There is a large group of people who believe that if the Orthodox community could come together and enroll all of its students in public school for one year that the public schools officials would start to sweat profusely and would start asking for school vouchers as there is no way that they could handle the influx of new students.
Perhaps it is only because I have a bit of passing familiarity with public schools, but I have yet to buy into this theory which I have seen thrown about. My friend MominIsrael sent me this article which hopefully will help put this theory to rest so that we can start to move from the dream mode that with a bit of achdut/achdus we can make vouchers a reality,* and into the reality mode that (at least for now) we are on our own, cannot rely on a miracle, and are going to have to keep funding our schools on our own.
The author of this article was responding to the assertion in a previous letter that objected to the half day public, half day religious model for many reasons including: "Lastly, the absorption of the yeshiva students to the public school would overwhelm the public system in Teaneck and other locations in North Jersey as well in parts of New York City. How does Ms. Citron suggest that the public schools deal with the special requirements imposed by the absorption of a large number of Orthodox students?" The author writes about a time when he had sat down with previous superintendent of the Teaneck schools to talk about some sort of half day school plan that could accommodate the Orthodox student. The superintendent liked the plan and, surprised, the author asked "Won’t it strain your system?”
The answer: “Yes," “That would happen in the short run. But the thought of having all those bright kids and their involved parents is extremely appealing. Those parents care deeply about their kids’ educations, and the entire school system would benefit from their input and involvement.”
I think it is time to put the theory to rest that the public schools would throw vouchers at us if we were to enroll our student in mass in the public school system to make a statement. As it stands now, many public schools facing crowded conditions have implemented alternative schedules. E.g., one school I lived near had two kindergarten schedules a day, early morning start and afternoon start. Somehow, they accommodated these students in older grades too. If the community where to buy into the theory that the public schools would throw funding and/or vouchers to keep our kids should be enroll in mass in public school, I'm afraid the joke would be on us.
Note: This post should not be construed as supportive of a half day public-half day religious model. I am ony looking at the assertion that the public schools wouldn't be able to handle the enrollment increase.
*I happen to support school vouchers, but the widespread public support needed is simply not there at this time, nor do I believe it is likely to materialize in the middle of a recession when public school students are seeing their own programs cut.