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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Education Alternatives: Online School within the Yeshiva

We have talked a lot about education alternatives here. Honestly Frum has a post up on what alternative is being explored at the leadership level. The OU will be hosting a conference in Virginia on April 25-26 "Online Education and Online Charter Schools Within Your Day School:Approaches Toward Excellence in Education and Reduced Costs". This project is being spearheaded by R. Zucker of the OU Day School Services division.

The specific education provider that has been consulted is K12 which provides online education to students in 26 states. The idea appears to be that K12 could provide education inside Yeshiva/Day Schools, funded by the respective states. I have consulted the K12 map and unfortunately some of the states with the biggest Orthodox communities do not have a K12 public option including basically every state on the Atlantic Coast with large Orthodox communities. New York, New Jersey, Maryland/DC, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania and Florida do have public school virtual options. West Coast, Southern, and Mid-West communities with sizable Orthodox populations do have public options, so that is good news.

The idea on the table is to have students attend their yeshiva, with limudei kodesh in the morning, followed by virtual education with facilitators.

Please check out Honestly Frum's post and leave comments here and there. I'm hesitant, but please do see that someone is investigating something. I don't know a lot about virtual education and I'm not sure if I had that choice vs. just homeschooling and either hiring a Rebbe/attending only limuedi kodesh in school, if I would be interested in jumping on a virtual model. I will say that if you really want cost savings, the better idea would be to have learning labs and Judaic courses throughout the day in which schools combine and close actual physical facilities, i.e. downsize, downsize, downsize. Obviously there are cost savings in the proposed idea of dismissing some limudei chol staff and having morning Judaic studies followed by afternoon virtual academy. But real cost savings will have to come from consolidation, around the clock use of the facilities that aren't consolidated, and (yes) layoffs.

Let the comments fly.


efrex said...

While I don't know how practical this "hybrid" approach is in general, I do think that online/remote education is a very legitimate option that is only beginning to be explored.

If I'm not mistaken, Chabad already has an online yeshiva/seminary system for the children of shlichim who are in areas that can't support a bricks-and-mortar religious school.

big fan said...

I am not sure that it is the limudei chol that is costing so much of my kids tuition. Granted I am in a more right-wing place; but even if they fired my son's English teacher and my share of the English Principal's salary, my bet is that my tuiting drops by less than 20%.

With 25 kids in a class, how much does Secular studies cost at the margin? My guess is $2k a kid, out of the $12k I pay. So now the question is 'would I pay $2k to have a real teacher?' and the answer is yes.

JS said...

Not surprising that the proposal is to eliminate the entire secular school staff and replace it with online learning as opposed to doing to the religious studies online. Also not surprising trying to give additional jobs to rabbis to have them supervise the online secular education.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but it is pathetic that the yeshiva system has come to this. The yeshivas survived when the overwhelming majority of parents were European immigrants with barely any money, but now we're saying the system is going to crash when most parents are upper middle to upper class.
Not only that, but many of the students did exceedingly well without a fancy education!

It's a terrible pox on our house that the will does not exist to have a school system that can serve most of the community without bankrupting it.

Miami Al said...

Because "guilty" secular Jews were cutting checks to religious groups to build Yeshivot that they would never send their children to. A religious education was a HUGE privilege that people sacrificed if they wanted for their children.

When y'all turned it into an entitlement that was able to be "gamed" by a tuition reduction committee, and created an ENTIRE subculture of people unable/unwilling to work outside of the Frum world, everything came crashing down.

A good family friend went to one of the Yeshivot down here "back in the day." His parents sacrificed everything to have the kids there. However, they went to the public high school that helped them get into college (and didn't cost and arm and a leg), and bother his parents worked every Saturday to make it possible for their kids to get a religious education.

The "Orthodox" world was a LOT less Orthodox and a lot less antagonistic toward the non-Orthodox population then, and it was able to survive.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:45 when you say that most did "exceedingly well" without a "fancy" education, are you referring to without a fancy prep school education or without a college education or both? First, most did not do "exceedingly" well. Second, many of those that did, probably had a college education, often a free CUNY/SUNY education. Third, the economy has changed dramatically since the 1940's - 70's. College education is much more important now to make it financially. Indeed, a grad school education is now needed in many fields.

Anonymous said...


The reason for having the secular studies online is that the secular studies would be free through a charter or public school. No one offers free online limudei kodesh.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:35: While that's true, couldn't there be a lot of savings if several schools or educators got together and pooled their resources to create some on-line limudei kodesh. While that would not be free, there certainly would be savings. I don't think everything should be on-line, but experimenting with a few courses may work.

Anonymous said...

Online studies paid by the gov't are not meant to be done in a school setting.
Years ago, Mosdos Ohr Hatorah in Cleveland tried to pull out this "shtick" and was told later on to return the money to the state.

Selena said...

The new high school in Denver is going to try to do their secular studies with K12. The benefit it offers is that even in a small school (in Denver there will likely only be 5 kids in 9th grade) they can take the classes they want, including more advanced math and/or science.

Miami Al said...

The Cleveland Case was a subcontracting issue. It looks like the Virtual School sent money to the religious school for providing classrooms, etc., that's using public money for a religious school, a no-no.

The Florida Charter (2nd Campus) is renting the JCC Campus (two JCC Schools consolidated to one location because of the economy), which gives them a Kosher kitchen, but there is no religious education, the JCC simply provides the building, a separate company provides the Charter.

If they are paying "above market rates" for rent, which is how you'd slide the money through, I have no idea, but presumably the county has some controls on Charter locations.

The Hybrid school presumes that there is no relationship between the Secular Virtual School and the Religious School. Parents would pay for private religious instruction, and the use of classrooms.

If there is payment from Virtual Charter School (VCS) -> Yeshiva, you're probably in a forbidden zone. If there is ZERO cash changing hands between VCS and Yeshiva, then I don't see the problems. Parents enroll their children in VCS directly, and the Yeshiva morning program, and the children should be permitted to do their VCS work at school or at home.

To keep it clean, presumably parents should get two bills, one for Yeshiva education, and one for childcare/computer access/supervision, and the latter should be voluntary. If you are in the Yeshiva morning program, it should NOT be contingent upon the VCS in the afternoon, although parents would be responsible for somehow satisfying state requirements for schooling.

VCS should issue the transcripts, diploma, etc., with no involvement with the Yeshiva.

This could double as a minimum tuition solution, since the school/community might want to give free religious instruction in the morning, there is no reason to provide them with free childcare and computer time for secular studies.

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Anonymous said...

Anyone know the name of the Rabbi that is starting the Denver Yeshiva?

Has Rabbi Tropper's L.A. Yeshiva been successful?

Can a program of this type be started in NY?