web analytics
July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


An Open Letter to Congressman Pascrell on School Choice and Vouchers

Rabbi Shmuley

Dear Bill,

At the Juneteenth celebrations in Englewood, I was speaking to African-American parents who were decrying the state of the public school system in our town. We spend approximately $23k per child per year, but still have a failure rate of about one third. I was amazed at how many parents were telling me they preferred to send their children to private school but could not afford it. I asked them if they would support school vouchers that would empower them to do just that: take their own hard-earned money and use it to send their children to the school of their choice. Overwhelmingly, they said yes. They were adamant that they had the right to override the public school system if they so chose.

You and I, Bill, have the capacity to do something unique. We can join together, as candidates for Congress from opposing parties, to endorse school choice. Just think about the implications. Rather than seeing towns in our district jack up real estate taxes more and more just to afford out-of-control education costs – and in Englewood property taxes have gone up 70 percent in the last decade – we could jointly advocate school vouchers that would cost about half the public school bill per child, and arguably give kids a better education.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that we harm the public school system. On the contrary: I believe that school choice will make the public school system far better by creating competition. Why are so many parents dissatisfied with public schools? Because they are a monopoly. And monopolies have a hard time sustaining quality.

In my own community, the absence of a voucher system is actually making the community grow smaller. Jewish parents whose only crime is to want their children to learn who Abraham, Moses, and David were cannot afford both the astronomical property taxes of North Jersey, and the high school tuition. So they are having fewer children.

This is outrageous and utterly unfair. We pay insane property taxes in Bergen Country when not one dollar can finance even the secular education of our parochial schools. We all believe in separation of Church and State. But could there really be an honest objection to government subsidizing secular subjects like mathematics and geography, even if it occurs in a parochial school?

Parents who seek a values education for their children should not be penalized for wanting to expose them to a tradition that will make them into more moral, ethical, and responsible citizens.

America is alone among leading industrialized nations in not providing any funding for parochial schools, even for their secular departments. In my community of Englewood, New Jersey, we have approximately 700 Modern Orthodox Jewish families, the overwhelming majority of which send their children to Jewish day schools. Were we to send our children to the public school system, it would collapse in a day, Bill. Still, we have never summoned the political will to organize and demand that even a fraction of the highest property taxes in the nation be applied toward offsetting the high costs of school tuition.

Many of my Islamic brothers and sisters in Paterson, where you were once mayor, Bill, feel the same way. They love their religion and want their children to be raised in it. They want to send them to a religious, Islamic school. Should America penalize them for simply loving their faith? And what about all the Catholic parents in our district who want to send their kids to a Catholic school? Who is the government to tell them that they can’t? After all, it’s the not the government’s money, but the parents. The government has no money. It takes it from us.

In my area, private Jewish school tuition costs somewhere between $10,000 and $13,000 per child, and for that sum – which is significantly lower than what the public schools in the same areas are spending per child – children get a comprehensive and quality education. I suspect the Catholic and Islamic schools cost about the same. Were we to grant parents a voucher to send their children to any of these parochial schools, the local government expenditure per child would immediately decrease by about 40 percent.

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “An Open Letter to Congressman Pascrell on School Choice and Vouchers”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Now is not the time to lay down our arms; it is the time to fight back against Israel’s demonization

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/an-open-letter-to-congressman-pascrell-on-school-choice-and-vouchers/2012/07/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: