The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
That parents are now more involved in the school lives of their children is a development we should welcome. Gone are the days when parents sent their kids off to school and scarcely knew what happened during the many hours they were entrusted to teachers and other school personnel.
Of course, when their children came home with report cards, invariably parents examined them closely and experienced nachas when the grades were high and concern when they weren’t. Many also paid attention to grades on tests and other information pertaining to school performance, yet in the aggregate there was a certain deference – perhaps it should be called decorum – separating parents from what transpired at school, the assumption being that teachers and principals could be relied on to be fair.
If a child got into trouble, it was a good bet parents would not side with their offspring, except perhaps in the most egregious situations.
This pattern was evident in all yeshivas. I cannot write first hand about public schools, although that’s where I was enrolled until early in the fourth grade. I believe the factors that contributed to a limited parental role in yeshivas were also factors determining how parents were engaged decades ago in the education of their children in other basic educational settings.
There has been a major change. Parents are like big brothers and big sisters in relation to their children’s schooling, helping out with homework and other assignments and, at times, crossing the line and doing more than helping out. They are also more knowledgeable about classmates, whom their children are friendly with, and much else.
From nursery on, parents are invited and expected to be at their children’s “graduation,” special performances and notable events. They show up at PTA meetings, carefully examine report cards, compare notes with other parents, and assess teacher competence and how their children are doing socially in relation to their teachers and to their peers.
Why the change from the pattern that once existed? All social relationships are subject to change, whether due to economic developments or other factors. What is occurring in basic education, however, transcends the ordinary or expected alterations in behavior and attitudes that inevitably occur over time. What we have seen is, in effect, a cultural sea change, the rejection of one mindset and its replacement by what appear to be radically different attitudes and behaviors.
One likely contributory factor in yeshivas and day schools is tuition. There was a time – it now seems distant – when yeshiva tuition was extremely low for most students and non-existent for the most indigent families. We all know how this has changed, what with the tuition crisis and with many schools and parents being in a tense relationship regarding the setting of tuition and its collection.
As I have written over the years, basic Jewish education that once was regarded as primarily a communal responsibility is now viewed as a consumer product, and like all products it must be paid for by those who make use of it. As is the case with conventional products, parents who pay tuition understandably feel they have the right to demand good value for what they are paying. They have the right to ask questions and to get answers from school officials, professional and volunteer, and from teachers.
But this is no more than a partial explanation. The reality is that parents who receive substantial tuition assistance are also heavily involved in their children’s school performance, as well they should be. Likely, the primary contributory factor is cultural, meaning there is an expectation that parents are not merely giving their children over to the school but are in a sense partnering with the school in their children’s education, helping with homework and assignments, keeping in touch with teachers and school personnel, talking with other parents about what is going on in the classroom, etc.
About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
My guess is that most yeshiva students also winged it or cut corners because they, too, had rather onerous schedules.
Although I was not a Zionist, like most others I knew in Agudath Israel in which I was active, I was zionistic.
We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.
Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.
As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.
As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.
A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.
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