web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views » US » NY »

School Excitement Vs. Parental Excitement


It can’t be emphasized enough how important grassroots involvement is to political action. Serious unified support can impact the tuition crisis by making our community and its school choice allies an impenetrable voting bloc that must be listened to and that demands consistent results. How we get to “unified” is a challenge.

When I was on the receiving end of advocacy in the educational world, it always came from one source: the teachers unions. I worked for congressmen who weren’t particularly close to these unions but we didn’t ignore them. How could we? Principals, school board members and teachers are a loud and unified voice that an elected official feared annoying, due to the potentially organized and vocal response they’d get in return. Our community has a long way to go to achieve this type of political unity.

Part of the problem is information. We know we want an elected official to support our schools but we don’t know what to ask. In the coming columns I hope to articulate some of this missing information. But even if we know what we want, the voices of support are in two different camps: schools and parents.

Schools can receive a host of funding on the federal, state or local level. Federal funding, such as the approximately $75,000 a school can receive from Urban Areas Security Initiative grants, is only the beginning. State funding, in the way of energy efficiency funding for a new HVAC system or local funding for textbooks or other school supplies, is another source of revenue intake that can aid a school’s budget.

Parents can directly access funding opportunities as well. Depending on where you live, they can come in the form of a tax credit or voucher. Vouchers are available in certain states based on income level and could be accessible in larger states such as Texas or Florida in the next few years. Corporate scholarship tax credit programs have made scholarships available to schools in Pennsylvania and Florida, and are awaiting decisions by legislatures in states like New Jersey and Maryland.

But the school funding doesn’t necessarily excite the parental body and the parental funding doesn’t necessarily excite the school leadership. Although the goals are the same, namely lowering the cost of Jewish education through government funding, each party will often take a different approach to this goal. Parents are frequently not excited about direct infrastructure funding even though it may prevent a tuition increase, as building costs are lowered as a result. Similarly, schools can’t wait around for a scholarship tax credit program or vouchers, items that often take a few years, when they have the potential to advocate on existing grant funding that helps them balance the budget today but is not a game changer to a parent.

These differing goals on the advocacy front force our community into a challenging situation before friendly elected officials who want to help. If a school is coming to back its view and a group of parents are coming to support theirs, how can a legislator seriously consider such different requests from what is a comparatively small group of constituents?

Public schools are able to walk and chew gum at the same time. A school superintendent has different goals than a group of public school teachers, but they are united on the overall goal of maximum funding for public schools and complete opposition to private school funding. We, too, must craft unity built on an understanding that funding that goes to any stream of Jewish education will aid everything else we seek. The goal is government funding opportunities for Jewish education. Once that goal resonates with legislators as a unified position, other opportunities will follow.

This is like any good lobbying entity. Being “pro-Israel” is an often-used phrase, and many groups and individuals define its meaning differently. When I meet with legislators, they tell me they are “pro-Israel,” but what that means for them on a dozen specific details is unknown. However, they know that the unified majority of Jewish voices are pro-Israel, and that’s where they want to be on the issue. Political realities such as who controls what legislative body and what the political climate is for getting things done are factors that impact what a unified lobby actually receives.

Schools and parents must share united goals vis-à-vis government funding for Jewish education. That at least puts us on the chessboard to decide what our next move will be.

Maury Litwack is the director of political affairs for the Orthodox Union. Prior to his work with the OU, he served on the government advocacy team of Miami-Dade County, one of the largest counties in the country.

About the Author: Maury Litwack is the director of political affairs for the Orthodox Union. Prior to his work with the OU, he served on the government advocacy team of Miami-Dade County, one of the largest counties in the country.


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 “School Excitement Vs. Parental Excitement”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Megillat Esther
The Origins of Purim
Latest News Stories
Israeli Flags in Germany

Israel was the sixth-highest source for tourists to Germany in 2014.

Eshed said that a smart meter can run for as long as 10 years if it is equipped with this chipset.

U.S. to South Korea Amb. Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul on Wed. March 4.

US Amb to South Korea attacked at event in Seoul, slashed face and hand.

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: With a smile like that, he couldn't possibly want to annihilate Israel, right?

On Saturday, the French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday, citing intelligence sources, that Khamenei would likely live only two more years.

COGAT chief hopes Hamas “would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses.”

Israel’s Channel 2 television network thought Herzog’s remarks constituted elections propaganda.

The house, which is made up of simple mortar and stone walls that was cut into a rocky hillside, was first discovered in the 1880s by nuns at the Sisters of Nazareth convent.

Ron Dermer responds to Netanyahu critics following Netanyahu’s speech.

Secy of State John Kerry updates media on the progress made in talks with Iran in Switzerland before leaving for the US; talks resume on March 15.

Researchers at the University of Haifa find that it is better for customer service employees to express positive emotions rather than show neutrality in their work.

Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas says Israel will never be accepted as a Jewish State, but played coy about security issues.

Ferguson police officer cleared by Justice Department of civil rights charges in shooting of Michael Brown.

When Hamas launches rockets at Tel Aviv, only 100,000 people will need to seek shelter, instead of 400,000.

Two Islamic holidays have officially been added to the New York City public school calendar, closing schools on those days starting next year.

It was probably the first time that the marble relief portrait of Moses hanging in the House Chamber ever received such public acknowledgement.

If President Obama isn’t going to listen to Netanyahu, at least he should listen to the concrete proposals by members of his own Democratic party.

More Articles from Maury Litwak

One thing that I consistently encounter when discussing affordable Jewish education is frustration and blame. The frustration comes from parents and others intimately involved in Jewish education.

There are two types of politicians we encounter when advocating to relieve our community’s tuition burden through the use of government funding: those who claim to be 100 percent behind us, and those who claim to be 100 percent against us. What’s interesting is that politicians in both categories do not seem to understand what “100 percent” means.

It can’t be emphasized enough how important grassroots involvement is to political action. Serious unified support can impact the tuition crisis by making our community and its school choice allies an impenetrable voting bloc that must be listened to and that demands consistent results. How we get to “unified” is a challenge.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/school-excitement-vs-parental-excitement-2/2011/12/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: