Another (Baltimore) response to the tuition crisis.

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    It was announced last week all parents will be receiving a rebate on their tuition to help ease some of the pain & put money back in their pockets.
    Yet another plan has just been announced to help cover tuition. This plan will cap tuition at 20% of a families net income. This program is backed by all the big Rabbanim.
    It’s so gratifying to see a community (especially my hometown:-) that between the rebates, scholarships & direct support from the Federation & now this aren’t just talking or complaining but are turning ideas into reality to ease the tuition burden.

    Dr. Pepper


    Is this pre or post tax?


    If a family with seven children in school is earning a combined $90,000, the tuition for the seven children will be capped at $18,000?


    There are several obvious ways to solve the tuition crisis:

    1. Repeal the halacha about having so many children. Not only does the frum community not even consider this, they actual encourage shiduchim. I bet the LGBTQ people never have a tuition problem.

    2. Stop paying teachers a living wage. If they reduced teacher salaries to the levels of 100 years ago, schools would be affordable. What makes you think a teacher needs a roof over this head and a car, or meals and decent clothes. They should work for potatoes.

    3. Cut the curriculum. Do we really all those sefarim? What would be wrong with having only two books in Humash, Perhaps skip all those long pieces of the Talmuds – how about mishna only. And all those halachos, Yidden were quite happy in the past when they skipped most of them (where do you think the secular Yidden came from).

    4. We can do what most American Jews did 100 years. Hide the yarmulkes (we might need to anyways), get rid of most Yiddishkeit, go to public schools, and assimilate.



    I’m not an expert but wouldn’t “Net income” be post-tax?


    Good humor, but “Stop paying teachers a living wage.” is actually a part of the solution. Vouchers that you describe that follow families is another part.

    Halakha allows unrestricted competition between teachers, leading to lower prices and higher affordability. Let teachers or small group of teachers open one-class schools, teaching second grade only in their home or any small office or inside a school building to which they pay rent. R Kamenetsky and R Ruderman were in such classes in their Litvishe shtetl and grew up OK. They did complain about one insensitive second grade teacher, but our current towns should provide enough competition.


    They use the example of a family with a net income of $100,000.
    Their tuition is $44,000 but after scholarships it’s $30,000.
    So the parents will pay $20,000 & this organization will pay the other $10,000.

    Dr. Pepper


    You got my interest piqued and I read the article online, while rereading your post I see that you included the word “net” but it was missing from the online article.

    Do you know where the rest of the funds are going to come from?



    what does post tax mean? Do you count earned income child tax credits which means a famiy receives money?
    Does it count HUD, SNAP, CHS & WIC medicad?
    What about parsonage?
    What if a rebbe gets free tutions (or a girls teacher)

    SNAP = 15K a month
    HUD = 30K a month
    Earned income =7500
    WIC = 5000
    CHS = 10K
    Medciad gain vs private employee paid insurnace =7500 (using a low numner)
    Total : =75kK

    I left out free tution for rebbaim

    I have a high suspicion that these calculations won’t be included. What ends up happening is that the accountant who earns say 100K net income, (after taxes) but not receiving any programs. He is capped at 20% = $20K Now lets say you have a “low income earner” . He earns only 75K, he is capped now at $15K. But after his govt programs he really earns close to 150K and should pay more than the accounant at 30K.

    Hereby lies your issue unless they are ready to get into the guts. You can’t view income like the govt does


    “This program is backed by all the big Rabbanim.” – that’s helpful, but what do the Little Rabbanim say? Where does the money come from? Are these Rabbis also going to be contributing the money to make this important program happen? Since money doesn’t grow on trees, how long will the spigot be open?


    Akuperma: Nos, 1-3 may have some potential….No. 4 is a bit extreme


    In related news, Texas had primaries and it seems that most of Rs that were against school vouchers lost. So, expect school vouchers in Texas next year. I think the plan is for about $10K per child.


    For those interested the tuition organization in Baltimore is called ACT AHAVAS CHESED TAMID. It’s backed not just by all the leading Rabbis in Baltimore, but other leading Rabbis of America. The person that started it also does storytelling on the Naki Radio under the title Gedolim Stories.


    One of the big Rabbanim already pledged on video.
    The plan is for the community to donate 1% of their tsedaka to this program which will cover the costs to administer it. Plus they will seek donations from people who can give more.


    One of the big Rabbanim already pledged on video.
    The plan is for the community to donate 1% of their tsedaka to this program which will cover the costs to administer it. Plus they will seek donations from people who can give more.

    Dr. Pepper,
    In the video “How it works” it clearly says, “Net”



    1) Apparently, less than half of the Rabbonim in Baltimore endorsed ACT; why so few?
    2) How cute that they “plan” for the community to donate 1% of their tsedaka; it’s totally unenforceable, especially with so few endorsements
    3) It appears that announcing the two programs simultaneously has created confusion and some feel the “rebate” program is meant to torpedo ACT

    Dr. Pepper


    Thanks for clarifying that- the article I read didn’t have a video next to it and I was looking for that word. I wish him the best of luck.


    Once again I fail to see how Baltimore correctly captures net income. i assume the mentality there is not to be as dependent upon govt progarms. But how do you calculate that in other communities where at times those on programs earn more than those not on programs?


    Chaim: How do you think participants in government assistance programs should be assessed regarding income, for a program such as the one described here?


    Simple what you receive from the govt is “income” too.

    For example, an accountant earns 90K after taxes then pays 15K in health care costs. His income should be 75K.
    A low income earner earns 50K after taxes but we ask him how much do you receive in SNAP, HUD , WIC & CHS and earned income? Its dollar values are all known. If that sums to 50K that means he should be assessed at 100K.

    Why isn’t the fair? Will the schools really do that?


    Chaim: How will you calculate the value for Medicaid?

    ☕️coffee addict


    I don’t think a person who makes 50k after taxes qualifies for benefits

    Try 30k

    Then you need to factor in his expenses ie rent, car, gas, electricity

    I was told by a Jewish financial adviser that one should pay in total 10% of his income (before taxes) to education


    oh, now it becomes clear what they need by NET income. Maybe they are including all these transfer payments.


    I agree to leave medicad out of the equation. But we could clalculate the cost of medical care for the accountnat and deduct that. Premuims are set fees. At minimum deduct his premuim like taxes.

    addict; A classic family of 6-7 which is the avreage jewish family is elegible for most programs earning 50K. I need to check about earned income but the other programs for sure.

    Also left out of the math, does that person get parsonage? So he/.she may earn only 50K but on top of that some buisnees are allowed to pay for a childs tution pre tax and not part of the perosns income. he/she may have 3 free tutions on top of programs. They also may be a rebbe and have free tution. That also needs to be counted as income as the accoutnat doesn’t get that


    Most important, how the system will be set up. Look at public voucher systems for guidance. For example, discounts should follow the family, rather than given out to schools based on current enrollment to facilitate competition. Also, hopefully, the system can be made less invasive. Net income approach invites someone going through everyone’s taxes and even more. Maybe it is better to subsidize everyone equally and avoid hurting self-esteem of community members.


    here are some quotes from Reb Milton Friedman on public vouchers that are also applicable Jewish education, I think. Keep in mind that it seems also to fit some of halachik principles that allows unrestricted competition between teachers (but in other industries where you are generally not allowed to hurt competition and inconvenience neighbors)

    > Reform has to come through competition from the outside and the only way you can get competition is by making it possible for parents to have the ability to choose. … The amount of money spent per child adjusted for inflation has something like doubled or tripled over the last 20 years. …The key word is competition and the question is how can you get competition. Only by having the customer choosing.


    @Always_Ask_Questions, The issue with subsidizing everyone equally is that there simply isn’t enough money for that. And even if you ask people to be honest and not take the voucher many will still see themselves as needing it without realizing that if you lease two cars for 1000+, own a summer home and go on vacation etc then you don’t need it.
    I get that net income is very invasive but it can be done via discreet methods without anyone even knowing your name. (You can apply a case # etc.) The real issue with net income is that whats truely net income? Net income isn’t a comprehensive enough metric. You need to look at govt programs and those that get free tuition for their other school (boy vs girls( bec they are school staff or have parsonage.
    The idea that if you live a lavish lifetsyle evn if on debt tution should be paid in full is a noble idea. Perhaps the only question should be what car you drive, vacations you go on and kind of house you live in.


    Chaim, I hear you. I am mostly in the category you described, but I also get occasional discounts when either dealing with a nice principal or with a financial manager who estimates that we have choices (is it gnevas daas to hint that a chassidishe school or a super-modern one is an acceptable option for you :?). As everyone seem to agree, the “full tuition” is set higher than the actual cost.

    My point is that the main goal is to create healthy competition, empowering customers (parents), leading to better outcomes. If your system is in the hands of an entity not associated with the school, it might work also. But it will leave parents like me still at the weak negotiating point with the schools.


    I live in a community where all schools are overwhelmed. There is no threat to any school that Ill send to another school . And I won’t get into another school.


    Chaim, “overwhelmed” is also not a good answer. The market is not working.

    Even if, B’H, everyone has a lot of kids, the market should respond … Even when pandemic changed everyone’s routines, the toilet paper reappeared in a couple of months 🙂

    What would be a reason for shortages? I presume from your writings that your community graduated a lot of people who are qualified to be in chinuch. Say, every family has 15 kids. That, with two parents in each, would make for < 10 kids per parent who can teach. Of course, it could be that parents are teaching in modernishe schools or involved in chinuch, then there might be a problem.

    So why there are not enough schools? possible reasons:
    – the parents and gov subsidies are not enough to pay the rates same parents are willing to teach for. But what are these parents doing then?
    – there are barriers to entry for new schools: they need buildings, maybe some sort of permission from Rabonim and already existing schools.
    what do you think?

    As a note, one of the halachik ways to solve these problems is to encourage competition to benefit parents with choices and low prices, possibly at the expense of schools and teachers. That is, regular businesses can limit competition between each other, you may not be able to open a grocery store that seriously hurts another store, but you can open a school. Your neighbors can object to you banging metal or baking challos in your yard, but they can not object to the noise of children coming to your classes.


    Who, exactly, are the “big rabbanim?”

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