web analytics
March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Obsession With Tuition Hurts Jewish Education

Front-Page-021712

There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach. Recently completed research I conducted for the Avi Chai Foundation of Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox day school enrollment points to a loss of students that, while perhaps attributable to other factors, is certainly in large measure due to more parents deciding that a day school education is too costly.

There is a new Boston-area initiative that seeks to attract children from day school families in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The children would attend public school in the morning and part of the afternoon and then be enrolled in an afterschool program that presumably would be far more intensive in its Judaic studies than the typical congregational supplementary school. This is but one of a number of developments that in the aggregate may affect a significant portion of the day school world.

From a family and communal perspective, what the tuition crisis means is that there are children who will not receive a day school education, increasing the likelihood that their Jewish future will be significantly diminished. From the school’s perspective, the loss of students is translated inevitably into a loss of income, which, in turn, exacerbates the financial difficulties confronting many of our schools.

In the fervently Orthodox sectors of Jewish life, there is scant likelihood of students dropping out entirely because of high tuition. There are children who are shifted from school to school by their parents who seek to evade tuition obligations. There are schools that wrongfully turn away scholarship applicants. There are also an indeterminate number of Orthodox children, perhaps primarily from fervently Orthodox homes, who are home-schooled, with tuition being a critical but not necessarily the only factor triggering this option.

Enrollment continues to climb in yeshiva world and chassidic schools because of high fertility. In these schools, the tuition crisis is manifested in a greater number of parents seeking tuition reduction and, tellingly, in some parents not making the tuition payments they agreed to when their children were registered.

The designation of a situation as a crisis is meant to indicate that there is no ready solution around the corner, that the problem that needs to be addressed is either intractable or cannot be dealt with without painful or risky consequences. The notion of a tuition crisis is not a recent coinage; it has been talked about for more than a decade. There have been conferences and speeches and much more. For all the talk, the situation is worsening.

The financial challenges confronting our schools have intensified, in large part because expenses have risen at a time when a sour economic environment has meant a decline in contributions, as well as more parents being unemployed or under-employed. In some schools there has been a decline in income from government programs, a decline that is itself attributable to the economic downturn.

How should our schools respond to the financial pressures they face, many on a daily basis? It’s certain they need to have tuition arrangements that require parents to pay their fair share. But what is a fair share? Tuition and its collection are not scientific exercises for which easy to implement formulas are available. Sooner or later, the notion of fair tuition runs into tough realities, at least in schools that are not cold and uncaring, and do not tell parents of lesser or low income that if you cannot pay the full tariff or nearly close to it, send your children elsewhere.

What are schools to do when parents and school officials disagree about how much should be charged? Is it acceptable for the school not to accept the children? What is to be done when parents shirk their tuition responsibilities?

Tuition issues vary, often radically, from school to school. At the high end, meaning many Modern Orthodox and non-Orthodox institutions, fair tuition is another way of saying high tuition and, invariably, limited scholarship availability. A pool of money is set aside each year for scholarship assistance and applicants must compete to get a share of the pie. Low-income and even middle-income families sense there is a “do not apply” sign hung on the front door of the school building.

These are generally schools that engage in limited fundraising, except perhaps in connection with the annual dinner or for building purposes. They are not, however, entirely immune from the tuition crisis, as they are experiencing pressure from parents whose economic situation has worsened or who have concluded that the standard formula of yearly tuition increases is something they can no longer afford or won’t sacrifice other priorities for, including expensive vacations, summer camping and home improvements.

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.

2 Responses to “Obsession With Tuition Hurts Jewish Education”

  1. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The best way for Jews to deal with the tuition crisis is to make aliya. Jews belong in Eretz Yisrael. America is tanking economically and culturally. The future for Jews is in Israel. Period.

  2. Gary says:

    For a family with 3 kids tuition might be more than $75,000 a year, as opposed to $0 for a family where the kids all go to public school. Simply put, that’s insane, and even if both parents are earning what should be decent incomes is nore than enough to send the average middle class family into the poor house.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Americans have a more favorable view of Netanyahu than they do of Obama.
Americans’ Favorable View of Netanyahu at Record High, Says Gallup Poll
Latest Indepth Stories
UGANorthCampusSign

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

Middle-East-map

Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu carried his message to Americans through the media after meeting with President Obama and castigating Iran at the UN. (September 30, 2013)

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.

March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Marvin Schick

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

Front-Page-090514

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.

There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/obsession-with-tuition-hurts-jewish-education/2012/02/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: