It is immeasurably cheaper to tweak the tax code (or to provide vouchers at a mere few thousand dollars per child) in order to alleviate the tremendous burden placed on private school tax-paying parents than it would be for the city and state to bear the $2 billion of annual expenses plus capital expenses that would come into play if the private school system were to fail. And this does not even begin to account for the thousands of students of Catholic and other private schools that dot the New York City landscape. The city and state are clearly getting the better deal here.
Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jewish parents have identified tuition assistance as one of the most pressing issues facing the Jewish community. Ironically – and ridiculously – any elected official who dares challenge the painful status quo of withholding any meaningful tuition relief is immediately attacked as abandoning public education. Hakeem Jeffries, a public-school product himself, got it right when he articulated the crushing burden of yeshiva tuition on parents.
As election season heats up, candidates who wish to gain support from the Orthodox Jewish electorate must speak to this vital concern. It is the one issue that unites voters across the broader Jewish community like no other because – yes, Charlie Barron – it’s about the children.
Chaskel Bennett is a communal activist and private-school parent whose op-ed articles appear frequently in The Jewish Press.