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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taking Sides

(My blogging is behind, so please forgive me as I go back to a few posts that are dated). 

Mr. Schick, over at Cross-Currents writes a very brief post:  A Question of Tuition.  Here is a excerpt regarding the tuition issue of admissions and minimum/minimal tuition [emphasis mind]:



I write in the middle of what is always the worst week for me in the entire school year.  School is open at the five schools that comprise the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School and, of course, in hundreds of institutions across the country.  In shul this morning, a fellow asks about a rebbi he knows whose son is being refused admission to a yeshiva because the father cannot afford the minimum tuition that is required.  Shortly before this was written, a person prominent in Jewish life emailed about a divorced father in Brooklyn whose daughter is being refused admission on tuition grounds.  These situations are just the tip of the iceberg as I am inundated by admission issues at the schools for which I have a measure of responsibility. 
My inclination is to side with the parents and not with the schools, even my own, and not because I think all parents are being fair about tuition, but because the children – their emotional health, their educational progress and their Judaic growth – should be what we are most concerned about.  It is far better as a rule that some parents should cheat – and I believe that most do not – than children should be hurt. 

Yet, I know that my intervention in these wrenching situations comes at a cost.  Yeshivas and day schools are with few exceptions these days under enormous financial pressure.  There are major schools that are behind in payroll and certainly most yeshivas underpay their staff.  When I side with the parents I always wonder whether I am siding against those who teach Torah to our children.
I must lack the proper something because I just simply can't wrap my own head around why there is a "side" beyond the overall health of the institution (and by health I mean fiscal health, relationships between students and staff, staff and staff, parents and staff) which allows the institution to be able to achieve its purpose.  If a school can strike the balance needed AND provide a spot for a student who cannot make a minimal payment, great.  If a school cannot strike that balance then it would be irresponsible to put the health of the institution on the line.  And hopefully with that understanding the parents that can't be accommodated for whatever reason, money or otherwise, can come to the same understanding because they too believe in the mission of the institution   
I can't remember where I spotted an article about tension over a science and math magnet program.  The program is made up of children of mostly immigrants and hence there are very advanced science, math, and engineering classes, but also ESL classes.  There are children who are shut out of the program who have better overall admission scores on all subjects, but lower science and math scores.  Because of the makeup of the population and the size of the magnet program, it didn't seem there is any fiscal impact to the policy to most heavily weight math and science scores.  But what if this was a (small) private high school with a different demographic was choosing their applicants within the constraints of tuition the market can bear, price of specialized staff, etc.?  Would it make sense to take weight scores as the public school does?
Ultimately the real issue is how to structure what we've got to be able to accommodation as many as possible while maintaining overall health in the short term and in the long term.  I don't think we are any closer to solving that issue today than we were yesterday.

56 comments:

tesyaa said...

Sounds like you may be getting closer to questioning the idea that no child should be denied a yeshiva education due to inability to pay.

Orthonomics said...

Seems like a basic reality tesyaa. I never had any question about the issue :) But I have spoken with administrators who are adamant that admission is regardless of financial position and they scream there isn't enough money.

JS said...

It's interesting to think that this entire issue really only exists because of the extreme emphasis on learning.

Especially in the more RW yeshivas, these kids are entirely and uniformly from deeply religious families. The kids know what Yiddishkeit is all about. They're not exactly likely to intermarry or go off the derech (whatever percentage it is, it's minuscule).

These kids all know what Shabbos and kashrus are, what yom tov is. Heck, they know the intricacies of muktzah, which kiddush to say on a motzei shabbos leading to yom tov, and tunes galore for shir ha'maalot. They know this stuff because they live it daily.

The only thing they don't know innately is rashi, gemara, and more obscure, non-daily use halacha. This is where yeshiva steps in.

So, I find interesting this push for universal yeshiva when, in the grand scheme of things, it fills in such relatively small gaps in the grand scheme of things. It's interesting to spend so much money on something that is more of a social necessity than a religious one.

tesyaa said...

If it's a reality that some (or many) children will not be able to attend yeshiva because of cost, there needs to be a focus on alternative methods of providing Jewish education. This focus will have to include making public school acceptable. Not everyone, parent or child, is cut out for homeschooling. Until one says that public school with a separate, appropriate Judaic studies program is an option, one is not really facing reality.

Mark said...

Perhaps the only "side" should be the health of the community. Define community as you wish.

Mark said...

JS, they know all that, all about Yiddishkeit, all the stuff we do, all the beauty. They know Hebrew (at least read and written), and chumash, and more. And they also know that we Jews are generally good people. And they are taught that we are generally good people because of all that we practice.

The danger is that when they are exposed to Public School, they will see that others who do not practice like us are also good people. And that sometimes creates a conflict within them.

AW said...

JS,
Putting the question addressed in SL's post aside, three points on your post:
1)The social necessity is not small, and not really separate from religious necessity, from the perspective of those sending to yeshivas. IOW, yeshiva means spending the day surrounded by other kids who are living a similar lifestyle and have comparable values. The public school alternative, even if we say it is inescapable, means spending most of the day with kids from a completely different world experientially, with vastly different frames of reference and norms culturally, religiously, behaviorally, etc. Human beings - especially kids - are social beings. While you might separate religious life and social life in theory, in practice, certainly for the younger set, it is virtually impossible.
2)One of the problems in the RW chinuch system, in my experience, is that kids actually aren't necessarily learning this stuff at home because the parents have abdicated the responsibility for education to the school. Kids aren't necessarily going to shul with their fathers, or learning brachot with their mothers. These are things they are (or aren't) learning in school.
3)And mainly - you say "these kids aren't going off the derech" - but they are. Not because they're in public school - they aren't - but to say these kids are immune to "leaving the fold" is ridiculous. Maybe ultimately the values from home are the ones that stick. But to expect teenagers - for whom friends and the social sphere pretty much take over as far as importance goes - to not want to fit in with their peers and be part of the crowd seems blatantly unfair and unrealistic.
I'm not saying that ignoring financial reality is possible or the right thing to do. But to say "it's just about the learning" is just not accurate.

AztecQueen2000 said...

It goes back to the problem of "you can't have everything." Yeshiva is a virtue. That's well and good, but we're slowly pushing down the starting age. Children even younger than two are pushed into some kind of institutional framework, whether it's playgroup or pre-nursery. And those years cost money. Why not split the difference? Put young children in public school, when they're still heavily influenced by parents. Then, when they're old enough for high school, or even middle school, then put them into the all-Jewish framework that is yeshiva. And make sure these kids graduate with the ability to get some marketable skills other than reading the Gemara.

JS said...

AW,

1) When I mentioned "social necessity" what I meant was it was socially required for the parents to fit in to the community and their group of friends and also necessary for the children when they grow up and are looking for a shidduch and face the inevitable question of "so, where did you go to yeshiva?" which has become the be all and end all of someone's entire identity and character.

I acknowledge the social aspect that you mentioned, but I think it's blown out of proportion. Maybe this is my LWMO perspective talking, but I'd like to think it has more to do with my interactions with my peers in college, graduate school, and work. I really don't think I'm all that different from my non-Jewish or non-Orthodox peers. Religious affiliation may help grease the social wheels, but I don't find it to be the defining characteristic in whether I am friends with someone. I find this within Orthodoxy as well. I'm not automatically friends with someone just because they're LWMO - my wife isn't friends with every pants wearing, hair uncovered woman she meets either, for example. In fact, most of the close friends we have from where we previously lived are far more observant than we are - we have a lot else in common.

2) This could easily be addressed under a different rubric of Jewish education. I also find this is a parenting problem and not a yeshiva-specific issue.

3) I meant in comparison to unaffiliated Jewish kids or kids from far less observant Jewish households. I haven't seen any statistics on RW kids going off the derech, though everyone seems to think the problem is rampant. If it really is rampant, it begs the question of why we should continue to pursue the same extremely costly educational approach.

Jacqueline said...

Let's also point out that what public school you attend is (generally) determined by geography. Orthodox Jews tend to live clustered in the same neighborhoods as each other. Which means that if the community as a whole starts sending to public schools, it is highly likely that each class will have multiple frum children.

Anonymous said...

Costs are very high and management is not what it once was. Where I went to day school in Chicago in the 70's the upper class, 5-8 General Studies Department worked ALL 8 PERIODS because 5th and 6th grade had Hebrew in the AM and 7th and 8th had General Studies so both resources were taken advantage of completely.

I am reading this book http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Our-Groove-Back-Energize/dp/1932687858

and if one looks at it from the perspective of what the problem is, not high tuition per say but Jewish Peoplehood itself perhaps the path toward a total solution is clearer.

I have not finished the book yet....

AMR

Baltimore Yid said...

My wife and I made the decision to put our children in public schools. The decision had one overriding factor: money. We were going bankrupt and we decided to just not sit idly by and let that happen. My son now attends a very good public HS here in Baltimore. Guess what? There are now six other frum families doing the same. Funny enough money wasn't the only complaint about yeshivot but the quality of the secular studies. These families realized that without proper academic skills that future poverty was virtually assured. Paying crushing tuition is bad enough but getting a second rate secular education just makes the decision untenable.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore Yid,

Thanks for sharing. May I ask what HS your teenager attends.

cb said...

"Put young children in public school, when they're still heavily influenced by parents"

Really? My 3 yo came home from the ophthalmologist chanting "trick or treat" - she overheard it in the waiting room. Is it the worst thing? No. But I can just imagine what one day in public school would do to her language! We actually might need to consider PS in order to receive certain BOE services (we do not live in NYC), but I had to laugh when the well-meaning teacher told me "we keep them so busy they don't have time to socialize."

The knowledge of which havdalah to make does not only come from seeing it in the home - it's because the entire day is spent learning about life with a religious perspective - for us it's not just another subject.

miriamp said...

I know of a child who was kicked out of yeshiva for political reasons. (he got in a fight with the child of a board member. in kindergarten. in an out of town one yeshiva community.) he went to public school instead. got teased because of his weird name. dropped it and started using his English name instead. small out of town community meant very few of his friends were even Jewish. he has frum siblings, but he hates orthodoxy and all it stands for. he's married to a non-Jewish woman.

Between that and what I hear from my friends with children in public school that I can't even repeat here I can't possibly recommend public school past elementary to a frum kid. and I went to public school myself... it's very different now.

miriamp said...

I'm glad it's working out in Baltimore. It wouldn't work here, BUT my children also aren't getting sub-par secular studies, Baruch Hashem.

JS said...

cb,

I apologize in advance, but your comment made me laugh. Instead of being horrified by an innocent "trick or treat" comment, why not view it as a learning opportunity? Teaching our children about havdala (assuming you value this) is probably better done in this context than in the homogeneous environment of yeshiva. Understanding our differences is better taught when the "other" or "outside" isn't some unknown boogeyman because as soon as the child is actually exposed to a non-frum environment, they will see it was all a big lie and begin to question the values founded on that lie. Better to say this is their holiday and this is our holiday.

I'd also add, and maybe it's the stronger point, kids pick up all sorts of terrible things once they go to school - even when that school is yeshiva. Every parent I know has complained to me about their kids picking up bad language from yeshiva (ranging from actual curse words to other words the parents forbid such as "stupid" or "shut up") or talking about TV shows or books the parents don't allow. This is not a public school issue exclusively.

Miriamp,

I would suspect this person's attitude has a heck of a lot more to do with how he was TREATED by the Orthodox community than any experience he had in public school. Think about it. Orthodoxy, to him, is unfair, political, might makes right, and isolating. Can't say I blame him.

We're not so fragile and sheltered, what exactly are you hearing about public schools? The parents I know who have pulled their kids out have all been overwhelmingly positive about the experience.

Growing up I was friends with a bunch of neighbors who went to public school. They were all good guys. I heard stories about bad kids and what they did, but these guys didn't hang out with those people. Doesn't strike me as all that different from the kids in my yeshiva who were doing drugs, drinking, or fooling around. I didn't hang out with those people.

Anonymous said...

The results of the decision whether to send children to religious school or public school was illustrated to me by the recitation of a first grader on Succot of the first perek of Breishit, by heart, with English translation. We listened rapt. The beauty of what he was learning was reflected on the little boy's glowing face. The financial sacrifice the parents are making today to pay for this education we hope will result in children who value Torah, and Torah values.

Anonymous said...

"The financial sacrifice the parents are making today to pay for this education we hope will result in children who value Torah, and Torah values."

Amen! But my question will the parents have enough money for retirement? And will the next Orthodox generation be able to afford private day school for almost everyone?

miriamp said...

JS, I agree, it was more that he feels orthodoxy rejected him and public school welcomed him. so maybe it was a poor anecdote -- but the supposedly frum home environment didn't lead him to say the community is crazy and my parents way is right -- it led him to my parents are crazy, orthodox people in general are scum and I want nothing to do with them ever. except family, who are all still crazy and wrong but I'll put up with them as long as they acknowledge that I have the right to not be Jewish or act it at all, etc.

for his sake I wish he could halachically "opt out" of Judaism. instead it just puts us (the frum extended family) between a rock and a hard place.

What have I heard? That oral sex is the French kissing of twenty years ago in terms of being treated casually by even young teens. from people in multiple states with young teen children. yes, it's always been there, but the acceptance of it, even as something to talk big about but not actually do, is not something I want my children exposed to. And that's besides the language that is *much less* of a problem in yeshiva day school.

JS said...

miriam,

My guess with the reaction to family is that the person felt he was not protected by those whose job it is to protect him - that they put religion before him.

I don't want to get into a debate about oral sex amongst teens, but new research shows it's part of teen sexual behavior the same way sexual intercourse is, not that teens are especially engaging in this behavior, but that it's part of a broader spectrum of sexual behavior. No idea if that makes it better or not, but it's moreso that teens engage in sex, not simply teens engage in oral sex like it's french kissing. Overall, teen sexual activity is down as a trend over the last decade or so.

In my experience going to a MO yeshiva, the yeshiva kids engaged in these same activities. It's hard to say if the percentage was less since we weren't a 1,000 student/grade school - we had under 100/grade, it's hard to say if that's a good sample size. Regardless, say it is a smaller percentage (it likely is, but probably just based on Orthodox families having more intact families and better socioeconomic conditions). I didn't hang out with those kids and I suspect if I had gone to public school I wouldn't have either. My friends who went to public school weren't having sex, they were perhaps just more open about actually trying to (none felt compelled to wait till marriage since none of their families valued this).

I think the real issue with public school vs yeshiva is that parents think they know what goes in public school but are ignorant or willfully blind to what's actually going on in yeshiva in terms of sex, drugs, and alcohol.

JS said...

"And will the next Orthodox generation be able to afford private day school for almost everyone?"

I don't see how it will be possible. You don't really see articles on this point with any analysis.

The Orthodox community is growing. That means more kids. That means more yeshivas with more rabbeim and teachers and administrators. More fiefdoms instead of large schools that are more cost effective.

But really, it boils down to this: to sustain any institution whether it's a shul or a yeshiva you need a mix of two types of people, the big donors and the bill payers. The big donors are the ones who are tapped to donate to a new building, a new wing, bail out the institution when it's about to go under - they're the ones with the names in big letters. The bill payers are the ones that pay their bills in full, on time, and make up the vast majority of annual income - they're the ones that keep the lights on month to month.

So here's the question: are we producing the next generation of big donors and bill payers in sufficient number? Are we encouraging kids and giving them the proper tools to earn millions or hundreds of thousands to be big donors? How about $150k-200k or so to be bill payers? Are we keeping today's big donors and bill payers happy enough to make them want to encourage their kids to do the same (i.e., earn big money and then turn it over to the same institutions)?

The keys are secular education and a strong devotion to Judaism. Unfortunately, those don't always mesh well (e.g., RW yeshivas not teaching secular skills or not encouraging getting a job).

You can expand on this topic endlessly, the above was a quick sketch. Personally, I think our communities are screwed both because we're not encouraging wealth building and those who are well off today are very unhappy (take the "chumps" for example) and will push their kids to do otherwise (or simply not have the cash to give their kids the advantages they themselves had).

miriamp said...

JS,
That's pretty much why MO yeshiva was also not an option we considered for our kids. We also don't consider ourselves MO, although that would be more in line with how my husband was raised.

we live in a one (orthodox) day school town but it's somewhere between MO and RW. I think it's actually a good balance, although I wouldn't argue if they slid slightly more RW as long as they didn't dumb down the secular program as a result. The MO school is commuting distance but we never really considered it.

But you're saying kids from RW homes don't need yeshiva because they get it at home and then discounting people's concerns because they apply to MO schools as well. are we talking about modern orthodox families or yeshivish families? Because I think we probably agree that while neither can necessarily afford full tuition for multiple kids, it's more of a problem as family size increases and income potential decreases -- and these are more likely to be the families trying to shelter their children more, who therefore have more to lose by switching to public school - the difference in environment as opposed to yeshiva will be far greater for the yeshivish families.

I'd advocate for online school before public school for that audience.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Anon, Oct. 17 at 1:56 pm as to whether parents will have enough for retirement. I wrote the post about the boy reciting B'reishit.

Both parents are medical professionals. They are highly practical and will have sufficient income, and sufficient children, to turn to in retirement. Those children who were raised with positive Torah values are a part of their retirement plan. Those children who were raised with the values of the street will be more likely to desert their parents and marry out. And don't forget, both parents are working, and living frugally. They are not "aspirational", meaning they do not aspire to vacations or to expensive eyeglasses. They hope their children will have good character and value Judaism.

They are investing in their children's Jewish education in the hopes that they will reap what they sow. Together with a frugal lifestyle, these children are an integral part of a frum retirement plan.

JS said...

miriam,

I didn't initially say anything about public school. Other commenters brought it up first. My initial comment was that the emphasis on yeshiva stems from the over-emphasis on learning. My point was simply that the non-learning aspects of Orthodox daily life are present in the home and that kids from an Orthodox environment are, on the whole, less likely to go off the derech than kids from unaffiliated or less religious households.

My later comments were mostly related to my opinion that parents are too optimistic/naive when thinking about the environment a yeshiva provides and too pessimistic/cynical when thinking about other environments such as public school.

I don't think public school is a panacea and I'm not sure if it should be advocated as a solution to the tuition problem. I do think that mass enrollment in public school with after school learning programs would be an interesting option to pursue and would deal with most people's concerns.

Don't kid yourself that RW yeshivas are so much better than MO ones. It's simply not true that the further to the right you go the less you have to worry. As a single example, my rabbis never encouraged drinking on purim, but I know many people from RW yeshivas who were invited to their rebbe's house and given copious amounts of alcohol.

Again, my point was directed to those who can't pay or don't think yeshiva is working for them. I think the large family vs cost of yeshiva vs family income is mostly a wash between RW and MO. RW has more kids, less money, but less expensive yeshiva and MO have less kids, more money, but more expensive yeshiva. I think both RW and MO want to shelter their kids, this isn't a left vs right issue. Otherwise why would MO choose yeshiva in the first place? There are social consequences in both groups to not send to yeshiva. My point is simply the environment in public school may not be ideal, but parents are kidding themselves if they think the yeshiva environment is so great (my MO examples are just my own experience, RW examples exist as well).

JS said...

Anon 4:53,

If their own children are not high earners who marry high earners, this couple will likely be on the hook for their grandkids' yeshiva education. Even aside from that, you can't plan on relying on your kids. Your kids may move away, they may have their own problems, you may have issues they can't deal with, they may not have the resources to care for you.

And don't think that a Jewish education alone makes kids more willing to help out parents. The relationship between parent and child does that. I see plenty of frum people who have terrible relationships with parents and probably God Himself telling them to care for their parents would be futile.

Also, "values of the street"? Seriously? There's a whole lot of space between "frum values" and "street values" it's not exactly a binary system.

Baltimore Yid said...

My child attends Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Anonymous said...

JS, you can't be sure of anything, but a Torah education teaches moral values, and IF the parents reflect those moral values in the home, it is more likely the children will absorb a Jewish way of life as a positive force in their own lives. True, some children live in different cities.

That's why those frum parents who have seven children are wise and prescient - there will be at least two families of their children who end up living in the city where they were raised, and will have the responsibility for their parents. Their character, formed in a fine home and with refined teachers and rebbeim, will determine whether they consider their parents their privilege to help, or a burden to be shunted off to a nursing home.

The parents who have seven children are making a smart decision that numbers, and upbringing, and Jewish education, will result in some help in their older years.

You might say having one child is much smarter. Much easier. I knew such a small family. Their one child died in her youth, and the couple were left bereft. The father died of heartbreak.

Anonymous said...

Tzeirtel troll

Anonymous said...

to 10:36 PM: And are YOU the troll who is threatened by ideas that challenge your preconceived notions, who cannot refute and therefore must anonymously bash?

Miss Clavell

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

Anon 9:21: It is more probable that your children will move to EY or Lakewood, and you will be forced to follow. I've seen it time and time again. Besides, you didn't answer the point. The children are not going to be able to support their own families, let alone their parents.

JS: As I explain to my coworkers who ask why I don't send to public school, when a 6-10 year old is invited to all the birthday parties and told that he can't attend or can't eat there, it makes him have a poor impression of Yiddishkeit. That is not the child's fault, but it will make him not want to follow Torah laws. It is certainly more logical to send to a school where you can have playdates, go to birthday parties and not have to worry about food. Of course, that may not offset cost, but there is certainly an advantage, even without the Limud.

tesyaa said...

Nephew: to your second point, I understand the situation; but what about a town like Teaneck, where (apparently) many people are struggling with tuition and many would (apparently) be willing to send to public school were it more prevalent. If even 50% of Orthodox Teaneck families sent kids to public school, there would be quite a number of children in each class who kept kosher, and the "birthday party issue" would be far less problematic. Would a (hypothetical) critical mass make a difference to you?

tesyaa said...

Additionally - not in your case, Nephew, but I have heard the "birthday party issue" brought up before and for some families, it seems like a lame excuse. Do people serious suggest that families who keep cholov yisroel not send their kids to mainstream yeshivas where the cake and ice cream at parties is likely to be cholov stam?

tesyaa said...

What I'm trying to get at is that while you use the birthday party situation as a readily understandable explanation to your co-workers, it's likely you have much deeper reasons for refusing to consider public school. That's OK, but you should be honest about it (though perhaps not to your co-workers).

If people (not you) are going to bankrupt themselves, rely on charity, or deprive themselves of retirement savings, they should do some deep thinking about why they're doing so, rather than reflexively falling back on the reasoning that "everyone does it".

Anonymous said...

Reply to Nephew re likelihood of children moving to EY or Lakewood. Out of five, two moved to Lakewood, two stayed in Hometown hometown where they were raised. Two families are available not to financially support their mother, but to drive her to doctor's appointments, help her in illness, invite her to seudot on chagim, and share their children with Grandma. So if you have five children, and two families stay in Hometown, you don't need a Long Term Care Insurance plan - it's there with your children.

Miss Clavell

JS said...

Miss Clavell,

It doesn't always turn out that way.

I know a pious man who was wealthy and had 10 children who he raised in Torah. The man surely felt secure and felt his children would always be there for him in his old age.

Unfortunately, God chose to give him terrible nissayons (tests) of his faith. All of his possessions were lost, stolen or destroyed. Still, he had his children to care for him. But they, too, were lost - a tornado with high winds caused the house they were in to collapse killing his 10 children.

Thus, there was no one to care for this pious man who once had so much wealth and many children when he fell ill and was afflicted with terrible diseases.

Still, he has his faith in Hashem.

I only hope God stops testing him and he is restored to health, granted new children, and twice his original possessions.

Anonymous said...

Okay JS, I see my post brought out the pessimist in you. A neat story, very medrashist.

Another story, this one true: My friend had 12 children. One son died suddenly, leaving a widow with many children. The entire family and community gathered ground to help the widow financially and emotionally. They are chasidim. Their gemilas chesed in such a crisis is deeply impressive. In the MO community, I think it's everyone for him/herself.

Miss Clavell

JS said...

At least in the MO community we recognize the story of Iyov when we hear it. I'm glad you thought it's just a "neat story" and a midrash. Maybe you want to read up on Tanach.

Mark said...

Anon 12:50 - In the MO community, I think it's everyone for him/herself.

Do you really think that there's no chessed in the MO society?

In that case, I can only imagine what you think of secular society.

tesyaa - it seems like a lame excuse.

Seems? For a small fraction of the $15,000 tuition, you could sponsor kosher food for all the birthday parties of all the kids in the class at public school.

:-)

http://miamial.myid.net said...

I freaking HATE birthday parties, they suck the life out of the parents and destroy the family life. With my public school aged children, the Saturday birthday parties aren't the problems, it's the Sunday ones, which are largely the Israeli kids. My child is often the only one that can't eat the cheese pizza there. We've talked about it, he wants to go and have fun at the birthday party and is learning a valuable lesson that the overweight middle aged men in my community could learn: it is possible to have fun in life without eating all the time).

But the result of our keeping our educational costs down, my kids are in a TON of extra-curriculars that are expanding their life. We have guests at our house nearly EVERY Shabbat. My wife and I both work reasonable hours and we have family dinner every night.

Our my children getting as much religious instruction as they would in day school, absolutely not. Some of that is the hours/week of instruction, some of it is a conscious decision of the after school Judaic options to be intentionally mediocre because they don't want it to be an option for Orthodox kids, just Kiruv for Israeli Jews, since the non-Orthodox Jews have ZERO interest in an afterschool Orthodox educational program.

We have family time on Sundays because my wife and I are almost NEVER working to make up for non working Saturdays. We're able to afford domestic help so our family time in the evenings is all quality time, not exhausted parents trying to clean a house. We'll visit extended family, do an activity together, etc. Sunday is probably the most tiring day of the week because we fill it with all our secular activities as a family.

So am I worried about play dates? Nope, we don't have them. We have Shabbos guests, we do family activities on Sunday (both nuclear and extended), and the occasional Sunday birthday party.

I grew up not keeping Kosher, I had friends that kept Kosher of various levels, and some of them couldn't eat in my house. Didn't stop us from hanging out with us, including close family friends.

Seriously, you really CAN spend a few hours of your life not eating, it's okay. :) We have big coolers we can cart around in the minivan and pack lunches/meals for everyone in our family for the day, we're never scrambling to "find kosher food," we self cater.

Is my life for everyone? Absolutely not.

But there are serious tradeoffs to directing $12k-$15k/child/year for an education when the local school district will provide the secular side for free.

I wish everyone well, and hope their children are happy, healthy, well adjusted Jews.

Miami Al said...

I freaking HATE birthday parties, they suck the life out of the parents and destroy the family life. With my public school aged children, the Saturday birthday parties aren't the problems, it's the Sunday ones, which are largely the Israeli kids. My child is often the only one that can't eat the cheese pizza there. We've talked about it, he wants to go and have fun at the birthday party and is learning a valuable lesson that the overweight middle aged men in my community could learn: it is possible to have fun in life without eating all the time).

But the result of our keeping our educational costs down, my kids are in a TON of extra-curriculars that are expanding their life. We have guests at our house nearly EVERY Shabbat. My wife and I both work reasonable hours and we have family dinner every night.

Our my children getting as much religious instruction as they would in day school, absolutely not. Some of that is the hours/week of instruction, some of it is a conscious decision of the after school Judaic options to be intentionally mediocre because they don't want it to be an option for Orthodox kids, just Kiruv for Israeli Jews, since the non-Orthodox Jews have ZERO interest in an afterschool Orthodox educational program.

We have family time on Sundays because my wife and I are almost NEVER working to make up for non working Saturdays. We're able to afford domestic help so our family time in the evenings is all quality time, not exhausted parents trying to clean a house. We'll visit extended family, do an activity together, etc. Sunday is probably the most tiring day of the week because we fill it with all our secular activities as a family.

So am I worried about play dates? Nope, we don't have them. We have Shabbos guests, we do family activities on Sunday (both nuclear and extended), and the occasional Sunday birthday party.

I grew up not keeping Kosher, I had friends that kept Kosher of various levels, and some of them couldn't eat in my house. Didn't stop us from hanging out with us, including close family friends.

Seriously, you really CAN spend a few hours of your life not eating, it's okay. :) We have big coolers we can cart around in the minivan and pack lunches/meals for everyone in our family for the day, we're never scrambling to "find kosher food," we self cater.

Is my life for everyone? Absolutely not.

But there are serious tradeoffs to directing $12k-$15k/child/year for an education when the local school district will provide the secular side for free.

I wish everyone well, and hope their children are happy, healthy, well adjusted Jews.

Anonymous said...

Reply to JS: I may not recognize Iyov, but I'm expert on Madeleine, Miss Clavell's most problematic charge. Thank you for your reminder that tragedies do exist, but I will remind you that they are the unusual. I am not chasidic or chareidi, but I recognize the advantages of their community and family life. That is the point of my posts.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

"Would a (hypothetical) critical mass make a difference to you?"

Possibly for that issue. As for the CY point, the yeshiva does have a rule regarding that, and (so far, Beli Ayin Hara) it hasn't come up. Besides, I'm not sure that I would tell my 6/7 year old he can't eat the Cholov Stam at a party, I would have to think about it.

As far as "deeper issues", you are correct that I strongly support my childrens' school, and willingly give up things others have (who don't pay full fare) to pay for it (vacations, dinners, etc.). That is just me (and my wife). I've learned not to judge others and their choices, but as long as I can do it and Hashem allows me to do so, Bezras Hashem Beli Neder I will. Of course it took planning (from teenage years), but as it says "Ezehu Chacham Haroeh Es HaNolad".

Miss Clavell: A sample of one? My aunt the actuary would tell you that it is not representative. I know someone who had one child and that child takes care of his parents. See, you are wrong! (right?)

Anonymous said...

Then take your chances, 4:15 PM. Have one child. Put all your eggs in one basket.

Anonymous said...

Anon - or you could have zero children and save what you would have spent on tuition for retirement. Yep, that would work!

abba's rantings said...

my child is in his 3rd year of public school (3rd grade) and i wanted to respond to some comments above.

birthday problems really aren't a problem. not at all. we make sure my son gets something better after the party and he is even happier.

bad language? seriously? my son learned the middle finger on the school bus when in yeshiva pre-school. and in general he learned in kindergarten to make fun of fat people, etc. when i asked the morah to address this in school she said it wasn't part of the curriculum and there was no time. and to address behavior in general. there are good and bad kids in public school and good and bad kids in yeshiva. i honestly don't see a difference btw the kids i see in shul and his classmates (overall). and there are positives in the public school atomosphere as well. there isn't a whiff of materialism and my son doesn't expect regular vacations, etc. (granted that in wealthy suburbs this might not be the case.) and what about the value of not learning to look down on frei jews, franks, goyyim, shvartzes, etc.? kids don't hate by nature, we (or the schools) teach them to do that. or are materialism and bigotry torah values that my son is missing out on?

did someone mention oral sex above? are you serious? i'm willing to bet my house that no one in my son's third grade has engaged in oral sex.

i would probably be concerned about some of these social issues for older kids, but i really don't see any social dangers to public school for younger kids. (and also let's not pretend our high schools are gardens of eden)

it also depends on the larger situation. a kid from a weak jewish home and little involvement in and interaction with the jewish community will face an uphill battle jewish-wise. but if the family has a strong jewish home and kid is connected with the jewish community (has friends from shul, bnei akiva, etc.), goes to good (jewish-wise) summer camp, i don't think a kid will be harmed in the younger years.

abba's rantings said...

i just want to add that i don't write this lightly. i don't mean to imply that providing a jewish education for a public school kid is easy. it isn't. not at all. but it isn't impossible.

every family needs to make its own chesbon. it doesn't make it easier for those families when people who really don't know what they are talking compeltely misrepresent public school.

abba's rantings said...

just one more point. "public school" doesn't mean anything. there is a wide range of schools. my son's public school is mostly working and middle class and is fine behavior-wise. would i send him to a stereotypical metal detector school in the south bronx? no. but remember that that stereotype doesn't define every public school

Anonymous said...

What is all this talk about children as eggs in a basket and taking care of one's parents. Having children to have people to take care of you in your old age, is not a good reason have children (at least not for the children). Good parents aim to the extent practical to take care of their finances and health so that they don't have to burden their children absent any more than necessary. Yes, kids who love their parents will want to help care for them in their senior years, but parents still owe it to their kids to plan for their own future. With respect to the nursing home comments, even the most loving, caring kids can't prevent nursing home unless they can provide 24/hour a day care, are able to do things like insert catheters, and can physically and safely do frequent bed turns, transfer the patient from bed to wheel chair to car to shower (if you have a wheel in shower, a home with doors wide enough for wheel chairs, etc.).

miriamp said...

Abby's rantings, of course such things aren't a problem in third grade! (I hope not anywhere!) That came out of a discussion I had with non-Jewish online friends who are all mothers of 14yr olds. Not that their children were participating in oral sex either, but that they reported that it was common even in semi public places like at the movies. I don't care if this is actually happening or if the kids just talk big - I don't want my children in that environment.

I had an interesting conversation with some acquaintances around the block. They often tell us Shabbat Shalom as we walk by on Shabbos but I know they aren't shomer Shabbos, and I'm not sure if they consider themselves conservative or reform. they have a kindergarten age son. he went to the jcc preschool, and they were trying to figure out where to send him for kindergarten -- they didn't have a problem with public school per say *until middle school*. They were adamant that he was not going to a public middle school, and thought it would be harder for him to switch to a Jewish school, even a school like schechter. I should find out what the final decision was.

miriamp said...

Oh, and relying on my children as long term care insurance never once entered the decision to have a whole bunch of them.

miriamp said...

Harder if he started in public school and waited until middle school to switch, that is.

regular commentor said...

I cannot believe people are seriously talking about using their children as "retirement solutions" in 2012. My uncle has 7 kids. My uncle grew up and raised his kids mostly as MO but eventually the 5 boys became charedi, live in EY and can barely scrape 2 agurot together. Absolutely none of them are professionals, only 3 of them finished college (the first skipped town on all of his college loans, so can't return to the states even if he wanted to).

The two daughters live in the states but one of them is also building her own family and the oldest could help out but not extensively- not enough to support them.

To top it off- though my uncle worked his whole life, he has absolutely not retirement savings. He's hitting 65 soon but can't even dream of retiring.

A large family absolutely doesn't guarantee you anything in retirement. Please, people, stop dreaming and talk to your insurance agent about long term care insurance while you're still young and healthy. You'll be around for a VERY long time. Don't depend on your kids to be there to take care of you.

regular commentor said...

And Miss Clavell, knowing Madeleine better than Iyov is nothing to crow about, as a frum Jew.

kweansmom said...

I don't think being able to recite the first Perek of Breishis with translation is a sign of money well spent on a yeshiva education. It's parents like this who are looking for quick confirmation that they got their money's worth who are driving the yeshiva curriculum's obsession with rote memorization. I would guess most first graders are not capable of that nor should they be pressured to do so. Why does such a feat indicate that the child will grow up to be an adult who will drive their father to his medical appointments? Why are yeshiva kids starting with Breishis in first grade anyway? Many adults are still struggling to understand the simple translation of such a difficult passage. Many yeshivas start with Lech L'cha for this reason.

Miami Al said...

In some countries Muslim kids memorize the entire Koran in significantly less time (and cost) than we're dedicating for American Orthodox kids to imbibe some sense of Orthodox culture in hopes that in their year in Israel, they'll do "real learning."

In contrast, the LDS Church (the Mormons) do have a private University, but also send kids to state universities with no shame (though University of Utah is so filled with Mormons @ that secular state school it's referred to as going to Babylon), have two year missions that take place as a break during college (not before college where the boys are discouraged from going to college), and seem to have a comparably higher retention rate to American Orthodoxy, though lower than the RW Orthodoxy retention rate.

Mormon Churches do NOT depend upon schools to promote values, they have schooling for kids, youth groups for older kids, they sponsor Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, etc. They have worked to totally envelope the students outside of their school hours.

Replacing the state sponsored Social Studies class is expensive. Replacing afternoon television time with craft projects is comparatively cheap.

Is Yeshiva learning a good thing? Probably. It's also a VERY VERY VERY expensive thing, and not seeming to promote better results than the enveloping that the Mormons have done.

Why do I come back to Mormons? They are another extremely small religious minority, with dietary restrictions, and what seems to be an extremely odd faith to the rest of the country. Their successes should be studied by Jewish leaders, because they are having many of them.