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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Will Group Schooling Emerge?

The Lakewood school, Bais Faiga, is still closed (see Wednesday's update). It is being reported that teachers are meeting with students in their own homes and teaching them there until classes resume. I can't help but wonder that if the situation of non-payment and strike festers any longer, that emergence of small scale home-group schooling (you heard the term here first) will end up being seen as a realistic possibilility, especially by the parents who paid up tuition in full and on time and are the most affected by those who lag behind on tuition payments.

Your thoughts? (Gotta run).

26 comments:

KE said...

I love the 1-on-1 (or 1-on-4!) of homeschooling, but I think group learning at home is a viable alternative to school! I think it's great. 10 students in a class would be terrific. If you need $55K to cover a teacher's salary + benefits (probably more than most are making now!), tuition would only be $5,500 each plus materials. The school day could probably be shorter because of having fewer students and logistics. And no building costs! Maybe a reduction in tuition for the host family. I'm all for learning at home. It has been FANTASTIC for us and I love every moment of it (most of the time!).

-Kerith

Esther said...

While it's unacceptable that people weren't being paid, this could turn out to be a major turning point in Orthodox education. So many people are going with "the way things are done" only because they don't want to be the first to be different.

SephardiLady said...

KE-I could see a group school being virtually free with the right mix of parents.

Esther-We have to look at the positive and I like your take. My take is that the longer the strike continues, the more likely it will be for viable home-group schools to emerge, and those least likely to return to the school when/if it reopens will be the full and timely tuition parents who are most vulnerable.

Should be interesting to see what happens.

rosie said...

As with school strikes in the past, it isn't only lack of money because sometimes the money is there. Usually there is some politics involved. Apparently this is soon to be resolved and the strike will be ended. The children will return to their classrooms.
Occasionally there is reason for school children to have class in someone's home because the school building is temporarily out-of-order so it has been tried in many places in the past. I think that even some public school teachers, who couldn't afford to lose days for certain students due to weather, met in someone's home.
While the money situation in the frum world is tight, I still don't think that schools are soon to close up shop. Most people are trying to conduct themselves outwardly in the same way as before the recession. I think that in more private spending, people are cutting back.

SuperRaizy said...

I'm very much in favor of experimenting with home-group schooling. Unfortunately, I don't think that this one event will be enough of an impetus to make that happen.

anonymousmom said...

Rosie, you are on the money, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Rosie--I think past school strikes might have been that way. This one could be Bear Stearns---the first in a long line to fall. Even among those paying tuition, many were using their homes as piggy banks to pay for it. I think the point is that politics may play some roll, but at some point, the money runs out. We may not be there yet, but we are fast approaching that spot.

In my opinion, my guess is we'll see a few more large financial scandals with frum yidden being led away by federal marshalls for defrauding something before the bottom completely falls out.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I am firmly convinced that homeschool co-ops are the only solution to the tuition crisis. If the education system wasn't burdened with building and property expenses, the co-op teachers (moms, dads, kollel guys and college age girls) could receive a decent stipend even with greatly reduced "tuition" rates per pupil. The only real expenses would be books/materials and stipends and possibly snacks - kids would bring their own lunches every day. It's entirely doable.

JLan said...

SL-
Can you get a guest poster to comment on the liability issues here? I can't imagine that a standard homeowner's policy would cover a hired teacher.

David said...

I think that this is a great idea, and am very interested to see how it turns out.

ProfK said...

JLan,
Years back when we had a playgroup for my son instead of sending him to nursery school in the local yeshiva we did ask our insurance agent if there would be extra liability issues. He told us then that there would not be for the following reasons: no money was changing hands for having the group meet in our homes; the group was not a regular occurance in any one home, meeting in a different home each time; we were not considered a "school substitute" since nursery school was not mandated as necessary by the state. He said that the kids in the playgroup would be considered in the same way that other visitors would be considered. Extrapolating from that I would imagine that any group that regularly met in one home, that paid someone to teach that group and that was a form of required state education would bring extra liability with it.

yovoy said...

i think its not a good idea at all.my kindergarten boy had a rough year last year because the setting was too small.when he went to school he thrived with all the social opportunities. also today we are having a large enough problem with abuse within the school framework just imagine the problems that would arise without oversight of a school

Anonymous said...

It looks like it's starting, but make no mistake, this is just the beginning. When some schools start to close, the remaining ones will have to take on those students. And if you thought classes were crowded now, wait till that happens!

It is really unfortunate that so many of our institutions always wait until the last minute in an economic crisis. I suppose it might be considered an "excess of bitachon" :-)

Mark

KE said...

SephardiLady-
Our school has the right mix of parents (myself and DH!) and the only cost is materials. :)

Yovoy-
In a home setting, parents would have PLENTY of oversight, more than there would be in a school.

Re social opportunities, we just have to work at creating them for ourselves instead of having something "ready-made." I'm a "retired" music teacher, so I'm offering a FREE 2-1/2-hour art and music class to a couple of my daughter's (age 5) friends. Hand-picked students, great class! :) We have swimming lessons 2x/week, 4 kids close in age so they endlessly entertain each other, half a dozen friends she gets together with for playdates, cousins in town, nature study classes, etc, etc, etc. She does not lack for social opportunities.

Co-ops could be really good, but I really LOVE how efficient one-on-one tutoring is and the degree to which one can tailor the curriculum - truly al pi darko. It's a ton of work, and not every parent would want that all on their shoulders. Some things lend themselves naturally to a group setting - art, music, science study, conversational Hebrew... Anyway, I really have a passion for this and the extra perk is all the learning I get to do! This lifestyle works really well for our family. :)

Arie Folger said...

Dear SefardiLady,

I admire how you are trying to raise consciousness in the tuition crisis and knowledge about alternative educational models, better management practoces, etc. There is a crisis and it must be dealt with.

However, I am bothered by the mixing up of two separate issues: the cost to educate a child, and its relationship to tuition. While it is entirely legitimate and even desirable to want to make education more affordable and effective, this ought not to involve social stratification. Just like some commenters and posters refer to a desire for more hashkafic diversity within Orthodox educational settings, so, too, it is desirable for kids of different social strata to mingle in school. Thus, I am concerned by comments like "home-group schooling ... will end up being seen as a realistic possibilility, especially by the parents who paid up tuition in full and on time and are the most affected by those who lag behind on tuition payments."

SephardiLady said...

Arie Folger-Thank you for writing and expressing your thoughts. Like you, the last this I feel we need is more social stratification. But, I think it would be a mistake not to acknowledge that certain parents are more affected by tuition issues. For example, my friends who have homeschooled are normally not ones on large scholarships, if at all. This demographic is, perhaps, more price sensitive than others.

Thanks again. I always like it when readers make comments.

Anonymous said...

alot has been written on the subject of home schooling...both pros and cons. one would really need to do their research to see if this is a viable plan of education for their children or not. you might also want to check with your state's laws concerning accreditation, testing, curriculum, hours, etc. home schooling is a huge undertaking, and not to be considered lightly.

Anonymous said...

I think back in the day, day schools started as group schooling around kitchen tables and grew to become institutions as more families participated.

I don't think having an effective group schooling situation is much different than running a school except that you would run into issues because of the lack of professional structure. One parent loses a job - who decides what payments should be made? The Rebbe wants a commitment to be paid for the year, how do you structure that commitment so it is legally binding? You have more than one child, is your group multi-age or only for one age? A parent dies, how do you address the social trauma with your group? One kid has undiagnosed ADD and is creating havoc? Who steps in to create uniform policy? The Rebbe shows up late. Do all the parents yell at him or is one assigned that job. One child is gifted and one has LD with math. You have one math teacher, what do you do? The English teacher shows a PG-13 movie and half the parents are horrified and half think it's great. Who rules the day?

All of these are pretty run of the mill issues working with a group of kids. One parent will end up being in charge of creating a learning environment for both teacher and students, the group will write a mission statement or something of the sort to define your educational philosophy and mission. You'll end up hiring a part time social worker to deal with social issues, have a committee to determine finances so there is privacy, and need a board to take on the financial commitments.

Basically you have created a school. And you may find that when two parents lose their jobs you will want to have a fundraiser to help pay for their share of expenses.


I think while group schooling is nice in theory to be implemented properly is not as simple as starting classes in a basement.

I think you should go for it though. You may find that you have a school you like because you have a say and are invested in its growth.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, one of the major problems with homeschooling is not very relevant to the Bais Faiga crowd, and that's educational quality. A lot the homeschooling actually done in practice (and not in theory or in exceptions) offers extremely poor secular education. But in chareidi environs like Lakewood the system it would be replacing is not better, so it's not a net loss.

Anonymous said...

yes but the judaic education is not much better. So that is not an option either

SephardiLady said...

Anon 5:06PM-Do you have sources to back up your assertions about the general quality of English education given to homeschoolers, because I am under a different impression.

Shoshana said...

I take great exception to the comments regarding a lower level of educational quality in a homeschool setting. Whomever wrote this clearly has no first-hand knowledge of the homeschool paradigm - Jewish or otherwise. Homeschooled children consistently place in the highest percentiles in general studies. My kids are certainly thriving in both secular and religious studies. And I do not believe we are exceptional in this regard.

cool yiddishe mama said...

Today, I was talking to someone about how wonderful it would be if homeschooling were a viable alternative in the frum community? She said, "What would the kids do for a social life?" I admitted frankly that the instruction takes up a small part of the day which the rest can be made up through community athletic programs or other activities. A couple years back a friend of mine and I said that every argument AGAINST home school could be used AGAINST many of these frum schools.

KE said...

Secular academic research has solidly proven that overall, homeschooled students perform above average on state testing, and other inidicators of academic performance. Many higher education institutions actually SEEK OUT homeschoolers because they generally possess an intrinsic desire to learn (as opposed to learning to pass a test or get an A in class). My husband is in academia, and his department deliberately seeks out students who have been homeschooled.

Anonymous said...

Mazel Tov! The school is back open.

http://hamercaz.com/hamercaz/site/news_item.php?id=2696

Money quote:

In an obvious reference to Orthodox blogs and news websites, the Mashgiach added that in contrast, "modern technologies" that were used as a vehicle to discuss the crisis, had been harmful and contributed to an atmosphere of mockery of the community's leaders.

Anonymous said...

"Modern technologies"??? How would he know?