Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Alternative Schooling Models: The Hybrid Model

While researching homeschool co-ops in their various forms, an idea one of my own commentors wrote about in the JPost Bloggers contest, I discovered something known as a "hybrid school." There are a handful of them out there, but one that caught my eye is a 2-day a week, religious Christian school that offers formal schooling in the classics combined with a homeschooling element. Students from mid-elementary through high school meet two days a week for intensive education in the classics and the sciences with both tutors and teachers. In addition to core curriculum, the school also offers an extended day where students can choose academic and extracurricular classes. Tuition is very reasonable. The core curriculum is priced below $2500 for all grades, the highest grades being priced significantly lower. The other academic, extracurricular classes, and study hall are offered on an a-la-carte basis and are open to students who are not enrolled in the core curriculum.

I think a model like this could be potentially very attractive in the frum community. The resource sharing, downsizing, and cost containing elements are all there. I could see separate gender classes being offered on opposite days. I could see a 3 day a week program if more days are what parents want. I could see parents who have the ability to engage in some sort of home education, but do not feel 'homeschooling' is a viable choice finding more attraction to this method. Those who feel homeschooling is too insular and doesn't offer enough social opportunities might find a "real school" with limited hours appealing. Parents who believe the school day/week is ridiculous in terms of hours, schedules, and/or days might also find this school to offer a better middle-ground. Parents who are already homeschooling might enjoy registering their children for some of the a la carte academic or extra-curricular classes. Parents who have placed their children in public school but want their children to still attend school and be in a frum environment to a greater extend could also enroll their children in a la carte classes. Parents, and students for that matter, often realize that they end up having to re-teach or teach themselves the material, so having more hours to get down to business might carry a certain amount of appeal also (I know I felt like getting back home to actually have the chance to concentrate on the material and work at the pace I needed to).

Of course, those who believe that cradle through grave, 6 day a week schooling with extended hours, night seders/extracurriculars, and the expectation of an 8 week summer sleepaway camp is necessary for their child's development or their own needs won't be interested. But, for each parent like this, there is another complaining that they have no family time left schooling begins.

There are tremendous opportunities out there. I think it is time to explore them with an open mind (now you may bombard the comments section with all of the reason why this will NEVER work on cue!). This type of school was something I had never heard of and seems to provide a lot of interesting, quality alternatives.

Also see: The Four Day School Week (an idea that continues to grow on me, although a 2-3 day school could easily get my vote).

54 comments:

Sima said...

I absolutely love this idea. I've always been attracted to homeschooling, but with children at home aged 3 to 11, I doubt that I have the skill to give them a well-rounded education all by myself. Of course this isn't possible for mothers who work outside the home, but perhaps the lower cost of education would make it possible for them to stay at home -- if they really wanted to stay at home with their kids. If anyone wants to start a program like this, let me know!

Anonymous said...

How will you ever get teachers to teach here. They can't possibly earn a living teaching 3 days a week, you will never get a respectable teacher!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - you could if the same building was used to run two sessions each 2 and 1/2 days. The same idea would work with a morning session for half the students and an afternoon session for the other half.

rejewvenator said...

Part of the role of school (and camp) in our society is babysitting. Knowing that the kids are taken care of allows for both parents to work, or alternatively, for one parent to manage having more kids.

Hybrid models probably work for the latter family strategy. For the former, significantly lower tuition might enable one spouse to stay home and care for the kids when they're not in school, but not all families have a spouse willing to take on that role. Nor are there 'daycare' options available that have a frum atmosphere. As such, I'm not sure a half-week option makes sense for those families.

ProfK said...

Many parents have complaints about the present model of schooling as regards scheduling. A hybrid model doesn't address those complaints and could make things even more difficult. What happens when yom tov or a legal holiday comes out on one of the scheduled schooling days? Rescheduling to a different day could prove difficult, especially if a building is being used for multiple schooling sessions, across 4-5 days. You would still need adequate child care choices in place for when both parents work, something that is not the case right now for too many people.

There is also this. A lot of people are assuming that a mother works for the sole reason that tuition is so high that she must work to help pay for it. So ponder this. 1)tuition in a hybrid school is not free. You are assuming $2500 per child--I'll bet it will be more, given that both secular and limudei kodesh teachers will be necessary. 4-5 kids=$12,500-$25,000 in tuition per year, not exactly pocket change, and still requiring mom to work. That is not counting what child care will cost to cover the days there is no school but both parents are at work. 2)tuition is costly but is not the only thing that mom's working money is needed for. In the NYC area housing and its related expenses takes a huge chunk of money out of the budget. 3)assumption that men, all men, can cover the requirements of a family budget out of their paychecks alone. "Everyone" does not make six figure incomes in this area, and certainly not when they are young. Mom works because two salaries are necessary for financial health.

And then there is this: the assumption that EVERY parent is capable of home schooling their children, which will be necessary on the off days from the hybrid school. Really? Think back to your school days. Were there no kids in your class who were in the "bottom"? No kids who got Cs, Ds or Fs here and there? No kids who were poor at math, English, history, science and all the other subjects? Everyone was a brilliant student? So those students, now parents, are going to educate their own children? And please don't tell me that there are materials available for home schooling parents to follow. There are also cookbooks galore out there and lots of cooks who use them whose results are inedible.

Perhaps this model might, just might, work for some parents and children, but it's not a model for an entire community.

Anonymous said...

ProfK once again is correct on many points. Not all parents are going to be any good at home schooling, particularly beyond the lower elementary school levels. Also, many families really do need two incomes (or one and one-half)to pay for non-tuition expenses plus even reduced tuitions that a part-time program would cost, particularly if the parents have any hope of saving enough to help their children a bit with college, pay for weddings or even save enough for a modest retirement. People are chasing a dream of wanting to have it all -- large families, private school, a reasonable standard of living and mom staying at home. That is attainable only for the wealthy and perhaps those getting lots of support, whether from parents, scholarships and/or government assistance. The vast majority in the middle just can't have it all.

Miami Al said...

The world and the economy outside our insular world is a very different place than 10-15 years ago. Plenty of people, qualified to teach, may have well paying tutoring work, but need something steady + provides benefits. Cutting back to three days is perfect.

Plenty of small businesses need expertise, and are only able to afford part of a senior person that they need, and can't afford to pay 4x for consulting rates, but can hire someone for 2 days/week that has other business interests.

The fact that something won't work for everyone doesn't mean that it won't work for anyone. This constant looking for a unified approach to "solve" day school education is doomed to fail. In the 21st century, a one sized fits all business is anachronistic in a world of semi-custom, on demand services.

Yael said...

ProfK, I do believe the school system as it is currently stands (or close enough) will continue to operate.

There are too many "normal" people who like to/need to work full time regardless of tuition. Just like in the secular world, where only a small number of people actually homeschool their children (even without -gasp!- a teaching or other higher education degree) even though public school is ostensibly free.

I do not think you have to worry for all the people who cannot homeschool their children. :)

Anonymous said...

One thing to consider when evaluating a two or three day a week model is the importance for many children of routine, repetition and continuity. I know teachers who teach in full 5 day a week programs. Every monday morning there is considerable work getting kids back into the routine after the weekend, as well as time lost on Friday afternoons when students mentally check out before actual dismissal. A shortened week with a compressed program might work best with kids who have excellent concentration skills and are internally driven. On the other hand, for some kids, the variety of learning environments and methods might be good.

SephardiLady said...

I don't think the question should _ever_ be "will this model work for everyone?" No model will ever work for everyone. The question should be "is there a market for this type of school in my area?"

I think the answer is yes!

Let's look at some of the statements above:

How will you ever get teachers to teach here. They can't possibly earn a living teaching 3 days a week, you will never get a respectable teacher!

There are numerous part time and contract workers in the US, including educators. As it is right now, many teachers already work part time, although the work might be spread over 4-5 mornings or afternoons.

It is very common in colleges and universities to have staff that work in private industry and teach part time in the early morning or in the evenings. Many industries are supportive of their workers teaching part time.

Nor are there 'daycare' options available that have a frum atmosphere

The free market can and will take care of many options should parents need a different arrangement than the conventional hours.

mlevin said...

When I think of homeschooling or public school option I am always imagining elementary school (upto 6th grade) because from that point on majority of parents cannot handle teaching their children because it's vertually imposible to specialize in all subjects taught in school.

But everyone can teach 1+1 or TOM CAN RUN.

Each elementary school runs on average of $8,000 per year. (some chasidish are less, others are more), so $8,000 in 6 years, that's a savings of $48,000 per child. That's after tax money. It's almost a year of one parent's working. With the money saved it would be easier to pay for Junior high and high school education.

PS I am aware that some parents are not capable of staying home all day with their children or it is too much of a sacrifice, because their job is too lucrative, for these people classical yeshivah education would be an option, but it won't be a rule for majority.

Bara said...

As a homeschooling parent I do like this idea. It would take some real organizing and effort on the side of the parents to make it work. Schooling should not be considered "babysitting", but I think a lot of parents look at it that way. The learning stops with the bell. It is sad to know to many kids who do not daven on a Sunday, because it is their day off. I would love to take part in some of the classes offered in a setting like that. It will not work for majority of parents, but it would be a start towards some alternatives that we need.

SephardiLady said...

Line by line response to ProfK:

Many parents have complaints about the present model of schooling as regards scheduling. A hybrid model doesn't address those complaints and could make things even more difficult.

A hybrid model simply would not be on interest to a parent needing round the clock care, as I mentioned in my post.

A parent who works limit hours or is already home likely doesn't have the same complaints about schedule as her counterpart.

No schedule will ever please everyone, so I don't really see the issue of an experimental program being unable to accomodate everyone.

What happens when yom tov or a legal holiday comes out on one of the scheduled schooling days? Rescheduling to a different day could prove difficult, especially if a building is being used for multiple schooling sessions, across 4-5 days.

What happens now? Plenty of schools schedule classes on legal holidays. And there is no reason why the school year could not be extended beyond its conventional bounds to accomodate lost time for yom tov.

SephardiLady said...

You would still need adequate child care choices in place for when both parents work, something that is not the case right now for too many people.

The free market takes care of itself. And for those mothers who will be able to stay home if tuition plummeted by leaps and bounds won't need to concern themselves with round the clock childcare.

There is also this. A lot of people are assuming that a mother works for the sole reason that tuition is so high that she must work to help pay for it. So ponder this. 1)tuition in a hybrid school is not free. You are assuming $2500 per child--I'll bet it will be more, given that both secular and limudei kodesh teachers will be necessary. 4-5 kids=$12,500-$25,000 in tuition per year, not exactly pocket change, and still requiring mom to work.

Mothers who are interested in such a schooling option can crunch their own options. It would work just fine for us, and I'm sure we are not alone.

SephardiLady said...

That is not counting what child care will cost to cover the days there is no school but both parents are at work.

Once again, I don't think that households where parents work fulltime would be good candidates for a Hybrid school. A parents who only works during school hours or is home doesn't have to worry about childcare.

2)tuition is costly but is not the only thing that mom's working money is needed for. In the NYC area housing and its related expenses takes a huge chunk of money out of the budget.

A healthy budget should absorb all housing and food costs under the primary income. Parents who both need to work to cover the basics (not tuition) wouldn't be candidates for this type of school.

SephardiLady said...

3)assumption that men, all men, can cover the requirements of a family budget out of their paychecks alone.

Families where the primary income earners can't cover the basics from their own budget and who aren't getting the scholarships that they need will have to make tough choices. We already read an article in these past 2 weeks about students going to public school for the first time. Why not have an alternatives? Sure it won't work for all. But will it work for a good number of families?


"Everyone" does not make six figure incomes in this area, and certainly not when they are young. Mom works because two salaries are necessary for financial health.


And few make it to the quarter million that we keep talking about as the magic number to keep numerous children in Yeshiva and still be able to pay a mortgage, keep up with bills, have a few luxuries, and save for Yeshiva.

Listen, there are 'sahms' in my area whose husband earn respectable enough salaries to cover things like morning pre-school and summer camp, but not 2+ school tuitions. A price tag that looks more like pre-school would be far more manageable than what we've got.

SephardiLady said...

And then there is this: the assumption that EVERY parent is capable of home schooling their children, which will be necessary on the off days from the hybrid school. Really?

I'm not making any such assumptions about "EVERY" parent. As it stands now, plenty of parents are extremely active in guiding their children through homework assignments, and complain plenty about the load placed on parents. The hybrid model releases much of the responsibility that comes along with homeschooling, including a good amount of curriculum development in the more difficult subjects.

Think back to your school days. Were there no kids in your class who were in the "bottom"? No kids who got Cs, Ds or Fs here and there? No kids who were poor at math, English, history, science and all the other subjects? Everyone was a brilliant student? So those students, now parents, are going to educate their own children?

I think the group interested in homeschooling or hybrid schooling is already a group of parents more confident in their abilities.

Who says that every person needs to switch to the same education model? Is there only one schooling choice in any sizable community? No! This would just be another model in the free market.

SephardiLady said...

And please don't tell me that there are materials available for home schooling parents to follow. There are also cookbooks galore out there and lots of cooks who use them whose results are inedible.

And parents who help their school children with homework don't have guidance? Same thing.

Perhaps this model might, just might, work for some parents and children, but it's not a model for an entire community.

And the conventional model isn't working for many people, be it cost or customized education. If it were working, I wouldn't have such a large readership!

Offwinger said...

I applaud efforts to find alternative schooling models, and I find this hybrid model intriguing.

I think there is a problem from assuming that hybrid schooling works the same way as a typical day school would, except meeting for fewer days per week. All the concerns regarding schedules for households with 2 parents working away from home, finding teachers, etc. - that's just saying, "Hey, this isn't going to work, because it's not a traditional school!"

Well, that's missing the point.
Hybrid schooling is based on the assumption of homeschooling. It is a more formalized kind of homeschool co-op. It then addresses particular short-comings that some people have with homeschooling. As noted above: it gives specialized instruction in areas that the average parent may be/feel inadequate, it offers more regular socialization with other kids, etc., the schedule works for working parents who can be flexible in their own schedule (in terms of working from home, part-time, and so on).

Homeschooling is a worthy option that many people misunderstand. Not everyone is cut out to be an educator, but tutoring a few students or overseeing their work does not require the same set of skills as classroom management.

Homeschooling does require more of your time as a parent. However, this is often misunderstood to mean you spend the same amount of time "directing" and "teaching" your children as the teachers in a regular school do. The truth is that while homeschooling removes the babysitting/day care component of education, the time commitment of homeschooling is really a split between the time you are actually working with the kids (not nearly as much as is commonly thought) and the amount of time you must spend planning - choosing proper materials, coordinating with outside instruction/programs, meeting state requirements (paperwork, evaluations), etc.

I think the hybrid model is very attractive for people who are already homeschooling or at least are knowledgeable/interested in making that transition, but for a few "sticking points."

Once a Jewish homeschool co-op reaches a critical mass, it could potentially turn into a hybrid school. I think if we had some of these schools in the Jewish community, it would be attractive to some people who previously have only used traditional schooling. However, based on the time and energy and attitude toward education it takes to make one of these programs happen in the first place, I can't see it being offered as an "alternative school" to people looking for a replacement for day school that isn't public school.

In other words, I think the hybrid school is a model that has great potential for future growth, but only if it organically comes from a growing number of people interested in homeschooling or homeschooling-like options. It is not something that I think can be set up as a top-down system being offered to people who just want to check the box, pay the check (a much lower one), and enroll their child.

Commenter Abbi said...

"The question should be "is there a market for this type of school in my area?" "

Really? I think the question should be "What is the best way to save Jewish education in America for the majority of families who want it?"

There's a market for many interesting and creative approaches to education. That doesn't necessarily mean these ideas are going to save Jewish education within the frame work of modern American frum families in the 21st century.

I agree with the previous commenters- this condensed week doesn't help working parents and doesn't help most normal elementary students who need routine. Are there frum families with highly motivated and focused children with one parent interested in homeschooling? Probably. Are they the majority? Definitely not.

Back to square one.

Dave said...

"What is the best way to save Jewish education in America for the majority of families who want it?"

I'll be blunt.

Whatever the answer to that question is, it isn't going to be the Yeshiva/Day School model of the last 30+ years.

The math simply does not work.

Large families combined with private school only works if you have a great deal of inherited wealth.

Combine that with the Kollel movement of the same time period (which is enormously wealth destructive for the community as a whole), and it just isn't possible.

The most likely outcome I see is public schooling followed by private religious schooling in the afternoons.

I say this is the most likely case, because it has the fewest impediments in its way.

Families are going to continue to move their children into Public Schools in greater numbers as economic forces dictate, and of all the options, that is the one option that doesn't require getting a large part of the community to make the same decision at the same time.

As numbers build in the Public Schools, there will then be a demand for and a perceived need for afternoon religious schools, and that need will be met.

Will there be answers outside of this? Of course. They will include home schooling, private schooling, hybrid schools, school coops, and for some, smaller families.

I just strongly suspect that this will be the most common answer.

ProfK said...

SL,
Don't mean to quibble, but when you say "primary earner" and automatically assign that title to the husband you're being out of touch with what actually can and does go on in the working world. Even in my age group, and for sure in the generations under mine, there are plenty of couples where both could be considered the primary earner based on salary alone. They are making the same amount of money or close enough to it to make no difference. There are also plenty of couples where the woman is the "primary" earner, if amount of salary gives you that title, and not just with chareidi couples either.

To saythat "A healthy budget should absorb all housing and food costs under the primary income" does not take into consideration that in today's world, "primary income" may be the combination of two people's incomes rather than the money produced by only one person, both for older couples and certainly for younger couples who are just starting out.

In my neighborhood alone I can point to dozens of couples where both were/are public school teachers--same salaries. There are also lots of couples where the man taught/teaches public school or is
in a field making a comparable income and the women are in fields where they earn more. Plenty of women who began retail businesses or service businesses whose income is something I wish on all of us.

My comments above were meant to illustrate that a hybrid school is one alternative for educating children, is not a "perfect" model and doesn't solve some of the problems parents are complaining about in the present model of Jewish education. It won't work for everyone, nor for nearly everyone. What is desperately needed is a model that will work for homes where both parents are working.

Dave said...

The ideal case would be for two incomes, either of which could support all the fixed and major expenses (housing, utilities, transportation, food, medicine).

If you require both incomes to support those expenses, then you are extremely exposed to any job market fluctuations, as the loss of either job would have dire consequences.

Shelley said...

The hybrid model remains in the homeschooling universe. It will not resolve the issue for the rest of us.

The most reasonable solution is the Hebrew-language charter school, with a shorter day than most public schools to leave time for Limudei Kodesh afterward. It makes no sense for us to pay for secular education if our home district can handle that piece. This, I believe, is what we've been missing.

The only remaining issue is the gender mixing/splitting. Most right-wing families won't have their kids in a mixed-gender school. In the past, single-gender schools have been shut down by the courts. (I'm thinking of the case of the school for black males in NY.) However, perhaps the existence of a boys' and girls' school with identical curriculum would resolve that.

Kids from all different hashkafas can go to the same charter school, and then peel off to their particular Limudei Kodesh programs afterward. They can learn Ivrit and perhaps even Jewish history during the first part of the day.

SL, have you/can you explore this in a general blog post?

Lion of Zion said...

SHELLY:

"The most reasonable solution is the Hebrew-language charter school, with a shorter day than most public schools to leave time for Limudei Kodesh afterward."

the new brooklyn charter school actually has a longer day that the regular public school (8am-4pm).

it also has a longer calendar and school started today! (anyone here who knows my issues with the yeshivah calendar/schedule will understand why i am already regretting not switching my son.)

tesyaa said...

Let's face it, no one would be considering this if yeshiva were affordable.

To jump into a totally new paradigm with unproven educational results just for financial reasons is probably not wise.

And I think a lot of people send their kids to yeshiva just because their community expects it, not because they believe it's necessary for Jewish education. Since the hybrid is not socially mainstream, they'll be less likely to consider this.

Common sense says public school with supplementary limudai kodesh is a more sensible choice.

Yael Aldrich said...

So it looks like the majority of commentators here think going the public school in the morning and afternoon Talmud Torah is the solution to this crisis. Which of you will be the guinea pig and put their kids in that situation? Please let us know and make a blog detailing how it goes, ok? I will stick with homeschooling (and making my own decisions about what, when and how I teach my children).

Ha. No one will do it unless they are truly out of options.

tesyaa said...

Hey Yael, I have boys in public school. I put them there because they have special needs that the yeshiva can't handle, but seem to be all in a day's work for a mainstream, regular ed public school teacher. I already commented about it on ProfK's blog. Due to spousal reasons this probably won't continue forever, but I have to say that I am very satisfied.

My comment is the first comment on this thread:

http://conversationsinklal.blogspot.com/2009/06/word-about-public-schooling.html

I was happy to see that while there were a bunch of comments knocking public school, several commenters were more approving.

Yael, did you attend public school? Are you frum today?

tesyaa said...

Yael said, "No one will do it unless they are truly out of options."

And tell me, do you not think that there are people truly out of options today???

tesyaa said...

And Yael, I realize you are invested in homeschooling, but not everyone feels the same way. Not every working mother is crying all day at work, wishing she were home teaching the kids. I really feel that I wouldn't homeschool unless I were truly out of options, and I guess that wouldn't happen until every public school in my district burned down and there were no private limudai kodesh teachers available. It's disrespectful for you to assume everyone thinks, or SHOULD think, as you do.

tesyaa said...

P.S. Not to give the wrong impression, I have 3 girls who are in yeshiva and never attended public school. We try to give each kid what that kid need at each point in time.

Anonymous said...

It's not reasonable to expect a charter school teaching hebrew to have a shorter day when they have to teach intensive hebrew in addition to all the other material a public school covers.

Ariella said...

School should not just be about daycare. In any case, I can tell you from my own experience that the school schedule does not work for everyone's work schedule. I agree that the frum community needs to be open to considerations such as this one. It sounds very promising to me.

SephardiLady said...

Shelley-I do believe I've covered some stories on charter schools. You can search charter school and/or Ben Gamla on the top left hand corner of the blog.

There are separate gender schools in certain urban districts, and I even read a Newsweek report about teachers separating their own classrooms with boys on one side and girls on the other.

As far as I can tell, separate gender public schooling is gaining support, but I don't know that it will ever become the norm or that our kids will live in the areas where they can gain access.

Perhaps I will see what I can come up with for a future post.

SephardiLady said...

Whatever the answer to that question is, it isn't going to be the Yeshiva/Day School model of the last 30+ years.

I could not agree more.

ProfK-I specifically use "primary breadwinner" to be gender neutral, although I see where I did sometimes refer to mothers. There are a growing number of fathers serving as the homemaker and that is fine if it works for them. But, I think the male is generally served best by going into the world, which is why mothers are generally the candidates for part-time work or fulltime homemaking.

That said, I see no reason why a man can't be a home educator or play a significant role.

Additionally, "primary breadwinner" doesn't have to be based only on income. I imagine that my husband and I could possibly earn nearly equivlant salaries if I had went into a career building mode instead of a homemaking mode. But his job would still be "primary" because we established that his job has a higher place on the priority list that my own career aspirations. He needs his job for himself, far more than I needed my job for myself. Perhaps others families would place the woman's job higher and that too is their own perogative.

SephardiLady said...

To say that "A healthy budget should absorb all housing and food costs under the primary income" does not take into consideration that in today's world, "primary income" may be the combination of two people's incomes rather than the money produced by only one person, both for older couples and certainly for younger couples who are just starting out.

A budget that requires two salaries to pay for the basics is simply highly risky. What I'm saying might not be nice, but it doesn't mean that it isn't good advice.

Generally younger couples are on shakier ground. As you age, mitigating risk is a wise strategy.

Upper West Side Mom said...

I love the idea of a hybrid or coop school. I have seriously thought about home schooling my kids for multiple reasons such as I think the kids spend too many hours in schools that are not using time efficently (there is a tremendous amount of time during the school day that the kids are not learning), the high cost of day school and because I believe that there is a very real intellectual benefit to home schooling. The hybrid or cooperative part would help me deal with subjects that I'm not sure that I could teach effectively and of course the social aspects of day school.

I know I am in the minority, though. I am "home camping" my 4 kids this summer, although my 2 oldest did go to sleep away for 1 month. 95% of the people that I speak with think I am crazy for having my kids home for the summer. I happen to love it.
We get to sleep late and they get to have some input in their day. The kids also get to spend a ton of time together (and with me) developing their relationships in a way that they can't when they are in school.

I do think that if a person chooses a hybrid or coop school saving money could never be the sole factor in the decision.Unfortunately for me, I think most people would choose public school before they would choose home school or hybrid school.

If any of you live in or near Manhattan and are perhaps interested in doing a school coop in the future feel free to email me (just click on my name).

Offwinger said...

"Really? I think the question should be 'What is the best way to save Jewish education in America for the majority of families who want it?'"
-----------------------------
Actually, I think there are two questions that are important here.

The first is, "What is the best way for me to provide my children with a Jewish education?"

The second is, "What can I offer the Jewish community to ensure that all children have access to the amount/type of Jewish education that is necessary to sustain our community?"

I don't think the current model needs to be "saved," because I don't think it is the only acceptable way to provide a suitable Jewish education. And I think we need to separate wants from needs. Many people WANT a private school option for all children and have come to view it as a must-have. That doesn't make it a necessity.

I think too many people have assumed that it is a communal responsibility to provide their children with the education that they *want* for them. Now, we're facing the fact that this model is simply not sustainable.

Other than the yeshivah or day school model, you have two basic options for providing a Jewish education:

(1) Public School + supplemental Jewish education; or
(2) Home school or Small Co-op

There is no getting around the fact that both the need for adequate supervision of children and the law dictates that these are the choices.

What is nice about the hybrid model is that it allows people in camp #1 & camp #2 to pool resources & work together, even if they diverge in how they are providing the secular component of the education or even the core daycare/babysitting aspect of it.

Beyond that, I understand that people can't simply change jobs or career paths overnight. However, given changes in the economy and technology, I think it is perfectly reasonable that observant men and women should consider how the career, job and lifestyle they are aspiring to fits within the realm of chinuch. Shomer shabbat individuals are used to looking at which jobs are not friendly for shabbat observance. The responsibility to provide your children with a Jewish education should be just as important, and it's not simply "I have to make a lot of $ for tuition."

The reason so many people are dismissing home schooling and co-op based ideas is that they are locked into 9 to 5 (or 8 to 6 & beyond) jobs & careers that create the need for school as daycare/babysitting.

Well, fine, that might be true for many observant people, but maybe it's time for the mindset to be that Jewish education requires either:
(1) an extremely high income to allow for private/elite school for all your children; or
(2) flexibility in the work schedule/location that would allow for at least part-time supervision of children during the day, despite working a full-time job. This can be achieved because of telecommuting, off-shifting the hours of work production, and so forth.

I'm not suggesting that #2 is possible for everyone, but it certainly is possible for many more people NOW than ever before. So many people assume that #1 is the only way to go, but #2 is probably more attainable for most.

Last, to respond to one line of comments here: the idea that you'd be able to create a Hebrew-language charter school that is only for boys or only for girls, let alone have *2* of them, each segregated by sex, is simply not legally possible.

Yael Aldrich said...

Dear Tesyaa:

I went to public school and wasn't even brought up frum (I became frum in college)! I became frum because I was strong enough to buck normalcy for what I thought was right.

Tesyaa, I am so glad you are able to access public education for some of your children. I would like to comment though, that your boy's educational needs seems to be the only "acceptable" reason in the frum world to send your children to public school. You yourself mention that you have other children in the frum school system and that you evaluate where each child goes. If the frum schools were suddenly able to adequately educate your public school children, would you do so? Would you be able to do so financially? I agree, it's hard!

We all know that everyone is having a lot of trouble with paying the enormous sums needed for a day school/yeshiva education. I know we would and we only have three so far (and a fourth on the way, b'shaah tovah). I know everyone says, "No one pays full tuition!" But that is the problem -- the system is unable to sustain itself on what money is coming in now (and while that may be partially because of mis-management or high salaries to administrators, it isn't all of it). But, as Offwinger, UWSMom, and Ariella said there are other mitigating factors, such as babysitting needs because of two full-time (or more) working parents or that the parents CAN'T, CAN'T, CAN'T stay at home with their children all day, every day (not that they would have to when they homeschool).

I know (and have said more than once on this blog and IRL) that not everyone is cut out to homeschool (heck, there are days I am not cut out to homeschool!) -- but I know that since even you, who LIKES the public school system, won't make the plunge to public school ALL your children, there is SOMETHING the day school/yeshiva school gives you that you are not willing to sacrifice at the cost you pay to the school currently.

That is why I firmly believe ProfK and all the other naysayers do not have to worry -- day/yeshiva school will continue because too many people are locked in the system and refuse to take the red -- or is it blue? ;) pill and see there is another world out there -- homeschooled, hybrid schooled or even regular yeshiva/day school but knowing that we are all responsible for our child's education and that takes PARENTAL sacrifice (be it financial, time or emotional/social).

Offwinger says politely exactly what I say in a snarky tone. I am tired of hearing that it can't be done -- it can. No one wants to be the first to do it. Just like everything in the frum world...

tesyaa said...

Yael, thank you for your civil tone -- this time. (I found your "Ha!" at the end of your previous comment a bit unnecessary). All I can say is, if I were starting from scratch with my children, I might very well have sent them all to public school. Unfortunately, some things are hard to change midstream. I'm sure you can understand that. If you had older children who were happy in (an affordable) school and suddenly decided you wanted to homeschool and let's say your children didn't want to, would you make them miserable for that reason? Or would you risk your marriage? No, you'd think long and hard and decide what was most important to you.

tesyaa said...

And why do mothers who have the temperament to stay home with children feel morally superior to those who prefer not to? I have worked full time, and I also spent more years as a SAHM than many commenters here have even been a parent. I have seen both sides, and there is no moral high ground. There are a lot of mothers who are incapable of earning enough to sustain their childcare costs, that I know. There are mothers who could not manage their families while working full time. That doesn't mean that all women, even mothers of large families, are incapable of doing so.

lrg said...

The evangelical church down the block had a "hybrid home school" that the neighborhood unsuccessfully fought on zoning grounds. They explained to the zoning board that the kids would sit in cubicles doing workbooks while the parents supervised. The quality was laughable. The church and its school failed.

In the public school universe, there is an additional option in my state, a cyber-charter school. The students get their instruction from a teacher with live online classes. The quality seems to be mixed.

As a public school graduate who is educating my children in a day school, I think the public schools are unfairly maligned.

The after school "supplemental" talmud torahs were the real problem. They combined the ineptness found in much of Jewish education, unmotivated parents and students with crushingly low aspirations. The goal was to teach us how to daven and little more. It is miraculous that those of us who became baalei tshuva survived the experience.

Yael Aldrich said...

Tesyaa,

I have go out to the pool and kendo lessons with my kids now, so I do not have adequate time to comment fully, but we all make choices -- the SAHM, WAHM, WAFM (Work away from home mom) and the dads in those situations too.

It doesn't have to be only you (the wife) toiling away at home, it could be your husband or both of you! I have two advanced degrees and could work at a position where I would rival my husbands income (not forever but for the short term future). I choose not to and stay at home and homeschool our children instead (BTW, that IS my job and it saves us 2 days school tuitions and day care/tuition for a preschooler and a baby due at the end of the year - not chump change). It isn't always easy but the bad days I suck up and the good days, I'm happy about!

What if the school for your girls becomes too much for your budget? (and I sincerely hope it never comes true!!) Would you ask the community to pay or some macher to take out a loan for you? We did choose our family's lifestyle a number of years ago so we don't have to make such terrible choices for our family later in time. I think that most people did not leave themselves choices through passive or active choice (career choice, education level, location, choice of school) and are unhappily stuck now. I feel for them. And that is why ProfK and you and any of the other naysayers out there can rest assured there will be yeshiva/day schools now and in the future.

But there are families RIGHT NOW who are at the start of their choices and they CAN do differently in order not to live from paycheck to paycheck making 100,000$ a year. That is all SephardiLady is trying to advocate for at this time....

p.s. I do not feel morally superior to other moms, but I do get very cranky when the conversation inevitably turns to how much moms (families) hate the current system/schools and wish it were otherwise! I do my hishtadlus and let G-d take care of the rest.

tesyaa said...

Yael, you explained yourself nicely in your last comment. The only thing I take exception to is the line "We did choose our family's lifestyle a number of years ago so we don't have to make such terrible choices for our family later in time." None of us can see what the future will bring. Your employment situation might change, your children's needs might change, anyone's health situation might change. You are trying to do what's best, but you can only see the right now.

Shelley said...

Anonymous--the day schools do a half-day of secular studies in elementary school by shorting science and social studies slightly in favor of math and reading. In older grades, the day just gets longer.

In most day schools, Ivrit is taught abysmally. It's a real embarrassment that I could speak French nearly fluently after 3-4 years of one period a day in high school, and most kids can't hold a conversation after 8 or 12 years of day school unless they've summered in Israel. I would hope that a Hebrew charter school would teach Ivrit the way public schools teach French.

As for the gender issue--not my problem; I'm all for mixed-gender schools. But Sephardi Lady thinks this has been done....And yes, there would be plenty plenty of population for 2 single-gender schools if most of the day-school population transferred to the charter schools.

The point of establishing charter schools is that we select a more heavily Jewish population. While not being a FRUM environment, it does provide a BENIGN environment. No Friday night football games or Christmas decorations.

Bara said...

I just wanted to share this. In Colorado there are programs run by district public schools for homeschool families. It is one day a week enrichment classes, run by teachers with experience in the homeschooling arena. My children just started it today. The classes that are offered are, music, art, money and budget management, science experiments, PE, Spanish. It is free and you have no obligations to the public school system. They have many sites through out Colorado and the one we go to is few minutes away. This is out first year trying it. I hope it is a succes.

Offwinger said...

Shelley,

The problem with single-gender schools is the law, not the numbers. It doesn't matter if there are enough kids to justify more than one charter school. Same deal for trying to select a more heavily Jewish population.

Charter schools are not day schools that pretend to be public schools. They are public schools that add a component of enrichment (e.g., Hebrew language, Jewish culture, etc.). They are no more permitted to have chanukah decorations without Christmas ones or other holiday balance (or vice versa) than any other public school. Being frum or Jewish does not entitle you to a spot in a hebrew language school either.

There might be better accomodation for observant students or a more understanding administration & staff. However, this follows the same laws, rules, and dependence on the individual as happens in public school. One would hope that a charter school that promotes Hebrew language and related culture would be friendly and tolerant of Jewish observance, but there is no guarantee for this. The "safety in numbers" arguments for being accomodated or creating a "more benign environment" applies equally as much to a charter school as it does to regular public school.

Take for example the Hebrew Language Academy, the new charter school in Brooklyn that started just this week.

First, in terms of calendar, you'll notice, for example, that the school is open on Rosh Hashana. The only Jewish holiday given off in the fall is Yom Kippur. However, the students do have off on Columbus Day and Veterans Day (pretty standard in New York city schools).

Selection for students was by lottery, giving preference for those living in the district (and in the future, will extend to siblings of enrolled students as well). You can *hope* that due to self-selection (and maybe the size of observant families) you wind up with a more heavily Jewish population, but that may or may not happen, depending on the district. If you read through the profiles of the administration and staff and check out some of the articles explaining the initial enrolled population in this school, you'll find a mix of backgrounds represented.

Personally, I support hebrew language charter schools. I think a major component of Jewish education is full or partial immersion in Hebrew, so I welcome the opportunity to build these skills through the public school system. That said, make no mistake that charter schools are public schools, and this creates limits on just how accomodating they can be for Jewish students and Jewish education.

ProfK said...

Yael,
I am neither a nay-sayer nor an advocate of this model of schooling. My commentary was intended to point out where the model might have problems and also to point out that it is a limited model, with only a small percentage of the population able to use it should they desire it. It does not answer the larger problem of the Jewish educational system. Nor is it widespread enough, or even in existence, to answer the immediate problems that some parents are facing now.

Home schooling is available now: hybrid schools are not. If we are talking about a future endeavor then it behooves us to look at all the aspects of the hybrid school, both pros and cons. Otherwise we run the danger of creating a new system that won't have any less problems than the old system does.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — “depend upon his not understanding it.”

That is why nothing will change until yeshiva administrators know that they will lose the children to public school - and will then lose their jobs - right now they benefit fromn the system - incompetint administrators get year or year raises and make $200,000 or more

Charlie Hall said...

"What is the best way to save Jewish education in America for the majority of families who want it?"

Before we can answer that question, we need to answer why we need Jewish education. Several possibilities:

(1) To produce talmidei chachomim.

(2) To produce Jewishly-learned laypeople.

(3) To provide the best secular education in a Jewish environment.

(4) To prevent contact with non-Jews.

If the purpose is (1), then forget about Jewish education for anyone other than the best students, who can go to public schools.

If the purpose is (3) or (4), just move into a small school district and take it over; you can have a school system that is over 95% Jewish in a short time. There were such schools in the Bronx and near Baltimore a generation ago.

If the purpose is (2), ditch the science labs and secular libraries, reducing costs.

Another problem is that we have not yet addressed how large a priority is Jewish education for young people compared to other possible uses of our scarce financial resources. Given the rate at which we are establishing new kollels while day schools are closing, education for young people doesn't appear to be a particularly high priority.

Charlie Hall said...

You don't even need a charter school to have Hebrew immersion; there exist normal zoned neighborhood public schools with bilingual immersion programs, mostly in Spanish. I used to live in a school district that had such, taking advantage of a large Puerto Rican community. The kids came out totally bilingual. This in a very poor school district in a very poor town that was mainly known for its spectacularly high rate of heroin addiction.

I actually live in a neighborhood with sufficiently large numbers of Israelis that a bilingual immersion program might work. But many of the Israelis send their kids to a secular Zionist private school here that covers grades preschool to eighth grade. And many religious families send *their* kids there even though it isn't a religious school because they know that their kids will come out truly fluent in Hebrew. Many of the graduates go to high school at the NYC magnet schools like Bronx Science or Stuveysant.

jdub said...

The Hebrew Charter school idea is a joke. The Jewish Week had an article about it, and the person quoted most prominently is an intermarried woman, whose kid is half-Irish Catholic (albeit halachically Jewish). This is a solution to the day school "problem"? Not hardly. You'll have one per district, maybe, and most of the kids won't be observant, or perhaps even Jewish. All you get is Hebrew language.

Since most of you didn't go to afternoon programs, as a graduate of both public schools and afternoon Talmud Torah, let me be blunt --- they suck. Those programs do more to kill Yiddishkeit than anything else. Kids don't want to be sitting in hebrew school when their buddies are doing fun stuff.

I won't even get into home-schooling. If it makes you happy, gezunte heit, but I seriously question the education.

Anonymous said...

Just one small correction about the Hebrew Language Charter School: Rosh Hashanah is probably not on the calendar this year because it falls on a weekend! I'm sure that in future years the school will close for Rosh Hashanah just as regular NYC public schools do. I'm curious whether the charter school will close for the other yamim tovim, but I would have to guess probably not. That said, if they end up with a large enough percentage of observant teachers and/or students, they could presumably make the decision to close for all of the holidays.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:19: They still have to have the full 180 days, so closing for yom tov will only work if all the employees are willing to work other days, which would mean keeping schools open later in june and/or starting earlier in August. Then that also raises issues about bus service and problems if the school buildings are used for other programs, like summer school in the summer. In short, don't count on special scheduling. However, I know of one charter school that has 200 full school days a year, so there may be room for flexibility.