web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 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
USAID recipient Tarek Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud.
Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court
Latest News Stories

An Arab tried to steal the weapon from a civilian guard in the town of Eli.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

GOP Senator Ted Cruz met with Republican Jewish leaders in Las Vegas Saturday on the campaign trail.

Shimon Peres

The idea behind Peres & Associates came to life two years or so before the end of President Shimon Peres’ term in office, when his team began planning the next phase in his career.

United Hatzalah, Zaka and First are among the first emergency responders from Israel to arrive in Nepal on Sunday as part of an international effort.

The PA and leftists lost twice in US courts, which threw out suits for libel and a claim against settlers’ “terrorist attacks.”

Lauder: ‘Jews demanded no ‘Right of Return’ to Germany or Austria or Poland or any other European country.’

Several Israelis suffered light injuries but 150 still have made no contact with officials.

The emails are unclassified but include sensitive information of correspondence with ambassadors.

An Arkia plane made an emergency landing at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday morning after a bird was caught in one of the planes’ engines during a flight to Eilat. The plane landed safely. It was the second emergency landing in a week at the airport. An El Al plane that took off for Prague last […]

Arabs call for state of mourning, meaning a state of riots, after knife-wielding terrorist killed when he stabbed solider.

Several Israelis suffered minor injuries in Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Nepal that killed approximately 1,500 people, but approximately 250 Israelis are not accounted for, according to the Foreign Ministry. Communications systems have been disabled by the earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and is the latest in a series of disasters that have […]

Bayit Yehudi settles for three Cabinet posts. Shas to head Religious Affairs with Bayit Yehudi as Deputy.

The road from Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim is closed to traffic due to Arab stone-throwing.

The officer of a Hareidi IDF unit was in Mea Shearim to visit two of his soldiers whose families have social or financial problems.

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: