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Thursday, July 22, 2010

It isn't considered a bargain, It IS a Bargain

More serious blogging to return shortly. . . . . in the meantime, can someone buy this man a calculator!

Dear Chaim,
What you are paying in tuition IS a bargain. Take your calculator out. You are paying $333.33 per child per month. Your tuition isn't just "considered" a bargain. It IS a bargain plain and simple. Clearly mathematical analysis is not your strong point, because if it was, you would realize that there already is a tzedakah in place to help people cover tuition. That tzedakah is called other people's tuition, those you note are paying double the rates you are paying and even more (!). Unlike others, I will not discount your struggle, nor will I call you mean names. But do realize that it is tasteless to complain about your tuition and complain that there is no tzedakah to cover you when many of us are writing our first tuition/tzedakah check on August 1.
Sincerely,
Orthonomics

Letter follows, emphasis mine.


THE BIGGEST CRISIS
Dear Editor,
The biggest crisis today is not the shidduch crisis. Sorry to disappoint all of you. The number-one crisis is the parnassah crisis. Financially, our communities are in shambles. Mosdos are suffering like never before and many frum families are falling apart because they cannot afford their basic needs.


Among the major expenses faced by frum families is tuition. I just received a tuition bill from my children’s schools. This coming year, I will be paying over $2,000 in tuition a month
for six children - and that’s considered a bargain.
Many people I know are paying double that or even more. And that’s not counting the cost of camp and the other countless expenses I face.

Where are we supposed to get this money from? How much harder can we work?

We need an organization devoted to helping people with tuition, just like we have so many other organizations for all kinds of important things.

Upon further observation, one will find that the second component of the parnassah crisis is marrying off children, which I hope to address in a future letter. For now, let’s address the
first component, tuition.


And for those who are wondering, yes, the shidduch crisis is the second biggest crisis in my eyes. But it shares second place with kids-at-risk.
Chaim F.

52 comments:

Shlomo said...

I refuse to even begin to have sympathy for somebody complaining about $2,000 a month tuition for SIX children.

First off, why is this guy having six kids if he clearly can't afford them? Did he have a gameplan to provide for six kids and then something went wrong or did he just have as many kids as his heart desired and then figured "God will provide" (God of course being his upper-middle class neighbors).

Second, here in Bergen County, we pay $50-60k in tuition a year for 3-4 children, so again, little sympathy for this guy.

Bottom line, don't have more kids than you can comfortably afford. It's really that simple.

tesyaa said...

He's talking about crisis after crisis - the tuition crisis, the shidduch crisis, the kids-at-risk crisis. Hmm, why isn't he talking about the pogrom crisis, the cholera crisis, the starvation crisis, the heating crisis? Maybe because we're living in the richest country in the history of the world, and also the most tolerant to Jews. When we don't have to worry about being slaughtered for our ancestry or where our next meal is coming from, we just can't stop complaining about the little things - can we?? OK, so they're not little things, but I'm fed up with everything being a crisis. There is no tuition crisis. If you can't afford yeshiva, there is a nice public school in your community or in a nearby one that you can move to, and you can hire a tutor or teach your kids Judaic studies yourself. Everyone stop whining. We have a whining crisis.

Orthonomics said...

I'm with you tesyaa, a whining crisis. But even worse, he is whining about lack of tzedakah when he is obviously on the receiving end. Really now?

OTD said...

I don't agree with you, Tesyya. What we don't have is a whining crisis. What we do have is a leadership crisis and a sense of direction crisis. When religious people are fed lies wholesale by their rabbis, and they're convinced that only religious schools are an option (why do we even need religious schools) and are then forced to pay money they don't have for schools that don't work.

Sure you can be an atheist like myself and laugh in their faces. But let's recognize that these are people in horrible circumstances who are being led OFF A CLIFF by their RELIGIOUS LEADERS.

JLan said...

A rabbi in the Baltimore area once told me that he had gone to a community/neighborhood/HOA type meeting, and a number of Catholic parents were agahst at their recent tuition increase. You see, the tuition had recently been raised from $4,000 per child, with a maximum of $12,000 per family, to $5,000 per child and a maximum of $16,000 per family. The priest (who also lives in the neighborhood), asked the rabbi what he paid for his kids to go to school (the rabbi lives in the same neighborhood as all of these other families and his family earns in the same range). Upon being informed that he was paying $15,000, per child, they quieted down quite quickly and got back to neighborhood business.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic schools don't have administrators receiving over 250K a year. Many of our leaders receive higher salaries than the VP of the US.
Look what Rabbeim earn-see eg on Guidestar YUHS 990 and top 5 salaries a couple were Rabbeim. I assume YU pays theirs even more!
Tuition is high because expenses are high

conservative scifi said...

Since I pay more than 2,000 a month for one child, I am somewhat lacking in sympathy. As Tesyaa says, if you can't afford day school, use public schools. Then supplement those with that 2,000 a month and you'll probably be able to hire a wonderful afternoon tutor who can focus just on your children.

Anonymous said...

The letter writer fails to state where this organization that he wants for helping people with tuition is supposed to get all that money from. Are there a lot of untapped donors (or donors not digging deep enough) who believe that supporting private orthodox schools is a priority?

Avi said...

I'm sympathetic to the first part of the letter. $24,000 in after-tax income is hard to raise year in and year out unless your income is over $100,000, i.e., upper middle class. This writer - and many members of our community - simply do not have that level of income.

That's where my sympathy ends. Oh, there's a tuition crisis, all right, for this guy's neighbors who are subsidizing his lifestyle when they pay their own tuitions. What this guy has is an income crisis combined with a severe responsibility crisis.

Miami Al said...

Avi,

Jim Webb had an op-ed talking about the wrong-headedness of how a legitimate attempt to repay this country's debt for Slavery/Jim Crow has morphed into anti-white discrimination, being used to help "people of color" with no history of that discrimination.

Quite frankly, a dual income family with two college degrees and reasonable career paths should NOT have difficulty reaching 100 by a reasonable age (age to have 6 children). Getting to 200k+ is MUCH harder and requires two in demand careers, but hitting 100k is MUCH more doable (and is much more common an income range as well).

The fact is, a family of 6 with an income of under 100k pays $0 in taxes, so the pre-tax/post-tax discrepancy is irrelevant, since exemptions + child tax credit should eliminate any tax burden, so I think that it's reasonable that they should be able to find 24k to cover tuition, or otherwise should get better jobs.

The writer IS correct that there is an income crisis, but exempting people from tuition is NOT the solution. Given what he apparently earns, number of children, and how low his tuition is ($4k/child, knows of people paying DOUBLE), probably of a more right wing school, so he's setting his children up for the same failure as him.

AGI: $100k
Exemptions: $29200
Standard Deduction: $11,400
Taxable Income: $59,400
Taxes: $8072.5 ($1675 + 15% of amount over 16750)
Child Tax Credit: $6000
Making Work Pay Credit: $800

If there are NO other deductions/credits, I have a tax bill of $1272.50, and that's without childcare credit or ANYTHING else.

So this family's tax burden doesn't START until income hits $91516.67/year.

Personal Responsibility is a good thing.

JS said...

SL,

Welcome back. Glad to see the posting will resume.

I hope I'm not off base or out of line, but I detected a lot of vitriol in your comments. I assume this is due to your, soon-to-be-made tuition payment. I hope all is well.

In terms of the letter itself, it's exactly this attitude that makes the full payers so darn angry. There is just no appreciation for their sacrifice. The people who get the credit are the ones who make the donations, not the ones who are responsible and pay their bills in full and on time. The latter group deserves no respect or hakarat hatov.

I also find it ironic that he mentions a "paranassa crisis" in that the yeshivas view the problem in the same way. The difference is that the schools solves their income crisis by raising tuition. This guy thinks he can solve it by raising more charity for himself. Maybe if everyone looked at income as fixed and saw that expenses were too high, they'd find more reasonable solutions than shifting the burden on to others.

Also, I agree with tesyaa, there is a whining crisis. Sorry, OTD, but I don't buy the leadership crisis argument. Don't get me wrong, I think the leadership stinks, but everyone needs to accept personal responsibility and do what is best for their families. It's foolishness to just listen to what others tell you to do even when you know it hurts you. Saying the rabbis won't act or the administration won't act or the board members won't act and then complaining that no one is helping you is just too much. You see this over and over again at 200kchump's blog with people whining that they'd consider other options if the rabbi said it was OK to do so from the pulpit and a critical mass of other people agreed to do it too. Wonderful, so it's everyone else's fault you're suffering and not your own. A little personal responsibility would go a long way.

Finally, it's nice to see the tuition crisis goes across all of Orthodoxy from the right to the modern. Maybe we can take bets on who gives up on this money drain of a system first.

Miami Al said...

JS,

When the first Ben Gamla Charter opened, it was in the same city (but a 15 minute drive) from one of the more LWMO communities in South Florida, and was officially shunned by the community as "not an option," though it oversubscribed with an influx of Israeli families, non-Orthodox Jews, and a handful that threw in the towel trying to cover tuition when the schools tried to squeeze people for more money.

A year later, one of the RW schools here got a charter approved by the city, whereby the school would rent the space to a charter school in the afternoon. They would run their morning Yeshiva, and a school day that started at 11 or noon.

Interestingly, a group of parents panicked, that the "teachers couldn't mention Hashem in the afternoon," raised enough money to pay off the payroll debt, and the charter went away (the school is back in trouble of course).

However, the RW crowd took issue with what they would lose, the MO crowd freaked out about "the kids not being Frum."

Please note, the LWMO city's charter was done despite objections of the community, the RW's charter was perused by the RW leadership.

I expect Chabad-run schools/charter setups will take off fast, and the RW will use this for cover, and the MO world is going to be left holding the bag, since the RW will have their mortgages covered with charter rents, etc.

The RW is also MUCH better at corrupting the political process, and getting themselves what they really want: an afternoon Charter School that starts it's day with the lunch program with segregated classes. They don't even need Hebrew Language as much, but I bet you someone smart gets ESOL (English as a Second Language) funding for the Yiddish speaking families that they all claim to be.

They are MUCH smarter at playing machine politics.

Lion of Zion said...

AL:

"a group of parents panicked, that the 'teachers couldn't mention Hashem in the afternoon,'"

some people may say something silly like this without thinking first, but the truth is that its unfair to say that this is what (RW or MO) objections to charter school boil down to. there are much more significant and legitimate objections. (i am not saying i agree with most of these objections, but they are much more substantial than a concern that you can't mention hashem during math class)

Lion of Zion said...

JS:

it's anger. not vitriol.

Tuff Luv said...

The letter writer is upset that he doesn't have enough money to pay tuition. His thinking is not sufficiently mature to think, hmmm. I don't have enough money. That means I'm not making enough money. I need to retrain, work more hours, find a sideline, trim the budget, cut meat on Shabbos. Yes, if that's what it takes! Anything rather than whine and cry. What a baby he is - who gave him the idea he can have an easy life that someone else will pay for?

JS said...

Vitriol means scathing or bitter criticism. Why is the word not appropriate?

Also, what are the significant and legitimate objections? Not saying you agree, but what are they? I imagine most relate to hashkafa, not actual halacha.

Miami Al said...

LoZ,

That was the rallying cry.

Nonetheless, the local public schools have boys with Kippot and Tzitzit (and who knows how many from Orthodox homes that "hide"), and girls in long skirts and stockings (and who knows how many that "hide"), it's growing every year, and I see people leaving RW schools for the public schools when they can't afford it.

The reality is the RW schools are half the price, so some of the people are there NOT because they are so RW, but because it's half the price.

There are many substantial concerns, you couldn't use the school as a jobs program, women without teacher qualifications couldn't draw a teacher salary (plus tuition reductions) without qualifications, you'd have to hire without giving priority to your friends.

The fact is, the RW Charter approach, with Yeshiva in the morning, charter in the afternoon, would all but eliminate the "others" from enrolling there.

You wouldn't have an "all encompassing" Orthodox environment, but you'd cut costs DRAMATICALLY. But I think part of the concern is that families wouldn't use the Yeshiva part, because more of the families (than anyone admits) choose to send their kids to the school for socialization issues and nominally Kosher food.

Nobody knows how the hybrid will work, but people always shout "let's threaten to enroll our kids in public school and see if they'll give us money," well, that's kind of what this is, right, the state paying for the secular education + lunch time for the Orthodox kids?

What, you thought you were going to run your cronyism project and just collect a check from the state? This is the state paying for the ENTIRE secular side, Hebrew language instruction, PE, and lunch, leaving just a need to fun religious services and education. You think a $1000/student voucher would make a larger impact?

tesyaa said...

Tuff Luv - why does it mean he's not making enough money? Does anyone here see yeshiva as a WANT, as opposed to a NEED? Maybe the letter writer wouldn't see things that way, being more right wing, but really, anyone should be able to see that private school for a large family is a WANT, not a NEED.

For a typical family, the calculation should be: Do I have enough money? If not, can I make enough by working harder to cover tuition? If so, is the sacrifice of many, many hours worth it?

The answers are different for different people, but given how much tuition costs, I think there are many, many families who will never be able to earn enough to pay their tuition bills, given their current situations and education levels.

Cutting out the meat on Shabbos and cutting out the cleaning lady are helpful in managing a budget, but if the net gain is $1500 per year and you're $20,000 away from being able to cover your tuition, it doesn't make much difference.

If you can work a night job at the 7-11 and net $30 per night for several hours of work, it doesn't make much difference.

The easiest way to fix this budget is to cut the education bills 90% by outsourcing secular studies to a public school and hiring a tutor for Judaic studies.

Offwinger said...

The letter writer talks about covering needs and mentions (besides tuition):
- marrying off children
- paying for camp

It's no surprise SL has little sympathy for the author.

I also think it's sad that we're at the point where we're suggesting that the full-paying consumers should get a hakarat hatov for meeting their obligations.

JS said...

Offwinger,

I agree in principle. However, it is widely acknowledged that full payers are subsidizing those on tuition. This isn't a secret. Yet, at least this letter writer, and I imagine others on scholarship, don't seem to appreciate this fact. This is what really ticks off the full payers. The schools use them as piggy banks and the ones who benefit not only aren't appreciative, but aren't even sympathetic to their plight.

The schools give honors to those who make donations that are freely given, but doesn't outwardly show even the smallest appreciation for those who given donations through coercion.

Lion of Zion said...

OFFWINGER:

"I also think it's sad that we're at the point where we're suggesting that the full-paying consumers should get a hakarat hatov for meeting their obligations."

the point is not that they deserve hakarat hatov because they are full-paying, but rather because they are overpaying to cover others' shortfalls. JS said it well, that donors get recognition, but full tuition payers are also anonymous "donors"

(of course the truth is that because of closed books we don't really know how much of a full tuition payment, if any, goes to cover so-called "scholarships" for others, or if in fact the full tuition is applied to educate the one kid and shortfalls on others are coverded by outside fundraising. or for that matter, if full tuition even pays for that one kid or if even he has to be covered by outside fundraising. and it may not even be the same for every school. in some full tuition might leave $ left over, in others it is the exact amount, and in others yet it's not enough.)

Lion of Zion said...

AL:

i understand people objecting that there can't be any religion in general in charter school because their conception of a charter school is the full day model (which so far is the operational model). so not being able to mention hashem effectively means the kids can go through an entire day without any yiddishkeit input. i can't imagine any sane person objecting to a half day charter school because you can't mention hashem in math class, while at the same time the entire morning (or afternoon) is yeshivah.

as to the rest of your comment, you're preaching to the (non-singing) choir.

Lion of ZIon said...

JS:

"what are the significant and legitimate objections?"

gee, you must be new to the jblogosphere.

1) co-ed
2) can't be selective and reject anyone who doesn't suit your fancy, e.g., goyyim, shvartzes (not my choice of words, but that's how it usually comes out in these conversations), non-frum jews (which for some includes MO), not frum-enough jews, BTs, immigrants, families with television, families with computers, sephardim, mothers who don't cover their hair, women who don't cover their hair appropriately, etc.
3) stricter state control over curriculum
4) school can't be a jewish employment agency
5) standards for teachers enforced
6) can't limit hiring pool to kollel/sem grads (or to jews, for that matter)
7) background checks for teachers
8) sex ed
9) learning about other religions, singing christmas songs, etc.

this is just for starters

"I imagine most relate to hashkafa, not actual halacha."

that is relative, and in any case irrelevant

"Vitriol means scathing or bitter criticism."

more scathing than bitter (but i could be wrong). and her comments were not scathing. at least not from my perspective. but then again, assuming you're really not a new JS then you already know my biases :)

shabbat shalom

LW2 said...

tesyaa,

You are very vocal in the tuition debate, but you are clearly an outsider to the entire discussion. It is also clear that your level of Orthodoxy is quite - shall we say - different from the yeshiva tuition payers. I wonder why it is that you participate so much. Do you really think that you will tip the boat, in terms of convincing Torah observant Jews to see public school as a choice for the cash-strapped?

If anyone's agenda is futile it is yours.

JS said...

lol.

Oh boy.

I can't wait to see tesyaa's response!

Orthonomics said...

I hope I'm not off base or out of line, but I detected a lot of vitriol in your comments. I assume this is due to your, soon-to-be-made tuition payment. I hope all is well.

I'm not angry, nor am I sure where you are seeing the vitriol. I've already made up my mind that I don't intend to be angry with "the system" because if we need to exit the system, I want to do so gracefully and without anger towards anyone. It isn't healthy and it won't help us focus on what we need to focus on should that time come (as I expect it will since I don't detect that the schools are intent on freezing/lowering tuition).

I don't expect a family with 6 children to be able to lay out $20,000 a year in tuition when there are so many other things they need to take care of (weddings and camp don't make the top of my list). $20,000 is a heck of a lot of money, especially with a large family and all the expenses that come along multiple times (dental, medical).

What I'm simply pointing out is that $333.33 per month is a bargain. Full time day care for a single kid can easily cost between $10,000 and $12,000. A serious classical ballet program (after school, no summers) can cost upwards of $5,00O. A recreational gymnastics program, 1.5 hours per week, easily cost upwards of $1,000 a year, which doesn't include open gym fees or competition fees.

The yeshiva is charging him $3333.33 per student. He couldn't buy the same hours of day care for this price. He couldn't enroll his child in a more expensive conservatory for this price. If he pays for overnight camp, 8 weeks, he probably pays a years worth of tuition for 2 months of care. When you send your child to yeshiva, they ARE receiving something of value. That is the first thing to realize. Even if there is something to complain about in terms of the educational quality, at the very least the kids are out of your house (something nearly all parents seem to think necessary come summer). Your kids are in an environment you can't get for free. And your children are receiving instruction in a specialized skill (i.e. Torah).

I just find it very distastful to complain and demand tzedakah when the price really can't go much lower.

Lion of Zion said...

LW2:

" It is also clear that your level of Orthodoxy is quite - shall we say - different from the yeshiva tuition payers."

what would make you say something like this?

Orthonomics said...

To the commentor that called tesyaa an outsider, she is hardly that. Her younger children are in public schools. She has paid into the hundreds of thousands in tuition for her older kids. As I recall, those children are in a "centrist" school.

I will let tesyaa comment for herself, but just wanted to put this out there.

Anonymous said...

LW@ - public school should be part of the debate and in fact there is a movement in Teaneck to enroll a critical mass of MO children in public school there. I saw it on another blog.

Tuff Luv said...

To Tesyaa: Whether yeshiva education is a want or a need, my point was that paying for it is the father and mother's responsibility first and foremost, and they must be prepared to make the sacrifices to have their children in yeshiva, or to decide they can't afford it. I guess his letter riles me because of the sacrifices my parents made to send 6 children to yeshiva in sixties, and they did not consider the community to be responsible for their personal situation. They economized drastically - and for the most part, stoically. Such a terrible attitude today, epitomized by the letter writer! Gimme gimme. That's what I hear from him. It's his decision to send his large family to yeshiva, and he should be man enough to face reality without whining.

tesyaa said...

LW2 - I don't need to defend my lifestyle. Let's just say that I have seen both yeshiva and public school from the inside. Each has its advantages.

My promotion of public school has nothing to do my level of religiosity. I think it makes sense for families who are teetering on the edge (or who have fallen off the cliff) to consider this option since they clearly can't afford private education.

Even if you don't take tzedaka, you have to analyze whether depriving yourself of retirement savings and emergency funds is a prudent way to live.

I will say that when I had my kids I never in a million years would have imagined sending any of them to public school. Circumstances intervened and I have been pleasantly surprised by the combination of public secular education and private Judaic tutoring we're giving our younger kids. Even for our public school kids, what we're paying for tutoring is much more per kid that the Yated letter writer is paying (but less than the local yeshiva charges) - so we're clearly committed to Judaic education.

If your point is that someone who sends kids to public school is by definition an outsider, then I take up that mantle happily.

Stealth Jew said...

Recently we were treated with amazement from some quite MO people for choosing not to enroll our child in preschool -- which would have been very expensive and not appropriate for her for a variety of reasons. I was actually told that if she didn't go to the right preschool, she wouldn't find shidduchim.

Frankly, by the time she's looking for a shidduch IYH, I think a lot more people will be in the same boat.

Anonymous said...

SL: You have repeatedly noted that you anticipate needing to take your children out of Yeshiva at some point. I've always wondered why those parents who are open to alternatives in the future, don't take advantage of those alternatives (be it public school, homeschooling or something else) during the kindergarten and elementary school years, save the money and then use yeshiva for the important high school (and perhaps middle school) years. It also probably is a lot better for kids to start in public school if that is where they are going to end up.

JS said...

Anonymous,

That's my philosophy currently. I wonder if anyone else wants to opine.

Stealth Jew,

A coworker recently told me his wife wants to enroll their 3 year old in the local yeshiva's preschool program. It's $16k and I think is only around half a day or so. Clearly his wife and he are not in agreement. He thinks it's a ripoff since other preschools are far cheaper, she thinks it's necessary since it's so much nicer than the other programs, it will give her kid a head start over other children, and it guarantees a spot in the school.

If it were me, my kid better come out of that preschool knowing calculus if it costs $16k. I just don't see the value in $16k for some songs and finger painting.

Dave said...

$16k is more than two years of tuition and fees at the average 4-Year State College.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-It is a good question. I can only answer from others that just don't anticipate being able to make it from K-12. I imagine that everyone has their own reasons. As for me here are a few things that come to mind:

1. The learning environment our children are in is a very good one. We are receiving a valuable service that we don't think we could exceed at home in the here and now. If we weren't pleased with the schooling, we would definitely be exercising options right now.

2. I think there is something to be said for a positive Jewish experience in the younger years. Many feel high school is more important. We all have our own backgrounds and histories that play into this debate.

3. When we got married, the list price of one high school was just about the same price for the coming year's elementary rates! We can pay for another year of elementary right NOW. I don't know what the future holds in terms of high school and affordability, even though I do predict that if tuition continually increases between 5-7% annually, a year of high school will cost around $50,000 when my current youngest reaches high school (how is that for doom and gloom). In other words, I'd rather work with the now that I know, than try and predict the future. I would have never expected a $20K price for high school even 5 years ago. One can practically get two kids into elementary for the price of one in high school. If others want to go to public school and save the tuition in anticipation, excellent. I'm not going there.

Perhaps my reasoning is faulty. But this is where we at right now. I'm sure that if I develop a different thought process, I will share.

Lion of Zion said...

"Recently we were treated with amazement from some quite MO people for choosing not to enroll our child in preschool . . . I was actually told that if she didn't go to the right preschool, she wouldn't find shidduchim."

my circles are MO and i've never ever heard of concern for shidduchim affecting a parenting decision (in schooling or otherwise). i'm not saying a lot of us aren't picking schools for the wrong reasons, but shidduchim is not one of those wrong reasons).

(and btw, some schools, e.g., the ever popular noam in teaneck, won't admit your kids unless you start them in preschool)

Lion of Zion said...

"save the money and then use yeshiva for the important high school"

it's not so clear to me that high school is more important. if a parent has to choose between spending the $ on jewish elementary or high school, i think there are good arguments for why each one might be more important than the other.

tesyaa said...

The learning environment our children are in is a very good one.

Most people are very happy with the early childhood and early grade experiences their children have in yeshiva, which makes it harder to transition kids to a different environment. It's not only social pressure that makes it difficult for people to leave yeshiva. Once your kids are in an environment they're happy in, it's hard to take them away. Of course, if you start from kindergarten, there are many environments they could be happy in.
We are receiving a valuable service that we don't think we could exceed at home in the here and now.

Even if a service is valuable, if it's unaffordable, it's unaffordable.

Ariella said...

On the last sentence in the lette, i don't think the question of how affordable yeshiva tuition may or may not be is the same as the issue of "kids-at-risk." There are kids who are "at risk" while enrolled in yeshivas with parents paying full tuition. There are kids who are home schooled who are not at all "at risk." So these completely unrelated issues.

Anonymous said...

The writer says the second component of the "parnossa crisis" is "marrying off children" and he will address that in a second letter. I can't wait to see that letter. I don't understand why a system has developed whereby people have to pay a lot of money (or indeed any money) to "marry off" their children. "Children" should not be something that are bought and sold as part of a wedding transaction. Maybe the notion that "children" pay to "marry off" their offspring is part of the parnossa and tuition crisis. Maybe if adults instead of children married and if parents treated thier marriagable children as adults and didn't pay for them, then these adults would wait until they had completed their education and job training to get married if they had to pay for it and their new households themselves, parents wouldn't go broke marrying off their children, and when the couple starts a family they will be better positioned to support them. In other words perhaps the "marrying off the children crisis" contributes to the "parnossa crisis" and "tuition crisis."

Miami Al said...

Anon 9:04,

Pretty sure that we're not talking about "paying for the wedding," which really should be an expenditure related to the disposable income of the family. Obviously, rich people will throw more lavish parties that even people of modest (or above modest) means.

It's the expectation of supporting this young family that is a problem.

If parents focused on raising children to become adults a LOT of these problems would go away quickly.

tesyaa said...

Al - another sign of how Chareidi society is living in Czarist Russia (in addition to identifying every courageous whistleblower as a moser and evading taxes with the approbation of its poskim). It used to be that daughters had to be married off with a huge dowry because they were a liability - they required support because they were unable to support themselves. Ironically, now things have changed, to the extent that daughters receive much better education that chareidi sons, often earning masters' degrees so that THEY can better support their families. Yet the men still command these fantastic dowries.

Anonymous said...

The wall Street Journal had an article today about the transfer of funds from old to young due to the new health care law. I wonder if in the frum community we have a transfer of funds from young to old due to the kollel lifestyle. In order to support non-working males, are donations that could have gone to support yeshivas for their children being siphoned to support institutions for their fathers?

Thinking said...

The one argument here that I can't stand is the "you should have had less children argument". While it is the individuals responsibility to ensure that they can afford to care for their children, what has happened to tuition and housing in the orthodox communities over the past 10 years is unprecedented.

Where I live, over the past 10 years, housing prices have increased by 60% and tuition by 100%. While my salary, and my wife's, have increased over the 10 year period, the salary point we are currently at has not grown in line with our living expenses and tuition costs.

When I got married, my wife and I were both on our way to earning graduate degrees and had very specific plans, based on what we projected our earnings would be. BH, the projections have worked out. What hasn't is our projected costs.

So should we give a kid back? Not send them to yeshiva as planned? (They are getting an excellent yeshiva education). Move? (we love where we live and have always wanted to live here).

It's too easy to say in hindsight, "well you should have planned better". Really? How?

My point is it's not about planning better, it's about what measures are you taking to deal with reality. The letter writer is struggling with reality, it's unfortunate, but that's life.

My reality is that if not for the yeshivas accommodating me, my kids would probably be in public school. It would not be the worst thing in the world for them, but currently not necessary. BH!

Anonymous said...

$2000/month? ROTFLMAO.

I pay more than that for YU alone! If i could get my tuition payments DOWN to double that (or 4k/month), I'd be a happy guy.

Paying Parent said...

Thinking- Obviously, the 20/20 hindsight game isn't productive, and you cannot "give a kid back". HOWEVER, there are many families that apply for scholarship from day 1 of kindergarten and then CONTINUE TO HAVE MORE KIDS. This is where responsibility has to come into play. This is what gets people angry. Now, there are many people who have kid #1 fully expecting to apply for scholarship as their God-given right. But let's say that wasn't the case and the bills just surprised them come kindergarten for kid #1. I certainly believe they have the "achrayus" to wait to have more children until they can pay their bills!

Lion of Zion said...

THINKING:

you framed your comments in a personal context but i will try not respond to them personally. i apologize in advance if my comments here sound like a personal attack (they're not).

"So should we give a kid back?"

as paying parents wrote. i think the question is not giving back kids, but being more realistic from here on. i understand your (overstated and overly exculpative) point that people could not have projected what has happended over the last 10 years, but what does this have to do with where we go from here? have we as a community learned anything from the last 10 years? or do we continue to lead financially irresponsible lives (in some cases more irresponsible than ever). in 5 years from now will we continue to use the same excuse, except instead of talking about the tumults of the last 10 years we will say the last 15 years?

"Not send them to yeshiva as planned? (They are getting an excellent yeshiva education). Move? (we love where we live and have always wanted to live here)."

if parents want high-price education, that's their business. if they want high-priced housing, that's their business. but parents need to put their priorities in order. we can't have everything we want in life and sometimes we have to make choices. difficult choices. (as an aisde, one of the things that boggles my mind about our tuition model is that there are schools with renters paying full tuition and owners on "scholarship").

"My reality is that if not for the yeshivas accommodating me"

i'm glad that everything has worked out for you, but it isn't the yeshivah that accomodates families that can't afford the tuition. it is full paying parents and/or (depending on the specific school) non-parent donors who accomodate those families. money doesn't grow on trees in general, and it doesn't work any differently for yeshivah administrators. they don't simply write off unpaid tuition. that money needs to come from somewhere else, i.e., from donors and/or by raising tuition for other parents.

Mark said...

Miami Al - AGI: $100k
Exemptions: $29200
Standard Deduction: $11,400
Taxable Income: $59,400
Taxes: $8072.5 ($1675 + 15% of amount over 16750)
Child Tax Credit: $6000
Making Work Pay Credit: $800

If there are NO other deductions/credits, I have a tax bill of $1272.50, and that's without childcare credit or ANYTHING else.


Hey, who is this lucky guy that doesn't have to pay Social Security or Medicare? :-)

Mark said...

LOZ, and more:

10) No mezuzot on the doors.
11) No Jewish symbols of any kind may be visible. No posters, pictures, etc.

and many more as you note.

Mark said...

tesyaa - Yet the men still command these fantastic dowries.

Probably because more men than women go OTD and thus there is a surplus of marriageable women when compared to marriageable men. Supply and demand rules.

tesyaa said...

Mark - I'll bet in the old days it didn't matter much whether the guy was somewhat OTD - you still needed someone to support your daughter. So what if he was a bit of a closet apikores, or wasn't careful about some things? He was still better than nothing :)