Please think about this question.
When there is a shortfall of funds – delays in tuition being paid, insufficient fundraising amounts, or unforeseen costs – how does the average person think schools remain open each day and provide services to children?
There is no other option that I am aware of.
For most people the default thinking is to do nothing and SOMEHOW the school will manage. But when looking closer we can see clearly the fallout that children suffer from lack of supervision, lack of proper administering of school programs, insufficiently or completely untrained or unqualified staff, illegal and/or unsafe or dangerous facilities, etc.
By default, when “nothing” is chosen, then in reality a combination of A and B are happening.
Any Yeshiva that remains open when funds are lacking is by definition being forced into one or a combination of these. There is no other option. Think about all the schools that you know who have struggled, and they are absolutely are experiencing one or more of these. There is no free option happening. The funds are coming from somewhere or children are paying by the above dangers and shortcomings. A car will not run without gas. Even one driving for a lofty – and even lifesaving – mission, will stop when the tank runs dry.
Often this is happening in the background and most parents aren’t aware, but it most certainly is in EVERY single school that is not meeting its budgetary needs. There is no other reality.
I am honestly asking in all sincerity which of these you feel is the least disruptive and damaging overall and which should a Mosad choose when forced into this position.
Of course fundraising more would solve the problem – in theory. But in the case where it has not yet succeeded, which option would you choose?
When making your choice, consider strongly the ramifications of each option. One ramification that most parents don’t seem to consider is the permissibility of withholding pay from teachers. When a parent can not come up with tuition, and a teacher is denied pay, it is morally wrong and Halachically forbidden Min HaTorah.
This is the predicament that every single Menahel is put into when funds are short.
The administrators of your childrens’ schools are living daily with the anguish, pain and constant concern of how to balance this dilemma, and sadly, any choice they end up with, will hurt someone and they will be blamed for it.
The sad truth is that had they chosen a different field of work where they were providing education for NOBODY, then there would be no blame.
But now that they chose to serve the public, and are doing the best that they can to provide for as many as they can, then somehow they become at fault. This kind of mindset and culture is not only immoral, but is destructive to our entire Chinuch system.
If we want to attract talented and qualified leaders into this filed to serve our children and communities, then we must-
A. realize that these people are the few that actually ARE working to rectify the Chinuch crisis, and-
B. they are doing it with very limited resources, and the problems that Mosdos are experiencing are not (necessarily) a result of poor management or insensitivity to the needs of the children and families, and are often the best they can do with what they have.
Generally, Mechanchim in these positions are not looking for honor, credit or praise. However, criticism, blame and attack on those few who are struggling through this (and in almost all cases choosing, at least partially, option C above, meaning putting their own families in danger and financial hardship for other people’s children) will only drain their ability to run the schools even more, and in some cases also drive away these individuals from serving our communities.
The fact that many parents aren’t fully cognizant of is that there is NO obligation of Chinuch on the administrators and even teachers of the children. The obligation is 100% that of the parents Min HaTorah. It is only that by paying the schools, they are making the teachers Shluchim to carry out THEIR obligation – as in the famous story of the Alter Rebbe with his son’s Chinuch (Hayom Yom, 8 Adar I). In other words, it is NOT the obligation of the mechanchim or administrators to raise the funds to educate someone ELSE’S child. This is a completely mistaken and distorted belief that has infiltrated the community psyche and has come to be a cause for criticism of those involved in Chinuch when they don’t manage to raise enough funds or can not provide services to all of the children who want to attend a school.
It is incumbent upon us all to realize and deeply internalize this. We must remember that these are people who are selflessly dedicating their lives to OUR children, and truthfully owe us NOTHING. Even when we feel that we are paying our dues in the form of tuition and fundraising, we must remember that this is for US and OUR children. It is not for THEM. We are simply working hard to give them the resources they need to serve OUR children. We are not helping THE SCHOOL or the administration or doing anyone any favors.
Furthermore, we must realize that even when paying FULL tuition, this is not the true cost to educate the child, and the school and its administration has taken upon itself to fundraise the difference. So when parents are not meeting their tuition obligation, they are putting an ADDITIONAL load on the administration that often leads to collapse, or as we see clearly, very poorly run schools, unqualified staff, or even dangerous and unsafe conditions, for lack of sufficient resources.
If you go into chinuch you take the chance and are responsible. If you’re not up to it then leave it to someone else. Thats shlichus
I agree that the parents are responsible to pay their tuition commitment. I am unclear from the above as to whether there is a strong hint that not everyone is keeping up with their tuition pledge, or whether there is a short fall despite all the parents paying what they promised. As a bal tushva I am amazed at the amount of entitlement that families have in terms of tuition reductions and handouts. there is a pervasive culture that someone else will pay tuition bills and therefore I can spend my limited money on camp/clothing/bungalow/vacation and ……
I look at people around me in my community and wonder how on earth they can have summer plans knowing they are asking for handout for tuition. I look at all those paying thousands of $$ for camp but claiming they can’t pay for their kids tuition. there are obviously times that a parent must send their kid to camp, but this would be limited to young kids with 2 working parents going to day camp. Kids in Mesivta don’t need to be babysat like elementary kids do. As harsh as it may sound your kid should be do nothing that cost money if the family have not paid their tuition bill. If the culture was changed and more kids where hanging around town then at least those kids could get together and socialize amongst themselves. My son has NO plans this summer as we have no cash left after paying 8 full tuitions!!
In my boys Cheder they offer General Studies (math and English) as an option and do not charge extra tuition for this. There are plenty of “chassidishe” families that don’t want their kids enrolled in the General Studies program but then take private tutors after school hours. In my mind these families should immediately loose their tuition subsidies or be expelled.
I don’t know what the answer is in the situation that there is a shortfall despite 100% of kids paying full tuition. I think the answer is to cut non essential extra curricular activities. It should not be on the Rebbes and if the yeshiva’s fundraising devision is not succeeding to bring in all the requited cash then services have to be cut. we do have to acknowledge that frum families cannot possibly pay high tuitions.
Thank you for taking the time to think about this and reply.
The reason for the shortfall isn’t necessarily the topic of this particular post. Rather it is the realization that WHEN there is a shortfall, then there certainly is going to be fallout. One way or another someone will pay or miss out. That is a fact that many parents don’t seem to appreciate fully. It then results in blaming schools for the fall out.
The truth is that usually it is both elements you mention. That not everyone is keeping up with their tuition pledge, and also there would likely be a short fall despite all the parents paying what they promised. The difference is that if all parents paid their obligation, then the balance does fall on the school to fundraise (even than can be debated- why should a service provider have to fundraise? The “customer” should pay for what he or she is receiving. But in the real world, all non profits fundraise the balance. Hospitals, schools, shuls, etc.). But when parents don’t pay, then it is almost inevitable the school will not succeed in fundraising both the parents’ obligation as well as the rest of the budget.
To the defense of those who send to camp, despite not affording tuition, sometimes a good camp experience is just as crucial for a child, and staying home over the summer can and sometimes is very detrimental to a child, more than just being bored. But that does not detract from your point. The obligation to pay the school is at the very least JUST AS MUCH (if not more) than the obligation to pay the camp.
Regarding cutting extra curricular and other activities, it is a difficult matter. For some (many (most?)) children it is precisely those extra curricular activities that are crucial, especially when they are not finding success in academics and they begin to believe that academic failure equals personal failure. Often giving a child the opportunity to feel success in other areas is the very life saving ingredient he or she needs…
Maybe this approach will lead to a better system. Families must stop committing money they don’t have, for things that are not essential. To help them say NO, we need to change values, attitudes, pressures, and stigmas. Families need to be comfortable (even happy) inviting just 30 people to a wedding or bar mitzvah and not having fish, etc. And alternatives to camp and seminaries. We don’t see posts like this (“we don’t have enough money to function because we’re not getting paid”) from camps, hotels, caterers, etc. Thank you for raising this very important issue.
We can’t have it all – large families, private education and camp. If everyone paid tuition very few would go to camp and then the stigma would be removed. Teenagers should work in the summer and maybe go to camp for two weeks with the money they earn. This would elevate the shortage of camp places and give more families an opportunity to meet more of their tuition payments.
Firstly, thank you for your dedication to the community.
In an attempt to correct a communities attitude I’d add the following. Halacha is quite clear on the mitzvah of tzedoka. First ones family, then ones community, then Eretz Yisroel and finally discretionary.
I think a lot of tzedoka giving is directed by feel good rather than halacha. According to this halacha it should be regular that the local mosdos receive checks beyond the tuition. Perhaps reaching out to the Rabbi of each Shul and have them educate their congregants on this matter will be a step in the right direction, and beneficial for both the shul and school.
Unfortunately i think once a school agrees to a tuition both parties are responsible, with their other choice being to quit/cancel the agreement.
Wish I could say this to you in private at a farbrengen, but I haven’t met you. With thee greatest respect to you and your noble choice of work, I’d ask you to reflect objectively on this letter.
Lastly to the folks reading this letter and caring to read the comments too.
For generations chinuch has been with messiras nefesh, this generation is no different. Ask not what your yeshiva can do for you, ask what you can do for your yeshiva. The rabbi is right in that the yeshiva is not ‘his problem’ alone, it’s a communities institution. The relationship can not not only be ‘I pay, you educate’. If you are handy ask what you can fix, if you give tzedoka make a decision that every time you give, you match that to a community institution (per halacha). The rabbi is right in that many of the people in the community are apathetic to the community institutions, if not out right negative to them. Are you Moser nefesh to the school? If not, why not (and then go fix that, and don’t take no for an answer)
Thank you Reb Ephraim for the clear headed comments. I think that what you point out is very much on target.
The only question I have is about your comment regarding the school being responsible once there is a tuition agreement. I’m not sure what I wrote that would have implied otherwise. That is 100% true and I didn’t make any implication otherwise. The challenge is when parents can’t keep their side and then the school is burdened with even more fundraising to cover the parents’ obligation in addition to the school’s.
Did I misunderstand your intention?
All sides of this issue, all have a legitimate argument.
But we are all forgetting one thing.
The world was not born yesterday.
How did we all relate to this very same issue, a generation ago or a few generations ago. And when you look at THAT, then you have your answer.
So how did we solve this very same problem 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 200 years ago or beyond.
The problem really isn’t that parents aren’t paying yheir fair share of tuition, unjustly.
The problem is that the tuition prices, to begin with, are all, unrealistically high and unsustainable.
The problem is that the schools prices are so astronomically high that it’s not affordable. It just can’t work by design. It’s no accident that parents aren’t paying. Most of them really can’t because the prices are unrealistically high.
50 years ago or 100 years ago it was not uncommon for parents to have 10 or 15 children, yet they could all afford Schar Limud because the price of education was not as atronomically high as it is today, relative to parents income at that very same time in hystory.
Today, there is no way any parent with 10 or 15 children can afford to pay even half the tuition which all schools ask for.
If a lower grade school is typically asking for 5,000 dollars a year, how does anyone in their right mind expect a parent of 15 children to pay $75,000 per year tution, if most often that is,way above their total income, never mind other expenses.
And considering out of town Yeshivos and out of town seminary asking for 10,000 to 20,000 per year – with 15 children, how unrealistic is such an expectation?
So who is wrong? The parents or the Yeshivos? What went wrong?
Schoolls need to understand that it simply isn’t possible to suck blood out of a stone. It’s pricing structure is gtosely flawed to begin with and it’s budget system is in myth-land and not at all sustainable.
It’s not an accident that it fails. The failure is by design.
Schools need to go back to the drawing board to restructure their entire expense system so that the school can exist at a fraction of its current budget.
100 years ago or 200 years ago the quality of learning in Yeshivos was much better than it is today, yet the Yeshiva expenses and Schar Limud was a very small fraction of what it is today.
That means that it IS possible for a Yeshiva today, to have expenses 100 times lower than they do (just as it was 100 years,ago) yet the quality of education at that lower budget can still be 100 times better than it is today at its astronomicaly sky high prices.
Yeshivas just need to not be lazy and restructure totally the entire budget structure to reduce prices at least 10 fold.
100 years ago and 200 years ago Yeshiva education only continued past bar mitzvah for the academically gifted, and girls education was basically non existent. And still there r stories of poor families not being able to hire a teacher for their children. Today Education establishments are trying to cater for everyone – the brightest – that need the least resources , to those not so bright, those with learning difficulties and a myriad of behavioural issues, that need small classes, remedial help and engaging extra curricular activities. To educate children today and to do it well requires 3 or 4 times more money then the shoe string budget our school work with. Look at what an elite private boarding schools charge.
In short I don’t agree with any of Yaakov’s post :-(.
In the real world rich kids have a better life and more opportunities. That’s how Hashemi created the economy. Tzefdakah can only go so far – as we see first hand. As Jews we don’t operate under a communist construct where we all pool out money. Some of us have more then others and if we don’t like our status we have to at least try to work hard to change it for ourselves or at least the next generation. I think I have a very unpopular approach but why should my secular friends and family pay for my tuition when there are perfectly good public schools in my area.