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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.

Shabbat Shalom.

106 comments:

CJ Srullowitz said...

We really cannot compare our financial structure to that of the churches, because, as a nation, Jews are not, never were, and never will be centralized.

However, I still hold out hope that individual communities can get their various acts together and form kehilos (or kehilot, or kehilois). As I wrote on the YS blog:

The alternative is a funding model that (a) converts after tax dollars into pre-tax dollars; (b) spreads out and smooths out payments over a forty-year period; and (c) allows for investment growth to supplement the costs.

Here's the real issue: Is the "community" prepared to "voluntarily" subject itself to a "tax" in order to make this happen?

Miami Al said...

One thing to observe:

The BIGGEST difference is that Jewish education has a heavy youth bias, Mormon education has a heavy "young adult" bias.

Non-Orthodox Jews will often attend a Jewish preschool. A small percentage will attend a Jewish school for K-8, a large percentage will attend some Sunday/after school supplementary education through 7th grade.

Even in the Orthodox world, very small communities will have a K-8 school. Indeed, in areas where people are discussing "public school" and the "tuition crisis," it is almost exclusively for high school, NOT elementary school. Mormons, OTOH, engage their children with emotional connections, and the young adults with more of an effort to involve and educate them.

Basically, as hormones are kicking in, dating and sex become a possibility, and drugs and alcohol move from theoretical to available, the LDS Church swoops in with an "alternative" just as the Jewish world is in retreat.

The Mormon "mission" is roughly the same time commitment as the "Year(s) in Israel," but the focus and method is night and day.

Mormons go on a mission @ 19, usually AFTER Freshman year of college. So they go to college, often secular, with the temptations of college life, then they disappear for two years in service of the church. The dedicated go to small villages in the third world, the less dedicated go and canvas in a city in America. Talk to a Mormon about their mission experience, they'll ALL tell you about how enlightening it was and how it made them appreciate their life and their church. Also, Mormon women that marry do not go on a mission, those that are unmarried will go on one later, preserving a bias for early marriage that we should appreciate.

A Mormon on a mission to a small town in Latin America will be learning Spanish, helping the locals out, living in squalor, and evangelizing their religion.

An American Jew during their time in Israel will do whatever he wants (some may intensely learn, others may party in Israel), on their parent's dime, with no obligation to help others. Indeed, one of the strangest aspects of the female seminary program is that the daughters of relatively affluent American Jews will expect (and receive) Shabbat Hospitality from distinctly less affluence Israeli Jews.

One area that the Catholics and Mormons have a HUGE advantage is the universality of their church.

A dedicated church going Mormon that serves as a lay leader will be in the same ward as the Mormon-in-name-only guy that skips church to drink beer and watch football. The tithes will support the same church and infrastructure.

Ashkenazi Jewry has been split for over 100 years, and Sephardic American Jews are increasingly splitting as well, with the more secular dealing with Chabad for lifecycle events, with the more observant either with a separate minyan in an Ashkenazi Shul or the occasional Sephardic Synagogue in the US.

Ironically, Chabad has a centralization model most similar to the Catholic/Mormon Churches, and seems to be having the more success than the congregationalist Modern Orthodox.

Anonymous said...

It's "Latter Day Saints," not "Ladder Day Saints." Sorry, by editing eye kicked in.

Shabbat Shalom

Orthonomics said...

Nothing to apologize for Anon. Sometimes I write too quickly, keeps the blog alive but there are some sloppy mistakes.

JS said...

The centralization aspect certainly helps matters, but the more important issue is the commitment of the community to the centralized authority and the commitment of the community to donate for the benefit of everyone.

There are tens and tens of millions of dollars being donated annually in the Jewish communities for various educational and recreational activities, but it's only done to help a small sub-group, not the Jewish community at large. This will never change in my opinion. It's a capitalistic form of donating - you donate to help your people and get respect for yourself amongst those people. So it's rarely a gift to Jewish education, it's a gift to a particular school with a particular hashkafa or it's starting up a new school in an already overcrowded neighborhood.

That's our broken funding model. People give wherever they feel like and would be offended if told or obligated to give where some authority (centralized or not) would tell them to give. There's a push to keep tzedaka dollars local, but people chafe at that idea and will give to kollels in Israel if they feel like it. It's also why a communal tax will never work, it's imposing socialism essentially on a people that give capitalistically (regardless of the Torah's views on the subject).

The other problem is there doesn't seem to be any thought process into how to best educate or how to best keep people in the fold. Even from a simple cost-benefit analysis this isn't done and is seen as heretical, almost. We separate our children from the general population at birth practically and don't allow reintegration even in MO communities until the age of 19-20 at the earliest, often later. We study complex subject matter at very young ages when it's not even clear the subject matter is being understood at more than a rudimentary or memorize and spit back level - we pride ourselves on children davening at age 5 when all they're doing is memorizing a song or learning gemara at age 11 or 12 when all they're doing is remembering an obscure series of arguments. Maybe this sets the stage for more serious learning later in life, I don't know. The point is, no one seems to know or care.

This wouldn't be a problem normally, but everyone says there isn't enough money for this system. A more serious analysis needs to be done.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Going back to the idea of putting kids in public school, it almost makes more sense to do that with younger children. Because young kids are unable to exert much independence (they can't get around on their own, and still must listen to their parents), they are less likely to be swayed by peer pressure. Additionally, many public schools have developed dress codes and uniform policies (I see this in NYC), so modest dress would be less of an issue. Finally, because most kids are placed in schools in their neighborhoods, if more Orthodox parents chose this path, kids would find themselves in a more homogenous environment, and are less likely to stick out for wearing a yarmulke or keeping kosher.

tesyaa said...

This is one of your best posts; it's very informative. AQ and others, many have suggested the idea of public school for younger kids here and on the defunct Chump blog, only to be shouted down about the importance of the formative years. IMO the Orthodox community feels that if they give one inch in the battle to maintain universal yeshiva education, they might as well concede the whole war.

I'm not sure why Mormons can use public school and the frum world can't. Yes, I know many Mormons go "off the derech", but so do many kids who've received an exclusively yeshiva education.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

When I looked up stats for "retention" the best I could find was percentage of adults in the same religion as their childhood. When you took Protestants as a whole, it was over 90%, when broken down by denomination, it's around 78%-82% depending (i.e. a Baptist that goes to a Methodist Church as an adult would be retained within Protestants, but not within Baptist). That's pretty high retention, most people don't change religions.

The Mormons were well over 80%, one of the higher amounts within Christiandom.

Judaism was listed at a typical 80% range (same range as Catholics, Mormons, or specific larger Protestant denominations), but wasn't broken down by denomination.

What's sad is that it's NOT clear that this insularity has even worked. There was a huge trend towards religious drift with the baby boomers, which shifted back with the latter generations. The universal Yeshiva system basically came into vogue with the children of the baby boomers, so we're all pointing to higher retention, but that might just be America as a whole.

The conservative movement is investing its resources into camp, not day school, since camping is shown to play a huge role in identity. It's also a MUCH LOWER cost, since parents HAVE to pay for summer if they work, so the incremental cost is smaller.

Anonymous said...

Great post. A few additional points:

(1) The food and beverage restrictions on observant LDS families are negligible. They also observe a Sunday Sabbath. This makes using public schools and non-Mormon institutions easier for LDS families with younger children. [Not that Jews can't use public school too - just that it is more complicated to have friendships & social relationships with people outside your fold.]

(2) The LDS population is centered in the western part of the country, due to migration patterns in the second half of the 19th century and persecution of Mormons within this country. The cost of housing and of living in general in these regions tends to be significantly lower than in the Northeast (where Jews predominantly emmigrated).

(3) It's easier to be centralized when your religious group is less than 200 years old. Splinters and factions take time. Note that the fundamentalists aren't even considered LDS anymore at all by the Mormon church, and they don't particpiate in this system.

(4) We don't have a belief system in prophets still getting direct information from the heavens. It's a lot easier to agree to a collective church trust fund when your trust leader actually speaks to God (e.g., Pope, Prophet).
In general, it's

CJ Srullowitz said...

"People give wherever they feel like and would be offended if told or obligated to give where some authority (centralized or not) would tell them to give. There's a push to keep tzedaka dollars local, but people chafe at that idea and will give to kollels in Israel if they feel like it." - JS.

JS, You are correct, but only to an extent. If communal dues became the norm (as shul dues are), it would be more accepted. Getting it to become the norm is the issue, and we should not give up on that. It will take several arguments - economic, social, emotional - to market the idea properly, but I believe it can be done.

The point you raise about local tzedaka actually proves my point. People are changing their gifting habits to be more in line with local concerns. The subtle pressure exerted is having an effect.

Anonymous said...

public school up to and including 4th grade with sunday school seems reasonable for MO children as a way to reduce education expenses. This would be supplemented by Sunday school.

Mr. Cohen said...

While Jewish parents struggle with the cost of yeshivah tuition, other Orthodox Jews are spending millions of dollars each year on kosher cruises for Pesach.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if the parents struggling with tuition worked harder, got more secular education, had fewer kids, homeschooled, or chose cheaper yeshivas, they would not be struggling and would not be jealous of people who can afford a kosher cruise.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.... Are the kosher cruising families neccessarily more educated, with fewer, homeschooled or cheaply yeshiva educated kids? I only agree about the "fewer kids" part.

Even without the cost of private school tuition, having a larger family becomes a wonderful "nice to have" that makes it more difficult to have other "nice to haves," but that's a value choice. No one has everything.

-A mom of 5, who grew up with one sibling

Anonymous said...

On the Mormon vs Orthodox Jewry issue, I had a close colleague in law school who was a practicing Mormon. Over coffee one day, I learned he was taught that Orthodox Jewry's year abroad in study was similar to a "mission." I was completely flummoxed but in the end, I realized his understanding was of the lubavitch method.

I love the comments on this blog because they give me so much to think about. I'm ruminating on the idea of sending a child to Israel AFTER one year of college.

Orthonomics said...

While Jewish parents struggle with the cost of yeshivah tuition, other Orthodox Jews are spending millions of dollars each year on kosher cruises for Pesach.

In the spirit of dan l'chaf zechut... I fully intend to take a very nice vacation after years of nearly 2 decades of frugality and savings that I fully expect to be followed by another 2 decades of frugality and savings.

When we take that nice trip I imagine those who might find out will make similar comments to which I will respond, we've paid our tuition given tzedakah, volunteered our time and expertise, and I think we can go on a cruise without the guilt trip thank you very much!

The yeshiva funding issue can't be placed on the shoulders of Mr. and Mrs. Kosher Cruise.

Anonymous said...

The rich pay their tuition and then some, let them go on a cruise if they want to.
As for the rest of us, we got our education and still can't pay 50K in tuition a year.
Should we have had less kids? Maybe the answer is we should live more frugal lives?

Zach Kessin said...

Plus there is the issue of a total lack of priorities. It seems that everything is a "CRISIS", at some point the community has to look at what it is spending money on and say " OK We can do A & B but not C & D".

If you try to do everything you will end up doing nothing

Miami Al said...

Anon 12:32:

"(1) The food and beverage restrictions on observant LDS families are negligible. They also observe a Sunday Sabbath. This makes using public schools and non-Mormon institutions easier for LDS families with younger children. [Not that Jews can't use public school too - just that it is more complicated to have friendships & social relationships with people outside your fold.]"

The food and beverage restrictions are lesser, not negligible. Many avoid soda, which is quite common with younger children. I'm not sure why the Sunday Sabbath matters, School is Monday to Friday. In terms of friendships and social relationships, only if you want to make it complicated.

"(3) It's easier to be centralized when your religious group is less than 200 years old. Splinters and factions take time. Note that the fundamentalists aren't even considered LDS anymore at all by the Mormon church, and they don't particpiate in this system."

Hassidic Sects are < 200 years old. US Orthodox Judaism < 200 years old. While unifying everyone would be much harder, there is absolutely no reason that the OU/RCA/YI/YU can't be a unified "church" for Modern Orthodoxy, and treat the small fringe groups the way LDS treats FLDS, strange cultists with a shared heritage.

"(4) We don't have a belief system in prophets still getting direct information from the heavens. It's a lot easier to agree to a collective church trust fund when your trust leader actually speaks to God (e.g., Pope, Prophet)."

Daas Toirah
P'sak H'dor

Anonymous said...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said to do the opposite of what you suggest, anonymous. He said start immediately and give a child a pure Torah education for as long as possible.

tesyaa said...

While I am the first to argue for the many advantages of public school (money being only one of them), I took note of Anonymous' statement "not that Jews can't use public school too - just that it is more complicated to have friendships & social relationships with people outside your fold."

Given that a major reason for kashrus stringencies is to deliberately keep Jews from maintaining social relationships outside the fold, it's clear why many observant Jews are adamantly opposed to public school (despite the fact that they themselves work with non-Jews, buy from non-Jews, sell to non-Jews, drink with non-Jewish clients, etc).

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

However, because of Kashrut, there is a limit to how close a social relationship you will have with someone outside the fold. Inability to go out with someone (or for kids, have a sleepover) on Friday night is a HUGE limitation.

If you are at their house, you can't just "stay for dinner" unless their family goes and picks up food for you (or everyone) from a Kosher establishment.

You can have social relationships with people that aren't Orthodox Jews, but there will always be a certain limitation, and you will always be aware of that limitation.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

"When I looked up stats for "retention" the best I could find was percentage of adults in the same religion as their childhood . . ."

there is nothing to learn from these stats (at least not without a lot more information).
do you really wish nothing for your kids religiously other than that they grow up and identify as jews?

Mr. Cohen:

"While Jewish parents struggle with the cost of yeshivah tuition, other Orthodox Jews are spending millions of dollars each year on kosher cruises for Pesach."

so what's your point? those who aren't struggling shouldn't go fancy vacations? why not?

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings,

Are you suggesting that a BIG part of the "Day School or Death" pitch isn't that "the kids will grow up and identify as Jews?" That if they attend an integrated school, they'll marry gentiles and celebrate Christmas? Shouldn't we have a baseline for comparison?

If 70% of Reform Jews remain Jews as adults, and 80% of Conservative Jews remain Jews as adults, and we could therefore infer (guess, whatever) that 90% of Orthodox Jews would remain Jews as adults, should an uptick to 92%-95% be seen as a cause for celebration?

Jewish private education is EXTREMELY expensive. Is it unreasonable to look at what the "status quo ex ante" would be before ponying up $250,000/child for education?

Remember, that $250,000 is NOT to give them "a Jewish education," it's to give them an "exclusively Jewish environment for ALL education."

On YeshivaSanity, someone posted an after school Talmud Torah for high schoolers for $5500/year. My understanding is that Bergen County Jewish High Schools are $22,500, give or take. So we're talking $5500/year for a Jewish education, and $17,000 so the children learn Algebra, Geometry, English, etc. with all Jewish classmates.

Not only that, but Orthodox Jews are being urged to STOP directing Tzedakah "outside the community" -- which includes helping poor Jews (and gentiles) -- to fund private schooling for middle class and upper middle class Jews. Is asking what we are getting for this money so out of bounds?

South Florida's Ben Gamla Charter + after school JUMP program costs parents $1100/year for Judaics, and another $400-$500 in costs over a local public school (uniforms, book deposit, volunteer hours, etc) to include Hebrew and a school with a Kosher meal plan and religious sensitive scheduling. That is $10k/year less than the MO Day School.

Is it unfair to ask WHY the community sees funding that $10k for a family with a middle class income via scholarship is more important, than say, providing Kosher meals for indigent Jews, supporting Orthodox aligned causes in Israel?

Anonymous said...

My late school principal, Rabbi Benyomin Steinberg, before he died wanted above all that our girls' school should remain unified. He realized that division and a flavor for every opinion would lead to economic disaster. That's what we have now - what he forsaw. I merely thought at the time that unity prevented machlokes and was a way to meet girls from all different backgrounds. Now in adulthood I see it is an intelligent economic decision. Why can't Satmar girls go to school with Modern Orthodox girls, and be taught along the yeshiva model, as we were in Baltimore? Think of the cost savings.

Someone wrote: "The universal Yeshiva system basically came into vogue with the children of the baby boomers." She is wrong. It came into existence after World War II, with the influx of European religious Jews who wanted a Jewish education for their children. Americans were a distinct minority by the time I got to high school. Those who lasted at Bais Yaakov were the Europeans - or children of Europeans. My point is that European immigrants with little money could not afford a flavor for every opinion, the Polylishers having their own school and not associating with the Hungarishers, etc., and certainly not with the Americans, me and my sister. So parents, European of all types and Americans of all religious backgrounds worked together. Because there wasn't enough money for more than one girls school, there was only one. There were two boys' schools because one was taught in Yiddish and the other in English.

The flavor for every opinion is a luxury that arose out of an excess of money and an excess of opinions that all of course had to be satisfied.

I'm older than most of you and I went to school when there was one, and only one, choice. And if you were slightly different - you went to that school anyway.

The proliferation of day schools in one geographical area is a symptom of self indulgence. How much more fortunate we were, that our parents were hard-pressed for necessities. They could not pay for separate schools for each flavor of belief.

JS said...

I think Al's comment is one way of looking at the issue: 1) What is the incremental retention rate for Orthodox Jews from yeshiva education versus Jewish education (e.g., public school and Talmud Torah) and 2) Is it right to expend tens of thousands on yeshiva education (and for rabbis to encourage tzedaka dollars be spent on such education) instead of providing for the truly needy.

The broader issue is what exactly do we expect to get out of yeshiva education (and by we I mean the community and the individual families). I imagine for some families the goal is just to keep their children Jewish, marrying Jews, and having Jewish grandchildren. It would not be the worst thing in the world for these parents if their kids were not Orthodox or alternatively if they were not as observant or even not observant at all. On the other hand, for some parents it would be an abject failure if their children did not have the exact same level of observance and hashkafa (and of course this cuts both ways - kids that end up to the right or the left may be seen as a failure).

In between you have values such as socializing with other Orthodox children, not socializing with non-Orthodox children, being able to learn independently some day, being familiar with the "language and style" of Orthodoxy, having rabbis as role models, etc.

It doesn't seem there's much thought into exactly what the end goal is and whether it's being met.

For example, if the school promises ivrit b'ivrit and Hebrew fluency, what percentage of kids are meeting that goal? If the school says kids will be able to learn on their own, is this really true? If the school promises knowledge of tanach, do the kids really have familiarity with their bible? Do the kids know how to daven or do they just know what page to turn to and what words to say by rote? If the schools promotes certain midot do the kids embody those values and behaviors?

Miami Al said...

Anon 2:24,

I'm the one that said that "universal day school/yeshiva" came into vogue with the children of baby boomers. You suggest that the "Yeshiva" came into existence with the European born "silent generation" and their children the "baby boomers."

You're missing the term, "universal."

There were absolutely American Yeshivot pre-WW2. After WW2, they were flooded with European immigrants and more cropped up.

However, there was ZERO expectation that every Jew that wanted to enroll in such a Yeshiva would be admitted regardless of parental willingness to pay. It's one thing to give a free education to an immigrant's child, one with no money, and running around Manhattan's Jewish cocktail party set hand-in-hand to raise money for that, post-WW2, that was relatively easy.

It's another to go and raise money so that a middle class family that owns their home, has two cars, and claims that they can't pay Yeshiva after their mortgage and lease payments.

While the Yeshiva exists in America from that era, the FUNDING model changed dramatically.

The people that funded the post-WW2 Yeshiva growth were PRIMARILY non-Orthodox Jews funding Yeshivas for immigrants.

A generation later, it's no longer wealthy Reform Jews in Manhattan funding cheap Yeshivas for poor Jews in Brooklyn, it's now an attempt at a middle class entitlement.

That's when you see the massive increases in price tag.

That's where the seeds of economic failure are planted.

The parents that are enrolling their children in K-12 Yeshiva are primarily Yeshiva educated themselves. The grandparents of the children in K-12 are more mixed, some went to Yeshiva, most did not.

The current parents are the first generation of Orthodox Jews that were almost exclusively educated in the Yeshiva system.

You kind of make this point yourself:

"Americans were a distinct minority by the time I got to high school"

Correct. American Orthodox Jews were NOT predominately Yeshiva educated up to and including the Baby Boomer generation of American Jews. American Orthodox Jews were nearly universally educated in the Yeshiva system AFTER the baby boomers.

The baby boomer grandparents are helping keep the lights on. The echo-boomer parents (Yeshiva educated) are NOT able to make this fly.

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings,

"do you really wish nothing for your kids religiously other than that they grow up and identify as jews?"

Wrong question. That's between my wife and myself and how we choose to educate our children. That's our choice, our money, and our labor.

"do you really wish for nothing for your neighbor's kids religiously other than they grow up and identify as jews" is the question when it comes to cross-subsidizing tuition and scholarship funding.

Their is a huge gap between what I WANT for my children, and am prepared to work nights and weekend to provide, then what I am prepared to sacrifice to provide for my neighbor's kids.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

you're preaching to the choir.
but it still doesn't make those protestant stats relevant.
to say that someone belongs to (or identifies with) the same religion as in their childhood is meaningless without more information concerning the nature of identity, affiliation, observance, marriage partner, etc.

yes, baseline data would be intersting. but that survey you mentioned doesn't provide it even in the least but meaningful way (unless there is more data you didn't mention). religious continuity is measured by more than checking off a box on a questionaire. it has to be qualified rather than merely quantified.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

"Wrong question. That's between my wife and myself and how we choose to educate our children. That's our choice, our money, and our labor."

why is it the wrong question? you seemed to have been impressed with that 90% stat and the fact that most people "don't change religions." i'm trying to understand why you are impressed by this stat. do you consider that an acceptable measure of continuity?

""do you really wish for nothing for your neighbor's kids religiously other than they grow up and identify as jews" is the question when it comes to cross-subsidizing tuition and scholarship funding."

yes and no.
no, of course ideally this is a flawed model.
but obviously there are enough people to answer in the affirmative because despite all the dire predictions, for the most part the day school system is entirely intact.

tesyaa said...

do you really wish for nothing for your neighbor's kids religiously other than they grow up and identify as jews

What do you mean by "religiously" in your question?

Do you mean a certain level of ritual observance?

A certain level of Judaic scholarship?

A certain level of spirituality and appreciation of God?

A certain level of caring about other human beings?

As we know, a person can have a hyper level of one of these attributes and be miserably deficient in any or all of the others. How do you decide what is a sufficient level of "religiousness"?

Abba's Rantings said...

TESYAA:

"How do you decide what is a sufficient level of "religiousness"?"

for the purpose of guaging retention as per the survey and extrapolation therefrom for our community (which is really all i was commenting on), i think it should be more about establishing some parameter for measuring basic contours of continuity than deciding on a sufficient level of religiousness.

al pointed to the fact that protestants enjoy a 90% retention rate. aside from the fact that any extrapolation to the jewish community is inherently flawed because of the difficulties of comparing assimilation between majority and minority populations, an undefined "retention" parameter is meaningless.
the preacher's son grows up going to church regularly, studying bible and catechism, observing the lord's day, saying grace, etc.
now he's a hedonist, hasn't stepped into a church in years, married a hindu, is raising kids without any religion. but if you ask him what religion he is he answers protestant and he gets into that 90% figure. is this the type of "retention" we should be modeling?
(ftr, the example was purely illustrative and not meant to imply this is natural trajectory of protestants)

should this type of retentis that retention?

Miami Al said...

I pointed out that Protestants are 90% and individual denominations were 80%. I pointed that out because it's the only "breakout" I could fine.

Jews weren't broken out by "denomination" the way Protestants were. So if Jewish is 80%, presumably, Jewish-Reform, Jewish-Conservative, Jewish-Orthodox would be lower. That's the only reason I brought that out.

I also brought as a kind of, "what does the majority culture" do, I'm not impressed by it, just stating it.

I actually think that the group most relevant, for "comparison" purposes, is the LDS Church, the one actually mentioned here. Mormons seem to be hugging an 80%+ range as well.

So 90% of Protestants remain some sort of non-Papist, non-Orthodox Christian. Individual denominations are in the 78%-84% range.

If "Jewish" is around an 82% "baseline," then perhaps you could scale down denominational consistency to 74%, meaning if we did nothing, we would expect 74% of Reform Jews to remain Reform Jews, 74% of Conservative Jews to remain Conservative Jews, and 74% of Orthodox Jews to remain Orthodox Jews.

I don't know, but the general assumption is, without Day School education, 0% of Orthodox Jews would be Orthodox Jews as adults, and that is "wrong," and using the limited data out there, I'm wondering what the baseline if we did NOTHING would be, and if our intensive educational model is having a significant "moving of the needle."

Look, Baby Boomers LEFT religion in droves, then generally came back where they started. A lot of our institutions stem from dealing with the Baby Boomers and their fall out. If the Baby Boomers DIDN'T leave in the numbers suggested, and Gen X/Gen Y have more religious "stickiness" than the Baby Boomers, then perhaps the Orthodox trumpeting the success of Day School as solution is NOT a causality, but rather a simple statistical fluke.

I think that the Mormons have demonstrated pretty good religious stickiness for a religion that has LOTS of restrictions, most comparable to Orthodox Judaism (skiers that go to Salt Lake comment on the slopes being nearly EMPTY on Sunday) from a cultural point of view, yet has chosen a completely DIFFERENT educational/economic model.

You're imputing the "impressed with" angle, I'm not. I made the point that overall "Jewish" retention is comparable to Catholics, Mormons, and individual Protestant denominations, but NOT overall Protestants.

Remember, 90% of Jews are NOT Orthodox, and that will dominate any Jewish "retention" rates.

However, given that Conservative Jews demonstrate higher retention numbers in ANY studies, that perceived "religious commitment" clearly supports higher retention. I'm not sure why the non-day school Orthodox "baseline" is presumed to be "unaffiliated Jews" instead of "Conservative Jews extrapolated with the Reform->Conservative differential," other than it shows that the communal focus on Day School may not have the bang for the buck suggested.

None of that questions parental decision making for Day School, which obviously imparts tremendous level of religious support on their offspring. However, what one wants for one's children and what should be the entire focus of communal efforts are different questions.

Miami Al said...

"given that Conservative Jews demonstrate higher retention numbers in ANY studies"

higher retention numbers than Reform and Unaffiliated Jews

They are lower than Orthodox Jews

sorry, that was completely unclear.

tesyaa said...

Al, there are those who think ANY number of dollars is worth spending if even ONE more kid remains Orthodox than if the dollars weren't spent. There are more people with that view (even if they're unable to act on it) than you imagine, probably.

I don't think there's any concept of triage or working with limited resources when it comes to Orthodox Judaism (except in the far right wing, which would like to jettison the left wing to keep itself pure & holy).

Why is it that the community provides for a special-needs Orthodox education at $45,000 per year? Clearly I have nothing against treating special-needs children as valued members of the community, but is this really providing what you call "bang for the buck" when public schools can provide a better special needs education at no cost to the Jewish community (other than the community's share of tax dollars)?

I'm not trying to court controversy here; I'm trying to explain why your arguments may fall on deaf ears.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

For the past 50 years, there were virtually unlimited funds. Orthodoxy was so tiny and held in high esteem by the rest of Judaism, as a result, plenty of resources flowed in from non-Orthodox sources.

The decline in numbers of Conservative Judaism (from low birthrate), and the increasing alienation of Orthodox Judaism from Reform Judaism (public fights about conversion and Israel's Right of Return don't help), means that this source of funding will dry up.

You are right, plenty of people just don't believe that CBA is appropriate for evaluating these things, but that means throwing lots of money down rabbit holes.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

i don't disagree with a lot of what you write (and my own kid is not in yeshivah). i just don't understand what you mean when you refer to "retention."

ANON:

"Why can't Satmar girls go to school with Modern Orthodox girls"

are you kidding?

Anonymous said...

Before Yeshivot start figuring out how to get 'more' money, I think we need to get back to basics:
a) create a budget that plans for the next year, and for the next 5 years, but doesn't include donations [the donations should be additional income/revenue, not the principle source of revenue. Let us say that you expect, in an ideal world where everyone is able to pay full tuition, incoming gross revenue is $1 million dollars. Plan a budget of [for example] 60% [$600k]. Take 10% of that 60% and put it in a rainy day fund. From the 50% pay your teachers, utilities, mortgage, etc. Lead administrators [ie the Rosh Yeshivah] should reduce their wages to a wage that is comparable to the average principal, until they can prove competent in running a school financially. Aside from this, cut out the fat...I have heard numerous times of 'extras' [often 'rabbis'] being on the payroll, but whose duties are unknown to both administration [principals, vice principals] and teachers in the school. Let all school trips be separate extra costs.
The other 40% that is not calculated into gross revenues is considered bonus money, in that it is not expected to be seen [in a normal business, you always have to charge higher than you aim to bring in. As a contractor, 35-50% above the target is the generally stated rule. ].
Anyway, I don't want to get to lengthy, but this is the gist of my personal opinion on the matter.

Yeshiva Dad said...

The point in my post wasn't that we should be more centralized - that came up in the comments section. We're not likely to become centralized because there are just too many opinions out there & no one is going to accept leadership from someone with a different hashkafa.

My point was more that we should be giving to schools voluntarily. Not just parents of school-age kids but singles, young marrieds and those whose kids have grown up.

That way some of the costs are being paid with pre-tax money and the burden is spread over the entire community. But when they tried to institute a "scholarship fund" so the tuition money would be given "voluntarily", many of us opted out of paying it because we knew the schools couldn't enforce payment of it or it would then be considered tuition & have to be paid pre-tax. Hence WE are part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Another recession is coming to the US and other countries. Many Orthodox jewish insitutions will be under major financial stress in the coming 5 years.

Miami Al said...

There is roughly an 8k/year differential between Catholic diocese school and Orthodox Day Schools. That 8k/year differential is funded via donations to the Church, those are tax deductible. If you assume a 25% average tax rate, that's a 2k/year/student savings by centralized giving.

Unless you can centralize Orthodoxy and get masser to match Church tithing, you can't hit that.

The 2x/year Catholic and the daily mass with 5 kids in Catholic school are part of the same Church. In prior generations, non-observant Jews supported Federations as well as explicating Orthodox institutions. The non-observant Jews have been alienated from Orthodoxy over the past two generations, that is a HUGE problem.

In any religious group, people run a spectrum of religiosity. By segmenting out the religious into a small independent sub-religion, we've lost the support of the rest.

Interestingly, Chabad realizes this. If you notice, their structure is most similar to the LDS structure... actively prostelyzing "converts" (though only born Jews), seeking people to come as they are, and encouraging financial support. People that have their kids in public schools or prep schools are still reached out to by Chabad, and form part of their funding base.

Chabad even embraced the "mission" concept of going out and reaching out to people to embrace Chabad.

It works with Jews, you just have to internalize what works and what doesn't.

JS said...

The communal funding model will never work for the simple reason that the majority of a community that has a yeshiva within it or nearby is predominantly young families with children in those same yeshivas. Therefore, you're not really bringing in new money.

Any thriving community is overloaded with young families. You take a look in those shuls and it's 2/3 or more young families. How much of the cost from those 2/3 can you possibly foist on to the remaining 1/3?

If you want to reduce costs for the 2/3 by 20% you have to collect 40% of tuition from the remaining 1/3. It's the scholarship problem all over again (if tuition needs to go up $1k for everyone and 50% don't pay full tuition, you need to raise tuition $2k on the full payers).

So, if the average tuition for the 2/3 is say $40k (some mix between 2 kids in yeshiva and 3 at MO schools) - you think the 1/3 of the community without children in K-12 are sitting on $16k to donate to the schools? Many will have kids in Israel or college, not K-12, many are finally trying to build retirement savings or pay for weddings or grandchildren's yeshivas. Of course, some are retired and don't have income anyways - so not only do they have no money, it's not like they get a tax benefit either.

And again, that's just to lower tuition by 20%. The average scholarship is more than that (something like 40% or so of students are on scholarship).

So, you shifted cost, but solved nothing.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al, referring to your comment that there was ZERO expectation that everyone who wanted to go to day school could, I was there, and that WAS the philosophy of the two Baltimore day schools, for boys and girls. No one who was willing to be religious was turned away regardless to pay. My father was on the tuition committee, and occasionally he'd question someone who had made a trip to Israel (a strikingly anamoly in the late 60's and early 70's) who was asking for tuition reduction. We had one benefactor, a philanthropist who generously made our girls school possible. Ask any Baltimore Bais Yaakov grad from the 60's (as I am) and you will see that the philosophy was universal yeshiva education. But people were more modest then, they did not "game" the system, no one had more than one car, many people had no car.

Anonymous said...

Abba's Rantings, I refer to your comment of January 23, 2012 5:36 PM questioning my statement that Satmar girls can go to school with modern girls - this is the problem. I went to school with Satmar girls and with modern girls. My family was completely religious but American, not European style. We all went to school together in the 60's because there was no other choice. No one could afford to create a special school for chasidim, one for modern, and one for European yeshivish, and yet another for American religious Jews. The population explosion of religious Jews of all stripes and the ability to pay for different schools has led to a proliferation of schools and an economic crisis that did not exist in earlier years. Because our community lived within its limited means. Marbeh nesochim, marbeh da'agos. More possessions, more problems. And no modern parents want their daughters going to school with heaven forfend, Satmar girls, and vice versa.

Yeshiva Dad said...

JS,

It's not at all possible the 2/3 of our community has kids in K-12. Maybe that's just your shul. If the average person has 55 years of adulthood & has 3 kids spread of 7 years then only 20 years out of 55 is he paying tuition under the current model. That's 36%, nowhere near 2/3.

Also the point wasn't only to spread the burden but also to be able to pay with pre-tax money, which is not possible under the current system.

Finally, it does not have to be done through a communal fund. People can make donations directly to the school of their choice.

The only reason it doesn't work is that most of us are just too selfish. We will shell out tremendous amounts of money only when its required for our own kids to attend.

JS said...

YeshivaDad,

No question people are selfish. Another component is that not everyone thinks the yeshivas are charities or that they're more worthwhile destinations of charity money than cancer research, soup kitchens in Israel, or a nice bar mitzvah gift for a grandchild.

But, your 20 years out of 55 argument is not really valid. On the younger end, it's not taking into account other childcare which can often be nearly as expensive as yeshiva. If you have your first child at 25 and have 3 children over 7 years (3rd child born at age 32), the last child is not done with yeshiva until you are 50. So, assuming a lifespan to 75, it's closer to 50/50. If you include Israel and college, you're not done till you're 55. Now it's around 45/55. And then you'll have the people complaining about weddings and helping financially with grandchildren. That swings it even more out of favor. At the far end, it doesn't take into account that people downsize their houses and move when they're older. How many people live in a "young couples" community from 25 to death? People move to Florida or to other locations where the weather is warmer, taxes are lower, and cost of living is lower. Also, don't forget this huge tax would add further incentive to move away. Heck, even living a town over (say, fair lawn instead of teaneck would be great if Teaneck has the tax and cheaper yeshivas but fair lawn doesn't).

It also doesn't take into account that the issue isn't an individual's lifespan, but the percentage of a community's population in different life stages. Growing communities have a much larger proportion with kids in the yeshiva years than those with grown children. Maybe it's not 2:1, but it's 1.5:1 or whatever.

Either way, you need massive amounts from the older set to even make a dent for the younger set. It's this fundamental issue you didn't address.

Miami Al said...

There are 6.1 Million Mormons in the US.

BYU enrolls 28,000 students.

The University of Utah enrolls another nearly 30k, with a large LDS population. Plenty of Mormons I know went to "the U."

There are around 5.8 million to 6.5 million Jews in the United States (depending on who counts and how), somewhere around 650,000-750,000 of them are Orthodox of some type.

There around around 3,000 undergraduates at Yeshiva University.

The Jewish population could absolutely fund YU the way that LDS funds BYU. The populations are comparable, the Jewish population is wealthier, and the school is 1/10 the size.

Once you drop your funding source to Orthodox Jews, it becomes possible, with sustained effort. However, once you drop your funding source to "Modern Orthodox" your supply is smaller.

Abba's Rantings said...

ANON:

do you see how this

"No one who was willing to be religious was turned away regardless to pay."

is not congruous with this

"the philosophy was universal yeshiva education"

JS said...

The problem is that the characteristics of the people unable to pay but willing to be religious has dramatically changed over time.

It used to be poor immigrants from Europe (though this is way before my time). Over time it became the soviet ex-pats (this I distinctly remember). Nowadays it's the middle income yeshiva educated parents who can't pay for their children.

How do you possibly fundraise for that class of people outside of the community? Holocaust survivors and those who escape Communist oppression, that's easy to raise money for. The family that overbought on a house and needs two cars, sleepaway camp for their kids, cleaning help, a stay at home mom, and Shabbos guests every other week....not so much.

Those who needed scholarships were generally outside the community or the genuinely poor. Now it's those inside the community and they're fairly well off by American standards. They're also highly affiliated Jews - they're already Orthodox. At least with the Soviet emigres you had the pitch that they were denied any Jewish identity or education. The current scholarship recipients aren't going to start eating cheeseburgers if they are forced into public school.

So, you have a major fundraising problem and only those in the same community are going to feel bad for these people severely limiting donations.

Another issue is that "back then" a big yeshiva would probably be considered a small yeshiva. It's not so hard to find money for 50 kids in a community. Try finding money for 500 kids. This doesn't even account for the absurd rise in price for yeshiva education (or education in general).

Anonymous said...

JS: I would also add that there has been enourmous social changes and access to information about what other groups believe and do that has affected cross-denominational giving. For example, homosexuality was a non-issue years ago. No one talked about it. These days its a hot topic and those jews who are more liberal will, thanks to the internet, likely be well aware of what many OJ schools and sects teach and advocate about gay rights and if that offends them, to direct their charitable dollars elsewhere since there are no shortages of good causes.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al, I wanted to comment on your offhand remark that it was easy to raise money for poor post-WWII immigrants. I want to clarify this because all my friends were children of these "poor post-WWII immigrants". When they first arrived, yes, they didn't have a nickel. They immediately opened mom and pop stores, grocery stores, tailors, furriers. They did not have an education. You wrote: "It's one thing to give a free education to an immigrant's child, one with no money, and running around Manhattan's Jewish cocktail party set hand-in-hand to raise money for that, post-WW2, that was relatively easy."

The only cocktail party set raising money was in Baltimore, the annual Baltimore Banquet, a catered affair which attracted mostly parents who could afford the cost. It was a benefit for the school. (We kids were the entertainment with songs, dances, cuteness.) Most of the Europeans quickly made it in America with hard work and lack of an entitlement mentality. Many of the parents volunteered for fund raising projects:

the chocolate sale
the macaroon sale (Pesach)
the schach sale (succot, my father ran it)
collecting tzedakah for the school
the annual June bazaar

We tapped funds within our own community. (I'll never forget my father's indignation when he received an appeal from the one other day school outside of New York. He said, we have our own schools to support. They should not be sending us appeals.)

My friends' parents were not penniless refugees for long. Quickly they joined the toilers and the contributors. The son of a mom and pop store now owns the largest kosher supermarket in America. It's in Baltimore.

Many of the uneducated "refugees" made out better than my parents because they were in business and my father was in a salaried job. So please do not assume my friends' parents were poor nebbishes financed by rich Manhattanites. My friends' parents were hard workers, and that's why my school survived.

No Name Yet said...

I know someone who used to work on a tuition committee for a yeshiva day school. He complained about the fact that many of the people in his community who want scholarships and claim "need" have been cheating the system for a while. He started requiring tax returns and other substantiated proof of "need". There were those who took vacations, bought new cars, remodeled their home, or sent their kids to sleepaway camp and still requested a scholarship. None of these things are necessities, and if they are (leaky roof) you can do it cheaper than adding on an extra floor to your house.
The young parents are part of the "its coming to me" generation. They don't realize money doesn't grow on trees. They don't realize that you have to get an education and get a real job to be able to have as many kids as you want.
It is a deeper issue than just financial and economical- it is a sociological one that has been ingrained in our society.

Miami Al said...

Anon 10:01,

I apologize, but American Jewish history is written with a NYC lens. The initial Day Schools, funded pre-WW2, were in NYC (I believe YU's high school claims it's lineage from one), were funded by wealthy Reform Jews who wouldn't send their kids there.

When there were refugees, wealthier Reform Jews wrote checks for Jewish schools.

When Soviet Jews came to NY, wealthy Reform Jews wrote checks (I still remember a early 1980s Reform Haggadah that talks about the plight of the Soviet Jew yearning for freedom) to Jewish schools for them.

As money is fungible, that was a huge help.

I see people with large families, expecting scholarship so they can "finally have a nice care" with their last 2 kids left in school. Sorry, but having 7+ children is wonderful, but it's a luxury, and you choose that over a nicer car. That's a wonderful luxury, but the feeling that the community owes you money (to pay for a nice house/car) because you have a lot of children is crazy-talk.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al, NYC is not the only Jewish city in America. That such a modest community started a girls high school (as well as elementary school) in the 50's says something about the commitment of the indigenous religious population. Our school was not financed by Reform Jews - the Associated at the time denied support to the day schools (though now they do). Baltimore's girls school was supported by the generosity of a religious businessman and now by his children. They were certainly not Reform.

mom2 said...

Sorry to join the discussion late, but I keep hearing different expressions of the following sentiment “ I see people with large families, expecting scholarship so they can "finally have a nice care" with their last 2 kids left in school. Sorry, but having 7+ children is wonderful, but it's a luxury, and you choose that over a nicer car. That's a wonderful luxury, but the feeling that the community owes you money (to pay for a nice house/car) because you have a lot of children is crazy-talk” and I wanted to examine it.
I dont think your car-buying parents are 'crazy'. ( I am assuming they want a reliable $15,000 Accord, not a $60,000 Lexus) . If they lived in my neighborhood they would probably be choosing to send their seven kids to the more right wing schools which charge closer to $10,000/kid than the more Modern schools’ $16,000 ( with all their concomitant trade offs) and I wouldn’t argue with their decision to apply to the scholarship committee for a break on their $70,000 elementary (!!) school bill. Of each child’s 10,000 dollars, how much is the “baked in" subsidy for other peoples kids? $ 1,500? $2000? Should they be on the hook for that and give up on a reliable ride to work? Of the $10,000 how much goes to sustaining the bells and whistles rich donors requested but only partially funded? $1000? $1,500? How much goes towards subsidizing the exponential growth of non teaching staff that our communities have allowed to proliferate? How much towards the narcissism of small difference that require 2 chareidi schools within 12 miles of each other?

Its not that hard to come up with a number. Leaving aside the Catholic or Mormon school systems both of which are centrally funded to some degree , the small Elm/Maple/Oak Street Christian School down the road from probably all our non- urban neighborhoods receives no centralized funding but manages to charge less than $7000 to educate the sweet , polite kids who come to our door trick-or-treating and will enter college in roughly equivalent numbers as our children. Any deferential between their $6,700 and our $16,000 , or $10,000 price tag is a product of communal and leadership failings, not a failing on the part of Car Buying Parents, and I would suggest that they shouldn’t have to pay for our collective mistakes all by themselves. We may or may not be able to ever have the communal funding models that Halacha recommends, and our current tuition/scholarship model may be flawed but if the Committee allows Car Buying Parents to pay 35,000 instead of 70,000, I see nothing “Crazy” about their striving to get the reduction, nor see any moral culpability greater than that of any citizen trying to structure his finances in an advantageous manner.
Children are not a mere personal luxury, they are a communal asset that cost their individual parents a great deal to bring up even without tuition( i am sure the DoA's $200,000/per kid before school fees is greatly exaggerated but they are still expensive little critters)) and spreading that cost a bit does not seem unwise.

JS said...

mom2,

No argument here on the inefficiencies and waste, etc. that drive up tuition costs, but I don't understand how you can understand that there's a baked in "subsidy" for other people's children and then say the couple shouldn't be penalized for that and then should also apply for a scholarship to take advantage of the subsidy.

No Name Yet said...

mom2,
What about the choices involved? Yes, children are an asset to society. But at what point is "spreading that cost a bit" just taking advantage of other people's good choices, perseverance to go for that masters, or self-sacrifices that allowed them to be on the non-scholarship side of the equation? Will we become more of a socialist mentality where other people should work and we get the money?
Do we get the choice to do this? Or are we going to be forced to pay for your decision to have 7 children?
What if I knew I could not feasibly support 7 kids and did not have that many. Now, because you still did and also could not support them, I should have to pay? Wait, then why didn't I have them to begin with? And who will pay for your children and mine?

There is a fine line between supporting institutions in our communities and paying for other people's decisions.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: You state that your children are an asset to the community that others should support. Will your children help support me in my old age? Will they shovel my snow when I am too old to do so, take me to the drs when I can't drive and visit me in the nursing home? Will you do those things if I help support your children?
The only way community support for tuition will work is if support is not just a one way street. Why are people always talking about what the community should give them and not what they can do for the community.

Anonymous said...

The next recession which is coming will hit the day schools very hard. Major changes will be needed. Our community is not preparing.

momof5 said...

Anon 9?55am- YES! If children (and parents) are out in the community, shoveling snow, running errands, visitng the sick, exhibiting yashrut in business, being quiet in the main sanctuary of the synagogues during prayer, and in general showing good middot/ middos, local businesses and individuals would be clamoring to support the institutions. I know my husband and I always take note of the children with good middot/middos and ask what schools they attend.

This is the BEST PR for any school, with regard to future enrollment, community support, fundraising and even tuition payment.
I believe that Middos and Yashrut go hand in hand. I would be more likely to trust the administration of a school that emphasized middos and yashrut in the classroom as well. I believe that OPEN BOOKS for an institution are part of yashrut as well. And here is where my post disintegrates to fantasy...

mom2 said...

JS said… but I don't understand how you can understand that there's a baked in "subsidy" for other people's children and then say the couple shouldn't be penalized for that and then should also apply for a scholarship to take advantage of the subsidy.

JS, lets assume that the baked in subsidy is, indeed, 25%. That is $2500 of tzedaka above the “true cost” of, lets say $6700. When Car Buying Dad goes in front of the Scholarship Committee, hat in hand, intimate financial details that would otherwise only be shared in response to a judicial warrant, neatly printed out in triplicate, in hand, asking for that first 25% off, what he is really asking for is permission to take a pass on the the administration reaching into his pants pocket to remove 2500 of tzedaka funds to disperse as they see fit. Not to reduce the ‘true cost’ of educating his child. It is not unusual of a community to force social welfare taxation on its unwilling members, but no legal system does so to a person with no disposable income and most tax systems impose their tzedaka/tax obligation per household. Halacha certainly does. Between the Shimoen ben Shetach/Ben Gamala foundations of communal schools , and the time the Rema codifies it , it became standardized that “fathers pay for educating their sons, and what the fathers cannot pay, the community supplements” . The supplements, like most tzedaka funds, are collected per household, not per capita. These parents have seven children, and Al told us that they paid full? (close to full? ) tuition for the first five and now want a scholarship for the last two so they ‘can have a nice car’. They have subsidized 5 (x12) poor children, and would like to take a break from subsidizing another 2. "Anonymous 9:55" and “No Name Yet” say they have carefully planned their families and have fewer children, lets say ,3, it would therefore follow that they have only subsidized 3 poor children. I think the Three Kids Parents owe Car Buying Parents $2,500 !
I don’t know how to evaluate the marginal cost of adding 7 children to an existing school versus adding only 3, and the resulting cost reductions, because that would require knowledge of the actual school’s books, and as Momof5 said, opening a schools books remains in the realms of fantasy.

mom2 said...

No Name Yet said…But at what point is "spreading that cost a bit" just taking advantage of other people's good choices, perseverance to go for that masters, or self-sacrifices that allowed them to be on the non-scholarship side of the equation?

The Family in question has certainly undergone sacrifice and most likely has at least one Masters if they have only taken the scholarship amounts we spoke of, that is paid only the “true cost “ of educating their children. Paying $6700 per child for 7 kids means parent are making at least $120,000 between them and that salary level usually requires both education and sacrifice. If their net income is $90,000 and they spend 25k on housing, 20k on food and clothing and medical ( for 9 people) and they pay 6.7k/kid, they have not a penny left to buy a bus token or a pencil. So lets just be clear on the fact that the “sacrifice” and “perseverance” are not the attributes that got Three Child Family into the “non –scholarship side of the equation” and Car Buying Family into the scholarship side. The cause at hand is reduced to the decision to have 7 kids instead of 3. Which brings us back to the question of whether children are a personal luxury or a community asset. To which I shall return later. If anybody is still here.

mom2 said...

No Name Yet said... "What if I knew I could not feasibly support 7 kids and did not have that many. Now, because you still did and also could not support them, I should have to pay? Wait, then why didn't I have them to begin with?"

The couple in question can indeed support their 7 children. They can afford to feed clothe shelter and provide medical care for their children. They can even afford to pay the “true cost” of a Jewish Day School education for their children. They followed the Rambam’s advice on properly ordering the “ first plant a field, then build a house, then take a spouse ( ok, it doesn’t say ‘spouse’)” so that they can properly, although very frugally, afford to have the number of children they desired and can give love, attention, and patience to. What they cannot afford is “the inefficiencies and waste” and social welfare tax piled upon the cost of educating their kids, and I am suggesting that their opting out of it is no cause to deride them and call their scholarship request ‘crazy talk’. I am not , for the moment , speaking about people who reversed the Rambam’s order, or had more children then they can give love and attention to ( I would think that would have be a pretty high number of kids . A healthy woman’s natural fecundity rate would probably produce around 15 children, so the much more common 8 children in families who ‘want to have a lot of kids’ seems to be around that number).

You say you might wish to have that many kids but chose not to . You probably chose not to because you prefer the security of having some savings,, some sort of retirement plan, a rainy day fund, up to date payments on your mortgage, probably 529s for your kids . This couple has none of these things ( unless one of them is a government employee- but our US ‘public servants’ feeding out of the public trough is a separate matter). You both made your choices. You have more money, they have more children, but the benefit of their having ‘ above replacement rate fertility’ will be enjoyed by both your families, while your 401Ks are yours alone. That is “why –you didn’t- have them to begin with?”. Or you might just really like having three kids.

I just don’t understand how, after all the back and forth on the impossible tuition situation , we can still be tarring people who ask not to be charged what should be a progressive welfare/administrative waste tax , but in reality is incredibly regressive, with the same brush as people who chose to completely ignore the Rambam's advice.

Anonymous said...

"you prefer the security of having some savings,, some sort of retirement plan, a rainy day fund, up to date payments on your mortgage, probably 529s for your kids . This couple has none of these things"

Good point. It's likely this couple will need community support in their retirement, especially if their own kids are trying to support their own large families.

JS said...

mom2,

Your statements are the perfect example of people warping halacha to justify their irresponsible and immoral actions.

Forgetting that for the moment, you're making a huge assumption about tuition without any facts. You're assuming tuition is much higher than the true cost of educating a child, that tuition has a built in subsidy for those who cannot afford to pay. Where is your evidence for this? The schools don't release this information (I think they should, but they don't). The limited number of schools that do release 990's indicate they fundraise heavily and it would seem that donations cover all or nearly all of scholarships. You make it sound like the parents have a right to ask the school not pay some subsidy and that the subsidy is really charity so they have a right not to pay it. I don't see any evidence of this. You're talking about marginal cost to educate a child, why are these parents' kids the ones for whom there's a marginal cost and not someone else's?

If everyone has this attitude (and it seems increasingly everyone does - everyone wants to pay as little as possible and thinks they're already paying their fair share), then tuition just keeps rising to try to get more parents to pay their fair share and more and more donations are needed.

IRS said...

mom2,

I have to agree with JS. The argument above is a warped and, I would argue, halachically repulsive perspective. Where does this logic end? Do you believe that the profit margins at your grocery are too high so it is ok to shoplift a couple of items because you shouldn't have to pay the extra? They have insurance anyway so 'no harm, no foul'. momof5 points out above the wonderful contribution that these 7 children (or maybe just the 2 extra that are 'unaffordable') contribute to our community. Well, my children make an incredible contribution to my community and yet I still pay my full freight and more at my local Yeshiva. Who is to decide on the communal trade-offs that is being forced on the rest of us - the parents who want to have 7 children but can't afford it (and are a bit biased - don't you think?), me and my peers who pay for the scholarship donations (not out of our tuition by through voluntary contributions) or some communal socialist committee that decides how many children we can all have?

In the end, these people are simply selfishly deciding to burden the community with their costs and justify their decisions based on biased and false assumptions about how much they believe education "really" costs. If they were honest, they would simply find or start a cheaper school that fully aligned their ability to pay with the services provided and stop sponging off the broader community for a product they can't afford.

Sorry to be so harsh but it seems like basic common sense is being replaced in these conversations by selfish and perverted logic and then wrapped in yeshiva-speak.

mom2 said...

Firstly, to the 3 Anonymouses who all said something akin to
Or are we going to be forced to pay for your decision to have 7 children?” ,
And to IRS, who then concluded
- the parents who want to have 7 children but can't afford it (and are a bit biased - don't you think?)
I wanted to point out that while we all bring our personal biases to conversations, the particular 7-child family under discussion is a hypothetical construct based on another commenters earlier post. I don’t have 7 children and as I wrote in an earlier post, my kids tuition payments are not an issue, but I wanted to bring attention to the fact that people concerned about the demographic viability of our community should be considering the CBA of its educational funding models. Still, I would like to think that we can examine an issue on its merits without resorting to imputing self serving motives to the other discussants.
I might have liked to have had 7 children, but , as the great mussarnik, Mick Jagger, wisely pointed out, “You cant always get what you want.. oooh ..”

To JS who said “Your statements are the perfect example of people warping halacha to justify their irresponsible and immoral actions.”
And IRS who agreed “I have to agree with JS. The argument above is a warped and, I would argue, halachically repulsive perspective.”

If you think a halachic argument is wrong, or that the source cited is wrong, you can state a counterargument or bring a different source, but you cant merely state that a well- cited Rema is ‘warped’. The Rema I paraphrased “fathers pay for educating their sons, and what the fathers cannot pay, the community supplements” with an income based tax, is unopposed by any Of the Nosei Kelim , and is codified by the Aruch HaShulchan. If you have any counterarguments, please, I would love to hear them. You might make any of several arguments ; it shouldn’t apply to girls,.. it shouldn’t apply to your city’s extra smart children who manage to learn Mikra, Mishna, and Gemara all by age 8.., you are Kaarites who don’t think expense should be incurred to teach Torah SheBealPeh, …something ,anything! but you cant merely declare a codified halacha as “repulsive”, while maintaining that your schools are 'Halachik".

And said.. “Forgetting that for the moment, you're making a huge assumption about tuition without any facts. You're assuming tuition is much higher than the true cost of educating a child, that tuition has a built in subsidy for those who cannot afford to pay. Where is your evidence for this?”

Js, as is often cited by most folks discussing this issue , a couple of schools that tried bifurcating the ‘true cost’ of education from the ‘assistance to others’ cost, so that the full payers can take the assistance amount as a deduction, set that portion as thirty percent. It obviously didn’t work as you cant collect a voluntary payment from people so overstreched, angry and therefore completely vulnerable to the ‘tragedy of the commons’. But 30% was the stated amount. Also , I mentioned earlier that comparable Christian private schools seem to charge that amount, which is why I chose it. Also, it doesn't really matter what yeshivas claim is the source of the scholarship funding because of the oft noted fact that all money is actually fungible ; whatever money is raised through fundraising combines with tuition money to form the schools budget with full payers making up the shortfall, which is the ‘baked in” portion.

mom2 said...

IRS said, “Do you believe that the profit margins at your grocery are too high so it is ok to shoplift a couple of items because you shouldn't have to pay the extra?”
I think your store analogy is more akin to asking a car dealer to sell you two cars for you and your wife, at same the same deep discount he gave to your friend, who runs a livery company and bought a fleet of seven cars. Once the seller had all his fixed costs in place , he is happy to do seven times the business with a buyer and will give him a bigger discount than you. So whomever is insisting that a 2 kid family pays the same as a 7 kid family might be more closely akin to your shoplifter.

But I think your store analogy plays out more accurately with the following in mind.; Al said the youngest of the seven children is entering school, which means he is five and lets say his oldest sister is fifteen. This couple started having children 15 years ago and enrolled the oldest 10 years ago. 10 years ago their $10,000 school was $5,000 (please see the AviChai study as to this indisputable fact . It was done in 2001, when the affordability ‘crisis’ numbers they discuss seem almost unbelievably small) So your shopping analogy more closely plays out as this. Family goes to stay at Holiday Inn for a three day stay , at a sticker price of $100/night. When Dad gets to the desk for checkout he is told that instead of 300 he will be charged 600 because , alas, some New Yorkers came to the hotel and demanded built in Jacuzzis and water beds and a new kitchen and only 22 kids per class and art and music and now this is a Ritz Carlton and the cost has risen by double. The clerk knows this is more than the couple expected and signed up to pay, but alas there is only one hotel in town so there wasn’t much choice.
IRS , you conclude “ If they were honest, they would simply find or start a cheaper school that fully aligned their ability to pay with the services provided and stop sponging off the broader community for a product they can't afford.. “these people” already chose the $10,000 school over the $16,000 school,( at the time when it was still a $5,000 school ).They have no cheaper place to go to. You don’t seem to like hearing the halachot involved, but in reality , it would be you and “your peers” who would be obligated to ‘find a new school ‘. And, BTW, still be on the hook for partially supporting the old one☺ (A.H. Yoreh Deah, 245, and 245:10)

JS said...

mom2,

I won't even try to counter your halachic argument. I am not familiar with the rema and lack of the necessary skills to even begin to look it up or find other opinions in the halachic literature. In short, my yeshiva education (MO, k-12) has woefully failed me yet again.

I'll just say that I think a real problem in frum communities is relying too much on a rema or other source and not enough on common sense. If something FEELS wrong, it usually is. Personally, and maybe this makes me a heretic, I couldn't care if every single gadol for the last 500 years agrees with your line of thinking - I think it's wrong.

The yeshiva is offering a service. It sets a price for that service. Part of that price may be a subsidy for other students. It is not your place, as the customer, to decide what YOU think is fair to pay. You operate by the established norms of commerce. If you're in a shuk, it's appropriate to negotiate and haggle over a price. If you're in Macy's, it's not appropriate. Now, if a scholarship committee operating under it's own rules says someone is entitled to a reduction in payment amount, that's one thing. But, to come at it from the opposite direction, by figuring out what you feel entitled to pay and then deciding the extra money would be better spent on a car or other expense, is simply wrong.

If my local kosher store bakes in a 10% subsidy for the poor members of my community who cannot afford groceries so they can come to his store and get food without embarrassment, it's not my place to come to the cash register with my groceries and simply state "Give me the 10% deduction." And, it's certainly not appropriate to impoverish yourself so you become "entitled" to the 10% deduction.

Again, if you're right on the halacha and this is the correct approach, then let everyone follow it. They'll be doing God's work and will bankrupt every yeshiva.

JS said...

To your hotel analogy:

Prices go up every year. Everyone knows this. You make a commitment at the beginning of the year regarding the price for that year's education. No one raises the price on you in the middle of the year. If you can't afford it when the next year's tuition is due, you ask for a tuition break or you simply don't send there.

Yeshiva are terrible in many respects, but you're taking this way out into left field.

Abba said...

" The Rema I paraphrased “fathers pay for educating their sons, and what the fathers cannot pay, the community supplements” with an income based tax, is unopposed by any Of the Nosei Kelim , and is codified by the Aruch HaShulchan. If you have any counterarguments, please, I would love to hear them."

these posekim codified that this responsibility is beholden on the community, not the parents at a particular school
in any case, what type of an educational system do you think they were referring to? you think in sixteenth-century tzefat or in nineteenth-century russia it was common for every jewish kid (boy and girl) to attend a full-day dual curriculum with bells and whistles from k (or younger) to 12 +/- 1-2 years in israel +/- YU?

Anonymous said...

A big part of the problem is that much of the expense is not simply to educate our children but to isolate them from contact with the outside world. In our grandparents generation, many simply could not afford a Yeshiva education through 12th grade complete with summer camp. People made due with what they had, and I don't think that in the orthodox community there was a huge wave a attrition. People also learned how to interact with other members of the community, be they non-orthodox Jews, African Americans, or Irish or Italian immigrants. It made for a much richer experience. Now it's a shanda, if my son goes to a community college over the summer to take a math class because he might become friends with a goy.

Anonymous said...

Good point Anon 8:43: Maybe the cost of tuition and camp should be borne by those who look down their noses at or preach against those who would take advantage of the free public school education available in this country. We can call it the isolationist tax. It boggles my mind that the OJ community won't take advantage of public school for at least K-4 or K-5.

IRS said...

mom2,

I'm clearly not capable of arguing the halachic ins and outs in this case. I used the wording "repulsive" purposely. I would argue that this falls into the category of "menuval b’reshut Ha'Torah". There is a level of self-serving expectation and I'd argue gluttony involved in making a decision to have more children than you knowingly can afford and then putting the burden back on the community.

My analogy to a store works for me for the very simple reason that I know of schools that charge a price that is equivalent to full cost of educating children and raise funds to fully cover scholarships. If this is the case then this person is making a self-serving argument to justify paying a lower price than they are obligated to do so. If the school agrees to give them a discount that is their choice. If the family decides to put themselves in a situation where they can't possibly afford the pay and then buys other luxuries (e.g., a home, a new car) then they are again selfishly living off the charity of others.

There are a lot of good points above about who "the community" is that is required to pay for this family's education and how much education (and what type) are a halachic requirement vs. a luxury. I don't need to repeat these arguments but would point out that they raise questions about the applicability of the halachic sources you quote above and someone professionally trained in this area can provide better answers than me.

With regards to their being no options, I categorically disagree. There are a myriad of options including homeschooling, seeking out cheaper schools in other communities, sending to public school for secular education, starting a new school, not buying the new car, living in a lower cost home, etc. Saying there is no other options is just an excuse.

btw - I don't mean in anyway to accuse you personally in following this approach or of being self-serving. Just pushing back on the argument.

ora said...

Why should it be impossible to pay for everything? It happens in Israel.

Of course, it's not realistic to expect that frum Jews in the states will agree en masse to pay Israeli-style taxes (although it would presumably be much less, as they've already paid for army, roads, etc with their regular taxes). But "not going to happen" isn't "not possible."

On a different note,I think there's a big difference between Mormons and frum Jews in the states that you haven't touched on yet - geography.

Mormons are very concentrated in the southwest, a relatively sparsely populated area where non-Mormons tend to be religiously and politically conservative as Mormons are.

Frum Jews are much more scattered. Certainly there's no state where frum Jews are 50%+ of the population.

The point being - sending your Mormon child to public school where 50% of the children are Mormon and another 25% belong to various other conservative Christian faiths, is different than sending your frum Jewish child to public school in an area where even if all frum kids went to public school they'd be maybe 4% of the total student body. The former would be much less likely to feel like an outsider or like their faith is preventing them from having a fulfilling social life, or to be taught things directly contradicting the religious instruction they get at home.

Of course, beyond all that you've got a very different approach to learning in Judaism and most other religions. There are some Christian Sunday schools that push a heavy text-based education, but by and large it's nothing like the level of learning that most frum Jewish parents hope their children will be capable of.

abba's rantings said...

"Frum Jews are much more scattered. Certainly there's no state where frum Jews are 50%+ of the population."

this is true as you stated it, but as you stated it is irrelevant. what matters isn't jewish population statewide, but merely within an area as local as a school district or even a particular school. i'm not getting involved in the public school argument here, suffice to say that if frum jews did use the public schools en masse, there would be plenty of schools and school districts with 50+%--in some cases approaching 100%--frum representation. so what does our represenation within the state total have to do with anything?

Anonymous said...

I live in an area blessed by a very generous Non-Orthodox Jewish community. There are many programs for the elderly and ample scholarship money for a local Jewish overnight camps and approximately 50 percent of the kids who attend a "community" Jewish day school receive some type of scholarship. Sounds great. The problem is that our Orthodox community has so alienated the Reform and Conservative Jews who have money to donate, that we can forget about getting them to support Orthodox oriented program. I don't blame them,as very few Orthodox Jews are active in Federation and even fewer make financial contributions. I happen to know this because I volunteer as a fundraiser, and, while very few give anything,they are the first to ask for support. This observation applies to those who are very well off as well as those who have very little.

mom2 said...

IRS said …”I used the wording "repulsive" purposely. I would argue that this falls into the category of "menuval b’reshut Ha'Torah". There is a level of self-serving expectation and I'd argue gluttony involved in making a decision to have more children than you knowingly can afford and then putting the burden back on the community.”

Seriously, Do you hear yourself? ‘Gluttony’? For wanting children ? A ‘menuval’? For wanting children? 'Repulsive?' Seriously? Do you see how quickly you guys have descended from denouncing scholarship recipients who have granite counters , AND several children , to denouncing the very existence of the children?
These parents did not ‘put the burden back on the community,’. The case at hand, the case we have been discussing , in no way describes parents who ‘have more children than .. knowingly can afford and then putting the burden back on the community.” They can afford the frugal family lifestyle we described, and they can afford the actual cost of educating their children. They are asking to be excused from contributing to the added community tax above the cost of the education , for purpose of purchasing a reliable second hand car that would certainly count as a necessary expenditure, not a luxury, and the Halacha cited would excuse them from this ‘tax’, no matter which sector of the community would then bear the proportionally greater cost for subsidizing the community's other children.
Since you were honest enough to admit that Halachic analysis is not your forte, may I point out that your use of the phrase ‘Menuval bershut haTorah “ is both philologically and legalistically mistaken? “birshut’ indicates ‘within the merely permissible’ realm, which is not the realm of activity under discussion ( perhaps you were searching for the phrase “mitzvah habaa baveira”? you would be as thoroughly mistaken halachikly, but the linguistics would be right). I would suggest that it is an indisputable fact that halacha encourages more children rather than less, so before we analyze what a wider communal policy for fund disbursement should be, I think we need to establish that a view that a seven-child-family is “repulsive” is unacceptable to a Halacha- based community.

and said...“With regards to their being no options, I categorically disagree. There are a myriad of options including homeschooling, seeking out cheaper schools in other communities, sending to public school for secular education, starting a new school, not buying the new car, living in a lower cost home, etc. Saying there is no other options is just an excuse.”

Homeschooling is a Halachik option for people capable of teaching their children Torah. What if, like others on this blog, the parents are incapable textual study? They already chose the cheapest school, which was cheaper when they started there 15 years ago. They shouldn’t have to be the ones who have to move, the people who wanted art and music and drove up the costs to its present state should have to move and , as stated, their housing for 9 person family is 2000/mo- should they move into a 1 bedroom? Perhaps saying that “Saying there is no other options is just an excuse.” Is just an excuse for the presumption that seven child families are plain ‘repulsive’.?

and said... “ they raise questions about the applicability of the halachic sources you quote above and someone professionally trained in this area can provide better answers than me”

OK, Who? What professionally trained person can 'provide answers' that back up any of your assertions? You guys have been making these and similar arguments for a while on the tuition-talk blogs and surely have some ‘professionally trained’ , person who has answered these questions?

Orthonomics said...

May I suggest listing to Rabbi Schacter on issues of having children and family planning?

I believe this is the proper link:

http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/725233/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/Responding_to_the_current_challenges_of_the_Family_and_Community_in_crisis

mom2 said...

JS said …"Personally, and maybe this makes me a heretic, I couldn't care if every single gadol for the last 500 years agrees with your line of thinking - I think it's wrong.
Probably doesn’t make you a heretic, (I don’t recall belief in communal funding models being one of the Ikarei Emunah ( fundamental beliefs)) but it does make you a less persuasive voice in a Halachik argument ☺

JS said…”If my local kosher store bakes in a 10% subsidy for the poor members of my community who cannot afford groceries so they can come to his store and get food without embarrassment, it's not my place to come to the cash register with my groceries and simply state "Give me the 10% deduction”

A child’s Torah Education is not not a commodity in the way that groceries are. It is a mitzvah that must be funded by his father and in absence of his financial ability , by the community. Abba is , of course correct that it is the Kehal, no individual member of it, that is responsible for funding the schools for those that cannot afford, but once the father has no disposable income after meeting living expenses, the community , in whatever form it can be assessed, has to provide this “commodity”. So a semi- communal structure such as a “community day School “ may definitely be approached with the demand you stated. But within your example, if your grocer agrees to give you a discount, would it be ok for some Chump to blog about you and call you immoral and warped?

And said…” Prices go up every year. Everyone knows this. You make a commitment at the beginning of the year regarding the price for that year's education. No one raises the price on you in the middle of the year. If you can't afford it when the next year's tuition is due, you ask for a tuition break or you simply don't send there.”

Yes, you ask for a tuition break, and then , have you,IRS, and a chorus of Anonymouses call you ‘warped’ , ‘immoral’, ‘irresponsible, ‘selfish’, ‘repulsive’ and suggest you pack your bags, and get out of town.

Miami Al said...

Ora, Abba's Rantings:

Ben Gamla: over 90% Jewish, predominately traditional (Israelies) with some Orthodox Jews.

SACS (proposed in Teaneck): the interest was almost exclusively Orthodox, nobody knows what the numbers would be once it opened, presumably some parents would want out of the supposedly failing Teaneck public schools.

Hebrew Language Charter in Brooklyn: apparently 40% Jewish

These are all options that the Frum community has, by and large, ignored.

So I think that the "Mormons have schools with lots of mormons" is irrelevant.

I live in Florida. I had Mormon classmates, they didn't live in the Southwest. They were sometimes the only mormon in their class. The went to school, went to Church, went on the Mission (Facebook is amazing for keeping track of people).

A Mormon business associate and I were swapping stories of raising religious children. He didn't grow up in Utah, he grew up in LA, in an area that isn't cultural mormon, it was dominated by secular Jews. He went to public schools, University of Utah (not BYU), but he went to Church on Sunday, is mission @ 19, married a nice Mormon girl, and is raising nice Mormon children.

The Mormons have figured out some way to do this. When American post-WW2 Jewry was establishing itself, the model "religious" society was the Catholic, and we completely aped their educational model, including running around NYC to assimilated Jews to raise money for poor Jewish immigrants, that is HOW the Church funded schooled for Irish immigrants. The Catholic Church's education model is having financial problems (though less than ours), and they are having retention problems.

The Mormons are an alternative religious group that seems to be succeeded. We should look at what they do, instead of just looking at what the Catholics did.

Sure, Mormons are disproportionately in the Southwest, we're disproportionated in the Northeast. We're also disproportionately lawyers and financiers, what's your point?

No Name Yet said...

Many people have commented about a "baked in subsidy of 10% (or 2500, depending on the speaker)". My comments are based on knowing someone who worked on the tuition committee and did accounting work for the school (a CPA). He said that they need every parent to pay full tuition for the budget to work. They did not have the baked in subsidy-- tuition discounts came based on the money from scholarships and the dinner. Thus, those commentators who have suggested that they can automatically ask for the baked in subsidy be taken off are not always asking something feasible of the school.

I understand that prices go up, and parents dont always budget correctly. But what about those parents who dont budget at all and just assume "the community will provide because they HAVE to"? I know of some people who don't go for the well paying job that would allow them to pay more tuition because it is inconvenient, requires long hours, or not the most favorable conditions. They rationalize it "because all the money would go towards tuition anyways so why should I work harder?". I guess those people are the results of a "give me" generation.

Dave said...

The intensive Day School model is very new, in Jewish history.

Therefore, whatever the Halachic requirement for a religious education is, it cannot be that a Day School education is required. If it were, that would mean that up until the modern day, nearly all otherwise observant Jews would have been in violation of Halacha.

Therefore, it is disingenuous to insist that the community subsidize a Day School education. If we look at what the average Jewish pre-war education was in Europe, that can be easily met with an inexpensive afterschool Talmud Torah.

Anonymous said...

Mom2: Even if a few of the commenters used language that is a bit over the top, we should ask where that view comes from. How many 7 children families fit the narrow hypothetical presented - living frugally and paying 90% of their kids' full tuitions. How many 7+ children families are taking/expecting some form of assistance, whether tuition discounts or government benefits.

As for whether or not groceries are commodities and tuition is not, isn't the highest mitzvah to feed a hungry person rather than finance a full-time exclusive jewish education that goes beyond the halacha of teaching Torah which can be done outside of a yeshiva.

Anonymous said...

Couples who have many children have higher social status in the Orthodox community than couples with fewer children. Some couples, especially naive BTs, may confuse this increased social status with a desire on the community's part to help support them financially. In general, this is not the case.

Miami Al said...

Suggesting that learning US History in an all Jewish setting is somehow a communal obligation is an interesting modern Halacha.

IRS said...

mom2,

You are right. Using words like "repulsive" when it comes to a discussion of children is offensive and was not the intent. This discussion started with a theoretical family's decision to redirect payments to their local Yeshiva to pay for a car. My assumptions, and perhaps shared by others based on the discussion above, was that the decision by this family was not based on a request for communal charitable support but rather that they had determined that they should be excused from paying a purported tax that exists on all parents relative to scholarships. Similarly, the desire to purchase a car was not deemed a pure necessity but rather something the family would like to do. Based on your comments, you are clearly working with a different set of assumptions - i.e., "they are asking to be excused from contributing to the added community tax above the cost of the education" and the purchase of the car is "a necessary expenditure, not a luxury, and the Halacha cited would excuse them from this ‘tax’.

I wonder if your opinion changes if the following is true - 1) there is no tax and tuition is set at the "real cost" of education (whatever that means) - as I noted above, I certainly know that this is true in a number of schools so I have no reason to assume it is not true in others, 2) the car is not a necessity and/or the type of car is not a necessity - i.e., they can find something cheaper or simply do without even though it would be a significant inconvenience and 3) there are other educational options that the family can avail themselves of - e.g., a school like JFS - which charges a tuition commiserate with their ability to pay.

As a rule, we are very generous as a community and go out of our way to help others in need. As you noted, we've all made difficult decisions - even about how many children we have - because we can't get everything that we want. The question is where does the obligation on the family to make difficult trade-offs end and the obligation of the community to pay for those decisions begin.

Anonymous said...

Not only does the large family need a vehicle, they need a large vehicle for their many children.

Not only does that vehicle need to be large, it needs to have the newest safety features, because children are precious!

It would be WRONG to deny this family their needed vehicle!

>sarcasm off

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:49 - Govt. regulations require all of those safety seats and those safety seats make it impossible to squish 8 kids into a pinto or a vw bug or throw 12 kids into the back of a station wagon like we did when I was growing up, so unfortunately the minivan does become a necessity for a period of time (why families insist on two minimvans rather than one is a different issue. If you have one minivan, the other vehicle should be a tercel). That said, when I was growing up, kids walked to school starting in first grade.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

"Hebrew Language Charter in Brooklyn: apparently 40% Jewish"

it's highter in the lower grades, a function of the progression of the school. but in any case there is almost zero orthodox interest.
(btw the other steinhardt school in highland park is structured much more realistically for families who intend to give a real supplementary jewish education.)

"The Catholic Church's education model is having financial problems (though less than ours), and they are having retention problems."

would be interesting to see studies of degree of correlation between catholic school attendance and retention (again, whatever retention means)

"what's your point?"

with regards to what?

Miami Al said...

Abba's Ranting,

My point is the, "well, we'd need critical mass" argument is garbage. There are schools with critical mass, nothing scheduled Friday evenings, with Kosher lunches, and no interest.

Well, the Mormons have this model and seem to be having some success.

The regional issue was thrown out in combination with "critical mass," I've just pointed out that where there is that "critical mass" there still isn't much interest.

No tuition crisis, just a whining crisis, soon to be a retirement crisis.

tesyaa said...

Al - I have reached the conclusion that people do not want change. Even if important rabbis came out with a responsum today that public schools (or public schools in areas with critical mass, or charter schools) were halachically permissible, no one would budge from their financially unsustainable day schools and yeshivot.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

I know people that aren't fully Shomer Shabbos, eat hot dairy out, and wouldn't consider anything other than the local Day School for pre-school.

Others have urged me to file false tax returns to the scholarship committee so I could send my children to the local day school cheaply.

Yeshiva/Day School is, in many ways, a bigger marker of Frumkeit than Mitzvah observance.

To each their own.

JS said...

tesyaa,

I agree. There are adventurous people who don't care what their neighbors may say who will send to alternative options, but the vast majority will continue sending to yeshiva no matter how poor a financial decision it is for them personally (and continue whining the whole time). The schools will continue giving scholarships to all who ask rather than turn people away and wealthy donors (and, to a lesser extent, full payers) will continue to be asked to pick up the tab.

The system will continue until the yeshiva just can't pay the bills anymore. It will happen suddenly and without much warning as we've seen with some recent closures.

People will still not get the message that the fundamental model is unsustainable and will make calls for urgent fundraising to raise a new school in the ashes of the old. Again, we've seen this before.

It will be interesting to see the long-term effect of all this spending. Given the limited supply of money logic would dictate that eventually something will have to give.

Dave said...

Yeshiva/Day School is, in many ways, a bigger marker of Frumkeit than Mitzvah observance.

As I think I've said before, contemporary Orthodox Judaism is a cultural movement which largely correlates with Halacha. However, when cultural conventions conflict with Halacha, they win.

tesyaa said...

Dave, I don't think it matters. The movement creates the halacha, as other cultural movement create their own standards of behavior. The only difference is that Orthodox Judaism pretends that the standards as they are today have always been there, and have never changed.

Abba's Rantings said...

AL:

"My point is the, "well, we'd need critical mass" argument is garbage.

above i was not making a "critical mass" argument. rather i was responding to the comment that jews in public school wouldn't work because no state has a majority of jews, and PS won't work without the "critical mass." i was not commenting on the actual need or lack thereof for "critical mass."

although now that you're challenging the need for "critical mass," i will state that my own experience with my son in public school has convinced me that it doesn't work without critical mass. (originally i would have agreed with you.)

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings,

I'm saying that critical mass or no, people aren't interested. Mormons use public schools without critical mass.

However, Orthodoxy is setup to assume everyone is in Day School. There is no environment to keep people not in Day School active parts of the community, and with 90% in Day School, why bother.

The LDS Church doesn't seem to have any focus on private primary/secondary education, so their Church serves to anchor people in the community. The Shul is secondary to the Yeshiva as the cultural anchor.

tesyaa said...

There is no environment to keep people not in Day School active parts of the community, and with 90% in Day School, why bother.

Excellent point, and it's not even a question of "why bother". In the frum world it's assumed that a child in public school is either off-the-derech or soon to be, or if not, at the very least, will bring bad influences from public school to any frum child with whom he or she socializes. (Never mind that yeshiva kids do not appear to behave any better than other kids).

JS said...

Abba's,

Would you care to elaborate on your experience with your son in public school?

Abba's Rantings said...

JS:

no complaints with the school per se.
just to clarify, i don't think it is necessary to have a critical mass in the school itself (although i would probably feel differently for older grades for social reasons). but it is necessary for providing the jewish education.

Abba's Rantings said...

JS:

to clarify further, unless you are committed to home schooling for the limudei kodesh (don't underestimate what this requires), practically public school may not make sense (finance-wise) without the critical mass.

mom2 said...

IRS and Anonymous 9:06
IRS said…”I wonder if your opinion changes if the following is true - 1) there is no tax and tuition is set at the "real cost" of education (whatever that means) - as I noted above, I certainly know that this is true in a number of schools so I have no reason to assume it is not true in others, 2) the car is not a necessity and/or the type of car is not a necessity -..and 3) ..other options, like JFS - which charges a tuition commiserate with their ability to pay.”

The results of a different test case will obviously produce different results. The reason that the originally stumbled upon test case was so powerfully heuristic was that it served to illustrate that no matter how extreme the frugality and no matter how industrious the parents, no matter how small the requested tuition reduction, every single commentator on this blog immediately jumped to denounce a large family seeking a very ordinary consumer good. It seemed to me to go way beyond recommendation of conservation of resources. It seemed downright punitive, but I am glad to be told that this sentiment was flowing from a misunderstanding of the case.

Regarding your case: Halacha seems to evaluate necessities vs. luxuries on a “reasonable man “/'local custom ' standard and this will differ according to time and place. Lets leave number 1 aside for a moment because a town that does not set aside some sort of funded mechanism for the full day torah instruction of poor boys, would be excommunicated (under the stated law), so a nice community such as the one you described is not likely to fail to raise some sort of funds for this , any more than it is likely to fail to meet its communal obligation ( no individual obligation) to build a mikvah or a shul. So, for the moment lets go to 2) If they can find something cheaper but equally a serviceable, then of course a “nicer car” is a luxury and should be forgone, as should any expansive luxuries. But if the cheaper car will require frequent trips to the mechanic like their old car which cost both time and money, then doesn’t asking them to buy the cheaper one just seem punitive and petty? A person seeking communal funds should be living a modest lifestyle but doesn’t need to give up what are standard living norms, like a reliable car.
As for JFS, which I know nothing about, if a school can give a kid a sound Torah/Mishna/Talmud/ curriculum plus preparation for sensible career, then of course it sounds great. If going there means ( going there is safe, right? I mean he is not taking a dangerous route there-right? And a regular commute that reasonable parents would undertake?) means no other kids will ever talk to him, that is probably too big a sacrifice to ask the parents to make. If it means no snobby kids will ever talk to him, it sounds like a good trade off.

mom2 said...

Dave and Miami Al

“The intensive Day School model is very new, in Jewish history. Therefore, whatever the Halachic requirement for a religious education is, it cannot be that a Day School education is required. …”

The only ‘very new’ parts of our schools are the girls in them and the insane tuition. There are Responsa dating back to the Geonic period that discuss the community school’s curriculum. I can’t find the reponsa from Hai Gaon that allows Math and Arabic to be taught in the school under discussion- I am sure I saw R. Ovadia mentioning it somewhere; will look up when I find my Bar Ilan disc - But since these communal schools were supported with communal funds, there are some recorded discussion of the allocation of funds throughout the past two millennia . Some sort of general studies were, apparently sometimes included for little kids and the requirement to educate bigger boys who are not continuing on the “Academic” Gemara track, towards a ‘trade’ is codified in the siman above. The “Day School” as we know it probably took its present form in 1890s Berlin’s ‘realschule’, but that hardly counts as “very new”, considering that in the 1890s , universal elementary education was ‘very new’.

Dave said...

You seriously think that universal, all-day, intensive religious education for a dozen years has been the norm throughout Jewish history?

(Hint: The answer to that is, "no".)

saramaimon said...

BOYCOTT NASI

Tell Nasi; no extortion
Get a real job!