshana said...

I have a Shabbos outfit that I wear every week and it is gorgeous. It is a black skirt purchased on sale at JC Penny for $24. The top is a purple velvet number that is quite elegant purchased at the ARC Thrift store for $5. I have a special pair of earrings that matches that was received as a gift several years ago. I wear this every week both at night and on Shabbos day. Nobody in my community notices or cares about my wardrobe and I feel great knowing that I look nice and didn't break the bank to do it. I feel that this is one of the major advantages of living "out of town." I feel that in general material expectations are not as high (at least not in my circle).

Dave said...

Could it be done?

Absolutely.

Will it be done?

I would be very surprised. I don't see the changes that it would require happening.

What would it entail?

Smaller families.

Meat as a Shabbos luxury, not an every day staple.

Smaller housing.

Everyone works. That includes children who are of age, that includes women and men. That means no more Kollel culture.

Schools as non-profit institutions with open books and transparent operations. No more small schools for Hashkafic differences or for the Kavod of being Rosh Yeshiva, no more schools being run as family businesses or worse, as family sinecures.

No more false beliefs about work being "beneath" a ben/bas yisroel. If you would pay someone to do it, then it isn't something that is "beneath" you. This also means doing what it takes for high paying jobs -- either secular education that leads to high paying professions, or pursuing the high pay/low prestige blue collar jobs.

Figure out what luxuries aren't necessary. Pesach hotels? Camps? Big family vacations? Special Yom Tov outfits? How many of these are really needed.

It could be done. I just don't see the cultural shift that would make it work happening. This is, however, the perspective of an outsider looking in, so take it with the requisite grain of salt.

Ariella said...

The purchase of a couple of modest (not "couture" or designer) Shabbos outfits is not usually what puts one over the edge. My husband just went to Rabbi Willig's shiur on honoring Shabbos, and dressing up for the day is nothing to scoff at, but that does not mean dressing up to impres the ladies in shul. The same goes for Shabbos meals.

It is the fact that the bar has been raised to the point that many high priced items are expected. Thus even sleepaway camp is considered a necessity rather than a luxury. Bat mitzvahs have become as lavish as the weddings of a generation ago. And a Pesach in a hotel that cost thousands per person is regarded as a matter of course. When surrounded by all this conspicuous consumption, those who don't give each of their teen kids their own cell phones are the odd ones out.

Anonymous said...

Dave, yes, everyone should work. The luxury of being a SAHM is just that, as much of a luxury as an SUV or a big house or yearly vacations. Don't tell me otherwise, and if today's SAHM's can't get into the workforce at a salary at which it pays to do so, they should at least teach their daughters that they have to pursue high paying jobs, and that they should marry men who will do the same, if they want to have children and pay tuition.

Dave said...

In much of the frum community, the problem is not that the mothers aren't working. It is that the fathers aren't working.

rosie said...

If a SAHM is using her time at home to clean the house herself, cook instead of ordering out, do her own alterations on clothing, search out the best deals on food and clothes, cut hair at home rather than at the barber, teach kids at home rather than pre-school, then we might say that she could not make as much working as she would save by staying home. Remember that if she and her husband's combined income raises their tax bracket, the increase, plus childcare, transportation, a work wardrobe, and conveniences because she is not home, could negate most of what she earns.

Anonymous said...

rosie, not if she had a real career. Sorry, people may have to give up the luxury of nurturing, which is as much for the mom as for the kids. Plenty of kids had working mothers and turned out fine. And some people work full time and still do the home cooking the house cleaning, and so on. It's not easy, but that's the point.

Anonymous said...

What I'm trying to say is, a working professional woman can earn enough to pay for childcare and some other extras and still have $$$ left over for tuition.

Anonymous said...

Plus, she is giving up the chance for future salary increases, and it may be impossible to enter the work force when she finally decides she's ready.

Ariella said...

But you do have to factor taxes and the fact that a second imcome could raise the tax bracket for the household into the equation. I also know a SAHM who says ther eis no point in her working as all she earns would go to the higher tuition demanded from the schools if the income for the household rises. With a household of 7 children, they get more off than what they pay for tuition. In any case, what she is qualified to earn would only amount to 2-3 tuitions.

SephardiLady said...

Should we ask the mothers who are working and aren't showing any signs of every pulling in the big bucks, but who are spending more than they earn year after year on camps, daycare, and early pre-school to leave the workforce?

Anonymous said...

It's funny how everyone says that we're too spoiled suddenly says that being an SAHM is not a luxury.

Anonymous said...

Ariella, the point is that if she brings in more money and pays it to the school, others won't have to bear the brunt of her scholarships. I'm sure some of those bearing the brunt of carrying her kids on scholarship are working mothers who would like to spend more time with their kids. Why should she get a reduced rate?

SephardiLady said...

I believe that Ariella is pointing out that the current scholarship process discourages certain parents NOT to work. Automatic kollel discounts do the same thing. The fact that a family can get a larger scholarship because they never put money away pre-tuition (PT) while another family put away money and is asked to drain those funds also discourages saving.

aml said...

Ariella: This is a ridiculous statement. Please read what you wrote.

Basically, this woman, who brought seven children into the world, is getting a break on her children's tuition and if she got a job she'd be forced to pay more. So she's on scholarship.

Who's paying that scholarship? The families who are either fortunate enough to be able to pay full tuition (because they come from money) or are responsible enough to pay full tuition (that is, they work, work, work to pay that tuition- they have time away from their own children, in part, to subsidize the lifestyle of the mother-of-seven who isn't responsible enough to pay for her own children's education).

Don't get me wrong... if you've fallen on hard times, we as a community will help pick you up. But not working as a life long strategy for staying on scholarship and perpetually leaning on everyone else for your own free choices? That is just plain wrong.

AnonYMous said...

But doesn't that mean that you are asking someone else to work so your kids get an education? Getting a tuition break is like welfare. There should be shame in it. I get a tuition break but I'm working to get rid of it. We don't ask others to do for us when we can do it ourselves.

SephardiLady said...

Sorry, people may have to give up the luxury of nurturing, which is as much for the mom as for the kids.

If anything, there are a lot of children who could use a lot more nuturing. And, perhaps, there are a lot of marriages needing the same.

aml said...

SL- I don't disagree with you, but here is my big issue.... I know a lot of women in my community who could very well be out working and they aren't, in the name of SAHMotherhood. They are on scholarship and they don't care; they're raising their children. Mean while- and perhaps I have more of a sense of communal responsibility than I should- I'm off working, away from my little ones for far too long each day so that I can get that tuition bill paid.

Ezzie said...

Getting back to the post for a minute, which I liked a lot, yet disagree somewhat with: Aren't a lot of the problems we face coming back to the same things: Lack of knowledge/information, lack of interest in pitching in to help the community grow (I don't mean with money), lack of realization of what would do the most to help everyone? It's like there are vicious cycles everywhere in our community which come from horribly misguided ideals which seem to serve people but in reality hurt everyone.

Perhaps there *is* a lot of whining, and yet it's also important that we understand why and what it's saying. But most importantly, don't we need to get back to creating solutions to these problems? And if the "powers that be" aren't open to solving these problems, then perhaps other ways of going about things need to be created. Of course, stigmas always end up stopping these from becoming reality, and in the end, "whatever, we'll just have to deal with it" seems to be the approach.

Personally, it seems to be (from my young eyes, so feel free to correct me) that there aren't many places where anyone can clearly identify solutions as of yet to the problems we face, because we don't even have all the information. And it's hard to start anywhere, because we consistently run into walls - whether people or lack of knowledge or whatever may be there. The only way change will start is by exploiting the situations where change CAN be demanded and supported by the vast majority, and then parlaying those changes into other ones. It seems to me that calling for transparency of school budgets would be the most logical mode of gathering large support from parents and the community to start effecting that change - nearly everyone agrees tuition is too high, and it negatively impacts people on both the high and low ends. If the schools are correct in their claims that they are budgeting properly, then the people will get to see it; if they are not, the people will get to see that as well. Most importantly, whatever is seen, it will allow people to come up with far more creative solutions to help the schools lower their budgets, which will lower tuitions, which will free up money for the people themselves.

Dave said...

This would require a large, community wide change.

Those are very hard to make happen.

It would require giving up on something that has over the last generation been touted as the ideal of Jewish life.

That is going to be very hard to make happen.

And it will require a lot of personal privation.

I could be wrong, but I don't see this happening. I think it is more likely that we will see a financial collapse, and a lot more of the "shtick" (which I expect to eventually come to the attention of law enforcement, and then I expect to see both a lot of arrests, and some very shrill and baseless cries of anti-semitism).

Al said...

Is it possible, that our grandparents, tough as nails Depression/Holocaust Survivors, WW II Vets, etc., made some wrong decisions? Perhaps the "do everything for our children" sacrifices led to their children thinking that they were special (and didn't need to sacrifice), not that that was what you need to do for your children.

What happened to our schools isn't really a mystery... the post-WW2 economic boom in the US created massive non-profits loaded with wealth. Most of these non-profits were founded with the wealth of conservative businessmen and entrepreneurs. These foundations were slowly taken over by liberal "do-gooders" interested in spending someone elses money on things that they would find abhorrent.

For all our schools are "broke," they aren't... they have land/building equity, depending on age, and a tremendous stream of revenue, and no consequences for losses. This attracts a type of person that wants kudos for spending other people's money.

With my pre-school aged children, the difference between the quality of the environment and the attitude between the day school we had them at, and the private Glatt Kosher facility we are at now is night and day better... the profit motive is much better than the corruption motive that runs our schools.

For the grandparents, a Jewish school was a luxury that they sacrificed... once it became a necessity, costs flew up much faster than inflation, combined with family sizes, and income limitations from our lifestyles has made this unaffordable.

And the dirty little secret? Plenty of the the parents that worked two jobs to pay for schooling two generations ago worked every Shabbat to earn money... something not so acceptable these days in Frumkeit... we don't like the nominally Orthodox but non practicing Jews anymore, remember...

baruch said...

yeshiva tuition was $500 per year when I was a kid in the 1960s/1970s - and most did not even pay that much

today it is $15,000 for elementary school and $23,000 for high school - even taking inflation in to account - it is much more expensive today

Al said...

Baruch, the Catholic schools have contained costs, because the Church is serious about schooling being a way to reach people, and that it is part of their calling. The independent Catholic schools have gone tit for tat with the secular private schools, matching price and quality.

Our Yeshivot have NOT contained costs the way the Church has contained theirs... but then Catholic birth rates are dropping while Jewish ones rise, making them easier to support on the adult population. In addition, the Church controls funds regionally, while our Jewish world runs independently. The Orthodox World's inability to play nicely and pick a Chief Rabbi and the appropriate structure kills us here... old Catholics just leave the money to the Church, old Jews have to pick where to put it, and most of our money goes to Holocaust museums.

Our MO Day Schools have kept up price wise with the secular/independent Catholic competition, but not quality. We conveniently blame that on the dual curriculum, without asking if our kids are learning either.

We're not serious people, we're whiners and complainers. The Catholics are serious people, they took a bad translation of our Bible and ran across the planet, they set up schools across the globe... we focus on trying to keep identical pronunciations as our ancestors did in Europe... who is serious about growth and spreading.

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry, is there a rash of women in frum communities suddenly refusing to wear nice clothes on Shabbos? What is up with "shiurim" on dressing nice for shabbos? Rabbonim suddenly have to convince women to go out and buy nice clothes?

Having to "convince" a woman who wears suits to the office that she has to buy special shabbos clothes smells of subtle backhanded bashing of women who work in professional settings (they need to pay an extra "tax" of more shabbos clothes to be really frum).

We're in a worldwide economic meltdown, and the answer is to go shopping? Seriously, I've never heard of something more idiotic. Once again, this is a made up "frum" halacha that has nothing to do with halacha and once again, just puts more pressure on families to spend even more money that they don't have.

Until the sham is exposed, people on the blog will continue to run around in circles about how the frum community has no money.

Lion of Zion said...

"I also know a SAHM who says ther eis no point in her working as all she earns would go to the higher tuition demanded from the schools if the income for the household rises. With a household of 7 children, they get more off than what they pay for tuition. In any case, what she is qualified to earn would only amount to 2-3 tuitions."

i'm at a loss for words. well not really, but the words going though my mind right now would probably be censored.

Anonymous said...

Our insularity is not helping our community financially. Many people who do work only consider work in the community (schools, camps, heimishe stores, etc). It just makes sense that we should bring in more money from *outide* the community, thus increasing the wealth instead of diminishing it. Of course we need teachers, and there should be some incentive for wonderful educators to work in our schools.

anonymousmom said...

Bottom line again:
transparency, communal cooperation between schools, public brainstorming, shift of donations (whatever may be left).
The crisis that is just now unfolding in waves will be the biggest push for culture change. It won't happen because of want. It will happen because we will all have no choice. So, again, any facts from MO day school administrators or board members?

AnonYMous said...

Ezzie really seems to be stepping up to the plate. He has rational and concrete steps to begin to address the problem. He wants to identify the root causes so we can come to a consensus as to the solutions. He is not pontificating as to what the root causes are. He wants research to come up with a rational approach. He is right in assuming that there should be transparency in budgets.
If YOUR school does not have this transparency are there enough other parents and community leaders to advocate for it? If not, why not? Ezzie, i hope you are gettting involved in your school in your community. You would be given increasing levels of influence simply because you approach issues with calm and are a team player.

That being said, there seems to be competing interests as to the goal of Jewish education. Half want lower tuition. The other half wants to have an education on par with a good private secular education. If you want a nice gym, sports, APs, co-curriculars and technology you will pay what a good private secular education costs. We want full-time teachers who will be devoted to the students and school but are we prepared to pay for benefits and the salaries that accompany an aging full-time staff? We want highly qualified teachers, but are we ready to pay for the continuing education and professional training that this entails? Masters Degrees are not cheap. They take away time to earn other money and there are also tuition costs. Teachers will expect their financial investment in job growth to be compensated. When does the consumer complain most - when their child has a poorly trained teacher or when their tuition bill goes up another $1000? What does the majority want and do they realize the implications of their decisions?

Most of these comments continue the whining. There is no focus on individuals taking leadership. Excuses and blame are thrown out with abandon. It's all about culture change, how "they run" the schools, etc. When we say comments like "schools" instead of "my school" it shows we are not serious about the problem because why should we affect more than one school at a time. Who are we that "the community" should listen to us. So instead of trying to change the culture we should be looking at where are our spheres of influence.

That being said, if we have a solution and it is not being listened to we have to try to understand why not. Working on a communal level requires a large degree of introspection. Every person must determine whether they are the person who is inspired or the one who is impeding progress by always being the naysayer who has to be right and knows it all. If noone is listening to you is it because you are a pain in the neck person who everyone tries to avoid or is there another reason your ideas are not gaining traction?

As for praising Catholic schools, I'm not sure which diocese you are talking about. Catholicism is a dying religion in most of the Western world. Most resources are being focused on Latin America and Africa. Catholic schools are being shut if they are not financially successful. Talk to your Catholic friends and find out how many Catholic schools with hundreds of kids have been shut down because they weren't making enough money. Many Catholic parents are resorting to homeschooling and there is great concern about the future of the Church in America because they are shuttering schools that don't turn a profit.

Finally, cultural changes take time. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation was started by one person. it seems like we are looking for a return to simplicity. Anyone have any graphic talent and want to join up with other like minded people to start increasing public awareness about the benefits of frugality and personal responsibility?

tesyaa said...

SL, on another blog you made the comment that "the whole system is backwards" but cryptically did not explain. I'm assuming you're waiting to discuss what you meant until you have time to put a post together.

JS said...

Transparency is a problem, but it isn't the main problem. Many schools are run very well and still have financial issues.

The issue is us. You can't run a school where the vast majority of people aren't paying anywhere near full tuition. And there's no incentive to pay full tuition when yeshivas tolerate people not paying or paying a pittance. Fortunately or unfortunately, yeshivas are never going to turn their backs on people who can't pay. Our community's priorities and mentschlichkeit are completely out of whack where we not only allow, but encourage people to spend their money on luxury items while people who are owed a debt are forced to the sidelines with their hands out.

It's not the meat in the food budget, it's the lavish bris, bar or bat mitzvah, and weddings. For some reason, the caterer is more important than the yeshiva. God forbid the caterer can't make a living, but who cares if the yeshiva is deep in the red and teachers aren't getting paid. Our community is all about "wants" over "needs." We encourage discretionary spending. Again, it's not the yom tov outfits, it's the summer camps, the yom tov hotels, and the trips to Israel. Everyone comes before the yeshivas.

And the sickest thing about all of this, is that it's all done on the backs of donors and hard-working parents and grandparents who pay tuition and make donations. Everyone gets a free ride and gets to enjoy luxuries on their backs.

Until we address these overarching issues, nothing will change. It's laughable to talk about cutting out meat from the food budget, getting schools to buy supplies together, yom tov outfits, etc. These solutions are all avoiding the 800 pound gorilla and sticking one's finger in the small hole in the dyke as the floodwaters come down overhead. Everyone arguing over saving $100 a month on meat when there's a $30K wedding in the offing.

Once we solve this, then maybe we can move on to people simply not earning enough.

JS said...

One thing that might help, is if the yeshivas could publish the amount it would cost per child with no tuition breaks or anything for the school to be safely in the black.

For example, tuition for yeshiva highschool is set at $20K a child. But, not everyone pays, people have deals, etc.

Maybe people would be more willing to pay, if they knew that if every single person paid $12K per child, the school would be OK. And that as a consequence of them paying less than $12K, every dollar less that they pay means someone else has to pay more. Maybe if people could see it in that light they'd be more willing to be honest and make more of an effort to pay.

Dave said...

As long as schools offer financial aid/reduced tuitions, they will be effectively deciding what spending and income decisions are "good" and what spending and income decisions are "bad".

One way to change this is to have school with a simple policy. Open books, and no financial aid at all. The price is the price. Then there is no question of whether or not the school is using working parents with small families to subsidize non-working parents with large families, or whether a house is more appropriate than a vaction, or any other financial decision.

Of all of the options, this is the least intrusive.

Al said...

JS, but if everyone paid $12k, would they be okay, or would the Judaica principal go and increase salaries for any Rabbi that was related to someone that he wanted to impress, and it would now be $13k...

If you collected tuition, would donations be used to upgrade facilities, or would you instead increase the money paid for meat from the supplier who happens to be neighbors with the President's wife.

The corruption factor in the schools near me (a large out of town community) is MASSIVE, we're not talking $100, but probably 20% of the budget is total waste... overspends, budget overruns, bank charges because rather than using a line of credit, they just overdraft because that doesn't show up on the balance sheet at board meetings. The mismanagement costs aren't small.

And the Catholic Church in the United States is doing just fine, they have maintained their 25% population. You're showing your NYC bias... immigrants from Europe setup shop in the northeast US, so the Church was huge there. The sex scandal has wiped out the diocese in Boston, and the areas in the north east where it was contained.

Check out the Catholic schools in Houston, Dallas, Miami... areas with growing immigrant populations in the 21st century...

The wealthy Catholics had a choice, join the wealthy WASPS in the "secular" schools, or build quality Catholic schools, the independent Catholic schools near me compete hard with the secular independent schools, and have plenty of Jewish students as a result.

The wealth Jews either are secular and send the kids to school with the WASPS, or are sending their children to overpriced crappy Jewish schools.

When we have an entire generation that does finally worse off because the children of Doctors and Lawyers are heading to Touro after being recruited in their year in Israel, we'll be unable to support these institutions.

We're already dependent on educated BTs coming in with income, and wealthy Jewish families "getting religion" and cutting checks to support our Orthodox institions, plus raiding non-Orthodox money from federations to try to stay afloat...

The secular Jewish world is shrinking, so we better figure out self sufficiency before the gravy train shuts down.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Well, Dave, here's the view from where I'm sitting - when you do the things you mentioned, which I have done, you are rejected by the community. Not outright, but subtly. When you act responsibly, they are insulted (because it's an indictment against them). When you have firm priorities and won't break them, they feel threatened. When you refuse to play the game, they count you out of it. So you can only refuse to play if you're willing to be an outcast - only if serving Hashem as best you can and arranging your affairs so your goals are accomplished is more important to you that being accepted by them. For most people, that simply isn't happening.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Rosie is absolutely right - a woman with more than two kids is not doing anyone a favor by working outside the home for pay unless she is making six figures, which most never get anywhere near. The extra costs of working outside the home more often than not outweigh the benefits, both financially and in child-rearing (there's a book called The Two Income Trap that you can buy used from Amazon.com for a compilation of studies on this matter).

A woman who runs a large family is doing all the same things as a woman who runs a business - without receiving a monetary paycheck. But the satisfaction of having well-raised kids, a successfully managed budget and well-run home more than make up for any of the supposed benefits of working outside the home.

Ahavah Gayle said...

As Anonymous herself admits above, her motivating for sneering at SAHMs is jealousy, not sound economic advise.

To Anonymous: I strongly suggest you sit down and do the math - and see whether or not you would be better off getting rid of all the extra expenses of working outside the home, such as business attire and accessories, eating out, processed convenience foods at home, child care, extra automobile costs, extra gasoline costs, etc., etc. There are many of us who would be happy to help you do this.

You're not "nurturing" yourself if you're angry at yourself that your kids are being raised in herds by strangers - you're hurting yourself by letting that happen when it's clear from your posts that you hate it.

Anonymous said...

I know of a Jewish org with a 2 Million budget that had more than 40K in bank fees in ONE YEAR.

Anonymous said...

Ahavah, what is your advice for those of us who ARE earning 6 figures and are helping support our families and communities? Yes, we do exist.

Anonymous said...

Ahavah, it's me again and I earn 6 figures, I do my own house cleaning and all my meals are homemade (yes, I do open a package of frozen french fries as a SUPPLEMENT to a homemade meal). I make my own bread from scratch. I don't clip coupons, however.

Dave said...

Cleaning the house? Is a family responsibility, not one persons.

Cooking the meals? Is a family responsibility, not one persons.

Doing the laundry? Is a family responsibility, not one persons.

Now, I expect that in most households tasks will get divvied up, but to assume that all three of these are "her" responsibility strikes me as ludicrous. And in our proposed large family, there are children who can be (and I would say should be) taking over chores as they grow older.

Anonymous said...

Why can't the SAHM's be more live and let live and realize that what works for them may not work for everyone else? Why so judgmental of working mothers? Some mothers are working and their kids are turning out just fine. Why work so hard to show that your way is the right way for all?

Anonymous said...

Ahavah, you're confusing two Anonymouses because I work and I don't hate it -- I like it, although my lifestyle is hectic, but I'm sure yours is too.

Anonymous said...

Dave, those things became the woman's roles because the woman was already at home, taking care of the baby, while the husband was generally out working.

I'm sure now you realize the community is far from monolithic, that there are families with husbands in kollels and families with SAHMs, all sure that their way is the right way and looking down on others.

Anonymous said...

Ahavah, why would you suggest buying the book from Amazon.com? How about getting it for free from the library?

Anonymous said...

Figure out a fundraiser and do it. Every PENNY counts.

In my experience, this is completely untrue. Every penny does not count - almost all of the small fundraisers are used to raise money for "extras" and don't do anything at all to reduce tuition. And even some of the big fundraisers raise funds for scholarships and not to reduce the overall tuition (though at least in that case, there may be some relationship).

It is not whining to recognize a real problem in our community.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but my gut is telling me that "the problem" has its roots in affluence, especially the rapid rise to affluence that the US Jewish communities (and some French and English Jewish communities) have experienced in the last 2 generations.

Mark

PS - Shavuah Tov everyone!

JLan said...

A couple of comments:

1) How about SAHDs? Is there a reason why it has to be SAHMs, other than cultural?

2) Beyond merely salary is salary + benefits. There are professions out there that provide benefits with significant value. As examples: public school teacher (family health insurance for free), professor (free or reduced college tuition, possible chance at free or reduced housing), any profession that includes a company car or other transportation, etc. Granted, not everyone will have these jobs, but it's important to factor them all in when looking to live.

SephardiLady said...

Figure out a fundraiser and do it. Every PENNY counts.

If a fundraiser is bringing in "new" money, than it might count. Let's define new money as money coming in from donors not being reached through current fundraisers.

If a fundraiser is just spreading around money that vendors would spend anyways, it could well be adding expense.

SephardiLady said...

JLan-I'll make a post on homemaking Dad's or SAHD's. I've met plenty of non-Jewish SAHD's. I've met one frum SAHD. . . . he quickly abandoned that for kollel.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone, man nor woman is capable of earning 6 figures. While we now can hold Obama as a model for a person of minority background rising to the top, the vast majority of people will not be anything near as successful. Some people have the ability and talent and others don't. Some parents can juggle high power careers and multi-child parenthood and others can't. If women want to stay at home and nurture babies, they probably should either work part time, or take courses so that they can re-enter the work force when their children are older. I know a woman who has 3.5 kids and gets free tuition from the government and takes online courses while working from home. If nurturing babies is a luxury, may we all be blessed with such ultimate indulgence. If families are forced to choose between the luxury of nurturing babies and day school, maybe their choice will be to give up day school. As for their communal obligation, they can send a check.

tesyaa said...

SL, because of the time stamp and the writing style of the last post, I'd guess you are the most recent "Anonymous". Am I correct?

JS said...

I'm so sick of this nonsense that all women should stay at home and that anyone who leaves to join or rejoin the workforce is causing a financial loss to their family on top of the loss of a nurturer.

If someone can't bear to be away from their family for even a few hours a day (even when the kids are at school) then just say so. Don't make up ridiculous nonsense that a woman has to make over $100,000 to have a net financial gain to her family. You clearly don't know just how much $100,000 is or that your services, however precious in intangible gains, are not worth nearly $100,000 in purely financial terms.

And guess what? Most working moms make their own meals, do their own food shopping, laundry, clean the house, help kids with homework, etc. And the father usually helps out too, imagine that. Your binary approach is disheartening, that a mother must be all or nothing, that if she works, she must be a bad mother incapable of doing anything for her family.

You also forget that even if a woman works for a minimal gain immediately, her earning potential only increases for most jobs. Also, by not working, you're giving up not only future wages, but social security benefits, and perhaps also a pension or health benefits depending on the job. Finally, what does a woman do when her kids are all in school? Sit around at home all day? My mother in law is in this unfortunate situation. She stayed home for the kids and in so doing, gave up a great job as a public school teacher for special needs children. Her kids are several years out of the house (and even when they were older in high school didn't need her home). She now sits around with nothing to do and gave up a great pension in addition to salary and other benefits.

My mom, on the other hand, went back to work for the government when we were all in school. You would have probably told her it was a net loss. She went to work for around $20K. She started oart time and increased her hours as we got older. And it was a low-level position not some high-powered job - she was little more than a secretary. Except now, about 20 years later she's a high-ranking supervisor and she earns over 6 figures. She also is going to have a great pension. And between you and me, all of us kids turned out just fine, went to great colleges, have great jobs, and love our parents and never felt we missed out on anything.

Commenter Abbi said...

JS, I completely agree with you and I will add one point: The mass layoffs that we are only beginning to see will really reveal the weakness of the "the two income trap" argument. When families lose their single income and SAHMs aren't really there to pick up the slack, or can only pick it up with very low level income jobs that they feel are beneath them because they went to college!, that's when we'll see the real ramifications of this SAHM trend.

Heads of families (both moms and dads)both need to be prepared to support their families in every way possible, including financially. By opting out of the work force, moms seriously jeopardize both themselves and their families, especially in tough economic times like these as well as emergency situations (ch'v death or illness)

ProfK said...

Oh for heavens sake, why is it that every conversation that starts out on one topic makes a left turn and ends up in the stay at home versus working mother neighborhood?! There are pros and cons on both sides, but there are also outside factors that make personal choice a moot point: economic conditions both now and in the future.

A stay at home mom is a luxury today when 1)some men are not earning money, 2)some men aren't earning much money, 3)some men aren't earning enough money to cover what are considered as required expenses, 4)more women than men are earning college and graduate degrees, hence starting out with potential higher earning power as the years progress, 5)yeshiva tuitions represent a greater and greater chunk of the money available, 6)saving for future expenses (college expenses for children, retirement etc.)can't be done on only one salary,regardless of how high, 7)staying out of the work loop for 10-15 years means that whatever is earned will never hit levels high enough to make a difference for some people, 8)there is no appreciable difference between children who have been raised by a SAHM and one who works.

I've been both a SAHM and a working wife/mother--neither can claim the moral high road. It's not about whose house has polished door knobs or whose house has take out food (so SAHMs never buy pizza, or, by the way, hire cleaning or babysitting help? They never leave their homes during the day, thus never using up gas? They never go shopping with their kids and eat out as a "treat"? They never take their kids places that cost money? Dream on). As was so famously said a while back "It's about the economy stupid." It's about economic independence and about digging yourself out of an economic hole--or preventing falling into that hole to begin with.

And enough please about how we are being saved by BTs who bring in inherited wealth. Plenty of inherited wealth in the FFB crowd. And plenty of poor among the BTs. This isn't about using grandpa's money to save the Jewish world; it's about making your own money.

And it's also about this: one segment of the frum communities relying for the payment for its services on another segment, while denigrating the segment that is making up the deficit for the segment that can't pay. Funny how work isn't valued by the segment that benefits from the work of others.

Ahuva said...

SephardiLady, SAHDs are rare, but not unheard of. I know of one who was a SAHD for seven years (while his children were young) and another who is still a SAHD. The second one even had a prestigious law degree, but decided it was "best" to be at home with his kids.

SephardiLady said...

tesyaa-I always sign into blogger and never use anonymous. I had to go back and look at the comment and can see the resemblance in writting style. But I don't completely concur, so I definitely can't be take responsibility for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Being a SAHM or a SAHD is a personal choice. However, it should not be made on the backs of others. In setting scholarships, schools should take a family's actual earings and add a set amount for the earnings that a SAHM or SAHD chooses not to make and thereby help pay a fair share of tuition. For example a 30 year old SAHM with a college education should be deemed to have an additional $45,000 in income. A 25year old SAHM with just a high school degree should be deemed to have $25,000 in income when calculating scholarships. Exceptions can be made for parents who don't work because they are disabled, recently were laid off, have seriously ill children, etc.

tesyaa said...

SL, your word is good enough for me, and writing styles can be similar, so enough said!

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous, $45,000 after taxes or before taxes? What about childcare?

Al said...

Anonymous, you're 100% on target. It's absurd that the dual income families subsidize the single income families.

The "benefits" to a family of a stay at home spouse are 100% real... they have cheaper food costs (less need for take out), cheaper cleaning costs (I know plenty with a cleaning lady once a week though, but the full time housekeepers are usually in dual income families), cheaper groceries (hunting down sales, clipping coupons), cheaper automotive budgets (if they have two cars, one is usually really old, too old to show up at work with and be taken seriously), cheaper clothing budgets, etc...

These benefits are 100% real... not only that, they are tax free benefits, and Jewish tax (tuition) free benefits... Somehow, the single income family isn't expected to pay $1000 extra a year in tuition because they have $1200/year clipping coupons. When figuring out how much the dual income family needs to love, does anyone consider a few extra take out meals to keep life sane?

Nope. The SAHM luxury is real, and subsidized by the working families, and that's the resentment. Each family should be free to spend their money as they see fit, AFTER they pay their bills. Unfortunately, the skirting on tuition and expecting a permanent subsidy (assistance year after year) means that you have internalized the benefits of being a SAHM, and socialized the costs onto the community.

If you get by on one income by skipping out on preschool, never taking vacations, etc., because you want to nurture your children, Gd Bless You, but if you skip on the second income by skipping paying tuition, you are part of the problem.

There is plenty of inherited FFB money, but most of it is older (2-3 generations ago)... and because of our family sizes, will split up... if you have 8 kids vs. 2 in the rich secular world, the wealth doesn't last as long... The FFB wealth is a constant, ProfK, the BT money is what is drying up as the secular Jewish world shrinks.

SephardiLady said...

Al-I won't argue that some single income families are being subsidized by some dual income families. But I know more than plenty dual income families with tuition assistance.

What would you say to the mother who looses money by going out? I know of a mother who knows the dollar figure she looses (most people probably don't make the calculation of what they gain/loose) is her family is on assistance. Would you tell her to stay home?

What I'm getting at is that there are many calculations, and unless we want to submit to a nanny state where a school administrator orders who will work, at what type of job, and how much, this will be an issue(although I agree that all families should work their darndest to make sure they are taking as little as they can if at all).

Commenter Abbi said...

SL: With the way the system is set up now, people who choose to live on single incomes cannot expect the luxuries that pple who work dual incomes can pay for with the extra income they bring in. As unfortunate as that is, that is the reality.

Whether a mother loses out or not by working (which is very debatable- plenty of women, myself included, just let the house go in order to make some extra income) does not solve the problem of dual income families supporting single income families with tuition assistance.

Choosing to SAHM includes making hard choices and sacrifices. Yeshiva education might be one of those.

Dave said...

If you have a situation where the school decides which income/expense decisions are valid, and which are not, you have the school outright determining the propriety of choices.

It seems to be that the right answer may be "no scholarships, no tuition assistance". The price is the price.

Families can either make decisions that let them meet that price, or they can find a third party who pays it on their behalf.

No more questions of large family versus small family, stay-at-home versus work outside the home, on the books or off, at least as far as the school and tuition are concerned.

One interesting side effect; if such a school were started, and if it were run well, it would likely pull full-tuition families from other schools, simply because the "list price" tuition would be significantly lower.

And onlike other options, it doesn't require a wholesale change in the community to make it happen; it just requires a small group and the seed money to get it started.

Dave said...

(Sigh) Unlike even.

Anonymous said...

SL: You asked me if the $45,000 was before or after taxes and how child care expenses are or are not factored in. I suggest doing whatever is done for working parents. If the school looks at pre-tax income before determining how much financial assistance the family gets, I suggest the same for the imputed income for the stay at home parents. BTW- the 45K was just a guess. Obviously the actual figure would require some research as to what's appropriate given the job market, etc.

As for all the proponents of no scholarships whatsoever, I think that's attacking the problem with an ax instead of a scalpel to borrow a phrase from the presidential debates. Some parents legitimately can't earn enough to pay full tuitions, even if they are rock bottom prices. Also, there is something to be said for socioeconomic diversity in schools.

Dave said...

Some parents legitimately can't earn enough to pay full tuitions, even if they are rock bottom prices. Also, there is something to be said for socioeconomic diversity in schools.

I agree, to both of those.

I just don't think it can be effectively done (without encouraging people to either game the system, or making people feel used) by having it done by the school directly.

Have a third party 501(c)3 that handles the scholarships. It can have whatever policies it wants (within the bounds of the law), and is responsible for raising the funds that it needs to pay those scholarships. But have an absolute separation between that charity and the school. The school tuition is set based on actual costs (and best practices like capital funds and rainy day funds for emergencies), and no donations to the scholarship should ever be required.

This way, if people wish to donate to the scholarship fund they can, rather than having it pulled from artificially inflated tuitions.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Sorry, other Anonymous... It would be nice if the various persons posting as "anonymous" would sign some sort of handle at the beginning or end of their posts - something besides your name, obviously, since you want to remain anonymous- LOL.

Ahavah Gayle said...

To the anonymous making 6 figures, as the other anonymous pointed out, I'm now confused about which anonymous has written which posts. Can you be more specific about what "advice" you need?

To whichever anonymous asked about library books vs buying one at Amazon - for nonfiction books, especially those dealing with household issues, I like to underline key sentences and annotate the margins - especially for books you may use over and over again, such as books on household finance (your situation changes as the years go by). If you are the type of person who would rather take notes in a notebook, then by all means don't waste money buying a book you can check out for free. For me, that proved more a nuisance than a help, because I just ended up with a stack of similar looking notebooks and had to sort through them all to find notes on the book I wanted. Plus, things that don't look useful or important at one stage of your life (so you don't take extensive notes on that part) suddenly may become relevant at a later date. I just prefer to have the book if I can find it used. Occasionally, I buy one new, also.

tesyaa said...

SL, I have a comment about the mother who loses money by working. We can keep parsing this further, but I'd say it depends on what kind of work she's doing and if there's a future payoff. A mother who was attending school for, let's say, a master's in speech therapy would be lauded, even though she would be "losing" money at the moment due to tuition, books, and commuting expenses. However, her expected pay at the end of her schooling would be $60-75+ per hour. What about a mother who works earning a low amount, let's say, $35K, but with 5% annual raises and the expectation of future promotions? Right now she's losing money, but the future is bright. If the job is really a dead end job, then I'd guess she's really better off staying home. Sometimes you spend money now to make more money later.

tesyaa said...

As a working parent with a working spouse, I feel happy that I can earn a living and help support my family. I don't feel jealous of SAHM's, but I question some of their financial choices. What really gets me mad is the attitudes -- when I get called in for a conference that "has to be" during school hours, on short notice, or get invited to "mother-daughter" learning that I have to miss because I work. The school's attitude still assumes that there's a SAHM, when the realities of the tuition charged dictate otherwise, at least to my family. Not to mention when other mothers ask me to join them for a weekday lunch (at the pizza store), or assume I don't work Fridays because "how would you cook for Shabbos?".

ProfK said...

Tesyaa,
The schools sort of know that there are lots of working mothers out there. Back when my kids started school all PTA meetings were during the day and were luncheons. By the time my oldest hit high school all PTA functions were supperettes in the evening because they couldn't get a showing otherwise. But you are right that they don't give enough thought to some school activities that are held during the day and that working moms can't attend. As to the cooking for Shabbos, does it really take an entire day to cook for Shabbos? True, it's nice when you don't have to rush on Friday or cook on Thursday but it's nice because you can do other things besides cook. Even on the shortest Shabbos you still have 10 hours.

You can take some comfort in knowing that others "out there" know the value of a working woman. The saying is "If you want something done, tap a busy woman." And by that they mean a working woman. You have to be organized when you don't have all day to do what needs to be done.

SephardiLady said...

I think we can argue that the school schedules in general practically need an available parent. What's coming up? The time of the year where nearly every employee is off. But, outside of certain modern Orthodox schools (ours included, thankfully), the children are not off from school until January. So, parents have to arrange "winter camps" if both parents work and can't make themselves available.

Working around crazy school schedules, depending on the industry, is very difficult. I know TrilCat had an idea of year round 4 day schooling based on my post of some public schools going to 4 day schedules. The more I think about the idea, the more I like it because I really could see being able to get into the workplace more (I already do work from the home) without adding stress that I don't think we can handle as a couple.

Esther said...

Back to the original post, which talks about the Depression genration. I don't know about everyone else here, but my parents were Depression-era kids. My grandfather had to work on Shabbos or he wouldn't have a job. He cried about it but did it to survive. He and his sisters did not complete high school - they began work around age 14, as part of the total family income. My father, along with the majority of religious Jewish children in his South Philadelphia neighborhood, attended PUBLIC SCHOOL. People practiced what today would be called family planning, purposely not having more than one or two children because they wouldn't be able to feed more than that. Overall, they made life decisions based on what they could afford, not on what "the community" would think of them.

My feeling, having a closer connection to this period of time than most people my age (because my parents got married older), is that part of how people are "spoiled" today is with how frumkeit is practiced. Keeping more and more expensive minhagim (such as the discussion above about buying a whole wardrobe of Shabbos clothes), automatically going to full-time learning when you're not in the financial situation to do so, writing off any other possible forms of schooling other than day school even when you can't afford it, etc.

Anonymous said...

Possibly, the shortage of community thinking (as opposed to "me and mine first") comes from the dearth of actual communities. Unlimited numbers of people can live in the same neighborhood/city/whatever without actually being a community. You can belong to the same organizations and use the same schools, etc., and still be totally fragmented.

Anonymous said...

...and wear the same uniforms, too!

Ahavah Gayle said...

"or assume I don't work Fridays because "how would you cook for Shabbos?"."

Well, I'm curious - how do you cook for shabbat if you work all day friday?

Ahuva said...

Ahavah Gayle, you cook Thursday night. :)

aml said...

AG- In the winter, Thursday evening after the kiddies are in bed. In the summer, we usually have time to cook Fridays after work. It certainly doesn't take all day.

aml said...

After having read the comments here and from some of the former posts, here are a few changes that I can that folks have come up with some very good solutions so the very real problems we are having... The ones I like the best...

(1) The four day/ year round schedule (I LOVE this idea, as long as it actually adds school days rather than simply redistributing vacation days throughout the year). Yes, this would be a big cultural adjustment, the large (and costly) summer camps would have to go under or "retool," and the teachers would have a year or two of adjusting curriculum and lesson plans. But I think everyone wins (OK, maybe not the owners of the summer camps)- particularly our children. Teachers would get more class time (I adjunct and find it nearly impossible to cover required materials in 12 or 14 weeks). But, of course costs would need to be adjusted.

(2) Tell us the actual cost/child of running the school.

(3) Charge parents the actual cost/child of running the school.

(4) Seperate the scholarship process from the school. Charge parents for full tuition and have the parents work with a seperate scholarship organization (that perhaps could also run a robust development program for the entire community) to "fill the gaps."

(5) Educate families about the cost of education, explaining to the mother-of-seven (in one of the comments above) that going out to work to cover two- or three- tuitions is the right thing to do. Then I (and the rest if you) won't have to cover those two- or three- tuitions on her behalf; she won't have to be on full welfare, funded by her neighbors.

(6) Open up the books. Every year I have to hand over a budget and later account for that budget. I hate this part of my job but that accountability forces me to be mindful of my budget and spending practices.

tesyaa said...

Love the 4 day week for many reasons, but I can think of the counterarguments:

Teachers and rebbes often take summer jobs in camps for extra income. They probably wouldn't be able to find Friday employment to make up the difference.

My cousin, who works in a (public) school, tells me that the two best things about being a teacher are "July and August." The idea of either having a summer vacation or a chance to take on a second job seems very entrenched.

Schools that house summer day camps would feel that they are losing rental income.

Any additions to this list?

SephardiLady said...

I think I will present the 4 day a school week idea next with the pro and con arguments. But regarding summer camps. . . .I heard through the grapevine that a school took a large hit on their summer camp. I'd be curious how many are profitable and not.

I think the best way to test a four day a week school year is for one school and the parent body to get on board, advertise the idea to the market, and see if parents start running.

Dave said...

That is the key thing. The ideas here can be implemented by one school.

It doesn't require a community wide shift, just one school. If it works, that is evidence. If parts don't work, they can be changed.

rosie said...

My son, like many young men in yeshiva, goes to a yeshiva hundreds of miles from home. Most of his dorm mates also come from far away and few live in that town. Because it is not a local school, I simply pay his tuition but have nothing more to do with the school's policies. I can't exactly join a PTA and bake cookies to sell. I doubt that this yeshiva takes many non-payers. The only exceptions may be yesomim. I don't even think that they reduce the rate for very many families. They leave it to the family of the boy to figure out where to get the money from the same way that a college student of that age would have to get loans, grants, or pay.
What I am trying to say is that some yeshivas are not community schools where parents have a say in the policy or where the schools have a right to tell parents how to make their money.
While it is somewhat useful to know what our ancestors did regarding work, Shabbos observance, and yeshivas, every generation has it's own challenges and solutions. Maybe previous generations were more connected to one another and could pull together. What will probably happen in the coming years is that trends will develop. I see this happening already. Due to the shidduch crisis, many girls are marrying later and getting college degrees while they are waiting rather than simply teaching in Bais Yaakov schools. The next generation of right wing frum women will have a greater concentration of professional women and working mothers than previous generations did.

David said...

I'm completely with Dave: we need to fully separate the scholarship from the tuition, and make payment of full tuition the norm rather than the exception.

This also means no free tuition for anyone, of course.

Given that the actual answer to "what did our grandparents do?" was "send their children to public school + work on shabbat," perhaps we should change our expections? Wouldn't the public Hebrew charter school experiment (Ben Gamla) be a good idea? I'm surprised that this hasn't taken off in denser Jewish communities.

Anonymous said...

David: A Hebrew charter school might teach hebrew and perhaps Israeli culture and history, but it cannot teach religion (other than perhaps an objective comparative religion course)if it is publicly funded, and it could not exclude non-jews or kids whose moms don't wear shteitls or families who don't keep kosher, etc. Personally, I don't think that public school is such a bad idea for some kids. If you get enough observant kids in a public school so they have peers who are like them, it might not be a big problem for the right kids, as long as its supplemented with appropriate after school programs.

JLan said...

A few notes:

On Dave and David's idea of full tuition schools: I like it, but with one exception. The school should (clearly on the books and publicly) be able to offer discounted tuition to employees. The trick here is ensuring that employees are not patronage positions but rather are trained teachers. Understand that teachers can be professionals, and that discounted tuition to such a school is a potential perk. Obviously, if this is the case, the teachers must be treated as professionals as well: performance reviews, competitive hiring (one Bachelors degree should be the MINIMUM), experience and former employer recommendations, etc.

With that said, whether in a full tuition school or a school with scholarships, everyone should pay something. A family making relatively little might pay very little, but free tuition takes away the understanding of how much of a hit tuition can be.

To Ahavah Gale: like Ahuva said, you cook Thursday night (or Friday if you have the time). Note also that cetain things can be huge time savers: challah dough freezes quite nicely, and making a large batch even gives you the opportunity to separate challah with a brachah. Chicken soup freezes easily as well, and gets better each time it's cooked. The ability to pull half a meal out of a freezer is not something to be ignored.

aml said...

tesyaa: I would presume that if the teachers are puttng in more total hours they would be paid more.

I too don't know why the Hebrew charter school hasn't taken off. I've commented about this several times before- I too think it could work with the right yeshiva program built around it (at perhaps 1/2 to 1/3 of the tuition).

And JLan, I'd love to see Jewish studies teaching positions become highly competative, coveted jobs and if a tuition break would allow for that, I agree with you (I'm just not sure how successful it's been in "raising the bar" thus far).

Dave said...

Tuition discounts for staff are dangerous. They are dangerous because they become more lucrative the more children the staff members have. And they are dangerous because using tuition for anything other than meeting the cost of the education sets up some of the same problems we're trying to avoid.

Instead, just raise the teacher salaries by the amount of money you were willing to spend on the tuition discounts.

No muss, no fuss, and it doesn't open up the Pandora's box of playing games with what tuition people pay.

SephardiLady said...

Agree with Dave about the economics of unlimited discounts. I believe our local institutions give free tuition for all administrators, which is, of course, a large line item in the budget.

A plus of tuition discounts is to attract staff's own children to the school which gets them to "buy in" as a parent, not just an employee.

Dave said...

If your teachers aren't willing to pay to send their students to your school, that should be a big warning sign.

Moreover, having the teachers paying full price empowers them to speak as parents; they don't have the shadow of "well we pay a fortune, and subsidize your children" hanging over them.

If I were setting something like this up, I'd have a hard and fast rule. "Full tuition is due two weeks before the start of class. No exceptions."

But to make it easier for people to be fiscally responsible, payments can be made up to one year in advance, on a monthly basis. Once the full tuition is paid, no more payments are needed (for people who won't split it evenly because of seasonal income). No funds will be refunded until two weeks before the start of the next school year.

At that two week mark, parents who have chosen not to enroll their students for the following year will have the money returned to them.

Parents who have made partial payments will have those payments and the interest that their payments have earned applied towards tuition, but are required to pay the rest. Should they not do so, they fall into the first category, and the interest is forfeit.

Parents who have made full payment have the interest returned to them.

The money invested must be done transparently (low risk accounts such as money markets, CDs, or T-Bills), and the school must guarantee the parents that the school absorbs any loss. If you paid full tuition, you are absolutely covered, even if something went wrong.

However, in addition to encouraging people to budget giving the school greater confidence in its accounts receivable being received, this also provides parents with the money for the back-to-school expenses each year.

anonymousmom said...

Interesting comments. Still waiting for someone who knows a bit more about the system from an administrative standpoint to comment. MO administrators will add a dose of reality to the conversation.

Lion of Zion said...

"Well, I'm curious - how do you cook for shabbat if you work all day friday?"

(eyes rolling, and rolling, and rolling . . .)

JLan said...

"If your teachers aren't willing to pay to send their students to your school, that should be a big warning sign."

I don't know if I'd agree with that. Perhaps the teacher enjoys teaching there, but there is a school which better fits their child in some way (this is especially true for children with special needs). It's also relevant, of course, if both spouses are teachers but teach in different schools. In general, though, it's probably accurate.

In terms of your proposals- how about a lock-in rate? You know, kid starts high school, parents pay all four years up front and get the tuition rate of freshman year? If we divide up into preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school, it's possible to never have more than a five year period where the child is prepaying.

David said...

Anon 5:49:

I agree with your points entirely, but don't see any of them as problematic.

1) religion can't be taught in a meaningful way in a public school.

Yes, that's true, and completely fine. I would expect that the primary job of teaching religion should fall on parents, who model "this is how it's done" to their children.

2) you couldn't exclude non-frum Jews

What precisely is gained by ostracising and refusing to educate children whose parents don't wear sheitels? I am not aware of anything positive which comes from this. We do have a mitzvah of lo titgodedu (don't make schisms) which is all too often ignored...

3) you can't exclude non-Jews

You can't do this in the real world either. And furthermore, I don't see the problem here: a child will be too young to date in primary school, so there is no concern about intermarriage. Moreso, in the real world, an observant Jew is often surrounded by Gentiles in the workplace, and learning how to be positive about saying "this is my custom, which is different from yours" is a very, very important skill.

Once you are fluent in Hebrew, learning Jewish texts becomes a LOT easier and more natural. After-school programs could easily make up the difference, especially if we use pirkei avot's guideline for the appropriate ages of study (10 = mishna, 15 = gemara)...

Lion of Zion said...

DAVE:

"If your teachers aren't willing to pay to send their students to your school, that should be a big warning sign."

actually, i think one of the most important questions to ask a prospective school is what percentage of the teachers with kids send their kids to this school. if the percentage is too low, is often (note the "often") means one of two things

a) it's a crappy school
b) the teachers don't share the hashkafah of the parent body

either situation is not a good one.

JLAN:

"how about a lock-in rate?"

i'm not sure too many people have 50-100k lying around (per kid) to pay up front

how would this help in any case?

Dave said...

I think a multi-year prepayment is too big a bite.

More specifically, I think few if any people would take advantage of it, and it would complicate things unnecessarily.

Single year prepayment is fairly straightforward, since when a child will start school is known well in advance. And since everyone is always paying one year in advance (whether by paying the money over the preceeding year, or simply writing a check just before the start of school), you don't have different categories of parents/students.

aml said...

Dave (10:59am) you are 100% correct here... Now how can we get enough on board to make this happen?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave's idea - create a school with one level of tuition for everyone, no sliding scale, no scholarships. I would prefer to send my kids to a school like that. Scholarships can be handled outside the school, Federation, Synagogues, Scholarship funds, etc. All with an application and so forth, and all paid from a source outside the schools, to the schools directly with the parents making up the balance of the tuition due.

If your teachers aren't willing to pay to send their students to your school, that should be a big warning sign.

It's not always a warning sign. For example, I wouldn't expect the Christian math teacher that I had in 7'th grade to send his kids to Yeshivat Etz Chaim that I attended :-) I think the statement might be more correct if only applied to limudei kodesh, and even so, I could think of some exceptions. I strongly agree that employees of the school (principals, teachers, etc) should not get the benefit of free tuition - too much possibility of conflicts and conflicts of interest (for example, a teacher that pays no tuition will naturally not "feel" decisions they make that cause increases in overall costs).

Also, there is something to be said for socioeconomic diversity in schools.

There are also a lot of things that can be said against socioeconomic diversity. I'll illustrate by a recent example. My niece is in 8'th grade, and the "powers that be" decided that the 8'th grade trip this year should be to Israel for 10 days. The cost was set at $3,600 per student and after a week or two, about 20 out of 44 students registered for the trip. The administration and the "powers that be" were disappointed with the low turnout. ((Aside - What ever happened to the 8'th grade trips where the kids piled into a bus and drove to Washington DC or to Hershey Park, PA???))

After less than a week, the "powers that be" (frankly speaking, "the very rich folks that run, and often help fund, the school", let's call them PTB) found a benefactor that would subsidize half the cost. So now the cost was only $1800 per student. Another 15 students registered. The administration and the PTB were still very disappointed since they wanted 100%, or very close to 100%, participation. So they turned up the pressure, with calls every evening from different people trying to convince the remaining parents to sign up. There was even a good amount of peer pressure among the kids. In the end it took them 2 weeks, but now they have 42 out of 44 registered.

My sister and brother-in-law were among the last to register. They really can't afford an extra $1,600 right now (or ever), as they have 3 kids in school, and a fourth entering preschool next year. One in High School, and the 8'th grader entering High School next year. I know that manyof the other families also can't afford the extra $1,600, but the peer pressure is just too strong. I wonder if many of them will need an extra $1,600 in tuition assistance next year?

Mark

Anonymous said...

I just have to weigh in that I think -- hope? -- that the situation Mark described is not typical. I for one would not cave to such pressure. My daughter's 8th grade trip was an overnight in Baltimore (the girls had a blast), but that was only made possible by parental pressure the other way, since the administration had made a unilateral rule against overnight trips. The cost I don't remember, but it was less than $200. Even that might be too much for some folks.

The HS she now attends has an expensive Shabbaton every year (around $150). Last year after the fact I complained to the grade advisor about the cost. She told me that scholarships were available, and didn't I see the application? Well, my daughter had lost it and just asked me for the money! So I can't entirely blame the school for that one. I don't know if that "Shabbaton scholarship" is need based or is available for anyone who asks, but it's a step in the right direction.

Ahuva said...

Anon, scholarship applications for expensive trips/shabbatons make the parents feel like beggars.

What about "the principle of the thing?" Do we really want to set our children's expectations that $3600 trips to Israel and $150 shabbatons are normal and reasonable expenses? My parents always held that such trips resulted in spoiled children, so fliers for such things went immediately into the trash can.

I don't know that I'd want my children to attend a school where the school itself used peer pressure like Mark describes. I was always taught that resisting peer pressure was a good thing and a sign of a strong character. Don't we want our children to learn when and how to say no?

Lion of Zion said...

MARK:

i can't even believe your story. i'm going to assume that you're confusing purim with chanukah and your trying to pull a purim prank on us.

ANON:

"I don't know if that "Shabbaton scholarship" is need based or is available for anyone who asks, but it's a step in the right direction."

how is this a step in the right direction? where is this scholarship money coming from? it either has to be diverted from money earmarked for other uses or raised from donors whose money should not be used to pay for such unenessary and ridiculous frills.

Anonymous said...

Lion, I think it's money raised by the girls specifically for this cause. When there are fundraisers, do you think they all go to defraying tuition? Maybe they should, but they don't.

This brings a point about donors. There are donors who will give money for one thing, but not for another thing. When one of our local schools wanted to build a building, there was a call for trailers (on the grounds of the old building) instead, since many believed that enrollment did not yet justify a new building. The response from the board, which I believe, was that the donors they had lined up for the new building would not give for trailers, they did not want their names on trailers, etc. So if let's say $2 million is available in donations, it may not be available for what you or I believe is in the best interests of the school. That is why I am not sure if any of the common sense ideas espoused in this thread are feasible. You can't just assume that the same funds will be available if the school changes course.

Anonymous said...

And while I think raising money for Shabbatons by selling Laffy Taffys to each other is silly, the girls are going to buy junk food anyway. Why not let the profit go to the Shabbaton instead of the pockets of the vending machine owners? (An aside -- a lucrative business if there ever was one! My friend's brother, not frum, failed his way through HS and is now grossing $10 million a year in vending machines! And doing as well as his Harvard educated lawyer sister, at least!)

Anonymous said...

LOZ - i can't even believe your story. i'm going to assume that you're confusing purim with chanukah and your trying to pull a purim prank on us.

I have not confused Purim and Chanukah (because I didn't drink ad delo yadah :-) and the story is 100% true as told to me by my sister and heard during other conversations. No prank. No kidding.

If you want the name of the school, I can email it to you.

She told me that scholarships were available, and didn't I see the application? Well, my daughter had lost it and just asked me for the money!

It's very possible that she didn't lose it, but didn't' want to be embarrassed by using it.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Mark, normally I might agree with you, but this child, my absent minded professor, loses *everything*. (She's a great kid and I would love to brag more, but not here). And it wasn't the application for the scholarship, it was the application for the whole Shabbaton, which I am told just indicated that scholarships are available and please inquire.

Dave said...

By preference, I'd have our single-rate tuition include everything. All textbooks, all meals, all class trips, everything.

You pay for basic school supplies (clothing, paper, pencils, pens), but all school activities are covered in the tuition. No extra costs coming in later.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Lion:

Roll your eyes if you like! LOL

I cook for 6-7 (more if we have company) 3x a day. If I had to cook for Shabbat on Thursday NIGHT, I would be up all night and still have a lot of things to do on Friday.

Let's see some of you Guys do that!

aml said...

AG: that's a silly statement... come on... I don't mean to belittle what is obviously an important job for you... but you're embarassing yourself.

Ahuva said...

One of my favorite families to spend shabbos with regularly has 10-12 people at each shabbos meal... and the food is mostly prepared Thursday nights. Of course, her kids help with the work. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Ahuva said...

I'm also not trying to belittle AG. You can do some really incredible meals if you spend most of the day in the kitchen, but spending all Friday cooking is a treat for many families (even large ones) and not a necessity.

rosie said...

I just wanted to say that my sister was the volunteer par excellence when her only child was in day school. Early every morning, before my sister went to work, my sister went to the day school and volunteered in the office. She paid full tuition but never begrudged the non-full-payers. She recognized the right of every Jewish child to some form of Jewish education and believed that the welfare of the child was the bottom line. When her child (my niece) graduated, she often returned to volunteer at the day school.
I don't know if dedicated mothers like my sister even exist anymore, but being a volunteer put her on the inside. When her child needed special help due to dyslexia, the school was ready and willing to work with her specialists and make allowances. She attended all the meetings and had a big voice in policies.
We could blog all day and all night about what could be, would be, should be, but only the parents who roll up their sleeves and make themselves highly visible will really have an impact.
As for Shabbos food, I guess people who work on Friday could prepare a crock pot meal on Friday morning before work and it would be ready by Shabbos.

Lion of Zion said...

ROSIE:

"We could blog all day and all night about what could be, would be, should be, but only the parents who roll up their sleeves and make themselves highly visible will really have an impact."

i agree with you 100% that the vast majority of parents complain to no end (whether to each other or on blogs) and never do anything practical to effect change.

although i don't there's anything practical parents can really do short of a tuition strike to get a school to take them seriously.

and i want to point out that your sister's experience does *not* demonstate that parents being on the "inside" can have an impact on the school. what her being on the inside accomplished--at least according to the example you provided--is that it gave *her* a level of proteksiyah so that when her *own* child needed special attention the school went of it's way to accomadate her. i'm glad it worked out for your niece in this respect, but did your sister getting involved have any real affect on the school overall?

"I don't know if dedicated mothers like my sister even exist anymore"

of course they do. only they are dedicated to other things, whether it's raising a family (you said she only had *one* kid), working, doing other types of hesed, etc.

and i'm curious what you're sister does for a living that she could come in so late every morning?

(incidentally, we do put up the crock pot before before leaving for work.)

aml said...

Rosie- of course dedicated mothers (and fathers) exist today... That's just insulting. Unfortunately DH and I can't hang out at the school all day because we've got that tuition bill to pay. We're both working sixty hours a week to make that happen; that's dedication.

Al said...

The dirty little secret of schools... For the first years of public schooling, American schools were "subsidized" by the fact that women had few other employment options... Now, women have options, and women that would have been stellar, brilliant teachers, now have the option of becoming doctors and lawyers and making a lot more money. I'm sure my head will be bit off about the different skills of a teacher vs. a lawyer, but out "best and brightest" women now enter similar fields as our "best and brightest" men, and teaching isn't up there.

In addition, during the wealthy era of SAHMs being "standard," plenty of women had spare times (since they coincided with small family sizes as the post-industrial revolution family was smaller), which let them volunteer in schools, subsidized the education. As the costs of gone up, and real incomes haven't caught up, we don't have that luxury.

It's wonderful that some people have spare money that they can donate. It's also wonderful that some people have spare time to donate. However, the corruption culture of the schools is not the solution. Parents that work hard and pay their bills shouldn't get substandard service because someone has a connection... This culture of "people on the inside" get special treatment, starts with the parent with free time (because she only has one child, not exactly a decision that the Orthodox powers that be encourage, yet the Orthodox school system rewarded) is why the parents all feel like suckers, day schools had 1/3 of their endowment in a shade hedge fund with no transparency (notice no major endowments got caught up in this), YU placed a big chunk of their endowment in a fund run by someone on the board, which meant that nobody would comfortably evaluate if things were on the up and up... it's all connected...

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