web analytics
July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Alternate World Of Jewish Education

Marvin Schick

Marvin Schick

What all of this adds up to are darkening clouds in the day school world, outside of the haredi sectors. On top of all of this there is the tuition crisis, the feeling among day school families that high tuition exacts a toll in living standards and priorities that is too high a price to pay. More and more Modern Orthodox parents are opting out of day school, saying that the cost is too high and that they are not prepared to sacrifice their living standard so that their children may have a day school education.

One apparent side effect of the tuition crisis is its contribution to an increased level of aliyah. This is, of course, good news, yet it is also a dialectical development because it inevitably means a decline in enrollment in many schools, primarily those that serve the Modern Orthodox. This exacerbates, in turn, their financial difficulties.

* * * * *

In short, in the blink of the eye, the day school world has become more complicated, as it is beset by serious issues that demand attention and which may not have any ready remedy. This more complicated reality is now yoked to the tendency I have described of organization building and the instinct to develop projects outside of the school that, it is claimed, will benefit schools struggling to make ends meet. There is an explosion within the day school world of outside organizational activity.

As an inevitable consequence of this, philanthropic funding that is earmarked for day schools ends up supporting activities that occur outside of schools, the claim being that such funding is necessary if day school education is to be improved. It is fascinating that enrollment has slipped within the day school sectors that these funded activities purport to support. Put otherwise, as day school enrollment has gone down among the non-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox, funding for outside projects that purportedly assist schools serving the non-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox has risen dramatically. It is astonishing how little attention is being given to this development.

We are now blessed – I would say the proper description is saddled – by what can rightly be described as an alternate world of Jewish day school education. It is a world of organizations, of experts sitting in offices, of expensive consultants, of conferences in plush settings and much else that costs serious money. I do not know how many tens of millions of dollars are spent on all of this. The number is not small. Whatever the figure, it is climbing at a time when a great number of schools are experiencing enrollment decline and at a time when an even larger number of schools are in financial trouble.

I am not referring here to curriculum development or the training of principals and teachers, although these activities are also enveloped in an excess of hype. There obviously are activities that can benefit day schools and yeshivas that are the proper mission of outside organizations. What is difficult to accept is the long list of expenditures that essentially go toward organizational self-aggrandizement.

Nor is the issue only or primarily financial, as important as this is in the day school world. What the organizational activity does in large measure is to suck interest and oxygen out of the day school world. We are witness to the sad spectacle of people of sincere interest in day school education coming to believe that the alternate world of Jewish day schools is the more critical world, that its activities are more deserving of support than the core education that occurs inside of schools.

There is also the unfortunate tendency of experts who invariably are well paid to heap scorn on those who teach and who have direct responsibility for our schools. This is a cynical approach to Jewish education. Those who teach in our schools deserve our respect, especially because so many are badly underpaid and, despite this, they make an extra effort to do a good job. If there are individuals in the alternate Jewish day school world who do not have the decency to show respect, may we at least hope they would not heap scorn on those who devote their lives to Jewish education?

About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years. He can be contacted at mschick@mindspring.com.


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.

One Response to “The Alternate World Of Jewish Education”

  1. cloojew says:

    So, in a nutshell, Dr. Schick is saying that donations to organizations should instead go to the schools themselves. But I’m not sure how he arrives at this. He refuses to “name names.” Who are the culprits here? Torah Umesorah? The OU? Is there a “Jews United for the Reduction of Yeshiva Tuition” that I should know about and from which I should withhold all donations?

    Furthermore, some of these projects are cost-effective. The work being done by Harry Bloom for YU appears to be saving yeshivos millions. I doubt his and his staff’s combined salary comes to a fraction of that.

    If Dr. Schick is unhappy with the charitable choices of the non-Orthodox, what are we to do? I’m sure we are all unhappy with many of their choices – charitable and otherwise.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israelis visit the former northern Samaria town of Sa-Nur.
Tears From 2 Security Officers, Refusals to Expel Sa-Nur Families
Latest Indepth Stories
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 were likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.

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

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Marvin Schick

My guess is that most yeshiva students also winged it or cut corners because they, too, had rather onerous schedules.

Marvin Schick

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-alternate-world-of-jewish-education/2012/08/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: