Thursday, January 19, 2012
But They Aren't Funding EVERYTHING!
There is a new tuition blog, Yeshiva Sanity, that I'm keeping an eye on. One early post that caught my eye asks "Are WE the Problem?" Well, of course we are the problem and have been since the days of Mitzrayim, but the implied solution, a more centralized funding solution, isn't the real reason why the Catholic Church or the Church of Latter Day Saints can and do provide a low cost education.
As referenced in the article, the Mormon Church subsidizes the cost of attendance at Brigham Young University (BYU) which is practically "free" all things considered at $2,280 for church members and $4,560 for non-members. Yep, a private university with public university pricing even for non-church members. Likewise, the average tuition of Catholic diocese schools averages approximately $3,400 annually, with the actual cost averaging nearly $5,400, a nearly $2,000 subsidy for school attendees.
One might think, wow, if we were only unified, we could provide a more affordable product too: "If only we had the sense of community that the Mormons and Catholics had we would less of a tuition crisis. People whose kids have grown up and have the most means and least expenses would be subsidizing the younger parents who are mostly at the beginnings of their careers and can least afford to pay." [sic]
I fully believe that with greater coordination, savings could be realized, but those who compare us to them with the belief that if we only cooperated that we could come closer to the BYU result are missing something very fundamental: both groups have put their eggs in limited baskets.
I hope I have my information correct, but here is what I have gathered from various sources, including people I've spoken with:
The Church of LDS is highly centralized. Young Mormon students attend Sunday school and there are numerous social activities within the wards (local churches for which membership is assigned based on residence) and temples (regional). Education becomes more formalized in high school as youngsters attend "seminary" which takes place before public schooling. In areas with religious release time, there are paid teachers. In areas with smaller populations, schooling is provided by (unpaid) lay leaders before public schooling hours or through home study groups. While there are some day schools in the Pacific Islands and in Mexico, in America there is no day schooling movement to speak of. Mormon children predominantly attend public schools. Nor is there a subsidized Mormon Camping Movement with its own fundraising, infrastructure, and costs.
Following high school, post-secondary formal Mormon education generally includes a 1-2 year mission for young men and women (and they pay for the privilege, although the church subsidizes the umbrella structure and going on a mission is more popular among the male set). BYU is a popular choice for young Mormon students, but there are also "institutes of religion" serving the single, Mormon ages 18-30. Many of the institutes are located adjacent to college campuses and there are public universities that are highly popular among young Mormons that do not attend BYU or one of the other BYU branches.
From what I can gather, the Mormon Church has put their eggs in a few baskets. The wards and temples provide the K-12 set with Sunday education, Seminary education, and social activities that promote social identification and attachment. The umbrella structure for missions provides young men and women with an opportunity to develop their lay leadership skills. The institutes serve the educational needs and social needs of the young adults. And BYU is the flagship institution, a desirable place for students to attend college for complete immersion and meeting their match (about half the student body is married).
To briefly touch on the Catholic Church, their educational eggs are concentrated on the K-12 through diocese schools. Non-diocese schools can be quite expensive and Catholic Universities cost a fortune, just as other private universities.
Within the Orthodox Jewish world, we have an educational basket for every age bracket from 2 years old on up, and each bracket is subsidized in some way, shape, or form through fundraising, community infrastructure, etc, to say nothing about the expectation that one participate in the non-unified system from the age of 3 on up. We have preschool. We have preschool day camp. We have day school/cheder/yeshiva/bais yaakov. We have day camp. We have sleepaway camp. We have adventure and travel camps. We have boarding high schools for boys and girls. We have the year or two in Israel. We have beis medrash programs. We have social-educational youth group programs. We have outreach programs of every flavor and outreach yeshivot/seminaries. We have Jewish Universities (YU, Touro). We have college seminaries with relationships for degrees within the daled amot. We have Kollels galore. We have community Kollels too. We have shul and yeshiva sponsored avot u'banim and other learning programs. We have kollel dirshu with a stipend. We have learning within shuls with its own infrastructure and adult education institutes with their own corporate structure. (Did I miss any educational program that is supported directly or indirectly with donor money?)
In other words, even if we were to centralize/coordinate our K-12 efforts, we are funding just about everything under the sun and we have a lot of eggs in a ton of baskets. Therefore I don't think we can expect the BYU result at YU.