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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

JO Review: Tuition, A Dilemma?

It is time to return to a Top 10 blogging subject and discuss tuition. I have three more magazines in my possession that discuss tuition issues and plan to cover bits and pieces of each feature at some point in the near future.

The most recent publication that I have received is the January/February 2007 issue of the Jewish Observer (JO) which opened up a discussion on "The Tuition Dilemma."

Just in case you think you misread the title of the article, I assure you that Dilemma was not a typo on my part. I'm not sure why the staggering cost of tuition has not propelled tuition to merit the title "Crisis." Perhaps the staff of the JO doesn't want to alarm us. But I'm sure the tuition schedules which have arrived in mailboxes all over the US have proved alarming enough. But to be fair, the word crisis was used in the first piece, but the crisis seemed to refer to the strained relationship that parents experience with the schools in regards to the price of tuition.

But Title aside, I'd give the JO feature a C+.

I believe that the OU's Jewish Action (JA) in their Fall 2005 Issue, "The Tuition Squeeze," set the gold standard. Unafraid of tough discussion, the JA's editorial staff put together a feature that presented new models and ideas, that challenged the reader (see a review of one such article by yours truely that generated 87 comments), and that even presented a rather radical proposal which was quite daring even for a Modern Orthodox publication. The macro and micro economics of tuition were all touched upon, or at least alluded to.

The Jewish Observer Feature did present some new elements necessary for an intelligent and productive discussion of the Tuition Crisis. . . . . er Dilemma. . . . One welcome addition to the discussion were the words of a Torah Giant of blessed memory, as well as a halachic perspective from Rav Shmuel Fuerst. However, there was little challenge presented. As a community member that wants an exchange of ideas which can be piloted, I don't think that there was much presented which could be readily tested.

The feature is divided into five separate articles and a number of side articles. And I plan to look at elements of each piece in upcoming posts.

1. Overview: Vibrant Memories, Indelible Imprints
2. Guidelines for Tuition: Guidelines for school tuition policy for Yeshiva Bais Dovid (Monsey) based on guidelines given by Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky.
3. Resolving the Tuition Dilemma--Getting Involved
4. An Executive Director's Perspective
5. The Tuition Committee: Creating a Parent-Yeshiva Partnership

If you had a chance to read this edition of the JO and would like to comment on any of the articles or side articles, please leave your comments or send an email to me with the contents of your guest post.


Lion of Zion said...

some things in the JA article need updatng. like the upper tuition range, which is no longer 18k but 26k (SAR in riverdale)

also, vouchers will only drive up tuition further.

a communal tax? a) this could maybe work in a small community with one school. but in brooklyn, let's say? satmar does not want their money going to my mo alma mater and i don't want my money going to satmar. b) the last time american jews levied a communal tax (1888) the result was not pretty. but at least that time the bablabustes, who were among the opponents, did not riot (literally) like they did in 1902 when price of meat went up.

as far as the tax being based on voluntary good will, well many people are not even honest on their applications to scholarship committees, why will they suddenly express "good will"?

i think the most realistic solution is for new york's 20-odd jewish billionaires to step up to the plate. but don't hold your breath.

Anonymous said...

there are only two solutions

1) vouchers or the equivalent government funding

as they do in israel, Kazakstan, and partially in the UK and France

2) flood certain public school districts as the mormons do in Utah - very few of their kids fo off "the derech" - off course it can only work in an area where orthodox jews are an overwhelming majority and needs to be accompanied by torah classes and intensive youth groups

otherwise you have to view it as a"jew tax" that are ancestors paid in europe

in any event - this is totally unsustainable going forward and we will lose alot of yidin if we do not find a solution

Lion of Zion said...

on the contribution that jewish billionaires could make, see

and violent balabustes in america, see

Anonymous said...

What I would like to get from articles on this subject is a sense of actual motion towards a practical solution. Recurring cycles of concern do not equal actual motion.

Motion requires coordinated community action, first to test and then to broadly implement better, more cost-effective approaches that do not leave any students out because of their aptitudes or their parents' finances.

Today's substitute for a system is a melange of private institutions genuinely trying their best to deliver a good education.

There is no point in criticizing these separate institutions for their limited numbers of seats, limited educational options, and, and low affordability. Their owners/administrators have chosen to tough it out in a difficult environment while others have been unwilling to do so. We should not expect any institution in this setting to go it alone to attempt a major change at the likely cost of its own extinction.

To get an organized, communal, systemic solution anywhere, there first has to be an organized local community, with support and guidance from national or regional organizations. Organizations are not founded to seat people on a dais at a dinner to make photo opportunities, but rather to make good things happen in our world.

The rest can follow.

Shmilda said...

I'm not much of a JO reader, but I assume the title of the first article is: Overview: Vibrant Memories, Indelible Imprints

Also, you are correct to harp on the word choice of dilemma rather than crisis. Dilemma means a situation where one is faced with a number of choices, generally all unpleasant. Unless the JO is proposing radical change, or considering options such as moving yeshiva kids to public schools, dilemma is not the correct term. Crisis, simply meaning an unpleasant situation, is the correct term.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

anonymous, keep your childish comments to yourself

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous--Please keep it civil and refined. I don't intend to let this blog turn into a place for insults. Productive comments and commentary are always welcome.

Ari Kinsberg-Fantastic posts and history. Thanks for the links.

You are also correct that it is time to update tuition amounts. I might start with that as a first post since my first review isn't coming along quick enough between all of the diapers and art projects going on here.

BF-I suggested the idea of a unifed flooding of the public schools. I must have suggested it to the wrong person. She thought the entire idea was repugnant. But it worked in Philly in the 1970's when bussing was going to be cut for Parochial students.

Anon1-Fantastic comments. I hope you will keep adding your comments. If you don't mind, please pick a pseudonym to go by so I can identify you easily.

If you search my blog I have made the same argument, although not as concisely that we NEED a communal organization that works with Yeshivas and Day Schools. The Wild, Wild West system is not effective.

Shmilda-Agreed. While some authors used "crisis," to not acknowledge it as such was a bit of a slap in the face IMO.

Bob Miller-Wish I had been there to delete the comment more quickly.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anon1's comment:

Why is it that at this point in our history we feel so powerless to deal with problems we all acknowledge? This is not about one faction or another, but something that seems all-pervasive.

[NOTE: You can delete my comment of April 26, 2007 9:22 PM since it refers to the already deleted anonymous comment]

Jack Steiner said...

flood certain public school districts as the mormons do in Utah - very few of their kids fo off "the derech" - off course it can only work in an area where orthodox jews are an overwhelming majority and needs to be accompanied by torah classes and intensive youth groups

You are never going to get Torah classes in a public school and you shouldn't.

That's a clear violation of the sep. of church and state.

There is still a ton of untapped philanthropic funds that could be used for the purpose of driving down tuition costs.

Anonymous said...

Jack - the comment to flood public schools is to enroll there for secular classes and take classes outside of the publc school for torah studies, so not a violation of the separation of church and state.

I love the idea of trying to tap into some of the mega-donor base that the Jewish Federations and other organizations are so succesful with that currently do not support jewish education. The question is, how do we make that happen?! there needs to be a centralized organization that is affiliated with multiple schools that has a "polished" approach and targeted message that can reach out to these folks in a manner in which they are comfortable.

In cities like NY and LA where there are scores of jewish billionaires and hundreds (if not thousands) of families with >$100 million someone should be able to come up with an effective way to reach these guys. I only wish I knew how.....