The Tuition Crisis

Read this article about When Yeshiva Day School Is No Longer A Viable Option. Many people find themselves in a bind – they want to send their children to Jewish schools, but there is no money for the tuition. What are they then to do?

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10 Comments

  1. Allaya says:

    It’s a big problem. I just had my third child, and two are already in school; we’ve shoehorned ourselves into a studio apartment we’re feeling it. So far, I’ve spent enough money on school tuition to buy a good sized home. I was on welfare for a year or so because tuition was that much. I understand that it costs money to run a school, but I really don’t understand how and why it’s THAT much. It makes me wonder how much of it is lack of efficiency and how much is simply gouging. No accusations here, but the Catholic church seems to be able to educate their children very inexpensively in comparison…why does everything Jewish automatically have to be astronomically more expensive? Secular universities are feeling it now too. Many people are finding that the jobs available simply don’t compensate enough for the cost of tuition. While a good religious education is certainly important, I don’t know if severely reducing one’s standard of living for it is necessarily worth it. Perhaps the answer are secular Hebrew charter schools with supplemental religious tutoring or extracurricular activities? Whatever the solution, the Jewish community needs to step up here. The ever growing number of “extras” (and associated expenses) that go along with being observant are slowly pushing well-meaning individuals away, and all but shutting the door on those who could otherwise be easily encouraged.

  2. rebeccad says:

    I know 3 families that made this choice to put their kids in real public schools 2 have kids now not interested in judiasm because the kids want to be like the other kids and FIT in. This is normal. The other is frum, but the family works hard to make up for it. They go to a frum camp and go to some sort of talmud torah(lubabvich) on sundays. My other freind sent to a jewish style charter school. They learned secular and then the school sent to the lubavich center after school. She then realized the teachers/education was nothing like the kids were used to in dayschool. she now sends one child to a public school and one to a dayschool we’ll see how this proceeds.

    It is very complicated i agree. we are squarely middle class and have considered public school as well. that means we are in good shape with no yeshiva and poor shape financially with 4 almost full tuitions. The problem is that most families who are even making it are strugling. You may think I am exagerating,but my husband and i pay almost 50,000 in tuitions because the breaks are far and few between for those right at the edge of middle class (80,000-100,000 combined salaries). That is a full salary for one of us! We littearlly work to pay tuition. We take no vacations and pray fervantly our accountant is good enough to get a refund to send the kids to a federation camp for one half. The other half they work and any money they get they have to spend on extras. We buy kmart , Wal mart clothes ,and good will stuff.( Much to our 2nd child’s chagrin.) We order strictly KFM (Kosher foods and More) the bulk by the case dicount online/offline place for kosher by the case families. We let the kids know that their education is important and that we sacrifice to give it to them. They also learn that the value of a dollar and that education is important.

    On the other hand I don’t see what the Schools can do. I know here locally several families pay nothing or close to it. This is hard on the school. They are also not paying the Rabbis and teachers exorbanant salaries. Infact as i understand it the teachers themselves can barely live of of their salaries. What can they do?

    It is a Catch 22 you know. education costs and thats the truth of it!

  3. There are two potential solutions that no one wants to talk about.
    1) I don’t know about the States but up in Toronto one can walk down any street in the “frum” parts of town and see giant homes that cost millions of dollars with cars parked in the driveway that cost large amounts as well. Many weddings and bar mitzvahs are done in such a way so as to encourage the Queen herself to come and participate, such is their extravagance. Please don’t tell me there’s no money for schools. It’s being blown on these things.
    2) The elephant is the room is the kollel community. Here we have a large number of people who are underearning due to their refusal to get educated and get real jobs. As a result they not only send their kids to Jewish schools without paying a decent tuition rate, they also don’t contribute to the general community’s coffers but drain from it. Imagine if all those “learners” were to go and get jobs and starting paying some serious tuition. Then I might not have to work 2 full-time jobs just to break even each month.

  4. Dave says:

    The math doesn’t work.

    Large families and expensive private schools require extreme wealth.

  5. shorty says:

    What still bugs me is that here in Ontario, the Catholic school board is still PUBLICLY FUNDED.

  6. question for Rebecca says:

    Rebecca, please advise, what is KFM, and how can I find it online? Thanks so much,

  7. Tzip says:

    You got me, I’m in the same boat. There is no way I can possibly afford private/Jewish schools for my kids. I can hardly afford to live in a Jewish community because the cost of living is so much higher. Factor in Shabbos, holidays, (and taking off work for those), and kosher foods etc… I’m left at the end of each month praying to god I have enough for rent.
    School is a distant fantasy to me at this point. And to be honest, I’m not sure that over all I think it’s that important. Learning about Judaism should come primarily from the family and Shabbos etc. I don’t understand the idea of spending so much money (and hoards of time) trying to force kids into learning Judaics in a school environment. There are plenty of after school and Sunday learning classes to supplement what we learn at home.

    What is our solution? For now we homeschool. If a better options presents itself, we’ll consider it.

  8. Mike S. says:

    The phrase “tuition crisis” is a bit of a misnomer. Day school, and the tuition required, are means to educating children, not ends. If there is a crisis it is an “education crisis.” If the day school model isn’t working, either for some or for the community as a whole, we have to find other ways to accomplish the same ends.

    The cost stress isn’t unique to Jewish day schools; many colleges are facing the same problem. (Of course the latter problem is somewhat ameliorated by being 4 years rather than 13) The basic source is that while almost all other sectors of the economy have used technology to dramatically increase productivity, since education is largely about face-to-face interaction, productivity is what it was decades ago. In fact, the situation is somewhat worse, as schools used to be able hire women who had fewer options for what was dismissively called “pin money.” Now they have to pay everyone to support their family. Colleges and Nonjewish private schools are also facing this issue, so while particular schools may have management issues, the problem is driven by either scholarship students or mismanagement.

    So what can be done. First, we need to focus on the issue and stop blaming others and fantasizing about ways to get others to pay for educating our kids. Then, we need to find affordable ways to educate our children. This can include alternative educational models for families where parents may have more time and less money, like home schooling and cooperative schools. It can include education for higher paying jobs and smaller families. It should also include looking for ways to use technology to dramatically increase the number of students a teacher can teach–really the only way to dramatically reduce costs. Some colleges are starting to think about ways to offer either some courses on-line or courses that include both on-line and face-to-face elements. Day schools (or entrepreneurial parents who want to start one) should be thinking about this.

    Finally, we need to consider whether there is a way to utilize the public schools that still maintains the goals of education learned and practicing Jews. I am old enough to have grown up when Orthodox kids were still in public school and going to Talmud Torah; that is how I was educated. It was not a very successful model then. Can it be tweaked? I don’t know but it is worth thinking about. I suspect to work well one would need at least a substantial minority of a grade to be kids from religious homes; otherwise peer pressure will likely pull the kids away from Torah. Perhaps one thing might be to utilize the public system for the very early grades, where parents are still far more important than peers to at least reduce the number of years kids are in day school.

  9. Mike S. says:

    Oops. The last sentence of the second paragraph should have read “the problem is not driven….”

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