Please tell me my eyes are playing tricks on me
The Congregation Ahavas Yisroel of Kew Garden Hills blog has posted a letter from Rabbi Eli Mansour of Brooklyn which is asking members of the New York communities to sign a petition to be submitted to Govenor Pataki in support of tax credits.
I have demonstrated my support for these tax credits (which we will be unable to benefit from as we do not live in New York) here, here, here, and here. I am still in support of the tax credits because I believe families with children should be given a helping hand in the form of lower taxes so they can make appropriate educational and extra-curricular choices while raising their children.
However, now I am extremely shocked and upset! In this letter, the Rabbi states:
- Needless to say, private school tuition costs are one of, if not the largest monetary burden facing our families. If this bill, which is coming before the New York State Legislature next month, were to pass, - the strain on many of our community's organizations, including; the Sephardic Bikur Holim, the Sephardic Angel Fund, the Sephardic Food Fund, and even Sephardic SAFE, will be greatly reduced. Even our Yeshiva's will be less pressured, as the need to provide student scholarships and discounted tuition costs will be sharply reduced.
While I am absolutely thrilled to see so many members of the Modern Orthodox and the Sephardic Communities get involved in a tangible way to try to bring this bill to fruition, I am absolutely enraged that a Rav would PUBLICALLY admit tuition is going to go up for those who are struggling the most! Discounted tuition costs will be sharply reduced?!?!?!
The $500 tax credit is only for families making $75,000 or less (see my discussion about how tax credits are generally determined here). My sources tell me the tax credit is available in lesser amounts for families making $90,000 of less.
Now don't get me wrong. I believe that Yeshivot and Day Schools can use more money too. And, I am happy to know that some of our community funds that go to help people meet their food and utility bills will be less burdened. But, those who are fighting for this tax credit are fighting for the members of our communities that could use $500 in their pockets. The last thing that they want to see is the tax credit wipping out assistance that is so needed.
I don't know what to conclude. I think that New Yorkers should sign the petition. But, I also think that community members need to make it crystal clear to administrators everywhere that they will not tolerate a rise in tuition on the backs of those who are suffering the most!
We are talking about $500 dear friends. Please let those who qualify for the credit be able to buy something they need for their children like extra tutoring. Don't take that money away and leave them in the same position they started in. Please let don't raise tuition and drive more students away from our schools.