Dear Mrs. Bluth,
The school year is now almost at a close, so I feel safe to send this letter without any ramifications. First, let me thank you for your brevity in publishing all those nasty issues that our schools, rabbanim and community leaders choose to cover up. You are one of the few who boldly stands to the challenge and fights to bring about enlightenment and change.
I am the mother of seven wonderful children, baruch Hashem, four girls and three boys, ranging in age from sixteen down to three years of age. I have been butting heads with schools since my first child started yeshiva and it has gotten worse over the years. As you have noted in the past, parents have noticed drastic changes in their children due to the unbearable workloads our daughters are made to suffer. At the same time, all that the boys are responsible for is keeping up with their limudei kodesh and a token of English studies, if at all. I have noticed a lack of respect for their teachers in both Hebrew and English. I have also witnessed the disregard that these teachers have for controlling their classrooms, as I am often a substitute in my children’s schools. It is horrifying to see how little concern is expressed by the administration when I attempt to discuss this issue, I am told “Just turn a blind eye and let the kids do what they want. Just pretend you’re babysitting them until their regular teachers returns.” I was beyond shocked!
There is bullying, and shaming amongst the girls that cause such devastating damage and no one cares. Two of my girls had to go into therapy. Our eldest son does not want to return to yeshiva and threatened to leave home if we forced him; we hired tutors to teach him at home. We are considering home schooling all our kids – they all have above average IQs, yet they are being destroyed systematically by the neglect and disregard of the yeshiva system.
Mrs. Bluth, I love my children and can no longer stay silent. Please publish my letter and maybe then some other parents will find the courage to band together and fight to bring back order, structure and learning into our schools and yeshivas. For my children, sadly, it is too late. Too much damage has been done.
You certainly are not alone, this I can tell you! If I printed every letter I receive on this issue, it would be the only topic of conversation for eight months. I must concur with you on your observations about the kids (across the board in every age group and class) having zero derech eretz for teachers and substitutes. I have found this to be true when I substituted in various schools and yeshivas. When I tried to make the people in charge aware of this, along with how little these kids know, I, too, got a lot of shoulder shrugging and indifference. It is sad that we are producing a generation of uneducated, abusive and inarticulate people and no one points the finger of blame where it really belongs – the parents! Most parents are absent for their obligations, relying on schools, yeshivas and teachers to do the job that they are responsible for.
In the course of my travels along the yeshiva highway, I have heard parents say things like, “I’m paying so much in tuition, the teacher better listen to what I have to say.” or “My kids are in school eight hours a day, the teachers better teach them how to behave.” And the best one, “It’s not my job to teach them anything, that’s what I send them to yeshiva for.”
The job of instilling derech eretz and midos tovos in children belongs to parents, not teachers! And it begins in infancy. When our children start school, we hope it is in an environment that will support that good behavior and help it develop. However, it must be part and parcel of what is instilled at home.
Character is built and sustained at home + caring and devoted teachers who support good behavior and impart education without discriminating against or making an example of kids over a mark or grade + a concerned school system that will put the needs of the kids first, even over the often selfish desires of some in the parent body, = kids that will not pick on the weakest link, kids that will absorb the education imparted to them and be happier, healthier, better adjusted and kinder to one another because they are not defined by a test grade or project mark.
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to address this issue. If kids are not doing well in school or they are suffering due to bullying or cruelty from other classmates, that is the direct responsibility and concern of the school and they must seek a solution, be it smaller classed, better teachers or less homework and more childhood!
I hope that you are successful in whatever path you take to help your children evolve into stable, healthy and happy young people, seeing to what lengths you have gone to ensure just that, I expect that you will have only success and much nachas.
Thank you to the three families that offered to give a name after our letter writer’s relative. However, it turns out that all three families had girls, thus, we are back to square one. I ask again for anyone who is in a position to do a chesed shel kayama and give a male name for a deceased Holocaust survivor please get in touch with me through this column. There is a small monetary gratuity and an enormous mitzvah attached to this request.