Saturday, April 01, 2006

From the Jewish Week...

From the Mar 24, 2006 New York Jewish Week (yes, I know I'm behind). Apparently, the "Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education" (PEJE) conference has come up with the solution to the Jewish day school tuition crisis:

For those not entirely sold on the idea — and even for those who are — the spiraling cost of a day school education is a major barrier [to day school attendance]. Potential antidotes to the so-called “tuition crisis” such as grandparent involvement and low-interest financing were the topics of several sessions at the assembly.


During a symposium called “Grandparents: An Essential Element of Day School Life,” Jewish school professionals shared strategies to have grandparents help cover tuition.

Bruce Powell, the founding head of school at the New Community Jewish High School of Los Angeles, said it is unfortunate when parents apply for financial assistance from schools in lieu of asking grandparents to chip in.

“They’d rather ask a stranger,” Powell said at the forum. “They’d rather ask Mr. Farber and Mr. Masor on the board than ask their own parents. I have one word for that — obscene.”


In another, Jewish Family & Life! CEO Yossi Abramowitz unveiled a financial model that would enable day school parents to borrow up to $80,000 annually to cover tuition and school expenses. Philanthropists, federations, foundations and funds from the State of Israel would help offset the interest and perhaps some of the principal on the 20-year loans.
(emph. added)

So, let me get this straight. They want parents to borrow $80,000 for 12 years to send their kids to day school, then the colleges want them to borrow another few tens of thousands of dollars for four year college, and, just in time to pay off those loans, they'll hit up the same people for money for their grandchildrens' day school tuition.

I can just see the 2050 PEJE conference: With all Jewish parents and grandparents who are committed to Jewish education in massive debt, the time has come to start asking great-grandparents to chip in to their great-grandchildrens' education. Uh... היש לדבר סוף?

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I wonder what percentage of Reform and Conservative grandparents, upon being told that PEJE believes that it's obscene for their children to attempt financial independence, wouldn't decide that their money and their grandchildren would be better invested elsewhere in the private-school system. After all, I'm betting they didn't go to day school, and look, their grandchildren are still Jewish and they have the money to help out with their educations!
Fleur: I really don't think that's how the word "obscene" is used in the cited passage. Correct me if I'm wrong.

In general: The proposal, assuming it could work at all, would only help kids whose grandparents have saved up enough money for retirement plus multiple tuitions. Maybe we should deal with the rich Jew stereotype by occasionally reminding ourselves that it's not true.

Couldn't we put some more effort into seeking out philanthropic support for scholarships? Or something?
The assumption of this proposal seems to be that the "tuition crisis" is caused by Jews withholding money from day schools and asking for scholarships. It fails to note that there is no "tuition crisis" for people whose families can afford $40-$80K/student-yr tuition. It's only a problem for the lower and middle classes.

By the way, in fairness, the conference did also announce a $26 million big-donor philanthropic program. One part I did not quote referred to a program that was not implemented: a national endowment for Jewish day school tuition.
Wondering: Why on earth are day school tuitions so high? The bottom number you cite is higher than tuition at my (and elf's) university, which is expensive as colleges go.
Wondering: Why on earth are day school tuitions so high? The bottom number you cite is higher than tuition at my (and elf's) university, which is expensive as colleges go.

I'd imagine the higher number is the cost of sending a number of children to day school at once.

I know my day school deliberately kept their cost as low as possible to enable as many people as possible to afford it -- but this kept them from being able to afford teachers who actually shared the school's ideology, while still being a good deal more expensive than public school. I respect that they tried, though.
Apparently today the school charges between $10 and 11 thousand for kindergarten and between $13 and 14 thousand for twelfth grade, which is up from what it was when I went there, but then, so's the cost of everything.
OK, so I overestimated by a factor of 4... it's still nearly half the cost of college.
And you can have a lot more kids in day school at once than in college.
Just discovered your blog. I also posted about the insterest free loans on my blog some time ago. It seems to me that interest free loans might exasperate the problem since all the bureacrats will think they found a solution and parents will continue to work themselves into debt. And, in the Orthodox community, at least where I live, most people are relying on grandparents. So, the solution is nothing new. Next it will be great-grandparents.

Fortunately, public college costs about half of day school and yeshiva, and most parents are relieved when their kids finally go to college.
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