Monday, January 4, 2016

The Tuition Crisis in Jewish Day School Education

There has been a lot of discussion about the unbearable -to-many cost of Jewish day school education. It seems to me that the only way forward are very large contributions to the system as a whole - perhaps as an endowment - by the very wealthy in the Jewish community.
Many are uncomfortable with the idea of the Jewish future being funded by a few plutocrats.
Besides the fact that Jewish tradition articulates the idea that the only reason some of us are entrusted by Providence with large amounts of money, is to be able to make a significant difference in the world with it.
There are several reasons why this seems to be the only way out of this problem in the USA. Indeed the whole cost of education crisis is an exclusively North American problem.
You will note very little complaining on this score coming from the UK, Australia, and the Continent. This is because there is significant government aid in varying degrees to many Jewish schools - not all but there are always good Judaic schooling options for much lower cost in all these places.
The problem lies in the fact that in the USA, there are three factors at work that tell me that there is no other way.
1) The top decile possesses half the wealth or more , and the lions share of that, belongs to the top centile. Hence, most funds not needed by those who own them for day-to-day living are sitting there, and that's where you have to get them, as Willie Sutton said about banks...
The only other way forward is if the federal, state and local taxation systems are used as in #2,3 below.
2) The stubborn opposition (including by most Jews) to a tuition voucher system assisting those who don't use the Public school system to help lessen its burdens, and frankly it's basic fairness.
3) The unfounded and ridiculous way the First Amendment has been interpreted by the courts. There is no logical reason why secular education, technology upgrades, special services, partial cost of physical plant, snow removal etc, at parochial schools should not be subsidized by the government. The First really only prohibits the involvement of government in religious education per se.
So, to ensure Jewish continuity in North America (Not sure about how Canada is doing on this score -I know more about Europe), It"ll have to be 1, 2, or 3. I see 1 as most likely because the most entrenched opposition to tuition vouchers or State aid to parochial schools is in those states with the most Jews.