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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adopting Some "Homeschooling" Skills

I want to address this particular comment from my previous post. I'm pasting the comment in full, but I only will be expanding on the first part of the question, "developing a skill set":
SL, you suggest that the parents should be "developing the skills that are keeping them from seeing the possibility in homeschooling." While homeschooling is great for some and some parents are terrific at it, this not something that everyone can simply develop a skill set in. Parents who are not cut out for home schooling would be doing their kids a great disservice. Have we come to the point where we believe kids are better off home schooled just to keep them away from the goyin, even if it means a lousy education, rather than use some of the wonderful free public schools that are available either where you live or simply by moving a short distance? If you are a great teacher and your kids are suited for homeschooling, then go for it, but it is not something that every parent should be considering. . . .

My comments: I wasn't so clear in my comment as I was hinting to a larger phenomenon that I see all the time.

I see a tremendous amount of money being spent on care even where parents are available, to say nothing of communal resources (think chessed babysitting hours provided by teenage girls, as well as actual donations ). The biggest expense is summer camp. Whether it is sleep away camp, day camp, or backyard camps, it is rare even for parents who are home to forgo outside care. Then there is after-after care. Many parents hire help for the after-school hours, often advertising for someone to assist them with homework and bedtime. There are groups on yom tov and Shabbat, but no matter the set up, they are rarely manned by parents, most often teenage girls working on a paid or volunteer basis. Break is coming and for some children (with a parent who is also on break), this means more camp. It is also rare for a pre-kindgergarten student to go to pre-school a half day. Nearly all are children are in school a full day.

From what I hear and read, many parents struggle tremendously when they have their children home even for a small school break. And, that is where I think we all need to start and build more "homeschooling" skills regardless of whether or not we ever homeschool. On a purely financial basis, there are tremendous savings to be able to care for all our children when we are available, rather than outsource that care. Beyond the finances of it all, I think it is important to give quantity of time to our children. Furthermore, I think it is important for our children to have the consistency of care that can best be offered by a parent. While I sometimes like my children to go to a Shabbat group or the like, I have sat in and witnessed that the leaders lack authority and that the kids lack the consistency that they should have in their regular home and school environments. I just don't see the benefit of bouncing between school, home, multiple caregivers, multiple summer camp and other care environments.

I'm going to introduce a few of my own tricks of the trade for managing my own crew and I hope readers will add some of their own tips and successes to keep the series active. Apologies if my tips are so obvious that I'm spilling virtual ink by even sharing them:

1. Get down on the floor: My kids want attention (lots of it!). But, there is just so much to be done. In many homes, laundry is the nemesis. There is just so much of it and the pile never stops growing.

When I work on a task like laundry, regardless of the participation that day of my kids, I try to sit on the floor. While sorting, folding, hanging, I am able to provide an increased level of attention to a child. I can read a story book, or just watch a child color. Playing a game is tough, but doable too.

2. Regroup: When the behavior is going south, or about to go south, regroup. Have everyone put away what they are doing, take a breather on different chairs or couches, and then start anew. If the kids need to go back to their bedroom and come out again, try that.

3. Assign a Task: My friends complain that their children are "bored." I can't say that this is something I have personal experience with. But, when I do find that my kids are being unproductive or that they seem to be aimless, I sometimes just assign (not suggest, but actually sit them down with the new assigned task) the "bored" kid something to do. It might be a specific chore, a specific academic task or book to read, or it might be giving them an overlooked toy to play with.

4. Managing the Environment: I find that when I am disorganized or the home is disorganized, the kids become less manageable. I make it a high priority to keep this home in good shape. Some of my friends take a different viewpoint and I've had many discussions about sticky countertops and happy children, the thought being that the kids should just have fun and the mess can be cleaned up when they are back in school (which falls far too close to Rosh Hashana to add massive deep cleaning into the routinue, imo). Personally I believe that respect for our home and our things is a value right from the Torah itself. Things should be put in their place. Toys should be returned with all the pieces in tact. And items must be cared for.

The bottom line for me is that when the home is neat and organized, I'm a better parent and a better person and the kids function better. If the home is in disarray, so are our attitudes.

5. Lists: I tend to organize in my head, but I am increasingly finding that physical lists on the wall are key to communicating the expectations and schedules. Investing in the right system of cork boards, whiteboards, markers, dry or wet erase markers, is worthwhile.

Please share your tips for managing your children for those long stretches.

180 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is cut out to be a nursery school teacher. That doesn't mean such people shouldn't have kids, if they can afford to pay others for some down time. Some people enjoy being in the workplace more than performing repetitive childcare duties - again, that doesn't mean they are not giving their kids lots of face time mornings, evenings, and weekends.

However, I think people should limit their families to a number of kids that they can support financially and that they can devote a reasonable amount of attention to. If a family can handle 4 kids rather than 3 if they hire outside help, and if they can afford it, I see nothing wrong.

Also, sometimes sharing childcare duties with another qualified person makes one a better parent - we all have things to learn from others. Those few hours a day of downtime often give a mother patience (for the remaining 16 waking hours) that she wouldn't otherwise have.

Jar said...

I find that I need to get out with my kids if I am home with them the whold day. Even a trip to the supermarket or running other errands becomes an activity for us and the different environment and fresh air do wonders for our enjoyment of the day together.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Unfortunately, how many parents put their kids in some type of pre-preschool (I've seen playgroups advertised for kids as young as 20 months) because of community pressure? Then, when the kids are used to a higher level of stimulation because they are around other toddlers all day, they become, in the parents' eyes, "difficult kids."

JS said...

I see nothing wrong with getting household or childcare help. The problem is parents who don't really want to be parents. I mean the ones who just find their kids a bit too needy, a bit too whiny, a bit too demanding and would be just a bit happier with someone else dealing with them. I see this in my shul all the time. There are more than a handful of parents who don't see Shabbat as a chance to finally spend quality family time together after a long and busy week. They see it as a chore and look for every opportunity to get rid of their kids whether it's sending them to groups (I've seen parents complain there's no groups for their 18 month olds) or foisting them on other parents and calling it a play date.

It's these parents who don't want to parent that are the real issue (assuming you think this is problematic in the first place) not those who hire babysitters or nannies or cleaning help.

JS said...

As to home schooling in general, I do agree with the commenter that even those who love being around their children may not have the skills to actually TEACH their children and provide a quality education. You can use advanced calculus in your daily profession and still not have the skills to teach a child that the product of two negative numbers is a positive number.

Also, I think it bears mentioning that the main reason people even bring up homeschooling is because 1) yeshiva tuition is expensive and, more importantly, 2) most women aren't earning enough money.

If we addressed #2 seriously - why are frum women under-earning to such a degree - a lot of the conversation around homeschooling (and maybe even yeshiva tuition to some extent) would disappear.

sima said...

I keep my children home all summer. They tend to be more difficult towards the beginning of vacation because they've become so programmed to a schedule where they are passive consumers of either entertainment or education (edutainment?) that they've forgotten how to keep themselves busy. By mid-July, they're having a wonderful time just living life and I enjoy the downtime and "summertime when the living is easy." So, AztecQueen, your comment is right on the mark.

However -- consider the individual parent. Some parents do not want to be at home with their children. They love them, they care about them deeply, they just don't want to be involved in the mucky day-to-day with them. I'm not going to pass judgement on them. That's their choice. Some accomplish this by working full time. Others do it by outsourcing nearly all their child-related responsibilities. It's not a modern phenomenon; upper class Europeans have been doing this for decades. You may not like it, but it's the way many women operate.

Orthonomics said...

I concur with Sima's observation. The first week or two of summer is the most difficult. The kids are used to a different ebb and flow and then they are thrown into something different. Once everyone is settled in, things tend to smooth out.

Regarding Anon's comments (1st comment), I'm not quite certain what you are responding to (if anything). On that note, this post is just sharing some of my own observations and methods because my kids are no picnic either and because I believe that throughout life we need to continually work on ourselves and how we do things in order to meet the needs of our families. Incidently, I wouldn't last a day as a nursery teacher and (here is controversy for thought) I think that some of the environment in conventional nursery school and school programs work against parents a la Sima and AztecQueen's comments!

If someone need not get their hands dirty so to speak, so be it.

mother in israel said...

Even if both parents work full time, they will have learn to deal with their kids for more than a few minutes. In response to the first commenter, Anonymous, it's not about having 3 kids instead of 4. It's about having any.
It does take practice and time to get to know your kid. It doesn't mean sitting with them and playing games every minute of the day. It means giving them attention, at regular intervals, BEFORE they are desperate for it.
If you really can't handle your small children, take a class and learn some skills. This will be a much better investment than babysitters and after-school activities.
If we take this trend to its logical conclusion we will be sending large numbers of kids to boarding school at a young age.

Upper West Side Mom said...

Great post. I have personally learnt much from my homeschooling friends. They tend to be very tuned into their children's needs. I am entirely a different parent now than when I first had my son because of them. I had very little patience to just be at home with him and spent a tremendous amount of time running around to keep him entertained and leaving him with a babysitter so I could get some stuff done.

When I had my 1st daughter I was lucky to fall in with a group of mom's some of whom were homeschooling. I think the bigest lesson you can learn from them is about incorporating your children into you life. Kids are very happy to help cook, clean or do errands with you. It is actually an opportunity to give them the attention they need and get something done at the same time. It is also a teaching opportunity. You can talk about fractions when cooking and money when shopping. I find this to be much more fun than just rushing though a store with them or feeling stressed about cooking dinner.

When my kids do get home from a long day at school I find that they need some down time and mom time so I have learnt not to take my kids to the store or to attempt to cook dinner then. For a younger child that is a recipe for disaster.

I have all my kids at home for at least part of each summer and I also find that the first week or two are the hardest. After then we get into a groove of not being in a state of perpetual stimulation. When my kids tell me that they bored I try not to take it personally. My job is not to keep them busy 24/7. There is always something for my kids to do at home whether it is markers to draw with or drawers they can reorganize.

I have also found that kids are less likely to complain about being bored if they know that I have some good ideas about what they can do or if they know that you are not going to turn on the TV or computer no matter how many times they say they are bored!

I also encourage my kids to play with each other. This means that I do not have other kids around all the time. This Sunday one of my girls wanted to have a play date with a friend but I said no. After some grumbling she went off to play with her sister and they spent the rest of the day (from 4:30 till bedtime) playing with each other and having a great time. Playing with your siblings is a skill and if your kids never do it they won't ever be able to.

I am very lucky to have my 4 kids in a school that we all love and that we can afford to pay for. If something changes about our situation I would try homeschooling and not because I wouldn't want my kids in public school.

This would not have been the case 10 years ago. Back then I had none of the skills that I have now (and let me stress that I am still far from being the perfect parent!). I have learnt them along the way and there is no reason why others can't do the same. It will actually make being a parent more fulfilling.

concernedjewgirl said...

Great post!
I love points 4 and 5. They totally hit home in our house. The best line:

I'm a better parent and a better person and the kids function better. If the home is in disarray, so are out attitudes.

TOTALLY TRUE!

Miami Al said...

The hardest part is learning to not see the kids as "in the way" of life but rather a part of life. It is extremely frustrating to see short errands as long because the kids want to explore. The trick is to stay in environments where their natural instinct to explore is safe.

My kids LOVE to help cook. In an agrarian society, children are helpful from age 2 or 3. Having a small vegetable garden has been great for us, the kids LOVE to pick the fruit or vegetables, and you haven't felt good about childhood nutrition until you've seen your kids fight over broccoli. :)

It definitely makes us better parents AND better people.

But I will second JS's comment. When Frum women earn professional salaries, the cost of day care and even private schooling is much less of a burden than when they are earning subpar salaries.

My wife's salary has always covered child/household costs, which eliminates ANY resentment. I never think that my life would be better without my wife and kids. My friend's whose wives don't work (or are underemployed) -- not because they are wealthy and CHOOSE to be home, but because they can't earn enough to cover daycare -- and spend a fortune on child costs, either pre-school, seem to resent their families, which is really sad.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I would also add that an involved Dad is also key. It makes a world of difference if Dad is also actively involved in the nitty gritty each day, and if Dad takes over for an hour each day so Mom can do things like take a shower, go for a run, etc. so Mom can recharge. I know a frum family that is tight on money (i.e. gets tuition assistance), but yet hires a babysitter so mom can go to the gym for an hour each day at times when Dad is at home or could easily be home. When he does watch the kids he refers to it as "babysitting." In my view, babysitting is something you do for other people's kids. Its called parenting when you spend time with your own kids.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-Couldn't agree with you more about the importance of involved fathers.

Orthonomics said...

UWS Mom: great point!

Miami Al said...

I disagree with the concept of "involved dad." Both parents are equally capable of being caregivers as well as breadwinners. This antiquated notion that dad is "helping" lets fathers off the hook that they are equally responsible for the running of their household.

You need two parents that realize that parenting is an 18+ year commitment to get your children to adulthood, not boys that thing that they are marrying a "girl" that is going to replace their mother in taking care of them.

Anonymous said...

Al: I was the one who made the involved dad comment. I agree entirely with you, but we have to face facts that in some frum homes today, Mom is still the de facto primary caregiver and the dad views himself as secondary or backup in case of emergency, not frontline. Moving dad up to the status of "involved" is an improvement. I work in an office where the Dads get kudos for being great fathers if they take off early for a school event or a ball game. When the moms do the same thing, they are viewed as less commited employees, not great moms.

JS said...

There's definitely still a workplace bias when it comes to taking off for family commitments.

But, being a relatively new father, I must say that I am shocked that in today's day and age I still have men roughly my own age bragging to me about having never changed their kids once or giving me "tips" about how to avoid having to take on childcare duties.

Again, though, I think a lot of it has to do with antiquated notions of men are breadwinners and women are childcare givers. These men work all day and even if their own salaries are sub-par, if their wives are home all day, they don't think they need to be parents - it's not their job. They then resent their wives who want a break or who spend "too much" on the kids or themselves.

As I said before, a whole lot of these issues would solve themselves if women worked for meaningful salaries.

Avi said...

No question that frum women work the second shift. But I've observed that we do have stronger gender roles than our secular culture suggests we adopt (the research shows few Americans actually live with anything close to equitable parenting/housework, but, hey, it seems like a nice ideal to aspire to). My advice is that even if the woman does nearly everything all the time, the father should make involvement in the full gamut of childcare a regular (even if somewhat rare) part of the routine. That includes bedtime, watching the kids in-between-camp-and-school, laundry, food shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. This lets the kids see that all aspects of the home are important, gives them a model for involved male parenting, and greatly adds to the flexibility of the house. Ever since we instituted "Abba puts you to bed every Sunday" if my wife needs to be out on a Wednesday, then "Sunday" becomes "Wednesday" and there is no hue and cry that the world is coming to an end. Meanwhile, while I wish school and camp calendars were far longer than they are (contrary to popular belief, our employers do not give us unlimited vacation time), Camp Abba was a highlight of the summer.

Miami Al said...

Avi,

Things don't have to be equal, they need to be equitable. The percentage of Stay at Home Parents that are male is approaching 1/3, some of this may be an increase in dual-male headed households, some of it may be a shifting economy. Apparently, of the couples that have disproportionate income between spouses (as opposed to "about them same"), nearly 40% of the primary earners are women.

The SAHM, dad at office/factory is a holdover from a SHORT period of time from the industrial revolution, and cultural assumptions from that economic reality need to fall by the wayside.

Look, I think that a SAHP "demanding" that the other pick up household drudgery is about as reasonable as their spouse "demanding" that their stay-at-home partner work their shift at the office. However, if you are both working, you need to look at how you divvy up drudgery as PARTNERS, not as "helping."

I'm very lucky, since my wife grew up with antiquated notions, ANYTHING I do is huge, so I get to pick and choose what I do... I'd guess I do between 40% and 60% of the household "chores," but I do ones that I like, and she picks up everything else, with the exception of one or two things that she loathes and I don't mind.

I'd be okay with 70% of household chores if they were all things I like, and avoid the 30% I hate... Cooking weeknight dinners is fun if I get to pick what I make, I love cooking Sunday breakfast. Prepping Yom Tov meals for days, pure misery, so I just "help" with whatever tasks she asks of me, generally run to the store. :) Changing diapers, however, sucks, so I'm very happy that I only have to do that if my wife is sleeping.

The fathers that are prepared to leave their offspring in their own fecal matter rather than change a diaper strike me as REALLY odd.

If reading bedtime stories was "helping my wife," I'd absolutely hate it. But since reading bedtime stories is a fun way to end the day with my kids (since I'm an equal parent, not "helping"), there is no resentment.

I think that guys that put in a 14 hour day, get home, and their wife hands them a screaming baby are getting a raw deal. But equally screwy is them acting like visitors in their own home.

Shaindy said...

Great post! I wish I could forward this to some people I know without being too obvious...

Anonymous said...

Lets face it children are a chore and often a bore. I really resent having the number of children I have, but it was expected by my community. Hate to say it but this is my true feeling. My husband feels differently, but he spends most of his time out of the house at work or in a study group at our shul.

JS said...

I hope your comment is some kind of weird joke.

mom2 said...

JS and Miami Al, you might live in different school communities than mine,or your kids might be really young, but i think you r underestimating the astronomical cost of tuition vs high salaried mom net pay. We homeschool our kids and economics definitely played an integral part of our decision to do so, though obviously not the only one.
The tuition where we live STARTS at over 15,000/kid and thats before the bus, lunch, afterschool programs, annual dinner , etc... etc.. Three kids easily total 55g in school and transportation costs, and that's for elementary school!
The difference in our particular food budget were i to go back to my 60 hour work week- in my line 40 hours is basically part time- would easily increase from 600 a month to 13-1400 in more ready made/takeout convenience foods instead of our present homemade favorites that i cook up with my kids and consider a math lesson. Cleaning help in our neck of the woods is expensive and would definitely start at 7000 a year for just the hard scrubbing.
The $70,000 these costs add up to is before taxes. In our bracket, i would have to earn over 100,000 to net the 70 grand it would cost for me to work!
Before i left work I was making in that general ball park, and I dont kid myself about my prospects of returning to my field after x number of years, but i think toiling all day far from my delicious children for very little net gain seems unreasonable.
JS and Al, 100,000 is what most of my well educated orthodox women friends make. I can count the 150,000 earners on one hand. just how many women do you know who make the cost of tuition/housekeeping irrelevant with their take home salary,or , in your words,"a whole lot of these issues would solve themselves if women worked for meaningful salaries."?

Sorted Megablocks said...

I am an expert at the lost art of toy rotation and cruise ship directoring.

we're going to do playdoh for 20 minutes! ok, now you're going to read these books on your own while mommy makes a 3 minute phone call. ok, now we're going to play 3 computer games together. ok, now you need to do these 3 puzzles while mommy moves a load of laundry (only if only one of my children is home--- if BOTH are home I CANNOT leave them alone together because he bites her).

Do I do MOST of my laundry while my kids are asleep? You bet. Am I exhausted at the end of an entire day of having both my children home? You bet. Is my house a mess? Sure. But I really don't have a choice because both of my kids' special needs are severe enough that I have trouble when I'm out in public with both of them and cannot physically control them.

We're about to have a 2 week winter break--- my kids are in public school special ed.

For years I've been building these skills of which you speak and I think I'd be a darn good homeschooler--- but because I need to make a full time income (which I've BEEN doing after my kids go to bed because their school schedules are different from each other--- I won't be doing it-- plus my kids need the constant forced social environment because of their autism.

My best tip is this. Put away toys--- bring them out when you need them. Have a LOT of toys that rotate. I knew there'd be some boredom this afternoon so before one kid came home from school I put a toy he hadn't seen in months on a low table-- didn't even say a word about it. Just stuck it there--- he was busy enough with it that I could play on facebook for ten minutes. :)

for those of you who DO complain about having neurotypical kids home, read what I linked to in my latest blog post and see why there's a small percentage of us out there who can't just go to the children's museum or the pool or the mall. For us, we have no choice but to be GOOD at toy rotation and cruise directorship.

http://sortedmegablocks.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/two-week-winter-break/

Avi said...

Anon 5:32 - thanks for your honesty. Your post is not only terribly sad, it sounds like you may be depressed. Tell your DH to stay home from shiur one night a week and get some professional help.

Miami Al said...

Mom2,

Can we assume 2 grade levels between children? Are we defining "elementary" as all pre-secondary education, K-8?

If you have 2 grade separation between kids, when kid #3 enters Kindergarten, you have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader. There are only 5 years when you have 3 children in grade school.

If you space 3 grads, then there are only 3 years when you have 3 children in school.

I'm further assuming that you and your husband are both graduate school educated professionals based upon the combination of high income and "career" (as opposed to owning a business). I'm also assuming that you are NOT planning to home school through high school, where it is harder to cover the diverse subject matter than grade school.

So even if you only break even on working vs. 3 kids in private school, it's only for 3 to 5 years that you "break even" on this decision. So for the 3-5 years that you have 1 or 2 children in school, you're ahead, then falling behind for a few years, then ahead again as the children go out to high school.

BTW, you were able to bring the skills that made you 6 figures professionally into running an efficient household. The "professional" SAHM I know seem to rely heavily on take out and don't have a clue how to run a tight ship at home.

So yes, these issues sort themselves if women had meaningful incomes. You were in a position to make such a choice, because of being in that position.

" but i think toiling all day far from my delicious children for very little net gain seems unreasonable."

Absolutely. That's what they call a "first world problem," that you're rich enough that you can choose to not work to subsist. Good for you.

Now look at the less modern women that struggle to earn 30k, they AREN'T in a position to make the choice that you made, because they lack the organizational skills to run their home and efficiently analyze these decisions.

Education and professional success creates options. There are LOTS of reasons you're probably better off with the decision you made, but don't pretend that the professional skills and training didn't help, and that post children, you'll have an opportunity to return and generate some income, even if not on the fast track like you were.

One of the board members down here is frustrated that when her kids were growing up, she worked SOLELY to pay tuition, and now people want scholarship without working. OTOH, when she was rearing children, the tuition:average salary ration was much lower and it was hittable for her to work to pay tuition.

A combination of increased tuition costs plus a lack of increasing the relative earning power of Orthodox women is forcing bad decisions.

You can make the choice you did. Your salary covered education for your three children. Either in the work force (less taxes), or running your own home school, you're in the position to do it. That's important.

Commenter Abbi said...

JS, why do you think the the chore/bore lady is a weird joke? I'm sure that sentiment is much more prevalent in the charedi community that people let on. That's the reality when you expect maximum conformity in matters is personal and essential as bearing children. Don't be so naive.

JS said...

Abbi,

Maybe I'm wrong, but the tone of the comment and the fact that it started with "Let's face it..." instead of "I often find myself thinking..." made me think it was written by someone who was not actually in this position. I'm sure the sentiment exists, I just think this commenter is who she she claims to be.

JS said...

mom2,

I won't quibble with your numbers or ask why food costs would go up so much. That's neither here nor there. I am well aware of the cost of yeshiva tuition even though I do not yet have any children in yeshiva.

The point is this: you make a very nice salary. Your salary would more than cover your 3 children's tuition bill and would certainly have kept you ahead of the game when less than 3 were in yeshiva. I don't know when you stopped working, but if it was when the oldest was ready to go to a kindergarten (home or yeshiva) that's around 5 years of your high income - $500k before taxes.

The reason you home school is not really economic - you come out WAY ahead in the long run if you had continued to work. You simply want to be with your children. That's fair. I don't begrudge that. And I also commend you for home schooling instead of taking the more common route of sending to yeshiva while choosing not to work and asking for some kind of scholarship.

So, I don't think you're the type of woman I was referring to. You're making a choice to home school, but you're doing it for very different reasons than the ones I was referring to. You're choosing family time over money.

I'm also glad you find yourself in a group of women who are also high earners. The fact is, though, that for whatever reason we're not encouraging women to aspire to achieve what you and your peers have achieved. There are far too many undereducated or, worse yet, educated but underearning and underachieving women in the Orthodox community. Speaking to the MO community, there is really no reason why a woman who has been educated in private school for 13 years and then attended a good university cannot be earning at least $45k out of college. And yet, far too often, that is not the case.

At least in communities where men are expected to work, boys are pushed from a young age to take their studies seriously and enter a respectable career. When it comes to women though, the motivation they are given as young girls is more based on their individual family situation - what they see their own mothers doing and whether girls are treated as equals.

There are far too many Orthodox women with negligible skills who can't even earn enough money to cover a single tuition after childcare costs. I have heard from far too many women that it makes financial sense to just stop working after their first child is born. Again, that's not your case.

It is in THAT context of "I can't even earn enough to cover 1 kid's tuition plus additional child care costs" that home schooling, public school, etc. usually comes up.

I know my wife, who is a professional, has often commented on how difficult it is for her to meet women who have real careers and are raising children. It's not that they don't exist, and there are many of them in our community, but it's not as common as it should be. By comparison, as a professional man, I never have to look far to find a male professional, it's just expected. I sit down in shul and every guy around me is an accountant, lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc.

tesyaa said...

JS - I also find it hard to meet other professional women, but I know in my community there are several working female doctors who are mothers, and other professional working mothers. Maybe the reason it's hard for us female professionals to meet our peers is because we have so little time outside of work to socialize.

I meet plenty of professional women who are mothers at work, they just don't happen to be Orthodox.

And I don't think being Orthodox takes more personal time from a mother's life than other commitments made by the non-Orthodox. Sure, I have to make Shabbos meals every week, but that is not really so time consuming unless one wants to entertain. I know non-frum and non-Jewish working women whose children are on travel teams (unheard of among the Orthodox) - those teams take up a huge amount of time and money. Except for the problem of taking half or more of one's paid time off for yom tov, it is not so much tougher being Orthodox. It's sometimes just an excuse for why one can't/won't take a better paying job.

Mark said...

mom2 - Cleaning help in our neck of the woods is expensive and would definitely start at 7000 a year for just the hard scrubbing.

That's crazy. The house doesn't need to be *that* clean!

Hire someone for 3-4 hours once a week. That should cost between $13 and 18 an hour, or somewhere between $40 to $70 a week. And that comes to $2500-3500 a year.

tesyaa said...

Mark, I agree - I thought the $7000 figure was way high. But some people have extremely high standards for a clean house. I don't know how it can be that clean with the homeschooled kids around all day - and when is the mother doing $7000 worth of cleaning?

JS said...

tesyaa,

Yeah, there lots of working mothers at my wife's workplace. They actually get together for lunch every month to talk about career and family and just socialize. My wife switched to part-time after our son was born, but even that is usually 60 or so hours a week and can be more depending on what comes up at work. So, I sympathize with those women who simply don't think it's worth it. My wife makes it work and she's absolutely incredible to our family and her job. Could we get by on just my salary? Sure, I suppose. But, we're far better off with both and can provide for our family the way we want to and save for our long-term priorities.

What's harder for my wife than balancing work and family is trying to find other Orthodox women doing the same. So many women that she meets are SAHMs who gave up middling go-nowhere careers or women work VERY part-time or have non-demanding and/or non-professional careers. They simply don't understand my wife's situation and how she isn't available for a playdate at 3PM on a Wednesday.

I don't think being a working Orthodox woman with a family is any harder than being any other type of working woman with a family. It's demanding and it's difficult at times. So, I can only attribute the difference in representation to our culture and sexist child-rearing.

Anonymous said...

"Except for the problem of taking half or more of one's paid time off for yom tov, it is not so much tougher being Orthodox. It's sometimes just an excuse for why one can't/won't take a better paying job."

But that's an enourmous problem. In certain more blue collar female professions, like nursing, it's already hard enough getting by without working Shabbos that adding in extended vacations for jewish holidays make it almost impossible. I know women that work part time for that very reason. It gives them more flexibility to work when they can.

The other issue is that many women (and men for that matter, no difference) don't possess the skills or smarts to succeed in higher paying jobs. And more education, while usually helpful, is often not going to make anyone smarter or more dynamic.

Many times the individual can't get into a good school or program and their advanced degree ends up being a waste of money. Many times the individual isn't smart enough or has learning disabilities and can't earn a BA.

For myself, my education got me my job but it didn't really help me succeed and move up. That was my skills and smarts. Now, obviously, those skills were honed in school where we can develop study habits and learning techniques. But let's be real, education in this country is mostly about getting the piece of paper to get the job than it is learning what will make you successful at that job. And if one isn't smart or skilled enought to get the higher level piece of paper they are probably not going to be able to be successful enough to earn a high income.

Now I agree that sometimes very smart and skilled women settle for simpler jobs with more limited earnings potential (I know some really smart women who probably could have been doctors but chose not too because of time/family issues). But most of the underemployed women I know (earning < 40K) are doing that simply because they aren't smart or skilled enough to get better jobs.

tesyaa said...

Many times the individual isn't smart enough or has learning disabilities and can't earn a BA.

Do you think the percentage of unintelligent or learning disabled Jewish women is higher than among other cultures? There's a piece on Dovbear today about how other cultures think Jews are smarter:

http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2011/12/korean-film-crew-visits-ponevitch-video.html

And a link to another interesting article:

http://nymag.com/print/?/nymetro/news/culture/features/1478/index6.html

I personally don't think Jewish women are less intelligent than other women. I think they're burdened by community expectations of Shabbat meals cooked fresh on Friday (rather than Thursday night), and similar social expectations. Taking off time for yom tov is a problem, but many people complain they don't have enough money to go on vacation, so it's kind of a wash. If you have no money to go on vacation, it's OK to use vacation time for yom tov.

JS said...

Anonymous,

The point is what percentage of Orthodox men are professionals? What percentage get higher degrees? What percentage earn $100k or above? $150k or above? $200k or above? Obviously the percentage shrinks as salary goes up, but whatever that percentage is, shouldn't there be a comparable percentage of women earning that as well? Are Orthodox women less intelligent, motivated, or skilled than Orthodox men? I understand the workplace is not equal, but shouldn't there at least be a comparable percentage of Orthodox women as non-Jewish or non-Orthodox women?

If a shul has x% of doctors who are men what percentage are female doctors? What percentage are male lawyers, engineers, accountants, actuaries, in finance, etc.? Is there even close to that percentage of women?

Your point about not everyone being a superstar is well-taken, but not all men are superstars either. But, whatever percentage of women that is capable of earning more and rising in a career are not meeting that potential.

Anonymous said...

Right, Jewish women aren't any less inteligent or more inteligent than other women. Yet, what is the median salary for women these days. I'm faily certain it's not in the 6 figures.

The trick isn't so much the Yom Tov but the Chol Hamoed and the days before and after.

Overall, I agree with you. Women should be pushed to do more in the workplace, simply out of fiscal need. And that's not even getting to the increased emotional health one can get from being successful in the workplace. I just think that many MO women are trying to do more and the ones that aren't are often less capable.

tesyaa said...

Also - my Indian coworkers never go to India for less than three weeks - with the travel time involved, it just doesn't pay to stay for less. That's 15 vacation days and they save them up, carry them over, and when really necessary take time without pay. True, they don't go every year, but yom tov is never more than 13 weekdays.

Sure, with 6 kids like I have, there are more doctor visits and other reasons to take time off from work, but ... it's a choice. Since more kids always means a need for more money, it's hard to say that one can't work because one has a lot of kids. People having 6 kids and then claiming they didn't know it would be expensive and time consuming are making excuses or are extremely shortsighted.

Anonymous said...

JS,

You're right. The movement towards having kids earlier and earlier has made it much tougher for religous women to be successful. It's hard to go to school when you have kids at home. Then you have to pay for school and babysitting at the same time.

JS said...

Anonymous,

Sure, that factors in as well. As to your point about yom tov and needing to take off, that can be easily solved. Current trends may not make this good advice in the future, but it wasn't a coincidence that Jewish boys were steered to medicine, law, and finance. Those careers were lucrative and allowed one to stay religious (especially after Jewish firms opened up). So, if nursing for example is really bad for Orthodox women as a career path because it's tough to take off for yom tov (no idea if this is true), then why not the same kind of social engineering by steering women to careers that make family and religious life easier? Again, lots of men are doctors and lawyers and such and seem to have no problem getting home for shabbat and yom tov. The jobs exist.

We are only thinking about half of our population when it comes to working and earning a respectable salary. Sure, not everyone is going to be earning 6 figures, but that's not the point. The ones who are smart and skilled enough to do so, from either gender, should be getting the motivation and support to do so.

And yes, part of that support would be not pressuring women to turn into baby-making machines the second the veil is lifted after the chupah. Speaking only for my own situation, waiting 5 years after marriage to have our first child was instrumental in allowing my wife to have the opportunity in her job to control her hours to make family and working possible - by that time she had enough clout and respect and her superiors didn't want to lose her talents.

guest said...

Just to throw another idea into the mix:

The trend these days is towards increasingly assortative mating in education and income (presumably this refers to income at time of marriage not necessarily lifetime).

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/magazine/19wwln_idealab.html

In my experience with couples my own age (caveat: most of my friends and acquaintances are not frum), when someone is highly-educated and a high-earner, their spouse is almost always quite intelligent and capable of high-earning.

Part of the problem with high potential earners pairing off is that 1) often one of them will choose to cut back on work out of lack of necessity and 2) if they do both work to potential, it can exacerbate inequality among households as the article points out.

Ideally from an economic standpoint, we'd have high potential earners distributed one per family. Then they'd all have to work to potential and there'd be less inequality. But the modern expectation is increasingly that a spouse is also a best friend, shares a sense of humor, makes great conversation and so on. For someone who is highly intelligent and ambitious, it can be hard to relate on a soulmate/best-friend level to someone who lacks both of those qualities.

Anonymous said...

Who said nursing is a blue collar job? Maybe for some LP's but these days, but an R.N. usually requires a B.S. and so many nursing positions these days involve masters, sometimes double masters. A lot of what was considered nursing 20 or 30 years ago is now done by CNA's and various techs and assistants. If you go into the right specialties as a nurse and get a masters, it can be a great and lucrative career path with scheduling flexibility for the OJ woman or man. Same for physician assistants (I know an O.R. P.A. making close to 200K. Same for certified nurse anesthetists. I know nurse practitioners making 150K). You want one parent to be at home more, nursing is perfect - Work evenings and sunday shifts when the other parent can be at home. Its not nearly as hard as getting into med school and while there is more than 4 years involved, its not 7 years of med school, internships, residency and fellowships. There is going to be more and more demand for advanced practice nurses (i.e. NP's) and physician assistants.

Miami Al said...

As you move up the income ladder, it's a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. So it's much harder to climb.

If you moved the "bottom" of women from 30k to 45k - 60k, lots of opportunities in that range that don't require being a superstar, you'd remove the pressure to drop out of the workforce because of childcare costs.

For an individual family, the decision is based on the economic impact. The stronger the weaker part of the Frum "Macroeconomy" is, the less subsidies needed from the top. The less subsidies needed, the less the "crisis of the week" would be an impact.

Tuition Crisis: a smaller and smaller percentage of families is footing a larger portion of the bill. This means that when costs rise 3%, it's ENTIRELY born by those full paying (since Scholarship families pay "what they can afford"), you raise tuition 4.5%, which is turning into a crisis. If you increase income, you need fewer scholarships. You get a wonderful forward feedback loop: fewer scholarships => lower tuition => fewer needing scholarships. If you raised income an average of 10k/household in the lower realm (the realm where the Federal income tax rate is effectively 0% after child tax credits, etc), you'd reduce the scholarship demand.

Shidduch Crisis: There is an imbalance of Orthodox heterosexual men and heterosexual women. This exists everywhere, but because of the critical nature of marriage in Orthodox life (unmarried people are second/third class citizens, for VERY good cultural and halachic reasons), you have a screwed up demand curve.

Since being in the 5% "spinster" category is a social death sentence in the Frum world, there is HEAVY demand to not be there. This results in ever escalating levels of "support" bid by parents of young women, which is warping the market. If women increase their earning power, the need to "support" them will lesson.

Increasing income, particularly lower in the spectrum where it's easier to do, would drastically reduce the "squeeze" that's clobbering the upper middle class families, and seems to be fomenting a small revolt in Teaneck (a doubling of JFS enrollment each year + the small experiment with a lower cost "full payers mostly" school is a sign of that revolt). If you look at the handful of Orthodox families in South Florida that are in the various Ben Gamlas, it's NOT the poor choosing a cheaper school, it's largely the upper middle class that is depended upon for subsidies that are there.

The families that I see @ Ben Gamla in the Orthodox world are mostly Doctors, Lawyers, CPAs, and business owners. The "scholarship families" are staying put, which is increasing the strain on the remaining upper middle class families.

The "revolt" is still small scale, but because of inelasticity of demand and the price discrimination model of the day schools, small changes in support from the upper middle class has a disparate impact on the community.

Increasing female earning power to make SAHM NOT economically advantageous in lieu of childcare would have a HUGE impact on the leading crisis in the community.

Even the "OTD crisis" stems from some of these economics. Even non-believers that like their Frum life will stay, even if they post on "Orthoprax blogs."

As Tesyaa has pointed out repeatedly, the "it's hard to be Frum" work angle (except for mandatory private schooling) is pretty minor, and no more significant than other individuals with cultural/religious imperatives (i.e. everyone but your secular non-religious white Protestant colleagues).

guest said...

The question of "it's hard to be frum" in the workpace can be major, even if it usually isn't.

If you work in a big cosmopolitan city where professionals often have a diverse set of cultural/religious imperatives, then your weird requests will probably also be OK. Maybe at your lawfirm or i-bank or hospital the Muslims go on hajj and don't come to happy hour, the Indians visit family in India and avoid meat, the Jews don't roll on Shabbos and bring lunch from home, and the secular liberals go on a wine tour of Western Europe once a year and only eat organic vegan raw food. And everyone's cool with everyone else.

OTOH if you are in an industry and/or location where 99% of your coworkers share about 90% of the same religious/cultural imperatives which the workplace is already structured around (so they never have to make special requests), and there are no other weirdoes to inconvenience everyone, it becomes harder. I was only semi-observant, but it was still a challenge. My career would have definitely suffered if I was actually frum.

I think there probably aren't too many frum people in the latter scenario, but I'm sure some exist.

mom2 said...

Miami AL said:
I'm further assuming that you and your husband are both graduate school educated professionals based upon the combination of high income and "career" (as opposed to owning a business). I'm also assuming that you are NOT planning to home school through high school, where it is harder to cover the diverse subject matter than grade school.


***** Al,I'm a bit surprised that with your considerable financial sophistication, you would assume neither spouse in a fiscally savvy relationship would go for "owning a business" but you are correct; between my DH and myself we have enough post high school education years to choke a horse. I've just decided to leverage mine into giving my children what i hope will be a superior education by cutting out the middle man. You and/or JS were commenting on women's low salaries being an impetus to homeschool, and I wanted to point out that the tuition situation is such that even fairly high earning women would only break even by working rather than homeschooling.

***** The high school tuition here is 23,000(!!!). The only reason i am not planning on definitively homeschooling my kids at that stage is because we will need to evaluate their social lives as teenagers through a different calculus than the one we use presently. The reason will likely not be the fact that it "is harder to cover the diverse subject matter than grade school." Homeschooling, especially after 6th grade, is not about teaching all subjects yourself, but rather "gatekeeping" the various outsourced expert instructors, virtual or otherwise . I have no doubt that if I were to homeschool high school i could present them with an education both Judaically and secularly superior to the local offering, I'm just not sure about the fun/friends factor.



BTW, you were able to bring the skills that made you 6 figures professionally into running an efficient household. The "professional" SAHM I know seem to rely heavily on take out and don't have a clue how to run a tight ship at home.



*****Clearly Mark and Tessya think my ship is too clean.



Education and professional success creates options. There are LOTS of reasons you're probably better off with the decision you made, but don't pretend that the professional skills and training didn't help, and that post children, you'll have an opportunity to return and generate some income, even if not on the fast track like you were.

********I am not sure . I think my extensive education self selected for people with above average delayed gratification abilities, not necessarily the professional skills themselves, and that is a resource many a mother can draw upon regardless of training/skills if she desired to make this decision.

JS said...

The point is this: you make a very nice salary. Your salary would more than cover your 3 children's tuition bill and would certainly have kept you ahead of the game when less than 3 were in yeshiva. I don't know when you stopped working, but if it was when the oldest was ready to go to a kindergarten (home or yeshiva) that's around 5 years of your high income - $500k before taxes.


********I love the way guys think that having and raising a baby is just another penciled in appt during an otherwise equally lucrative work year. No , not everyone can take a 9:00 a.m client, drive to the hospital at lunch time and be back at work that afternoon after having dropped up their newborn at office day care (umbilical cord attached) . (Yes, I'm sure you were able to Tessya!)

.So, I don't think you're the tyreferring to. You're choosing family time over money.


*******My point is that once tuition is at the 60,000 mark, whatever salary a reasonably educated mom can bring home is almost negligible in the work/homeschool choice. Its great to have the choice be within my purview, and it is emotionally empowering, but its economically irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

With homeschooling as a growing trend, it will be very interesting to see how these kids turn out 20 years from now. I must admit I am a bit puzzled about home schooling for orthodox jews. I can understand fundamentalist christians homeschooling their kids to keep the out of public school and away from being taught about evolution, tolerance, respect for alternative families (i.e. those headed by same sex couples, and so they can spend more time on religious studies). For orthodox jews, however, homeschooling as an alternative to yeshiva/jewish day school keeps kids away from some of the things that go to the essence of orthodox life -- like being part of a community and conforming to community rules, norms and expectations.

Commenter Abbi said...

" Its great to have the choice be within my purview, and it is emotionally empowering, but its economically irrelevant."

I guess it's economically irrelevant if your one income makes enough to put away retirement funds for both you and your husband. And he has enough job security that you know he'll never lose his job. And you have some kind of power of prophecy that you know he'll never get a serious illness or disability that will make it impossible for him to work. Other than those issues, yes, I guess it's economically irrelevant.

Seriously, from an economic perspective, intense child-raising (ie: when they're under high school age) is at most 10-15 years. So, you're giving up 10-15 years of earnings, earning power, job security "insurance" and retirement savings to homeschool your kids. Saying you would just cover tuition and therefore your income is economically irrelevant is kind of shortsighted. That's your choice, but at least acknowledge all the factors when making that choice.

To be sure, don't envy your choices. I live in Israel where I send my kids to school for next to nothing and have a very part time, flexible job where I earn maybe a third of my husband's salary, but I pick the kids up every day at school at 3:30 and my fourth, a baby, is home with me.

And to JS and MiamiAl and some anonymous up top re: wondering how the community can "ramp up" women's earning power: First of all, I resent this insinuation that there's some kind of laziness on the part of women because they can't pull their own weight. I'm sure what you say is true in many cases. However, as mom2 pointed out, having and caring for children is not something you can just slot in at 10 am like a haircut. I think in the states it's more so,but childcare is demanding and not everything can be outsourced. Some moms do want to put in more than a previously chosen career allows. If a woman finds a career pre kids that allows her to balance the kids in a reasonable fashion, great. Not everyone is that lucky.

Also, there's the factor of how much the husband can be around. In my setup, my husband travels 2 weeks out of the month and even when he's in this country, he can rarely get home before 8 or 9 pm and regularly pulls all-nighters. We both felt that for me to have a full time job that required getting home at 6-7 pm would be too hard on the kids and me. Would it be doable? I guess it would, but it's not the way we want to run our family.

There are so many issues to consider, both social and economic. I just don't think it's as simple as "women are lazy, let's get them to work".

Miami Al said...

Commenter Abbi,

Nobody is saying "women are lazy" -- at least I'm not.

I'm saying that there is a problem that after 13 years of private schooling AND 4 years of university, they aren't possessing the education/skills to make a decent income. This is also happening to MO men, which is creating the economic crisis of the week.

If we want to have 4 children in private schools that charge half what the secular prep schools charge, our economic lives and lifestyles need to reflect the families with 2 children in prep schools.

I don't know ANY of my university educated female friends that are as underemployed as I've seen in MO circles.

If MO are full time child rearing, fine, but then you have to look like a single income family in 2011, NOT a single income family in 1971.

Anonymous said...

Commentator Abbi: I don't think anyone is saying that women are lazy, (although undoubtedly some women are just like some men are). The issue is, at least in the U.S. orthodox jewish culture has developed to a point where so many luxuries (private school, camp, big simchas, year in Israel, living in expensive areas, etc.)are considered necessities. Therefore everyone's legitimate earnings should be enhanced through better education and more people in the workforce with good jobs. Not only will that make the lifestyle more sustainable, but then there will be funds for true tzedakkah - helping the truly poor, not just the tuition poor. Your situation is not at all comparable. It sounds like your husband is working the equivalent of two full time jobs so your family is doing its part. Obviously you can't work full time if your husband is only home when the kids are awake two shabbats a month. BTW- unless your husband is superman it doesn't sound like his schedule is sustainable as he gets older. At some point it might make sense for him and your family for him to move to a job with more normal hours and for you to go full time.

Anonymous said...

SL: Commentator Abbi observed that I guess it's economically irrelevant if your one income makes enough to put away retirement funds for both you and your husband. And . . . he'll never get a serious illness or disability that will make it impossible for him to work."

It would be terrific if you could do a post on the importance of having private disability insurance. Most people don't understand the odds of becoming disabled at some point in time AND the fact that any disability insurance you have through work is likely to be fairly lousy and deny the claim. Group disability insurance is governed by ERISA, not state law and all of the usual protections for consumers do not apply, and the insurer's decision is extremely difficult to challenge in court. These rules don't apply to private disability policies. I've simplified the ERISA issues a bit to fit this post, but this is something most people don't know until its too late. In any event, a lack of disability insurance or lack of good insurance, combined with the potential for one spouse to lose a job is another reason why its important for both parents to have up to date, marketable skills and recent relevant work experience. Too long a gap out of the workforce makes that hard. If someone takes a few years off for child rearing, continue to keep your skills current (take a course, go to a few seminars, continue to subscribe to and read industry publications) and stay in touch with professional contacts. Or, if you aren't employable, use your time at home to work on a new skill. Most SAHM's or SAHD's can probably fit in at least one course at a time.

Miami Al said...

Two Incomes vs. One Income:

There is a general assumption that having two incomes is more stable than one income, but this is mathematically not true. Yes, if one loses a job you still have "half your income," but unless the couple is saving 30% of their income (and therefore has a rainy day to cover the other 20% in a lost job), the question isn't "percentage of income," it's "can I pay my bills or not?"

For a childless dual-professional family, lots of expenses are discretionary, so you can cut. Once you have family and family bills, the percentage of your budget going to necessities increases.

If you assume that in a 5 year window, 5% of people will get laid off, not unreasonable with a 8.6% unemployment rate. That means for a single income family, there is a 95% chance of being fine, a 5% chance of being in trouble.

However, for a dual income family, the likelihood of losing ALL income (both jobs) is only 0.25%, pretty good.

However, the likelihood of NEITHER losing their job: 90.25%.

The likelihood of one of you losing your job is 9.5%.

So, if losing either income stream means foreclosure, a family dependent on two incomes is almost twice as likely (9.75% vs 5%) to end up broke.

You have more flexibility with two incomes, but the stability of income actually drops.

Now, if you live beneath your means, your emergency fund likely only needs to cover losing ONE of the incomes for 6 months, so you get some breathing room there (i.e. expenses for the family, less the smaller of the income).

JS said...

I guess I'm a little late to the party. I wanted to address some points made by Abbi and Mom2.

First of all, the beginning of Abbi's most recent comment is really spot on. In fact, that was drilled into my sister from a young age - that she needed to educate herself and get a real job because you never what might happen. No one wants to think about these things, but people do get divorced, they do get disabled, and they do die. This wasn't a morbid or depressing conversation they had with her, but they wanted to inject a bit of realism into this fairy tale notion that every girl is a princess and her prince charming will come and he'll slave away and provide a lifestyle of ease for her.

Which bring me to my next point: never once did I say Orthodox women are lazy. I don't believe that and I don't think it's true. The point I am making is that our smart, motivated, and skilled women are not being given the support and social guidance to achieve to their potential. How many young Orthodox women are being told and taught they can be doctors and lawyers and professionals? Often, the most you'll see is that women are told they can go into one of the therapies (OT, PT, ST). Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking those professions. But, I think there's something wrong when the smartest boy in the class is encouraged to become a surgeon or lawyer in a big firm and the smartest girl in the class is encouraged to be a part-time OT. THAT is the point I am making. We're still teaching and guiding our girls with a 1950's mentality - get a rich husband or at most, get a part-time job since your place is at home with the kids.

You can argue it's not a problem, but you have the issue mentioned above that you never know what will happen in life and that rich husband may not be able to continue earning money and then you're really in trouble. And, you have the issue that Orthodox life is increasingly expensive and a single income or a single income and part-time income isn't going to cut it.

As for "scheduling" childcare, please don't think I'm that naive. I complimented the extraordinary job my wife does above. I don't think it's easy and I do think it requires sacrifices. But, that doesn't mean it's not possible. Working moms do it every day. I think too many Orthodox women say it's "too hard" because we've acculturated our women to thinking it's "too hard". I'm not diminishing how difficult it is, but why does no one say how hard it is for a father to not be able to stay home with his kids? People look at the situation Abbi described (I mean a situation like this, not Abbi's in particular) and think it's wonderful she can stay home with the kids and great there's a husband who can provide - I see this all the time with men who are "Shabbos dads", we don't blink at that. We simple accept that men are okay killing themselves in hard jobs with long hours and women are too delicate to work more than part-time. It's a sexist attitude from a long past era and doesn't work in today's day and age given how expensive Orthodox life is.

Anonymous said...

Al: I love your reasoning. Based on your line of reasoning a family with no earners is in the best position because then there is a zero chance of anyone losing a job. The fact is that unless you are talking about low income workers or people who made really bad financial decisions - i.e. getting into a mortgage that requires both incomes, the family with two earners is going to be better off. The family with each spouse making 75-100k can still cutback and make it if one loses his her job. The family where each parent is earning $35K, much less so. The best way to go (for financial security) is two earners, but live a lifestyle that only requires one or has areas where cuts can be made -- i.e. don't lock into high mortgages, auto loans or other debt. For the excess, save, give to charity and feel free to splurge on things that you can make do without if you have to. However, only having one employed or employable spouse is not the means to financial security without a lot of good fortune.

Miami Al said...

There is a big problem, in my mind, with the "Orthodox life is expensive meme." Orthodoxy is NOT inherently expensive.

Kosher Food Costs: Technically, this is NOT a cost. Kashrut prohibits certain foods (pork, shellfish, and non-Kosher meat/chicken) and combinations (meat and dairy), all of which are "expensive" anyway, especially cheeses and meats, which cost more per-pound (and per calorie) than grains, pastas, and root vegetables. You are NOT required to put out a tray of deli meats. The fact that Kosher Deli Meats costs $1-$2 more a pound than dreck and comparable to premium companies (think Boar's Head) doesn't raise the cost.

So "keeping Kosher" doesn't add to your food budget, eating expensive meats/cheeses does. When we had to cut out budget to the bone, we were basically ova-lacto vegetarian except on Shabbat, where we had a soup/stew to stretch meat. We cut our budget AND waistlines.

Pesach: Pesach doesn't HAVE to cost a fortune. A vegetable heavy Passover, plus inexpensive wine, will cost a Frum family less than moderate income families spend on Chirstmas.

Day School: Day school is EXTREMELY expensive, but less so than prep school. The Yeshiva system costs comparably to the Catholic school system.

The problem is "champaign tastes on a beer budget." If you want to live in an expensive suburb and send your 3/4 kids to Day School, you need to make a high income. Newsflash, if you wanted to live in a gated community and send your 2 kids to prep school, you'd need to make a high income.

The problem is expectations, and the idea that "Hashkafa" trumps economics in lifestyle. The MO lifestyle adopted the upper income WASP lifestyle (expensive neighborhoods, expensive schools, etc), which is fine, but if you want that MO life, you need to earn like an upper income WASP.

Can you be "MO" on a moderate income? I don't know, I don't think so, but MO has NEVER been for the moderate incomes. It was started as outreach to successful German Jews that were leaving small town life for cosmopolitan cities, and were offered a way to "have it all," with Jewish versions of Lutheran society.

If you want to live like the upper middle class, you need to earn like the upper middle class.

The upper middle class EITHER has two solid incomes OR one terrific income AND families started later, when that income is established. Look at the partners at your law firm and the age of their children. They didn't start families at 22 and wonder how to pay for private schooling.

The problem as I see it, is the Rabbis that set the agenda, via the schools, have an ideal that is NOT in line with economic reality, and we're hitting a wall. Or rather, the kids were sold on a lifestyle that is "more from" (the sliding rightward), but still wanted the creature comforts that they grew up with from parents who didn't have that lifestyle.

If you want to live in Teaneck and send children to private schools and "have it all," you probably need to decide that before you get married and plan your life accordingly.

Pretty sure that's true in gentile society as well.

Miami Al said...

I have friends from my "prior" life that started families young. None of them have kids in Prep school. They may homeschool, use a charter, or send to Catholic school, but they don't have them in prep school.

Having 3-5 years to establish yourself professionally before starting a family is critical to reaching the high incomes necessary to sustain that lifestyle.

That is true if you are MO or secular, and is that case for my secular friends in midtown/UES as well. They started families later than we did and have smaller ones, and that's how they can afford a private school bill.

Can we have large families from a younger age and put them in Jewish schools? Absolutely, but those schools will look like a Catholic school (or the Brooklyn Yeshivot), not small scale prep schools.

In the short term, we can avoid this, but we're quickly running through the wealth generated in the post-war boom as well as sucking the secular Jewish world dry via Federation support for Orthodox schools.

Or we can encourage our boys and girls to grow up to be successful men and women that are able to support the upper middle class lifestyle that they grew up with, but they can't choose to live like the poor "frummer" Jews and wonder where their upper middle class MO lifestyle went, and trying to prop them up via scholarship is, in the long run, a disaster.

Miami Al said...

Anon 10:57:

Isn't that true? Families on welfare/section 8/food stamps are generally unaffected by economic changes beyond food inflation, aren't they? They have "stability" because they have nothing to risk.

The wealthy investor class (the ones putting up the money, not the ones managing it for high fees) got CLOBBERED in the economic downturn. There is a reason that in recessions, economic inequality drops, the 90% that keep their jobs are stressed from more work, but financially not killed, the wealthy see wealth drop (and pick up rapidly in a recovery).

Yes, the "ideal" outcome is for people to live so that they can survive on one income, and thrive with two. Those people are fine 99.75% of the time, the likelihood of both losing their jobs is 5% of the likelihood that one does.

However, if you need both incomes to survive the month, you are more vulnerable than a single income family that needs its one income to survive the month.

Dave said...

Al,

The situation you are describing has been termed the "two income trap" for exactly that reason.

Dave said...

Getting back towards homeschooling for a moment.

I think the key is that there is more familial control over the scaling of Homeschooling than there is over the scaling of income or tuition.

Tuition increases are not in your control. Nor, for most people, is income. Learning how to manage a larger family and homeschool is (or at least reasonably so).

For a family that intends on having 2 or 3 children, with some spacing between them, a combination of childcare and a full-time career for both parents may very well be the best economic decision. As has been pointed out, it avoids the interruption in career progression while being able to at least pay for the expenses.

For a family planning on 5 or 6 children, it gets a lot harder to have a second income that would overcome those tuition costs. At that point, it might well make sense for the stay-at-home parent to go back to school after the children are done with school, just to freshen a resume before re-entering the job market.

Mark said...

mom2 - My point is that once tuition is at the 60,000 mark, whatever salary a reasonably educated mom can bring home is almost negligible in the work/homeschool choice.

This is clearly not true because the salary will last for a 40+ year career while the $60k tuition (for 4 kids) only lasts for 12 years. Or 16 years if you include college.

Commenter Abbi said...

"At some point it might make sense for him and your family for him to move to a job with more normal hours and for you to go full time."

Well, currently he's a fouder in a startup that we hope will yield a big "exit" as they say in the business, in which case, we can hopefully both choose to do whatever we want in the next few years. :) So, neither of us plan on his keeping up this schedule for too much longer. But I agree, it's not sustainable long term

Commenter Abbi said...

JS, in my experience (and I went to Stern, the epicenter of female Orthodox career issues) women weren't necessarily encouraged to go into OT/PT/ST. I think it was more that they were popular choices because the training wasn't so demanding,the hours were flexible, it was somewhat professional and you could make a decent living and easily balance kids. The same is just not true for more demanding professions like medicine and law. The one female doctor I know with two small kids barely sees her kids during the week. There are women who can swing that, and are lucky enough to have husband's who can pick up the slack, but I would say that isn't the majority.

If you want to change Orthodox women's career choices, you'd need to re-organize the global attitude towards professional work and make it more child-care friendly. Until you can do that, women will tend to choose less demanding careers that make it easier to balance serious time for child care. You're talking out of the 80's basically, and frankly, my mother worked full time, and even though she worked a lot from home, she basically had no time for us and I really didn't like it. Which is anther reason why I didn't go into a serious full time career that demanded 80 hour weeks. I don't think I'm alone in this feeling.

Jacqueline said...

JS said: I'm also glad you find yourself in a group of women who are also high earners. The fact is, though, that for whatever reason we're not encouraging women to aspire to achieve what you and your peers have achieved. There are far too many undereducated or, worse yet, educated but underearning and underachieving women in the Orthodox community. Speaking to the MO community, there is really no reason why a woman who has been educated in private school for 13 years and then attended a good university cannot be earning at least $45k out of college. And yet, far too often, that is not the case.

I am a college educated MO women. I graduated in 2009. Have you tried to find a job recently? The only job I could find after graduation (admittedly, I was slightly limited by wanting to be in the same city as my then-fiancee, but still) was working for Americorps-less then $200 a week before taxes for a fifty hour work week. After that ended, I started a business, but it was less then successful, and I have just officially closed it. Now that I have a son, it really does make more sense for me to stay home, because the jobs aren't there.
That being said, we are planning to homeschool, although for us it is as much a philosophical issue as financial.
However, it really irritates me when I see people saying, oh, go get a job-they aren't out there right now.

mom2 said...

"Mark said...
mom2 - My point is that once tuition is at the 60,000 mark, whatever salary a reasonably educated mom can bring home is almost negligible in the work/homeschool choice.

This is clearly not true because the salary will last for a 40+ year career while the $60k tuition (for 4 kids) only lasts for 12 years. Or 16 years if you include college."


Since they're not triplets, its much longer than 12 ( i assume u meant 13) years, and since full-day baby/child care is also quite expensive , the stay-home-and-homeschool vs. work-for-a-salary-that-nets-very-little-after-tuition calculus stretches closer to 20-25 years.
OF COURSE this equation is not the only reason I homeschool, but I was merely trying to point out that once our communities have allowed tuition to climb to these astronomical numbers, there are few women who can earn enough during those 20 years of child raising that will make homeschooling the average sized family anything but the superior financial choice. Whether a woman nets 30,000 or 70,000, if her tuition bill is 60,000 , it makes little sense not to homeschool and return/retrain to work when the kids are college ready.

"Blogger Commenter Abbi said..
my mother worked full time, and even though she worked a lot from home, she basically had no time for us and I really didn't like it. "

your comment, in a nutshell, is the actual reason I didnt want to continue on that path. Unfortunately, 70 hour work weeks seem to be the only way many women can afford sending kids to day school if they dont homeschool. I rather resent the community forcing women into that choice even if i am sooo happy with the one i made.

Anonymous said...

Abbi hits the nail on the head. I am another MO (ok, RWMO, but still) woman who is fully capable of earning a high salary, but only if I'm willing to put in a 60-70 hour workweek. Not something I can do while pregnant/nursing etc. Any job with normal hours (and I consider 40 hours/wk normal) really won't bring home more than a few hundred a month after childcare costs- if I'm going to go through the trouble of making that arrangement work, it should be worth it. Until SOMETHING changes- whether it be the availability of subsidized child-care, more adequate family leave policies, etc- fewer mothers, Orthodox or otherwise, will be able to work for real money.

Anonymous said...

I am a psychologist who works with a number of home school families. My professional experience is that it can be a good option if parents take it seriously. I worked with several parents who claimed to be home schooling their children but who in reality let their kids play games on the internet or watch TV all day. There is very limited oversight for home schooling families in my state and several high school age kids I work with are functioning two to three years behind compared their public school peers in math and science.

Anonymous said...

For all of you women who are not planning to work once you have kids please think twice about taking up a space in college and spending a few years in the workforce letting people invest in training and mentoring you and then quitting. There are many of us who will not have the luxury of not working and you are helping to perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes and are driving up the cost of college and taking away coveted admissions slots and funds that could be used by others. I know this sounds harsh, but if your plan is to marry someone who can support you while you raise the kids, at least stop and think about a different pre-kids path.

Anonymous said...

"it makes little sense not to homeschool and return/retrain to work when the kids are college ready."

I am guessing that the author of this comment is under 40, and probably under 30. Although it is possible to do, if you are out of the workforce for 20 or so years and then start trying to train/retrain and then enter the workforce when you are in your late 40's, it is going to be very difficult. Maybe ageism will go away in the next 20 years; maybe 50will be the new 30. But where things stand right now, you are going to have to be (i) very healthy and energetic; (ii) very driven; and (iii) have a very supportive husband, to suddenly change your life at 45-50 or so. As an early 50 something who has stayed in the workforce, and having seen how much the work place has changed in the past 20 years and how much ageism there is, I could not imagine re-entering the workforce and getting a good job now after being out of it for 20-25 years, other than working as a greeter at Walmarts or as a cashier -- both jobs that probably won't even exist 20 years from now due to more automation.

At a minimum, plan on going back to school full time for a few years (something that is not cheap) and having a long job search. Also, don't forget that by the time your kids are college age, you might also be dealing with taking care of aging parents or grandparents so you may not be in a position at age 50 to put in the 60-70 hours a week you need to learn the ropes and prove yourself as a newbie. In other words, when managing your finances as a SAHM, don't count on being able to make up for 25 years of foregone retirement savings (and savings for your children's college) by going back to work when the kids are all grown.

Orthonomics said...

There are many of us who will not have the luxury of not working. . .

One often does not know if they will be able to take time off to be with the kids until the kids come around. There are no guarantees of adequate income, children, good marriage, good health, etc.

Commenter Abbi said...

Oh please, anonymous, that sounds like absurd Republican brainwashing rather than serious logical thought. Women who take time off from work are driving up the cost of college? Really? What's your evidence to back that up? Since colleges know that X amount of women will take time off to raise kids, they davka raise tuition to punish them?

And as SL pointed out, one never knows if an when they can take time off, and alternatively, one never knows that they won't get back into the workforce when the kids are older.

Basically, it just sounds like you're jealous that there are women that have this choice.

JS said...

There are obviously strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I just wanted to address a few comments.

Obviously people can do whatever they wish and if homeschooling works for you and your family, I think that's great. Same with being a SAHM. My comments are directed to our community as a whole, not any particular individual.

With that in mind, my point is that as a community we aren't doing enough to encourage and promote high-earning dual income families. We push our boys to be high-earners, but not our girls. Now, I don't think that's necessarily a problem in and of itself. But, when you factors in all the costs of Orthodoxy that we, as a community, have labeled as "necessary" it IS a problem. If people are choosing yeshiva (and the communities do pressure people to make this choice) then we need to make sure, as a community, that yeshiva can be paid for by every family. Certainly that means yeshiva tuition needs to come down, but it also means incomes have to come up.

From where I sit and from my experiences, I don't think we're providing our girls with the right motivation and skills or even desire to earn in the workforce. The attitude that if a woman doesn't earn enough to cover tuition she's better off at home may work for each individual, but it ruinous on a community-wide scale. It's the tragedy of the commons - everyone does what's best for them and so collectively we all suffer.

I wanted to address the individual comments that it's possible for a woman to earn a high salary but she would need to work 60-70 hours a week to do so or that if she took a job that is only 40 hours per week it would pay nothing. I'll just say that to the first point that there are lots of non-Jew or non-Orthodox women who are doing this every day. It's clearly possible. I don't mean to suggest it's easy, but it's being done by millions of women. My own wife does it as I mentioned above. If we were serious about this issue as a community, we would find ways to make this work (better childcare options, for example). To the second point, there are lots of jobs that pay well and don't require crazy hours. I think the issue is more about willingness to work and make certain sacrifices. To this point, I didn't see anyone respond to the fact that men are expected to make these sacrifices all the time - men are expected to slave away in an office and support the family at the expense of never even seeing that family except for Shabbos. This is for some reason acceptable to our communities, but not my earlier points.

Jacqueline, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. What was your degree in? Have you been able to get any relevant experience? It's a tough economy. I hope things pick up for you soon.

Miami Al said...

Okay, regarding economics of schooling:

1. Throwing college into the mix is total nonsense, you cannot "home school" higher education. So while the costs of college are high, they can't be alleviated via home schooling.

2. Lowing your AGI, particularly for the years your children are in high school, CAN lower higher education costs via additional grants, so factor that in.

3. High School: home schooling high school is simply more difficult. Depending on your children's life expectations, extra curricular activities play a big role in high school (and college admissions) and are harder to manage in a home school environment. Florida lets home schoolers do sports with their local high school, not sure about other ECs (Tim Tebow made this public knowledge, he and his mother moved into an apartment near the school with the best football program to get him on the best team, they were all home schooled, so she picked a district for athletic, NOT academic, reasons), but a child not at the school couldn't exactly be on the school newspaper/yearbook, even if permitted.

4. For MO couples, the cost of "four tuitions" in elementary/middle is a BIG disingenuous, especially to pretend that it's for "12 years." It's not, the cash drain of 4 PreK-8 tuitions is ONLY for the years AFTER your last child enters PreK, and before your oldest enters 9th grade. It is likely to ONLY be a 3 year window where having your children home schooled actually saves 60k/year.

5. Childcare (before PreK) is definitely expensive, but less expensive than private schooling.

So while home schooling may absolutely provide a better quality of life, and better cash flow for a few years, it's unlikely to be a net financial benefit to your family.

Now, if you are "home schooling" a Kindergartener and 3 pre-school age children, you're only "home schooling" one child in any normal sense of the term.

If the second earner is capable of earning between 70k and 120k over a 40 year career, averaging 90k, that's $3.6M before takes, or $2.1M after taxes (assuming a 40% combined state/fica/fed tax rate).

If Preschool = 4 years @ 8k, and Prek-8 = 10 years @ 20k (school + camp), that's $232k/child. Times 4 children, that's < $1M in schooling that is saved via home schooling. So over the course of the career, that's $1.1M in lost income. If we add 15k/year of cleaning/work costs over those 40 years, we do lose have that savings, but it's still half a million dollars difference. Now, if you are planning to home school for high school, it's probably a wash.

The thing with home schooling is that it improves cash-flow (slightly) in the early years, and clobbers them later. Pre-children, a serious second income is a way to front-load retirement savings, home downpayment, etc. Post small-children, a serious second income is a significant difference in lifetime cash-flow. During the 10-15 years when the youngest are small and you're NOT ahead with the second income. But the idea that you'll be able to enter the workforce @ 45 or 50 and earn anything substantial is unlikely. Sure, Wal-Mart greeter might be a silly example, but the wife is probably looking at government jobs where agism is less, but the benefit of a pension is DRAMATICALLY reduced/eliminated by only having 15-20 years in the work force.

mom2 said...

ok, I'm whipping up a handy homeschooling vs tuition chart, but you gotta help me, MiamiAl, or someone! I've only ever commented on three posts ( this one, one to ask SL why she doesnt homeschool, and once two years ago to lecture Dave about not having children. Since Dave didnt sally forth to procreate based on the advice of some anonymous commentator, I kind of gave it up) and I have no idea how to attach a chart. Help Sephardi Lady! Its in OpenOffice, not Excel.Thanks

Orthonomics said...

I'm not a software person! Can you cut and paste?

Miami Al said...

Go setup an account at Dropbox and upload the file there. Put it in your public folder. Include the link to the file here, and people will be able to read it.

mom2 said...

Thanks, Al and SL, it was too many characters to post , so I emaied it to u, SL. Would u be kind enough to post it?
thanks

Dave said...

Al,

Median income (in 2009) for a College graduate was roughly 52k per year. If we use the male college graduate income number (assuming that more women than men drop out of the labor force to raise children) as a proxy for full time work, it'd be around 60k per year.

Unless you know that you are going to skew high (for example, right now a degree in Computer Science will have no trouble getting you a job that is significantly above that median straight out of school), it seems to make more sense to assume medium income path, rather than assuming significantly above it.

--Dave

P.S. Yep, still no procreation based on pseudonymous strangers posting on blogs. Also have failed to claim any of the millions left to me by dead people overseas.

Upper West Side Mom said...

in 1988 my 53 year old mother who had been a medical writer decided to go to law school. She did really well ,ranked high and was offered a job at a big law firm with a big salary. She did not take this job but instead took a job at a mid size (she did not want to work as hard as she would have at the big firm) and worked as a successful lawyer for 10 years. She also had a huge leg up on the other first year associates because of her life experience.

Right know I am preparing to re-enter the work force. I am working on becoming a lactation consultant, which is made possible by my volunteer work as lactation counselor for the past 10 years. When I am done with the online classes I need to take I should easily be able to earn at least $100 an hour in private practice, part time while my kids are at school.

I have friends who have become parenting writers and nutritionists who specialize in mothers and children. One of my fellow volunteer lactation counselers is in school to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. I have another friend who has an incredibly successful store where she sells mainly baby carriers (and other baby paraphernalia) on the Upper East side

Most of these women's interests were developed during the time they were SAHMs. Just because you take 5 or 10 or 15 years (like I did) to stay at home with your kids does not mean you will spend the rest of your life in career purgatory with a substandard salary. You might end up with a better and more flexible career and you even might (gasp) make more money than you did before.

Spending 20 years in a career is no guarantee to employment these days. Companies like to get rid of those salary heavy workers that have been around for 20 or so years. Unless you are self employed or have your own business there's a pretty good chance that you'll be out of a job prematurely at some point in your work life.

Anonymous said...

UWSM: Noone said it is impossible to get back into the workforce after an absence, but just because you can point to a few exceptions doesn't mean that it is a doable plan for for lots of people to go back to school at 45 or 50 and expect to get a decent job in their early 50's without being a superstar like your mom was, have incredibly good timing (i.e. graduate and enter the work force when their are a glut of job openings) or have great connections. I would also note that when your mom went back to law school tuition was still relatively cheap. Someone going to law school in 1988 could make the investment (student loan debt) pay off in a few years even without a big firm job. Now, its going to cost someone at least 150,000 at most good law schools. That is a risky investment to make for someone entering the legal job market at age 53. Also, when you go to grad school in your 20's its a lot easier to live like a grad student (cheap walk up apartment, plywood on saw horses for a dining room table, lots of ramen noodles for dinner) than it is when you are in your 40's or 50's, particularly if you have a mortgage and family obligations.

mom2 said...

ok! I learned how to use Dropbox! thanks miamial!( I can list it on my resume when i am 52)
the following is a link to a table comparing homeschooling and going back to work at 52 to working and paying tuition throughout your children's childhoods. i revised to use MiamiAl's tax rate and the resulting income difference is so ridiculous that I think I must have erred somewhere! Can it be 20,000?
Please see the table at the attached link.
When I left work, the world was quite different, and God rained money upon us like manna from from Heaven, but I think 66,000 for a 26 year old who graduated from a law/cpa/architecture/ program is still reasonable. I am also assuming very slow salary growth because that is the reality of mommy tracks in most firms. please tell me where I err, Miami Al.



http://dl.dropbox.com/u/54674075/tution2-1.pdf

I assume the following:
*k-8 tuition=$15,000
*9-12 tuition=25,000
*baby care=$12,000/baby
*baby care @2 or more babies =$20,000 for 8-6pm babysitter inclusive of summer with older kids
*summer camps- $2000/kid after youngest no longer has sahm babysitter
*only 1 year of job loss per lifetime
* working mom works through her pregnancy and childbirth without losing a penny
* no one needs camp/supervised summer care after age 14
*homeschooling mom inching her way back to work when the youngest is in 10th grade , and, like most homeschooled teens, pretty independent, but never earns more than when she left work in her youth.

Upper West Side Mom said...

Anon 7:52 It's true that this won't work for everyone but if you were a high achieving women before you had kids and stopped working to be home with your kids or to home school them you will still be when you are ready to get back into the work force.

Orthonomics said...

Great chart Mom2. I will try to link to it later on a post, but wow this is a crazy day.

Shoshana Z. said...

Getting back to the SL's original post...

What she has outlined is actually a tool-kit of very basic parenting skills. And, sadly, there are a lot of parents out there who simply do not know how to relate to their children.

It's sad to hear parents literally moan about the time they will have to spend with their children during school vacations. And how much money it will cost to entertain and simply bribe them to behave.

SL is suggesting very simple measures that can be implemented with very young and elementary-age children to create emotional bonds, keep the peace, and promote a sense of responsibility and functionality within the family unit.

This has nothing to do with dollars and cents. And it is painful to read the litany of comments that repeatedly joust the concepts of financial security and child-centered choices.

And it is equally ridiculous for commenters (who have no real-world experience with homeschooling) to insist that it cannot be done, is detrimental to the child, will ensure future financial doom, etc.

I think it is a sad sign of our current situation within Orthodox Judaism that school is held up as the holy of holies. The family unit needs to come first. And for a lot of us that cannot and will not include a high-priced private education for our children.

Anonymous said...

Mom2, I can't speak to the expense side of your chart (not a single dollar on care or educational expenses for the homeschooler), but I think the salary growth is unreasonably low. $115,000 for the working professional by the time she leaves the workforce at 64? Despite your mommy-track assumptions, I think you're overly pessimistic. Many businesses are more family friendly because they have to be - they realize they need talented women in order to compete.

Besides the numbers, I'll reiterate that not everyone has the skills to homeschool; even a talented woman like the blog owner has admitted that she doesn't feel homeschooling is the best choice for her family.

Anonymous said...

Additional benefits an employer may provide (in addition to salary, 401(k) and subsidized health insurance) is continuing education, both formal and informal, and tuition for further education. Large employers may pay for an employee to get a master's degree or take expensive professional exams. Those benefits will accelerate salary growth, with minimal or zero out of pocket expenses to the mother. The mother may even get time off from work for study & classes. Another reason I think the salary growth is too pessimistic.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: You probably are substantially overestimating taxes since you are assuming no deductions and applying a 40% rate to the first dollar. You also have left out the employer's 401(k) contributions and how they will compound over 40 years in the workforce. I also think the salary and growth rates are very low for a professional with a graduate degree. Yes, there are a glut of lawyers and accountants and some will end up with these numbers (and most architects generally don't make huge bucks) but if you are talking about a metropolitan area and someone graduating with decent grades from a decent school who then does a fairly good job, these salaries are too low.

Anonymous said...

Mothers who have worked professionally and are now home with the kids overestimate how hard it is to work full time, or close to full time. They also underestimate their earning power. Unfortunately, being home with the kids exacerbates this tendency.

If the money is not needed, or homeschooling is possible and enjoyable, more power to you.

Anonymous said...

If the impetus for home schooling is to keep kids out of public school without paying high yeshiva/day school tuition, I suspect that those parents who would be the best at home schooling are the same parents who could make public schooling work for their kids and have just as good a chance of keeping their kids frum as if they sent them to private school.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: Why do you assume retirement at age 64? Those of you who are 20 and 30 somethings may very well need to and/or want to work until 70 or later. You have much more knowledge than prior generations on how to stay healthy and active for many more years and due to uncertain economic times and greater lifespans should be planning on many more years working. Sure, not everyone who wants to will be able to and its unrealistic for some lines of work but 20 and thirty somethings who think they will retire in their early or mid 60's may not be realistic.

Dave said...

Again, just to point out, this chart *starts* with an income higher than the median income of all college graduates.

JS said...

mom2,

Interesting chart. I'd suggest it form the basis for a new post on the "orthonomics" of homeschooling versus yeshiva tuition. I don't think economics are the sole reason one should or shouldn't home school as there are way too many intangibles. For example, how do you put a price tag on being able to spend more time with your children?

I won't reiterate all the points I've made above. I'll just add in response to Shoshana that I've said many times that we've turned yeshiva education into a sacred cow. My points are strictly about earning potential - the fact that so much financial planning in the Orthodox community gets distorted by the expense of yeshiva tuition is a really bad thing in my opinion. In the narrow context that my comments focused on, my point was that the extreme cost of yeshiva tuition drives many women out of the workforce.

With reference to the chart, there are a lot of benefits to working that are missing such as a 401(k) and health insurance. Maybe the latter benefit could be gotten from a working husband, but non-working people are much more limited in their ability to save for retirement. Also, a 40% overall tax rate is absurdly high. I would think even a couple earning $300k would probably only have an overall tax rate around 30%, probably less especially when you factor in certain deductions.

I also think your wage growth is very low. Not even doubling salary over the course of 40 years? I think if you're assuming a starting salary of $66k which is above the median (not a problem, you said you were assuming someone with a graduate degree) you need to also assume above average salary increases. Most people in this career track aren't getting $1k yearly raises (also, you seem to have entered $38k instead of $78k for one of the lines).

There are lots of homeschooling costs and working costs that aren't factored in here - no idea if they cancel each other out.

I think high school homeschooling also makes the numbers even out a bit more - I don't know if home schooling high school is typical or not.

I also think it's a bit misleading to think that home schooled children (at least slightly older ones) wouldn't want to go to a summer camp. I think there's an expense there not being counted.

I think retirement at 64 is overly optimistic. Even today's boomers are retiring after that age. Someone starting work now is probably not going to retire till 75. So, there may be many more earning years not factored in and these will skew to the "tuition paying woman" since she'll be earning a lot more at that point.

Overall, I think if you made the adjustments I've mentioned you'd find the tuition paying woman has substantially more assets. But, as I also said, that's not the only important factor.

From a communal perspective though, the reality is that too many women are looking at a chart that starts with a salary of $20k and $1k salary increments and for them there's no question homeschooling or being a SAHM and getting scholarship is a better financial move.

Miami Al said...

Yeah, I think that the chart is somewhat unrealistic on the raises, which will make it stronger. I think that the "zero costs" related to homeschooling is unrealistic. You still need educational materials, and every homeschooler I know makes extensive use of museums, etc.

The 401(k) match + compounding is a big one, as is health care, one is presuming that it is provided from the primary earner. If the primary earner is a business owner (as opposed to career professional), getting subsidized health care through the spouse is a HUGE benefit that otherwise has to be accounted for.

In fact, if you just take your chart and take them up to 67 "full-retirement" age, you'll see a bigger difference, since you have an 80k differential at that point, so 3 more years moves from 20k -> 200k after taxes.

In addition to your chart ignoring 401(k) growth, it also ignores social security "credits" that the spouse earns.

Also, in your job loss year, please add unemployment benefits to the mix.

As you show, even with assumptions tilted towards home schooling, the family with 4 kids in private school comes out ahead with working mom. Change a few assumptions, and the differential gets huge.

mom2 said...

" Orthonomics said...

Great chart Mom2. I will try to link to it later on a post, but wow this is a crazy day."


*I can imagine your schedule now, Sephardi lady, with the end of the fiscal year/ 1st quarter PLUS everyone at home on Chanukah break, u must be one busy accountant!!


" Anonymous 9:40 said...
Mom2: Why do you assume retirement at age 64?"


*I was aiming at standard population averages for the demographic , but u r right- who knows what will be a quarter of a century from now? Also, I ran out of space on my page :)


" Anonymous 9:20 said...
If the impetus for home schooling is to keep kids out of public school without paying high yeshiva/day school tuition, I suspect that those parents who would be the best at home schooling are the same parents who could make public schooling work for their kids and have just as good a chance of keeping their kids frum as if they sent them to private school."



* Quite honestly, if my children , God forbid, do not end up being shomer shabbos, I will consider my life a complete failure. a "good chance " is really not enough. And ,OF COURSE finances are not the only impetus for homeschooling


I was rounding up taxes to 40% because I was assuming an equal or ( statistically likely ) greater income contribution from the husband , and though the income and its growth seems pessimistic to most of this post's commentators, is this not the "new normal"? It is actually much higher than the national JD/CPA average. I know Jews always think, like the old joke " If i was as rich as Rockefeller, I would be RICHER than Rockefeller!" "Oh, why?" " Because I would teach on the side!" and that has been historically true, but it doesnt seem the profession/careers even ambitious Orthodox women enter earn much higher than this numbers in 2011. I am worried that everyone is still thinking with their 2006 brains, and that is why our community thinks that charging 15,000 for edutaining 7 year olds for 7 hours is any kind of normal.

mom2 said...

Oh, I see JS and Al's comments now, and want to repond to the expense side of homeschooling/sahm-ing/self insuring , but I'll be right back. Chanukah school breaks are actually busier than usual as the day school kids are home and we have soooo many playdates.

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly, if my children , God forbid, do not end up being shomer shabbos, I will consider my life a complete failure. a "good chance " is really not enough.

If this is your feeling, I agree money should not enter into any equation. No one wants to feel as if one's life is a failure, so you should be focusing on your children's religious education to the greatest possible extent. Retirement savings really mean nothing in this case. I am not being snarky.

For those of us who will still feel we have done our best and can be fulfilled even if our children make different religious choices than we did, the math may be different.

Anonymous said...

"Quite honestly, if my children , God forbid, do not end up being shomer shabbos, I will consider my life a complete failure. a "good chance " is really not enough."

Regardless of educational choice, there are no guarantees. I know excellent, loving parents whose kids had good jewish educations, but are not shomer shabbos. When it comes to matters of belief, there is only so much a parent can do. If you seal your kids off in a place like kj and completely insulate them from others, from literature, newspapers and all secular education, etc. you might have a higher chance, but I doubt that anyone who reads a blog like this would advocate that as an acceptable educational alternative.

JS said...

To the children being religious point, I'd second that there's really only so much you can do. Obviously you educate and teach from the home and provide an environment conducive to your children maintaining their religiosity, but, with all things in life, not everything is in our hands. I really don't mean to sound defeatist and I hope I don't come across that way, but I think a parent needs to be realistic that once children grow up and begin to make their own decisions you just need to take a deep breath and hope you've done enough so your child makes the kinds of choices you can be proud of.

Looking at the many families I know there's so much variation in the level of religiosity that children chose. Even within the same family I know of cases where one sibling became very RW yeshivish and another sibling became essentially conservadox.

Anonymous said...

JS: I agree. What parents can do is do their best to give their kids the ability to become independent and self-sufficient and to be good, honest, generous, caring people who know how to roll with life's punches, regardless of whatever level of religiosity they choose.

Commenter Abbi said...

Mom2, have to agree with JS and Anon: My 6 year old just said to me the other day walking home from the park on Shabbat "So, when I'm older, I get to choose whether to be Dati or Chiloni?" And she goes to a torani school, we have a very religiously rich home atomosphere and she has lots of religious friends. And she has a few chiloni friends. So her question was quite natural for such a perceptive girl. And there's not other honest answer except for yes.

It's a choice for everyone, no matter how many homeschool hours you put in and how much of yourself you sacrifice. To place your entire life's success on whether or not your kids turn out religious is not putting not a little bit of pressure on them. And that never turns out well.

Dave said...

I wouldn't worry about getting too detailed on that chart. For one thing, it is figuring everything in constant dollars (so raises are without inflation/cost-of-living), and for another, it is by definition a simplification -- some fields will have a steady rate of income growth, others plateau out early.

Anonymous said...

Dave: Small differences in assumptions can make huge differences in the final result, particularly when carried over 40 or 45 years. Of course, whatever figures are used, there are going to be lots of assumptions about the future, only some of which may proove accurate. (Remember all those retirement planning tools that assumed an annual 8% return that now look silly.) Charts like these should be used only as a general guide to show people how to do some calculations based on trends in their own particular actual or intended career, tax rates, etc., and running a number of different assumptions. The numbers can easily be maniputated to justify either a full-time working mom or a stay at home, homeschooling mom.

mom2 said...

The chart obviously ( though it wasn’t obvious to almost anyone, so, my bad) assumes 2011 dollars in its salary projections. If mom is currently 36, and earning $75,000, her exit salary of $115,000 in 2040, assuming 3% inflation, will look like , I'm guesstimating $240-250,000? Thats more in line of what we currently think of professionals retiring with. Does that materially change the miniscule difference in the moms' respective earnings?
But if Working Mom is currently 36, do you know what will NOT go up by a mere 3% annually? Do you know what commodity has historically gone up by double the annual growth rate? Wait for it.... yes- day school tuition!. If mom is currently 36 and Baby1 is starting 1st grade then the mere 80,000 she pays in 2022 will be , --well here is what a blogger that Orthonomics linked to last year calculated:

"Friday, January 8, 2010
So What's It Gonna Cost Me? (JKHA/RKYHS - Part 2)
In the previous post, I showed that if a family today had 4 children in 12th, 10th, 8th, and 6th grades in JKHA/RKYHS, their total tuition bill would be $71,280.  But, what about that parent whose eldest child is currently in Pre-K for the 2009-2010 school year and is "only" paying $12,285?  How much can they expect to pay in the 2022-2023 school year when their children are in 12th, 10th, 8th, and 6th grades?

If tuition and all other costs go up 3% year on year: $104,677
If tuition and all other costs go up 4% year on year: $118,686
If tuition and all other costs go up 5% year on year: $134,409
If tuition and all other costs go up 6% year on year: $152,035

Posted by Tuition Talk at 1:33 PM 9 comments"


Yep, $150,000!! Still honestly think I skewed against Working Mom? It was simply easier to work in 2011 dollars, but it honestly seems to me Working Mom doesnt stand a chance.
I Wanna discuss work/homeschool costs as well as religous stuff , will come back after next round of kid stuff.

Miami Al said...

Mom2:

Again, this assumes home schooling of high school, which is very iffy, especially since you expect to resume full time work when the youngest is in 10th grade.

A home-schooled 10th grader with a full-time working mom isn't being home schooled, they're being truant. :)

I say that tongue in cheek, since I realize that high school home schooling is primarily organizing tutors for various subjects, that by the 4th child, you probably have down and don't need to find them. But if you are using external teachers for high school, you have an expense related to that, no?

Add tutoring expense, some camp "communal" experiences, and take the chart to age 67 (full retirement) or 70 (maximum social security, minimum IRA/401(k) draws start), and the numbers start to shift toward working mom.

Anonymous said...

$150K for 4 kids going to yeshiva? Almost like private college. But JKHA/RKYHS is one of the most expensive yeshivot, and 6% is an aggressive assumption for tuition inflation. Let's keep the assumptions moderate. It's misleading to use conservative assumptions for Professional Mom's salary growth, but the most aggressive assumption for tuition inflation.

Anonymous said...

You can't assume that professional mom's income is going to keep increasing until age 65 or 70. Earnings for professionals after the first 6-8 years is not a matter of lock step salary increases or even cost of living increases. There may be a base pay that doesn't go up, together with a bonus that may vary with hours worked, rain made, company performance, etc. Unless you are someone with a big book of business and others doing the work, you might see earnings peak at 60 and then slowly decrease. In fact, one of the nice things about being a professional is that there are more options for going part-time and gradually decreasing one's hours, particularly if one is a partner or self-employed, like an accountant or architect.

Miami Al said...

Mom2,

I think if you change some of the assumptions that we mentioned here, you're probably going to see a differential of 500,000 or so, (401(k) match, increased social security credits, converted to an annuity, etc). OTOH, we're talking about 20 years of work @ 2000-3000 hours/year, whether it's worth 40000-60000 hours of your life for 500,000 is another question, then again, home schooling is a serious professional endeavor, not shocking that it's roughly the equivalent of private schooling.

But I think you actually make JS's point. A seriously educated, professional woman's financial contribution to the family's bottom line is in excess of tuition, in the long run (alternatively, home schooling is full time-work).

His point is that our under-employed women often work far below that, and that's part of the tuition "crisis."

Tuition rising above the wage-growth rate (inflation + 1%) is a function of decreasing percentages of tuition collected (more scholarships, more bad debt expenses). Continuing to have women working AND underemployed is the source of the death spiral.

Anonymous said...

Al: There is nothing wrong with women being underemployed if those families aren't getting scholarships. You can do it if you are willing to live like the commenter who has four kids in a $100,000 condo and lives very modestly (I'm guessing simple used cars, no vacations, no new clothes, no summer camp.) It's wanting it all that leads to the death spiral.

JS said...

A few points:

1) 6% is not aggressive. Read through that blog (which is long inactive, unfortunately). yeshivatuition.blogspot.com. The blogger found historical data for several year's worth of tuition and calculated the average yearly increase was actually MORE than 6% and had only recently slowed down a bit due to the economy.

2) To mom2's point, that blog also makes the point that VERY few salaries have yearly increases which match or exceed the rate at which yeshiva tuition historically goes up - I suppose the point here is to show that tuition grows faster than wages so you either can't keep up or can't keep the same lifestyle.

3) Honestly, I've drawn up all sorts of charts and have thought through this issue every which way. I think it's a crying shame that yeshiva tuition is so darn expensive (and JKHA is typical of MO schools) that it requires this kind of warped mode of thinking. It's pretty sad that the numbers are as close as they are between home schooling and working full-time and that for many the benefits of the latter only appear much later in the life meaning you really have to be committed and see the long-term and ignore the short-term "benefit" of being with your kids and family more. It's very warped.

4) All the said, it's a shame we expect men to make these sacrifices without blinking an eye and encourage them to be super earners who never see their families. We have a tragedy of the commons effect both in the schools (for those getting scholarships) and in the communities (for having less tzedaka dollars) by women making the choice to not work or under-earn - it's better for them and their families individually, but worse for everyone else collectively.

5) I'm only talking about the income side of yeshiva - I think there are serious problems with the expense side. Yeshivas are too expensive. Period. I think we also need to seriously reevaluate the goals of yeshiva and the educational model. There are a lot of assumptions built into the yeshiva educational model that need to be reexamined in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

There is another cost to a community (besides eating up all tzedakah) of having all men working a gazillion hours and moms working full time (i.e. leaving at 7 or 8 and getting home at 6 exhausted.) It means that there is no one home to form the glue of the community and to do the good works of the community. Who is home to help out the elderly neighbor who is sick. Who is home to organize the collection for the food pantry. Who is delivering meals on wheels. Who is running the house with the hot coccoa for the kids' afterschool snowball fight. Is a community of absentee lawyers and accountants and financial managers really a community? Wouldn't it be great to have a community of some SAHM's, some SAHD's, lawyers, doctors, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, tailors, nurses, electricians, barbers, gardners, etc? The shul I went to had all these and more, including a prison guard, a chicken farmer, a furnace repairman, etc. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but tuition requiring everyone to have the same narrow range of careers and to have to work a gazillion hours a week makes me wonder sometimes if day school for all really is worth it. The price is far more than just the tuition.

tesyaa said...

Miami Al's assertion that homeschooling several children is serious professional work is eminently reasonable. People have different professional skills, and a person who is a top lawyer wouldn't necessarily make an excellent doctor. A mother who is a successful career woman might not be an excellent educator, even for her own children. If the spreadsheet shows it's a wash, a mother should select the profession best suited to her skills. Almost all mothers, even professional ones, spend a substantial amount of time on their children's education in an informal capacity, anyway (I know I do).

Commenter Abbi said...

All the said, it's a shame we expect men to make these sacrifices without blinking an eye and encourage them to be super earners who never see their families. We have a tragedy of the commons effect both in the schools (for those getting scholarships) and in the communities (for having less tzedaka dollars) by women making the choice to not work or under-earn - it's better for them and their families individually, but worse for everyone else collectively."

But that's reality, and in the end, people will choose what's best for their families. Yes, the truth is, flexible work attitudes for me would also be better. But, since that's not happening anytime soon, it's better for the kids to see neither of their parents or just one?

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry, that should be "flexible work hours for men" not "me"

Anonymous said...

Flexible work hours are available to men in my office the same as to women. It would be illegal to permit women to work flexible hours but not men. The problem is the men aren't really that interested or are afraid to take advantage of it. How many orthodox men take advantage of their employer's paternity leave policy? How many even know if their employer has one or what it is?

mom2 said...

"Anonymous said...
'Quite honestly, if my children , God forbid, do not end up being shomer shabbos, I will consider my life a complete failure. a "good chance " is really not enough.'
If this is your feeling, I agree money should not enter into any equation. No one wants to feel as if one's life is a failure, so you should be focusing on your children's religious education to the greatest possible extent. Retirement savings really mean nothing in this case. I am not being snarky.
For those of us who will still feel we have done our best and can be fulfilled even if our children make different religious choices than we did, the math may be different.”

AND

“JS said... To the children being religious point, I'd second that there's really only so much you can do.
Looking at the many families I know there's so much variation in the level of religiosity that children chose. Even within the same family I know of cases where one sibling became very RW yeshivish and another sibling became essentially conservadox.”


*Thank you for your lack of snarkiness, but are we not agreeing that a Jewish parent should, in the various voices of the Anonymous commentators “do their best” to pass on their religious values to their children? My observations of our community have led me to believe that children from observant homes who attend a jewish school have a higher chance of remaining observant, though there are always statistical deviations; children from observant homes who attend public/private-secular school have a lower chance of remaining observant, though there are always statistical deviations.. Is it not herefore reasonable to conclude that “doing one's best “ to maintain ones children's religiosity is to refrain from putting them in public school ( after the age where their parents' influence is no longer primary) . If a child proves to fall into that statistical deviation after ones reasonable efforts, than one may console themselves that one “has done their best” . ( though I would find it very cold comfort)
If you “can be fulfilled even if our children make different religious choices than we did,” than , by all means , anything other than a minimal financial investment in your children's religious education may be misspent.

JS, your friend's family where “ I know of cases where one sibling became very RW yeshivish and another sibling became essentially conservadox.” sounds pretty good to me, though we might have different mental images of both the term “conservadox', and “rw”.

more on homeschool-o-nomics later

Anonymous said...

mom2: There are no controlled studies as to how to best keep kids on the same religious paths as their parents. However, if you want to go with the anecdotal statistics you cite, then it would seem that homeschooling would be a risky path for you to take since there is an insufficient track record for homeschooling orthodox kids and where they end up on the observancy scale as adults.

Anonymous said...

mom2, if your biggest worry as a mother is how to guarantee that your kids will remain religious for life, you are indeed a lucky woman. See the post above from a parent of children with special needs if you don't understand my point.

Orthonomics said...

Regarding if 40% is a place to start on a taxable second income. . . it depends.

What tax bracket does the primary income fall in after retirement, health, exemptions, deductions you have based on that one income, and credits based on that one income.

If I were to work full time, we'd quickly be using 40% (8% state, 25% federal, and 7.65% Medi/SS).

Not sure what credits you think a second income earner gets beyond dependent care credit.

I would say that almost every secondary income earner can count on the first dollar being taxed at 30% (7.65% + 15% + state marginal rate which runs between 7-9% in many states with large Orthodox Jewish populations).

JS said...

Isn't it kind of arbitrary to make the wife's salary the one that is taxed at the marginal rate? Isn't it more "fair" or "honest" to view both salaries as being taxed at the average tax rate?

Main benefits are 401(k), subsidized health care if not otherwise available, and social security credits.

Orthonomics said...

JS, no reason that father can't be assigned as the "stay at home" parent. A non-Jewish friend of mine just returned to work and her husband became the stay at home parent. Not sure what their arrangement is, but they are committed to having a parent at home and it seems they are splitting time out of the workplace in pursuit of their ideal.

If no one has the ideal of a parent at home, then go ahead and use the effective rate. But then there would be no need to compare the scenario of a parent at home vs. a parent at work because the default is both parents work.

In our home, the default position is a parent at home (ok, a Mom at home) and making a commitment to career would have to be worth it as we believe the children benefit by my regular presence. I know it is old-fashioned (or maybe it is newfangled as the trend seems to be parents taking time off), but when the default is for a parent to be there, that is the income that has to have the ROI.

Miami Al said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miami Al said...

JS,

No, it's not. The question of a financial decision is an economic one, and the question you have to ask isn't the "average" rate (though accountants disagree), it's the marginal rate.

The economic decision is:
Should person A take a job paying $50,000.

The cost is: 2000 hours of time + 500 hours of commuting + $X dollars of "work expenses"
The benefit is: salary less taxes

Since the decision of Spouse 1 working is already made, and the decision is Spouse 2, you have to look at the higher marginal rate. In fact, the marginal rate UNDERSTATES tax impact.

i.e. with job two, gross income goes from 100k -> 150k
However, if @ 100k + 4 dependent exemptions/child tax credits, you might have:
$8K State taxes, $5K Federal Income, $7k FICA after credits/deductions, for an effective tax rate of 20%

However, @ 150k, you might find that your credits phase out, leaving you with a tax bill of:
$12K State, $22K Federal, $10.5K FICA, or 44.5k in taxes, or an effective tax rate of: 30%

However, by adding $50k in income, your after tax income went from $80K -> 105.5K, an increase of 25.5K

In that scenario, your MARGINAL tax rate on income two is 49%

So from an accounting point of view, you're right, the blended tax rate of 20% rising to 30% is assigned to both incomes, but when deciding whether to trade 2500 hours of Mother/Wife time for $50,000, you need to consider the marginal rate of 49%, in my scenario.

Given that the families posting here are generally high income and "large" - 4 kids is assumed as average, though the range is 2-6, heavily in the 3/4 range, the phase out of child tax credits as one moves up the income range plus the higher marginal tax rate as your income goes up takes a LARGE toll on earning potential.

Basically, a family of 6 with a moderate mortgage can earn about $70k-$90k (depending on specific deductions) before ANY Federal taxes are collected, but since a lot of that is credits, they are probably at/near the 25% rate on all income at that point.

Orthonomics said...

I should say that we believe that our entire family, not just our children, benefit as a whole when both parents aren't running the rat race given all the factors combined. I'm sure Mom2 is coming from a similar angle which is why she has concluded being in a better financial position (if it so works out that way. . . no one can really predict what blessings or challenges Hashem will bring) is the ultimate goal.

I can only speak for me, but being in a good financial position is important. Being in a better position than than, not of much importance as we believe that our income + spending habits put us in a good enough position in the present and in the long term.

JS said...

Al,

I understand the point you're making and I think phase outs are definitely something that needs to be considered which I don't think has been mentioned before.

The point I'm making is that attributing all marginal taxes to one spouse means you're starting with the assumption that only one spouse should be working. It doesn't view marriage or dual incomes as a partnership in which financial benefits and costs are shared by the couple. Maybe this isn't strictly economics-based what I'm saying, but I think there's a strong psychological component to this as well. By putting all costs on the wife as a second income earner, it places more financial hurdles in her path and makes it look like her contribution needs to be larger in order to be "worth it".

My wife and I both work. I don't look at her income and think about how much higher her tax rate is than mine - that my average tax rate is 20%, but hers is 28% or whatever. I don't think about all the extra income SHE has to earn in order to pay for the nanny we have. I see it as what do WE have to earn. Likewise, I wouldn't tell her that if she needs nice clothes for work then SHE better make sure her pay check covers it.

Similarly, I don't take the mortgage interest deduction or charitable deduction and apply those deductions to MY income only. I apply it to OUR income. If we get phased out of certain deductions I don't blame HER for earning too much money.

Again, it's a psychological issue, I think not a purely economic one.

tesyaa said...

JS, I think Orthonomics provides an answer to the question by stating that for many couples, the default position is that one parent should be "at home". If that is the case, then it makes sense to look at the second income as marginal.

In the years I was a stay-at-home mother, that was our decision because that worked best for our family at that point in time, not because we decided that one parent HAD to be home. We did not have the notion that it was definitely better for our kids to always have a parent at home. That flexible approach allowed me to go back to work when the money was needed.

Incidentally, on this thread I have refrained (until now) from telling my story of being a SAHM for 9 years then returning successfully to the professional workplace at age 40, because I do not feel my story is typical. Most women I know who want to do what I did have not been able to do so, for a variety of reasons. My situation is unusual, plus I was very lucky. I do not want anyone to look at my path and think blithely "I can do what she did". They probably can't.

tesyaa said...

I have to qualify my statement that most SAHMs probably can't return to a successful professional career. Of course, such "success" is relative. You may change careers, go back to school, start a part-time or full-time business, or be successful in any number of ways. I am not saying that success in a corporate job is the only kind of professional success - of course not.

Miami Al said...

JS,

Right, but part of looking at marriage as a partnership is jointly making financial decisions as a unit.

My wife and I both "work" as in we both get up each day, deal with family responsibilities, and then engage in activities that produce income for the family (I put in quotes, because we aren't a dual-career couple, there is independent business work, consulting work, etc.

There isn't "my deductions" and "her deductions," it's all joint. That said, we've been debating the merits of her career status, and whether it would be more worthwhile to cutback on child care costs and her go either part-time OR move to a more contractor basis. In that consideration we look at:

Retirement program benefits
Health Care benefits
Cost of childcare
Quality of life issues
After Tax Income differential

So we wouldn't be looking at #5 correctly if we didn't look at the marginal tax rate, which is MUCH higher as part of a unit that is "married filing jointly" than it would be if she were single.

So that is the fair number to look at.

I think your psychological angle is unfair, because the decision is "Should She have an outside Career," and your suggestion means making a decision on incorrect economic factors based upon what you consider to be an important emotional psychological point.

As long as we are talking "career" and not "job" or "business" we're dealing with college educated (often grad school educated) individuals, I don't think we need to sugar-coat the economics.

JS said...

I don't think it's sugarcoating the economics. I think it's an issue of where you choose to assign costs. And that decision has a lot to do with your starting assumptions about whether you're a dual income family or a single income family considered a second income.

If you're doing financial planning in advance of making a decision, then yes you need to consider the types of things you're talking about. For example, what is the cost of stopping work and going to school? You need to consider the loss of income as an opportunity cost as well as the cost of tuition. Or, in the example you proposed, of what is the true difference of working fewer hours.

At the same time though you need to view things holistically. If both my wife and I are working, it's simply unfair to place all the costs on her - the phase outs of deduction are on her, the marginal tax is on her, cost of childcare is all on her, etc and all the benefits on me - the mortgage interest deduction is mine, the charitable deductions are mine. If I did that it would create an unrealistic picture that her income is "worthless" whereas mine is highly valuable.

And again, going back to the psychological aspect, it really does create a psychological barrier to work when you assigns costs in this manner. It's basically saying to a woman, "Look, you need to earn more than $70k (for example) for us to even see $1 of income." It ignores future compounding benefits as well as current economic benefits such as retirement savings. But, it's also sexist in a sense because of the starting assumption that the man works and the wife only works if it "makes sense". It's no different than saying that if a woman's salary can't cover yeshiva tuition she should just stay home. No one says that to a man. A think a part of the reason why is this type of assigning of costs to a woman's potential income.

Dave said...

There are a limited number of cases to consider, JS:

1. One spouse is working, the other is not. Change in state to have the non-working spouse enter the labor market means calculating the marginal costs and benefits associated with the change.

2. Both spouses are working, one spouse has a significantly higher income (or realistic income potential) than the other. In professional circles that often involve significant relocation, these are often tagged "leading spouse and following spouse" rather than by gender. If one spouse is to leave the job market, it is generally the trailing spouse, and again, all marginal costs and benefits would be assigned based on the change.

3. Both spouses have roughly equivalent incomes and career potentials. Evalulate marginal costs and benefits for either spouse leaving. Again, the costs and benefits are assigned to the change from the current state.

None of these cases are inherently gender specific.

Anonymous said...

JS: Excellent comments. I agree that women shouldn't be considered the optional worker or the one whose salary has to be justified. I suspect that there are many families where Dad might be better at home schooling than Mom or where Mom has greater earning potential so it makes more sense for Dad to stay at home.

JS said...

Dave and Anon,

My comments just dovetail with all I've said above about women in the workforce and gender inequality, etc. I realize the issue is not inherently a gender-specific issue. I just think it is in the Orthodox Jewish communities due to reasons I've listed over and over on this thread.

I'm also coming at this from a perspective of my wife working and our incomes being roughly equal.

Miami Al said...

JS,

It's not inherently gender based, it's income and desire to be caregiver based.

The ONLY reason that we've been talking about "the wife working vs homeschooling" is that that is the scenario brought up by Mom2.

If the question was reversed, you'd hear the reverse.

The reason that the Orthodox world is SO gender specific is that:

1. We're religious conservatives, you'll find the same heavy gender bias in evangelical circles as well

2. Teen Brides/Moms: okay, in the MO it's married at 22, mom @ 23 vs 18/19 in the RW world, but seriously, how many working professional women do you know that had their first kid before 25? Kids before grad school/dues paying is a SERIOUS crimp in your career. Was just chatting with a friend that had their first kid (mid 30s), talking to my wife about how she no longer "hangs out" at the office, she goes, works her day, leaves, before kids, working till 7/8 was no big deal, now, it is. Try leaving @ 5 PM in your first 3 years and you'll be "mommy tracked," doing it later and it's "normal" to have an outside life.

The issue isn't economic terms and gender bias, it's a cultural shift to derailing women's careers before they start.

mom2 said...

JS, people work for many reason, only one of which may be pecuniary gain. Many gain great satisfaction and many have remarkable talents to share with the world. Even in the absence of actual profit it is unwise for young women, or men, to render themselves vulnerable to life's vicissitudes by failing to establish themselves in a suitable career. But if two spouses are going to work during their child rearing years for the purpose of increasing their family unit's bottom line ,is it not better that this bottom line be well scrutinized?
In that vein , I have revised The Chart. I have increased Working Mom's' work life to her company's mandatory retirement age, even though it is above the average age for women , and started her work life a year earlier. I have removed her year of unemployment and dropped her marginal tax rate to 39%. This woman has now worked every day of her life since she left school without a single day of unpaid leave at almost double the salary of her co-professionals. She is on Prozac and started sneaking Ritalin from Baby 4's cabinet. She has been more prolifically industrious than any real woman I know. I have even pushed back Homeschooling Mom's work return date by a year because Al objected that she was leaving her 16 year old son home alone, and i was worried he might call Children's Services on her. Baby 4 is now seventeen when his mother returns, so CFS wont bother themselves with him.
On the other hand , I made ONE adjustment in favor of my position ( truly, my position is to seek accuracy) I separated actual tuition from baby care. I allowed child care and summer care to grow at the standard growth rate along with moms salary because camps and babysitters, unlike day schools, are subject to the forces of nature and the marketplace. But now tuition has a separate column showing the effects of the fact that tuition has always grown at TWICE the rate of inflation. Assuming a 3% growth rate, tuition will probably increase by an average of 6%, but i optimistically lower it to 5%. Therefore the column titled "tuition increase over inflation" is only 2%. I dont think i could have been more equitable in my treatment of the two moms, and yet the differential is now.. wait for it... 43,000 , IN FAVOR OF HOMESCHOOLING MOM! That must be one heck of a 401k Mom has set up to make this worthwhile!

The table may be linked at
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/54674075/revised%20tuition%20vs%20hs.pdf

(thanks again for the DropBox tip,Al)


May i ask some of Ye Honorable Bean Counters - Dave, Al, SephardiLaAdy, Anonymouses, .. to look over my projected tuition increase column and see if the numbers accurately reflect a 2% growth over 20 years?
( full disclosure : I am mulling over trying to write and publish an article on this matter. More full disclosure- I often plan to write scholarly articles on a range of topics and haven't done one yet)

AztecQueen2000 said...

There's something else to consider here. Not everyone gets out of college and steps into a $50,000/year job! When I started my first job, I had a BA and some graduate work under my belt, and even a very high GPA (Magna Cum Laude). The trouble? Like many of us who did not have wealthy parents, I went to El Cheapo State U, which is unheard of outside of its own area. (I also started working in 2003--when we were pretending that the economy was decent.) My first job topped out well below $30,000/year before taxes. When I moved to NYC in 2005, the best I could do was temp jobs. So, leaving the workforce to homeschool my kids made more economic sense than trying to compete for jobs in an increasingly tight marketplace. (And, Al, it IS possible--with the right kid--to let a teenager homeschool himself/herself. Between free college classes, online coursework, and tutors, it can be done.)

Miami Al said...

AztecQueen,

Absolutely, a self directed teenager working with tutors and online coursework can self "home school." However, to assume/guarantee it seems unreasonable in the projection.

I think that a far more fair assumption is that Homeschooling mom goes and picks up a new graduate degree to retool during those last two years of "high school" then starts up again at age 55.

I also find it interesting that hard working and dedicated career mom can only maintain a declining rate of pay increases while Home Schooling mom manages to double her salary in 6 years. The rapid rate at which Home Schooling mom builds her salary is part of what screws this.

That rapid increase after the return is a BIG part of why the differential isn't there. Homeschooling mom spends the last 6 years in the work force doing much closer than tuition paying mom.

These small assumption differences are going to shift things around a little. The updated sheet tweaked a few minor things (like the extra years of working), and then dropped a quarter million dollar "adjustment" to tuition increases.

I'm also impressed that Homeschooling mom NEVER takes a breather with kids at camp. I mean, if one of her kids flips a light switch on Shabbat, her life is a failure, and Orthodoxy is heavily based on communal norms and conformity, and the kids aren't getting the activity that has the strongest effect on Jewish identity on a per-dollar basis?

I also notice that she steals all her school supplies from her husband's business, since I don't see a DIME related to it, computers, text books, etc. :)

Again, I'm not sure why you are shocked that financially, our working professional that chooses to professionally educate her children ends up, financially, in a similar place as she would if she worked and used that money to provide her children with private schooling.

This isn't SAHM vs. working mom, where the former saves on child care and coupon clipping vs. latter bringing home an income. The home schooling mom is dedicating 40 hours into educating her children. The working mom is dedicating 40 hours into making enough money to pay someone else to educate her children.

Now, if Home Schooling mom learns that she can't actually teach every subject of high school, and she's going to be in for a huge financial shock OR putting the kids in the local high school.

I'm not against Home Schooling in the least, I'm relatively pro-home schooling. I'm not anti Day School, Yeshiva, or Home Schooling. I'm just anti-bad math. I'm just a challenger of the assumptions here.

JS said...

mom2,

There are just so many assumptions built into these charts and so many details left out that you can twist the results any way you wish. No camp for home schooled kids? No expense at all for educating them? Home school mom reenters work force in mid 50's and more than doubles income before retiring? Tuition paying mom starts with an above median salary and only manages minuscule raises her entire career? The effects of a 401(k) are not shown at all?

This is all kind of moot anyways, no? It's clear your attitude is that you'd have to be crazy to work your whole life - or at least require sneaking ritalin and prozac. Lord knows how men manage to do it. I know I've been working since graduating college and haven't taken any time off since then including doing a multi-year graduate school program at night while working full-time.

If you don't want to work, that's fine. You can afford your life choices and you're doing what's best for you and your family. I respect that. But these charts and the attitude towards working is really a bit much. The 401(k) alone, assuming even putting away only $5k per year with no match and only 5% annual growth over the 40 years is over $600k and that's absurdly conservative.

The point is there are lots of pros and cons to working and private school yeshiva versus home schooling. It's better to focus on those pros and cons than concoct charts like this that can't begin to show the true economic impact of the decision. And, after all, this is clearly not an economic decision for you or, most likely, the other home schoolers on this thread. You home school because you want to be home with your kids, think you can provide a better education, and don't want to spend your life in the "rat race".

Just don't denigrate those who do work (male AND female) by saying you'd have to be insane to work.

Shoshana Z. said...

Personally, we started home-schooling because we could not find tuition money in our small budget 8 years ago. And then it grew on us... And we all loved it. We definitely home-school because we want to and because we and our children are very happy with the opportunities this path affords to us. Frankly speaking, if I had to drop all four kids into day-school now, it would be a financial impossibility. We would most likely go the public school route if the need was forced on us.

We do plan to home-school high school and are already putting things into place with our 7th grader to make that happen.

We are here because we want to be. And I certainly wish no ill-will to others who choose a more conventional path. This is definitely *not* the right choice for everyone. When I receive phone calls from curious parents who might want to "try it out," I am very likely to discourage them from doing so. Especially if it is merely to run away from tuition.

mom2 said...

Shoshana, OF COURSE finances arent the only reasons to homeschool ,or even the most important, and it certainly sounds like many of the e commentators here would NOT be good candidates, i.e., "dont like being a "nursery school teacher", dislike the "chore" of reading to their children, etc.. , but to the many who hate saying good bye in the morning and are doing it solely to better their financial status, I think its important to work out the facts.


"JS said...
You home school because you want to be home with your kids, think you can provide a better education, and don't want to spend your life in the "rat race".
Just don't denigrate those who do work (male AND female) by saying you'd have to be insane to work."

I dont remember saying anything derogatory, and since I am not in the habit of calling people names,especially hard working dedicated parents, am fairly sure i didnt. But u r right about my reasons, though i am not sure about your 401k assumptions. I only considered absolute salary gains and minimal child care costs because the other factors are , as u say , so "twistable". Working mom's kids only go to Day Camp, at 2000 a pop because sleep away, at 4000/summer is more than the minimum care/tuition than working mom needs, and i wanted to present the cost of working in relation to childcare at its minimum. Either mom can choose to send to sleepaway camp, but only Working mom has to send to day camp.
I never incorporated the "cost of work" into the equation to (A) keep the calculations at their purest,and (B) Because we discussed them at the beginning of the thread, but the employers $5000 401k contribution will pale against the cost of her working if all the other numbers are equal. Will u agree that her commute will cost 4,500, that her wardrobe, an additional 800 ( i am getting this numbers off average statistics table - they are usually higher for orthodox women)? I mentioned saving 7000 on the cost of buying whatever groceries/take out is convenient in contradistinction to planning your shopping , and someone thought it was high, but talk to some real workng-switching-to-sahm-moms and u wont come with less than a 4000 differential ( i might be a particularly good shopper). Tessya will only allow working mom to need 3000 dollars of extra cleaning , but i do think that's quite low, but lets reduce it to that. That still adds up to more than 12,000, double what W.M.'s 401k will bring in! No, I am not saying its insane for a second spouse to work , I am merely saying young parents planning their future should be aware of of the various permutations of their decisions.
JS said,"or at least require sneaking ritalin and prozac. Lord knows how men manage to do it. I know I've been working since graduating college and haven't taken any time off since then including doing a multi-year" I know its hard to convey jokes and sarcasm over the internet so i am not sure of your meaning, but if u really find you job situation so hard to bear, maybe you can consider making some changes ( you might make a great SAHD. Or Homeschooler- JUST KIDDING )

mom2 said...

Al SAid
"This isn't SAHM vs. working mom, where the former saves on child care and coupon clipping vs. latter bringing home an income. The home schooling mom is dedicating 40 hours into educating her children. The working mom is dedicating 40 hours into making enough money to pay someone else to educate her children."
Of course it is. It is both. You are getting both the cost saving benifts of SAHM, however you value them, AND homeschooling, and whatever made u think its 40 hours a week? Its 24 hrs/day of being WITH the children, but not teaching them. I probably put in less than the 2 hours per day of homework help my day school mom friends put in. Aside from reading all my favorite childhood books aloud, all of us snuggled ( or fighting0 on the sofa, I would estimate I have 1 contact hour of skill teaching per day with each kid/level of kids, and the rest is time for their own brilliant ideas to take shape- usually constructed out of legos and mud- and my kids are definitely more advanced than their day school counterparts in important areas. You guys should read some John Holt ( an extreme unschooler, granted, but still mind bending)
As for the cost of homeschooling, Al , and I may be talking to myself , because it seems this thread has ended, the point is that it is TOTALLY within your control. A college educated adult could provide an excellent State- University-ready education to his child for the cost of an internet connection, a DVR set to PBS, and a library card, but may decide to aim higher than that, like any parent , and do you seriously think there are middle class households that do not already have those items? that if i didnt " steal my husbands internet connection" we wouldnt have one? ( i did steal his good blue pen , though)
Most school districts (not all ) in Jewish populated conurbations now provide a public school district called "the virtual district", that anyone in the district can attend. You get a free connection to K12, or Connections Academy, or some similar program, which are a free individulized computer based programs, supported by live teachers, and many people like it. There are dozens of other free options. You can of course add classes and tutors and programs to your hearts content , but its a personal consumer choice u can decide free to buy or not. Can u say that for any of the classes in day school? I didnt add the cost of the classes to Homeschooling Mom because either Mom is likely to pay for ballet or karate or chess or whatever she feels is important, but neither one of them has to. As for actual non curriculum supplies,; pencils, notebooks, arts and crafts stuff, since i can shop the back to school sales after they start their clearance phase, I think I spend less on my mountain of supplies than the parents with their school-class-teacher specific supply lists.
So when u say that u r" just anti bad math" and then proceed to only bring up sociological arguments, I think u r not quite aware of all the details involved


I think Ive exceeded character allowance. Again.

tesyaa said...

mom2, for 3 years as a fulltime working mom I spent ZERO on outside cleaning help, for a variety of reasons but primarily to save money. I did my own cleaning, with help from my immediate family members. (Recently I added some help because of an increase in my husband's working hours).

Maybe my house was not as clean as yours, but according to my kids a lot of their friends' houses are messier and dirtier, and some of those families have moms who are at home. No one in my house is getting sick from lack of cleaning help.

From what I see, many Orthodox women who stay home spend more on their wardrobes than many working women I know.

I rarely buy takeout - I make almost every meal from scratch - not fancy but serviceable, and fresh and homemade. I admit I do not always buy every single grocery item on sale and use a limited amount of coupons, but I shop in inexpensive stores, notably a wholesale produce market where prices are 50% less than supermarkets.

Commute $4500? depends where you are, but not for me, and not for my spouse. Much less.

If you feel you cannot work outside the home without spending untold thousands on extras, that is YOUR situation, but it is not MY situation nor that of many others.

tesyaa said...

Naturally, some things depend on the ages of your kids - if you have 4 kids under 5 they aren't going to be helping much with the housework, but then again they are mostly not at an age where formal schooling (or tuition) is necessary.

Why are Orthodox Jews so enamored of paid cleaning help?

Anonymous said...

Here Here Tessya. I too am puzzled by the constant talk of cleaning help and take out. I work in an office with several female secretaries with three or more kids. They are out of the house for at least ten hours a day (commutes are lousy where I live), and sometimes more. None of them has cleaning or yard help. And they don't do take out. I see the leftovers of homemade dinners that they bring in for lunch. I have no doubt that their houses are nice and tidy. So, when will the orthodox mom finally admit that cleaning help is a luxury for the upper middle class and not a necessity, unless you have a physical disability.

Anonymous said...

Cleaning help is a part of the entitlement mentality that is a part of our community. Within walking distance of my house, I counted over 5 help wanted signs yesterday. These were minimum wage jobs like clerking at a drug store. When I called a friend to let him know about this, he said that he was "holding out" for something more professional. He does not have a college degree and has been unemployed for over a year. This is not an unusual situation where I live, and I know for many it's better to get a government check for financial help from federation than get a job that's "beneath" you.

mom2 said...

So, Tessya, first I have to tell u that i had to smile when u wrote "according to my kids a lot of their friends' houses are messier and dirtier" as I remembered my mother standing in the doorway of my room when I was a teenager, shocked expression on face, saying: "Look at this room!!! Nobody lives like this !!!" and my retort " But Plonit Almonit's room is ssoooooo much messier!! and HER mother doesnt mind!! " But unlike your lucky children's mother, mine didnt buy it:)

Like u said, Tessya, everyone has different standards of cleanliness, but I think u kind of prove my point if even you, who has admitted to being able to pull off mothering/working balancing feats that the average woman cannot, only got through the phase of your life where u worked full time while raising kids paying for some kind of cleaning help for ALL EXCEPT three years , then isnt it reasonable that less capable Neshei Chayil will need some help as well? May I ask how much help u currently have? because at this allotment, Working Mom only has 4 hours/week.

tesyaa said...

mom2, 5 hours, and I still do plenty myself. Additionally, I have an after school babysitter who does the same light housekeeping that any SAHM would do - put dishes in the dishwasher, fold some laundry, clean up spills that happen on her watch.

I don't think other women are less capable than me - I think they THINK they are incapable, and are willing to accept scholarships rather than make an effort to work harder themselves. That is their own business - I do not have exorbitant pride that would never let me accept help from others, and I am not opposed to the idea of others receiving scholarships; but the idea of depleting our retirement savings to pay tuition and qualify for scholarship is anathema. I don't want to be poor when I'm old.

By the way, I also peek at others' houses when I'm there, and some of them are indeed messier than mine. I don't judge and I don't care - we all have to live with our own standards. While I said I gave up cleaning help primarily for financial reasons, I also found that most cleaning help doesn't do a really good job. At least when I clean, I know it's really clean! I am not the slave driving type who can give orders and ask a cleaning woman to redo a job or to get down on her knees and scrub. That makes me uncomfortable, so I'd rather do it myself. Like I said, a change in work situations made it necessary for us to get help, but it's not my first choice.

tesyaa said...

mom2, usually I don't engage in a lot of personal back-and-forth with other commenters, because often it becomes an argument no one can win (plus it takes a lot of time). However, despite the fact we disagree, I like your spirited attitude, and I think we can learn from each other. I wonder how old your kids are (you don't have to tell), and whether some of your opinions might change as they get older and your experiences change. (I know having a child with special needs drastically changed some of my perspectives).

Miami Al said...

Mom2,

Given that your description is less home schooling and more supervised play, I'm also going to assume that your children are young, pre-school to Kindergarten. While the trend is to start pre-school younger and younger, I'm hard pressed to put it in the boat of "home schooling," it seems more child care. I'm guessing your oldest is in Kindergarten.

Penmanship may be a lost art, but I'm glad that I can write legibly, I joke that it's the reason I wasn't pre-med, and my kids are starting writing (printing) in PreK3 at the preschool we elected. We're seeing in Kindergarten basic sentence structure and other focus.

It sounds like your Day School options are comparable to mine in quality, as in, not setting the bar terribly high.

I'm a huge fan of unschooling, in theory, for the right children. I think that reading Summerhill prior to having children gave me some of my strongest thoughts on how to structure childhood, we structured it primarily around unstructured play, the OPPOSITE as to what is going on in America's school system.

That said, I'm not hugely concerned with my kids keeping up with the Day School kids, it's just not a high bar in South Florida. I am concerned with what I see the kids at the 20k-30k/year Prep Schools are learning/doing, and trying desperately to muster up the energy for enriching everything sufficiently.

I'm not worried about my kids competing with Day School kids, I'm worried that they are entering a world with 2 Billion people in India/China that are fighting to achieve an American middle class lifestyle. I am worried that college admissions will be MORE competitive than when I applied, with more international kids fighting for a spot.

Look, Americans excel at creativity, and despite all the metrics showing us "falling behind" we still have the strongest per-capita income and productivity in the world. But I worry than in an America w/ 180 school days (public), 168 school days (private), it's going to be harder and harder to compete in STEM with Koreans having 220 school days.

That said, for my children, whose summers will involve enrichment activities instead of lazy days of summer, education is far more than 220 days. The people I know home schooled (primarily K-5, that joined us in middle school, and a few K-8 that joined us in high school), they got tremendous benefits from that.

The few people I met in college that were home schooled K-12 seemed "off." They just didn't know how to socialize with their peers, perhaps because they were taking community college classes for two years, etc.

That doesn't mean your kids will be, this is anecdotal experience, not data. However, something I've learned in the professional/business world, brainpower and raw academic knowledge, the stuff that carries you through graduate school, is extremely important, but there is a ceiling you hit. The soft skills of emotional interaction are really important to develop for success in life, personally AND professionally.

And for those that condemn my focus on financial success for my children: when you live in an expensive suburb with multiple children, expensive schooling and/or extracurricular options, and domestic servants, you clearly are enjoying a premium priced life, so dismissing focusing on "making money" is VERY disenguous.

Miami Al said...

Mom2:

On the schooling cost front.

Even if you focus on computer based learnings for what the British call "lessons" you still need resources. While a home might have one or two computers, if you have 4 children in "school" at home, you might need four computers for them. They probably need replacement every 3 years, just like office equipment.

Sure a DVR w/ PBS (and Science, History, etc) can provide a LOT of educational programming, but with 4 kids spaced across 7 grade levels, your 2nd grade and 9th grader will need programs on different levels (there is a reason we don't normally use the one-room school approach anymore), so you might need 2 different rooms/DVR/screen setups for that, even if you schedule it differently.

Lego and Mud "creative" play is wonderful for teaching kids spatial issues, but not sufficient to teach Calculus.

Foreign Languages can be taught via Rosetta Stone + Foreign language programming, but both cost money.

You might also need more space at home since 5 people are there "full time" during the day, not one. A dining room table is fine for homework for an hour, might NOT be sufficient for 4 kids as primary school zones.

I wish you luck, done right, home schooling is a TREMENDOUS advantage. However, it's not costly.

It terms of SAHM advantages, there are huge advantages to not being outside the home from 8 AM - 6 PM, but don't pretend that you can provide a supervised home school environment AND be a full-time home maker... You can't just "run errands" without bringing the little ones.

Look, I think this is a great move, but I think it's more costly than you acknowledge.

tesyaa said...

Miami Al, I would not harp on the costs so much, since other commenters like Shoshana are homeschooling older kids and seem to find it cost effective. If I were mom2, though, I'd be more concerned about the socialization aspect, since she has made clear that her overarching goal in life is to have observant children. As another commenter pointed out, there is no statistical evidence whether or not homeschooling is more likely or less likely than day school to produce an observant adult.

As for the argument that a homeschooling mom can CHOOSE day camp as an extra but a working mom MUST send kids, that's disingenuous. First of all, working moms can save by having a summer nanny for all 4 kids instead of a camp bill for each - many responsible frum high school girls would love to babysit full time and earn summer money. Second, we all know that the homeschooling mom and the working mom will have many of the same expenses like swimming lessons, sleepaway camp (don't you think a few summers at Camp Sternberg or Magen Av will do more to make kids frum for life than hanging at the library?), etc., so it really doesn't matter whether it's a "work-related" expense or not - it's still the exact same expense.

tesyaa said...

I'm sure my last comment can be refuted - I know the homeschooling mom is not paying tuition so she has tons of money for camp - but I'm trying to focus more on the social aspect. Do people remain frum more for social reason (they feel comfortable in the community, love the lifestyle) or for ideological reasons (they believe that Torah observance is commanded by Hashem)? Sure, a combination. But while the latter can be taught either in school or at home, a lot of the former comes from socialization in the frum community - at home or camp. The ideological part is much more abstract.

Why are baalei tshuva who live in remote out of town places encouraged to move to vibrant frum communities? Not just because it's easier to get a minyan and kosher food. It's great that mom2's kids have lots of playdates, and maybe her kids will remain socialized throughout elementary, middle and high school. But there's no doubt it's harder, and if my only goal in life was to have shomer shabbos children, I'm not sure homeschooling would be the way to go about it.

mom2 said...

“tesyaa said...
“Like I said, a change in work situations made it necessary for us to get help, but it's not my first choice.”
I think everyone’s “first choice “ is to have their family members share in the household cleaning , but when reality sinks in, most full time working, professional women with multiple children living at home end up getting some sort of help, however little. It sounds like you only have a little more help than you allotted to Working Mom, but have proportionally more children, of whatever ages. I am certainly not criticizing or even commenting on your decision to get a little help even with teenagers in the house- we all have limited parental authority capital , and squandering it on lesser issues seems unwise.

“tesyaa said...
“I wonder how old your kids are (you don't have to tell), and whether some of your opinions might change as they get older and your experiences change. (I know having a child with special needs drastically changed some of my perspectives)”

If you dont mind, I prefer to leave the discussion of my actual children a bit less specific, but the oldest are in 'elementary', so perhaps I will see things differently when they are adolescents and don’t find my company quite as delightful ( smirk). When everyone was tiny, it was MUCH harder.
Regarding children with special needs, though only parents presented with the challenges of struggling and advocating for the best possible education for their child can really understand what is involved, I am not quite sure a special needs diagnosis would materially change Homeschooling Mom's analysis. Yeshivah day schools are generally not equipped to deal with anything but the mildest diagnosis, and parents of children requiring anything more than than “resource room” attention generally choose a variety of public school programs. I am not sure either mom having one child attending a program other than day school/homeschool would materially effect the analysis.
If the question is whether a special needs child can be homeschooled by an otherwise untrained parent, than the answer obviously depends on too many unspecified factors to even speculate.

mom2 said...

“Anonymous said...
“Here Here Tessya. I too am puzzled by the constant talk of cleaning help and take out. I work in an office with several female secretaries with three or more kids. They are out of the house for at least ten hours a day (commutes are lousy where I live), and sometimes more. None of them has cleaning or yard help. And they don't do take out. I see the leftovers of homemade dinners that they bring in for lunch. I have no doubt that their houses are nice and tidy. So, when will the orthodox mom finally admit that cleaning help is a luxury for the upper middle class and not a necessity, unless you have a physical disability.”

Since you refer to me as “the orthodox mom” I think I may assume you are neither Orthodox or a mom so let me just point out to you the time/cost differential between kosher meal preparation and your secretaries' . If, after a hard day at the office your Secretary wants a family meal she can pick up skinned, boned, sliced chicken breast at a cost of (x)+.5(x) or regular chicken. That same skinned sliced chicken breast would be 3 times more expansive for Working mom. Your secretary can pick up a variety of frozen veggies in yummy sauces that require a mere 5 minute nuke. But none of them are kosher. She can pick up any salad without spending an extra 5 minutes checking for infestation, and ready made side dishes either frozen or at the deli counter for maybe 1.50 times the cost of their actual ingredients. She has a complete nutritious meal that will leave her kitchen spotless and take about 5 minutes to throw together . Working Mom will spend thrice the time and twice the cost for the same meal. And then have a much messier kitchen to deal with.

Even if she spent the same amount of money time/resources on each and every meal as Working Mom it would make no sense for her to have cleaning help. She likely earns $17 /hour (34,000 average secretarial pay) and it would seem unreasonable for her pay someone $14/hour in exchange for her time while Working mom earns twice or thrice that.

Whether this exchange of time for labor is a “luxury” or a “necessity” is hard to determine. We have all seen areas of the world where every single item/service in our homes sans some clothes and dishes would be considered a decadent luxury. I am only dealing with the probable services the average professional American orthodox woman is likely to utilize.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: The secretaries I was referring to make between 60-80K.

tesyaa said...

Again, the refrain "it's too hard to be an Orthodox working mother" is grating. It's hard to be a working mother, period, yet millions of women do it. And in terms of the cost and time of dinner preparation, there are cheap, easy ways to make a kosher dinner (for example, pasta - or bean and barley soup - or homemade pizza - really easy by the way - and crudités). My kids would probably flee at the sight of a frozen vegetable with "yummy sauce".

Anonymous said...

Not only do 2/3 of American mothers work, there are many who do it without a husband/father to help out. We should not be teaching our children that its harder for observant families than for everyone else. What about the benefits of community, shabbat and spirituality to counteract the stresses of every day life working and raising children. Someone who is grounded in a strong belief system has it easier, not harder.

Dave said...

There appears to be this belief in the Orthodox world that the rest of America is eager to consume insects in their produce.

Quick hint: Not the case.

I've never seen an insect in any of the packaged pre-washed salad mixes, nor in any of the frozen vegetables.

Among the fresh vegetables (and I am fortunate enough to live in an agrarian area surrounded by farms), I've only seen a couple, and we were washing the vegetables anyway (because, you know, they grow in dirt), and there was no problem.

Anyone on an unusual diet (or who just prefers to know what is going into their food) is going to have a dearth of takeout options. And even leaving that aside, I strongly suspect that a Kosher household in New York has far more takeout and delivery options than I do. So I don't buy the "we don't have the options, we need a cleaning lady" argument.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point David. Someone in my family is on a low sodium diet, so take out is completely a non option. Similarly, meal planning and checking sodium content per serving as listed on the package and translating to real life portion sizes is more difficult and time consuming than checking for the correct hecsher. [you would be surprised to learn how much hidden sodium is in food, even frozen, sauce free vegetables.] I have never heard anyone say that they need a cleaning lady because they are watching their salt or fat intake or must eat gluten free. Also, lots of people give their fruits and vegetables a special wash with something that is supposed to get rid of pestiside residue, or triple wash and spin their fruits and veggies. I never hear that as an excuse for anything.

mom2 said...

“Anonymous said......... What about the benefits of community, shabbat and spirituality to counteract the stresses of every day life working and raising children. “

The benefits of spirituality in one's life are deeply beneficial and wonderful, but are , for the most part, spiritual, and are unlikely to help Working Mom grow another pair of hands or add enough hours to her clock to shrink her workload to beneath that of her secular counterpart, whom, btw, if their husbands earn anything more than 100k would be pushed into the upper 5% of American households and would MOST PROBABLY use some sort of household help

"And said.........“We should not be teaching our children that its harder for observant families than for everyone else.”

A study of the cost/benefits of work is illustrative, not instructive. I am illustrating the most probable budget scenario based on available knowledge , not 'teaching' our children to adopt it.

Were a typical mom to look at one of the many financial articles offering advise on working/sahm-ing, she'll always read something like familymoney.com's ...”what some costs of working might be for you: Professional wardrobe, commuting or car expenses, day care and after school care, lunches out will be the norm. Expected contributions to office parties, birthday presents, and sponsored events might come as a surprise but are standard in many offices...”etc. It is not easy to come up with an exact number of what the “cost of work” is, but it is irrational to pretend there isn’t one. I had never calculated this cost into my original chart due to its individually fluctuating nature, but when a commenter suggested I missed out on including non-salary benefits of work , I wanted to point out that there are distinct 'work costs' outside of taxation and tuition as well.


“Dave said.......There appears to be this belief in the Orthodox world that the rest of America is eager to consume insects in their produce. Quick hint: Not the case.”

Thanks for the p'sak, Dave! :)

“Tesyaa said... I'm sure my last comment can be refuted - I know the homeschooling mom is not paying tuition so she has tons of money for camp - but I'm trying to focus more on the social aspect.
I agree with Tessya and the new chart now has the homeschoooled kids going off to camp for 5 years, from ages 10-15, for 1 session each summer. I fully expect to send my own children ( perhaps except for the shy one) to camp ( one session only. Summer is when their friends are off school and local friendships are important to us), so I agree that Homeschooling mom's kids should go.

I will not link to the new chart for fear the link will be directed to illustrate The Online Dictionary's definition of 'flogging a dead horse'.

There is SO much to discuss in Al's insightful 12:51 post, but logging off at 11:00 is the only resolution I haven’t broken today. So it shall have to wait. As for the 1:08 post; No, i'm not adding new wings to the house so that each kid can have their own tv viewing/computer room and personal space. As for the other almost negligible costs of amortizing 2 or 3 new computers and some software over 20 years, remember that I have only included pure tuition costs on the working moms side. The additional amounts she has to spend on science fairs, Torah fairs, Teacher's Chanukah gifts, Teachers end of the year gifts, field trips, Annual Dinners, class parties, etc.. was never calculated and will probably overtake Rosetta stone { $400 for the Homeschool Edition which allows up to ten users over two computers (and allows two families to share the cost- someone on my homeschool list phoned and asked permission) and covers a four year curriculum, so 4 kids times 4 years = 16 divided into 250 equals one eigth grade field trip} fairly quickly.


11:10- last resolution broken.

Shoshana Z. said...

mom2

Yasher koach for your tenacity and your ability to keep going with this discussion without taking it too personally. As another home-schooling parent, I am enjoying the contributions from all commentors.

AztecQueen2000 said...

mom2--
You're also forgetting transportation costs, textbook fees (not entirely neutralized by homeschooling--often schools require each child to buy expensive books every year, while homeschoolers can find cheaper materials and re-use them) uniform fees for girls (in Brooklyn, they can run as high as $40 for ONE skirt) and annual fundraisers for the school. While these costs individually seem small, they add up pretty quickly, especially for multiple children.

tesyaa said...

Since I don't have mom2's tenacity, let me say that I honor and admire those with the ability and skill to homeschool. As far as the money part of the discussion goes, tuition + extras obviously are very expensive and homeschooling can be done very cheaply, but a mother's income, potential future income and work related expenses vary tremendously, so I don't know how useful a spreadsheet is (although the debate was stimulating).

The part that disturbs me is the implication by the homeschoolers (correct me if I'm wrong) that a mother who prefers working to homeschooling, assuming the money is wash, is a lesser parent than one who enjoys snuggling on the couch with her darlings 24/7. I can wholeheartedly say that I enjoy working and get a tremendous amount of self esteem and happiness from my employment. Of course, I am proud of my kids' accomplishments and I do not feel they would be where they are today if my spouse and I didn't put in the effort we do with them. I don't think that working makes me a lesser parent (but I am sure that somewhere out there some judgmental soul will be happy to say so).

Shoshana Z. said...

@tesyaa

Wow! I have never read anything on this list that was written by home-schoolers that even remotely implied that we have made a "superior" choice. Anyone who feels that they are a lesser parent is simply reflecting their own doubts onto the home-schooling parent.

In my experience, it is usually the opposite case in which school-centered parents are very critical of my choices to deviate from the "norm." People make a lot of assumptions about me and how I think based on our home-schooling status. We need to get to know one another on a personal level and stop labeling and judging. It can be very painful for both parties and leads to bad feelings.

tesyaa said...

Shoshana, it's terrible you are judged by by people you know in real life. Only going by the comments on this thread, though, mom2 jumped all over Abbi's line that "my mother worked full time, and even though she worked a lot from home, she basically had no time for us and I really didn't like it" as one reason for homeschooling - implying that working mothers have no choice but to ignore their children. Some of us (insecure types, you might say) might feel that's a tad judgmental.

Whereas homeschooling has been described as "a TREMENDOUS advantage" by none other than Miami Al; however, recognizing the inherent worth of homeschooling doesn't mean no one can question the financial assumptions set out in mom2's iconic spreadsheet.

As I said earlier, having a special needs child changed my perspective on a lot of things, and one of them is making judgments about others' childraising practices and schooling choices, so you can rest assured that if we knew each other in real life, I would not be judging you for homeschooling.

Miami Al said...

For the record, I think the home schooling, with a parent with the patience to do it, provides a tremendous advantage at the elementary school level over a public school and/or a comparable parochial school. I'm NOT sure it provides an advantage over an elite private school, but they offer different things.

However, this assumes a home schooling parent treating it as a full time job that focusing on imparting a lot of knowledge to their children. My understanding, from home schooling parents, is that they are able to cover the "state" curriculum in about 3-4 hours/day, leaving a few hours/day for enrichment activities that normally aren't available to young kids.

However, if the home schooling is simply keeping children away from the outside world, and the parents aren't willing to invest in the educational resources necessary, then it is a huge disadvantage.

Given that much of adulthood (starting in college) is learning to work in teams/groups to accomplish goals, and the importance of learning collaborative process, I'm not convinced that home schooling provides such a universal advantage at the high school level, and I think at the middle school level, it depends on a myriad of factors.

That said, forgoing a woman's professional earnings can be substantial, and the economics are more complicated.

I think that the STRONGEST case for home schooling is actually the case we're discussing here, where the alternative would be an expensive but not extraordinary private school option. The case where you would otherwise spend $15k/child/year for an education considered "better" than a mediocre school district, but sub-par to an excellent school district, is probably the strongest case for home schooling.

Everything in life is trade-offs. What is nice about it is that if you are "neutral" after taxes, you're lowering your reported income, which means that when your children go off to college, they won't get slammed with loans the way a family with a high income but no savings will be.

Parenting is a process. Way too much gets obsessed over trivial matters, and loses sight of the end goal: happy, well-adjusted, successful adult offspring. If home schooling helps you get there, terrific. If private school helps you get there, terrific. If public schooling helps you get there, terrific. But making decisions in a vacuum without regard to the long term impact is the recipe for a disaster.

mom2 said...

Tessya , I imagine most mothers often feel they are having their parenting decisions judged ,whether it it is in fact true, or, as in this case, not. I personally had other moms point to my kids and say everything from “How can you stay home with them and reinforce gender stereotypes?” to “What!! You are homeschooling them ?!? How are they EVER going to get a shidduch?!” . In general, I find most people make their worst decisions when they overly concern themselves over what other people, or “judgmental souls” might be thinking, its generally better not to.

“AztecQueen2000 said...You're also forgetting ... uniform fees for girls (in Brooklyn, they can run as high as $40 for ONE skirt)”
Aztec, $40 for a uniform skirt sounds kkrrazzy, but I am afraid I dont come out ahead on the clothing side of things. My kids TEAR through all their clothing . We do a LOT of crafts , and a LOT of mud and I dont think my washing machine has had a break since the first kid was born! At least with uniforms, you buy three or four outfits for the year and you r done! ( I think).

Shoshana Z, I am also enjoying this exchange, thanks!

Miami Al said “The few people I met in college that were home schooled K-12 seemed "off." They just didn't know how to socialize with their peers “
Al, the parents who choose to homeschool are a tiny minority of the population ( the actual numbers of registered homeschoolers don’t tell much as its often easier to register under a fake “Cover School” ) and most demographic outliers may often be seen as socially “off”. Its possible the homeschooled children you met were 'off' because they had 'off ' parents rather than going 'off ' due to the actual homeschooling . I assume you're somewhere around 35, and would have gone to college in the mid 90's , so the homeschoolers you met had parents who made the decision to homeschool in the early 80's, when the legality of the entire matter had only recently been established, so parents who are such early adapters to a trend were probably even more extreme outliers than current parents. Parents whose greatest social faux pas are along the lines of not knowing when to end a discussion thread ( though its probably around the time when you are complimented on your 'tenacity') ight have perfectly well adapted children.
And Said ...
” I'm not worried about my kids competing with Day School kids, I'm worried that they are entering a world with 2 Billion people in India/China that are fighting to achieve an American middle class lifestyle. I am worried that college admissions will be MORE competitive than when I applied, with more international kids fighting for a spot.Look, Americans excel at creativity, and despite all the metrics showing us "falling behind" we still have the strongest per-capita income and productivity in the world. But I worry than in an America w/ 180 school days (public), 168 school days (private), it's going to be harder and harder to compete in STEM with Koreans having 220 school days.”

Though I generally dont worry about overseas kids competing with mine in life as a whole ( I generally hope that more people fighting for a piece of the pie will produce a bigger pie with more for everyone)- and that might make for very different educational goals, I dont think that the childhood-crushing math curriculum that some Asian nations standardized in their schools is a likely advantage in a global economy that rewards creativity and vision rather than mere technical skills. Would that skill set not be better achieved through 'lazy days of summer' approach where you get to dream and create and explore, rather than start writing at age three?

mom2 said...

I would so appreciate if someone could tell me how to quote previous commentators by italicizing their comments? I see no italics function in this "leave your comments" box and am probably annoying everyone with my strange formatting ( among other things).

tesyaa said...

Use html tags:

http://www.quackit.com/html/tags/

for italics, use i inside the < >

Miami Al said...

Mom2,

I went to a Top5 undergraduate school. Everyone was a little "off" except the Water Polo/Lacrosse guys. :) Even our football players were socially awkward. :)

Look, the K-12 home schoolers I knew were top notch academically. Top notch people tend to be a little strange. I don't think that I'm normal, I had to learn how to be normal.

I think that the unschooling aspect of our lost lazy summers is definitely important, and we try to emphasize that. The move towards all organized sports and no play time has been detrimental. However, in the 90s, there were a TON of middle to upper middle class families created on the backs of the technology industry's growth.

I remember swapping stories with a "stereotypical" high achieving Asian family that I was friends with when the "Tiger Mom" made the rounds. There were parts of their childhood that made them miserable, parts that really helped them excel. While all of their children achieved high academic success, they don't seem particularly happy as people for that success.

There are benefits to the "crushing level of mathematics" and there are drawbacks. I do know that my high achievement academically has helped me out economically post-school, and that economic benefit provides for a wonderful lifestyle for my children. I want them to be able to provide the same for my grandchildren.

I won't pretend that the K-12 homeschool kids I knew were in ANY WAY representative of home schooling, nobody I went to college with was representative of anything, I went to a selective University that was only culling that top 1% for talent, by definition, outliers.

The only thing I judge harshly in parenting decisions is people pulling the ladder up behind them. Those are the parents I see with post-graduate education (normally highly specialized doctors/lawyers) that embraced more and more rightward Orthodoxy as they filled a void in their life that send their children to RW schools that don't prepare the kids for college. They give their kids a life in an expensive Jewish town with all the amenities and none of the ability to provide that for the next generation.

And even then, the reason I judge it harshly is that most of them seem to be doing it because it communicates their "frumkeit credentials" to have their kids there, not because they think it is best for their children.

Commenter Abbi said...

Just for the record, Tesyaa, my comment about my mom working full time was not actually a comment directly about homeschooling. It was in response to JS's wondering why Orthodox women aren't encouraged to work full time.

I really didn't mean to imply in any way shape or form that moms who work full time are somehow "lesser" mothers. It's kind of ironic because usually I'm the first one to speak up and defend working mothers!

When I think more about growing up with a full time working mom- I don't think it really bothered me at the time, probably because I didn't know any better. I had/have a very close relationship with my mom, she was available to me emotionally. OTOH, I didn't follow in that path with my own kids, because I'd much rather have more time with them in the afternoons. However, we are not snuggling on the couch all day! Snuggling time is after 4 pm only. I could not handle being with my kids 24/7 year round, but I do enjoy the school vacations with them (um, for the most part).

Anonymous said...

Abbi: My mom worked at a time when not too many women with school aged children worked. I thought it was cool and never felt deprived. I was very proud of her and I loved the additional independence, but those were the olden days when starting at a very young age, kids had the run of the neighborhood and took off on their bikes or were outside exploring and playing as soon as they got home from school. That was before the internet taught us that there was a predator at every corner and that 12 hours of homework and extracurriculars were necessary to get into college.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al - what's a top 5 undergraduate school? I've heard Ivy League, I've heard US News top universities/colleges - never heard of "top 5".

mom2 said...

Abbi said
“When I think more about growing up with a full time working mom- I don't think it really bothered me at the time, probably because ... However, we are not snuggling on the couch all day! Snuggling time is after 4 pm only. I could not handle being with my kids 24/7 year round,”

Abbi, the words “ snuggling on the couch” (to be fair , it was “snuggling (or fighting) on the couch”) with one's children is not actually secret code for “snuggling on the couch with my children while thinking unkind thoughts about Working Mothers and pitying their children” , so I dont know if there was a need for you to distance yourself from such an incendiary activity to the extent that you had to re-examine your entire childhood. In reality, the offensive “snuggling” language was not used to to distinguish between the two parenting styles, but rather the two 'work ' experiences; Al had said..

“Again, I'm not sure why you are shocked that financially, our working professional that chooses to professionally educate her children ends up, financially, in a similar place as she would if she worked and used that money to provide her children with private schooling... The home schooling mom is dedicating 40 hours into educating her children. The working mom is dedicating 40 hours into making enough money to pay someone else to educate her children”

and I wanted to emphasize the difference between working at a professional setting with its attendant stresses and staying at home with its attendant comforts. The “snuggling” language was referencing the warm coziness of home in contradistinction to the Arctic-like temperatures that that would greet Working Mom on her commute this week ( though not in your neck of the woods, Lucky Abbi). Both Moms trade their time for monetary advantage, but one of them gets to do it while tv watching , nature walking, zoo hopping , cookie baking, and , yes, snuggling on the couch with her children along with Peter Pan and Wendy, or Alice , the Ingalls girls, or Pevensie children. That experience compared with an office job; the commute, the deadlines, the stress, seem like qualitatively different life experiences to me, and not merely two diffrent 'jobs'. (Even if the first one includes much more washing/laundering/scrubbing than the second)

But I do thank you for your comment. I am interested to know what language pushes people’s 'mommy wars' buttons, because as I said, I was thinking of expanding this into an article. I am kinda rethinking that now, and worrying it wont reach its intended audience who are really the 30-something moms, wishing desperately for another baby, but not being able to 'afford' one because of tuition. That is a 'boosha and a cherpa' and a demographic tragedy. But all information, especially the well-intentioned kind can be misunderstood/misused especially if the author has not carefully examined her language or thought out all the attendant implications of their subject.

mom2 said...

So, Al, you realize you totally outed your Alma Mater, right? But I wouldn’t be so hard on your first group of parents. Parents who use their children as political markers deserve full opprobrium, yes. But the first group, those “(normally highly specialized doctors/lawyers) that embraced more and more rightward Orthodoxy as they filled a void in their life that send their children to RW schools that don't prepare the kids for college.” dont normally think they are “pulling the ladder up behind them”. They probably saw that their own admission process centered on SAT scores , figure that SATs are essentially an IQ test, figure that their own children will, in all probability inherit their own high IQ's, and conclude , not entirely unreasonably, that a specific high school wont make much of a difference in the undergraduate program their kids will get into, especially if the corresponding but more costly MO schools are nothing to write home about.. They plan on having their kids attend an ok undergrad program, score high on the LSATs, another apparent IQ test, and then be merely left with the decision of going to a good law school where they will have to pay full fare, or leveraging their good score into a scholarship to a lower ranked school. I don’t think they are purposely setting them up for failure when this doesnt end up working as well as planned.

Thanks for the italics tip, Tessya!

tesyaa said...

Thanks for the italics tip, Tessya!

mom2, can you return the favor and spell my handle correctly?? (I admit it's not my name in real life!)

:)
:)
:)

tesyaa said...

That experience compared with an office job; the commute, the deadlines, the stress, seem like qualitatively different life experiences to me, and not merely two diffrent 'jobs'.

mom2, please use this as a starting point to realize that people are different (see, you've got me using more tags than usual too). I can honestly say I love my office job, and being home full time with young kids... well, not quite as much. I love being around adults who value my opinions & knowledge, I love using my brain, my commute is not so bad, and I found the stress at home at least equal (but different).

People often extrapolate from their own experiences and assume that others feel essentially the same way they do. As I have gotten older, I have learned to stop doing that quite so much.

And I don't think 30 year old frum women are unaware of the homeschooling option, though you might be able to educate them about your experiences as a homeschooling mother. Most who choose not to homeschool do so because they don't want to, or don't feel capable, or most importantly, because of perceived or real social pressure.

mom2, you and I apparently have a lot in common in that we don't care about what others think about our choices - but most people are NOT like that.

Miami Al said...

Mom2, there are 9 schools currently ranked 5+, though admittedly, only two have large Frum populations. :)

I guess I tipped you off that I did NOT go to Duke University. :)

Dave said...

One of the advantages that children of the educated normally get on the SAT is that their native dialect is the Standard English that is used in the Verbal section.

This is key because the SAT is a pattern matching test (if it were measuring anything more significant, then the SAT study programs wouldn't work).

That means that for large parts of the test, they can simply pick the option that "sounds right", rather than having to think of the rules of grammar to figure out the correct answer.

If they have instead grown up with the Yeshivish dialect spoken in much of the Orthodox world, they'll lose that advantage.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: Women aren't foregoing more children because of tuition, they are foregoing more children because they choose private school as the only way to educate their children. Having fewer children but sending them to yeshiva is the preferred option over having more children but sending them to public school or home schooling. I'm sure these 30 somethings are aware of both public schools and homeschooling.

mom2 said...

Anonymous and Tesyaa (see! I spelled it right!): I am not as certain as you are that "I'm sure these 30 somethings are aware of .. homeschooling" , or at least of its financial ramifications. When I first mentioned the profitability of homeschooling on this thread, in a site frequented by unusually financially savvy folks, the immediate , unanimous (except for Dave:)) reaction was akin to this comment " This is clearly not true because the salary will last for a 40+ year career while the $60k tuition (for 4 kids) only lasts for 12 years" and I think a deeper analysis of my original assertion may have changed the collective mind.

I think if some of the people who are making the decision to work and pay tuition and forgo desired number of children , whom you propose are acting out of defrence to communal norms, but i suspect are just unsure of how to get the best education for their children, see the hard numbers , they, too might change their minds. Obviously this isnt the right choice for evreyone, as you empasize Tesyaa, but it could be for some.

I am not invested in this enough to "to educate them about your experiences as a homeschooling mother. " There is nothing like publishing an article that claims "look!! ! we do this and WE are so normal" to invite opinions to the contrary! (my actual life is somewhat unlike Homeschooling Mom's in several repects). Hard numbers are far less personal.

Al: I knew of a school that fit your Athletes' description, and I Heard That Frum People go there :)

tesyaa said...

I think if some of the people who are making the decision to work and pay tuition and forgo desired number of children ... see the hard numbers , they, too might change their minds.

One other possibility to consider: some frum women don't want any more children than they already have, and are using tuition as a convenient excuse. (Which is fine with me, even though I think no one should need to explain his or her reasons for having or not having children).

Mark said...

Dave - That means that for large parts of the test, they can simply pick the option that "sounds right", rather than having to think of the rules of grammar to figure out the correct answer.

I've heard that they've recently added a writing section to the SAT that account for fully 1/3 of the total score. So now instead of a score stated out of 1600, it's out of 2400, with 800 for math, 800 for verbal, and 800 for writing.

If they have instead grown up with the Yeshivish dialect spoken in much of the Orthodox world, they'll lose that advantage.

And thus, Yeshivish speakers are now at a great disadvantage if they write in Yeshivish as well as they speak it.

Mark said...

mom2 - I think a deeper analysis of my original assertion may have changed the collective mind.

Except the "deeper analysis" isn't deep [enough] at all. And the analysis is still incorrect. It's incorrect because of the many things that were already explained:

* Mostly unfounded assumptions regarding wage growth (ones that don't resemble the real world experience of the typical family we are discussing).
* Not taking 401(k) contributions/match into account properly.
* Not accounting for "real world" assumptions in the analysis.
* Not accounting for risk properly (i.e. one parent working exposes the family to FAR more risk than both parents working). A minimal example is not accounting for the cost of health insurance while one parent is unemployed and the other has chosen homeschooling over employment.

Just to be clear, I support homeschooling in many cases, and my wife and I would strongly consider it if we were capable of doing it properly. What I oppose is incorrect financial analysis and using the misleading results to tell people that "homeschooling is financially better than working outside the home" for the typical family we are discussing.