Solving The Yeshiva Tuition Crisis

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    Y.W. Editor

    Long Term: Political Solution

    Which of our rabbis will step up and accept these challenges? There is now one of the largest problems facing our communities today.

    Short Term: Macro Solutions

    Which of our rabbis will step up and accept this challenge?

    Who among us will step up and accept this challenge?

    Micro Solution



    There is no single answer that will solve the cost of the educational dilemma, but laid out in this manifesto is a multi-pronged approach involving various collaborative efforts. They must all ultimately be done, however something has to begin to take shape now. It is not supposed to be through the efforts of myself as an individual that this process begins, but through our established leaders that were assigned the task of leading. They also need to collectively unite for this cause or they should resign in favor of those who can solve the most pressing of problems. We are a brilliant people who have survived and continue to endure tragedies, discrimination, and injustices over thousands of years. We have reached positions of influence and power that are the envy of the world in fields of medicine, law, finance, science, and government. Are we to believe that we have lost the ability to address the basic sources of our achievements and the ability to provide our children with an education?

    (Written By: Jonathan Isler for the Five Towns Jewish Times)


    There can be no direct governmental support to Yeshivas in New York as long as the state’s Blaine Amendment is in the State Constitution. An effort was made to repeal it way back in the 1960s and it was voted down by the voters. (Does anyone remember why?) And I see little chance for any change with the current political climate — everywhere in the US that voters have been given a chance to vote on possible tuition voucher programs, they have been voted down, usually by huge margins. Suburban voters fear (correctly) that some of their extraordinarily high property taxes will be diverted to private schools if such a program were proposed. And it doesn’t help that the most vocal proponents of tuition vouchers are ideologues who really would like to destroy public schools. That is not our agenda; we just want some fairness!

    That said, Ms. Isler makes some great points. There are in fact huge economies of scale in the operation of schools. Joint purchasing and insurance can result in some significant savings — and possibly better benefits our teachers deserve. But can we really get agreement? Will the charedi yeshiva really use the same biology textbooks as the MO high school in my neighborhood whose students were #1 in the entire United States? Will the MO high school really accept history taught according to the Seder Olam chronology?

    And will parents really enroll their children in schools whose philosophies differ from theirs? Are charedi parents really willing to walk their kids to the co-ed community day school? Are MO parents really willing to enroll their kids in the yeshiva with minimal secular studies? Will the rabbis permit any enrollment into public schools?

    I’m also unconvinced that enrollment into public schools will make much impact. New York City has over one million students in its public schools. Even if every single frum kid in the city were to enroll into public schools it could handle the extra enrollment. It probably WOULD matter in small suburban districts, but the districts themselves have no power to help our yeshivas because of the Blaine Amendment.

    I salute Mr. Isler for being willing to talk about the issue and to suggest bold solutions. I look forward to more.


    Sweet dreams.


    The way to fix the tution crisis is, CONVERT EVERY YESHIVA TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL!!

    (in name and theory)

    The non frum wouldn’t send there anyway as school ends so late, and has “weird students”.

    If done this way, there would be no problem with seperation of Church and State.


    as much as i agree with you that something has to be done, what you are proposing to do will create/enlarge an EVEN GREATER divide in our communities. the reprecutions will not be felt in large by parents, but primarily OUR CHILDREN. divides are already a constant in our school systems, we are not sheltered by the evils of what can happen.

    i do commend you for your effort in trying to aleviate the tuition stress.


    what about school vouchers??? the idea has come up in local/state elections but has not passed yet… it could solve some big tuition issues!


    <b>The way to fix the tution crisis is, CONVERT EVERY YESHIVA TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL!!

    (in name and theory)

    The non frum wouldn’t send there anyway as school ends so late, and has “weird students”.

    If done this way, there would be no problem with seperation of Church and State. </b>

    Um that won’t work. For one thing public schools have state mandated curriculum, and I think having a single sex public school is illegal.

    However the major thing to keep in mind is that having the state pay for secular studies at all Jewish, Catholic and other religious private schools would add quite a bit to the state education budget (or maybe at a local level) which would require more taxes or cuts somewhere else to pay for it, I can’t imagine that being popular.

    A solution needs to be found to the Yeshiva tuition issue, but it needs to not involve a large pile of money appearing by magic from the state government or other poorly defined sources*.

    * IE We find some random rich guy to pay for it without mentioning who, or how he will be convinced.

    Feif Un

    You can’t convert a yeshiva to a public school. You wouldn’t be able to teach Gemara, Halachah, or anything deemed “religious”.


    to chesedname

    1. You’d have to follow the state curriculum, not yours

    2. the hours would be tha same as public schools since they would be

    3. they would have to be co-ed

    4. the buildings would have to be replaced since most, particularly

    the chareidi ones, have no gyms or labs


    I dont think all his ideas make sense like a gold and silver level. Most people I know have no interest in going to the dinner and the perks are all nonsensical


    Hasn’t the writer ever heard of AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA?

    They have been at the forfront of aid to yeshivas for 50 years.

    Yeshivas are getting Mandated Services for attendance records and other mandated services. What about school Busing. Without School busses it would bwe impossible for many kids to get to yeshiva. What about the AARTS programs.

    Millions of dollars are flowing to yeshivas.

    Granted it’s not enough. But AGUDAH is at the forefront of trying to get

    private school vouchers which has helped in a couple of states.

    Furthermore, I know it hurts, but even if the yeshiva charged full tuition at

    what it costs per child, these costs do NOT take into account the highly subsidized

    building fund that oujtside people contribute to. It does NOT take into account the lower salaries that Rebbeim are accepting because of the mitzvah. etc etc

    Want to try a new idea? Open up a PRIVATE yeshiva. NO Scholarships,

    NO Dinners, NO Fund raisers. Just pay your pro rata share. But, do YOU

    want that for your child?


    Mr. Isler’s self-described “manifesto” reflects a lot of thought, and I thank him for that. One of his proposals is to seek more money from the public treasury. If we Jews seek taxpayer funds to subsidize our schools, and if we succeed in do so, we will surely have opened the floodgates to other religious groups’ seeking support for their children’s education. Are we sure that we as Jews want that? Will that result in a net gain or a net loss – in dollars – to us as a community, if public funds are available for religious education (or the “secular” portion of education conducted in religious schools)?

    I think another model has to be considered, which so-called Reform Jews (alcoholics should be reformed, not Jews) and Conservative Jews have used for more than 50 years – public school for secular subjects, and “Hebrew” school for religious education, after public school hours and on Sundays. Admittedly, the high rates of intermarriage among Reform and Conservative Jews suggests that their schools have not been successful, but the problem is not the school model, it is insufficiency of Torah from their curricula. Admittedly, also, Torah and Yiddishkeit are not separable from “secular” studies, and a yeshiva infuses Torah into secular subjects in a way that public schools cannot, but if the “tuition crisis” is to be solved, we have to try alternatives.

    We also have to accept the possibility that the US Constitution will not allow public funding of private or religious schools. I personally believe that is a good thing – we Jews are currently enjoying a favored position in US society and government, but Jewish security in the United States should be protected by the Constitution and law, not by our current favorable political position. We are a tiny portion of the US population – less than 3% – and we would not be wise to count on political power to protect ourselves and assure our continued survival in the US.


    They have an Arab public school, how did they pull that off?


    Mr. Isler makes some good points about the state of affairs and raises some good (mostly unachievable) conceptual ideas that could chip away at the crisis a little, but seems to still be leaning toward the idea of enrolling Orthodox Jewish children in public school, one way or another. And then he questions why he doesn’t get any cooperation or interest from rabbonim.

    The reality that Mr. Isler seems somewhat out of touch with, is that most yeshiva parents (and rabbonim) have very strong convictions about keeping their children out of a public school environment at all costs. Mr. Isler, on the other hand, seems to be pretty comfortable with the idea of Orthodox Jewish children attending public school (possibly with non-Jewish children), doesn’t seem to perceive the risks of a public school environment for Orthodox Jewish children. This attitude is somewhat typical of some religious Jews who may have attended public school as children many years ago, but unfortunately they are usually the exception if they remained religious, and everyone knows that a public school environment today is far worse than the environment that existed in public schools of a previous generation. As soon as Mr. Isler exhibits a commitment to the ideals and the necessity of yeshiva education and a yeshiva environment, and stops painting rabbonim as the enemy, he should find that more people will take him seriously and his efforts will come across more constructively and less like a personal rant about his tuition bills.


    If yeshivas receive money then it’s only a matter of time until muslim families start demanding the same thing. While there are many moderate muslims it doesnt take a rocket scientist to realize that there are under-the-rug fanatics out there who would make great teachers such schools and create centers of violence seen in other countries. Solving the tuition crisis should start with opening the books so that parents would feel more part of the school and having better scholaship standards


    So it would work like this: the planning table would consist of Agudah, Lakewood, Chabad, Torah Vodaas, Bais Yaakov, YU aaanndd Solomon Schechter? Just try to get everyone to work together. V’gar ze’ev im keves will happen sooner.


    while i understand, that it costs to educate our children, on a household salary of $110,000, this is the breakdown

    mortgage at 1200 a month = $14,400

    car payments a month= $8000

    gas payments $80 aweek to fill up nowaday x2 cars =$8300+

    car insurance/ medical copays $7000

    food per week$ 350 (shabbos alone could be over $100) = $18,000+

    clothes for family of 7 $2000

    money to fix things in the house 2000

    credit card debt Payments of 4000 a year ( yes we have lots of debt)

    personal loans (eeded money for a down payment )

    shul member ship 500

    building funds 1000

    bedek habayit funds on top of school building funds 1000

    total comes to $6900

    now add tuition for 5 kids at 9000+ each = $45000

    GRAND TOTAL 112000

    the list could go on and on

    i am sure i am leaving out many things from this list

    . i am also positive i will get yelled at by ywn readers who will tell me to dress my kids in rags to lower clothes costs, starve my 5 growing boys, to lower food costs, dont charge all the above and i would’nt incur all the credit card debt etc

    but it still doesnt leave much money leftover to add to my savings so we just get by.


    I think the schools would be well-served by centralizing scholarships, purchasing and healthcare/life insurance and this could provide a significant savings for schools that could have a real impact on tuition costs without dealing with church/state issues. I think we need someone to set up a business plan for this “entity” and push it through to the schools at conventions of yeshiva principals. The problem is twofold: no yeshiva principal or board wants to give up the control they have over “their” school, even over issues like these that shouldn’t have an educational impact and the loss of jobs of yeshiva administrators who are currently handling the processes that would be centralized. I doubt many schools would agree to cut their administrative staff for something like this.

    fed up yid

    All children from Yeshiva should sign up for public school. After the initial shock of having to bring in thousands of new students into the school system, the City iof New York will wake up and agree to pay for the secular education of the yeshiva children , so that they will stay in Yeshiva. THIS IS A REAL SOLUTION!!!!


    All children from Yeshiva should sign up for public school. After the initial shock of having to bring in thousands of new students into the school system, the City iof New York will wake up and agree to pay for the secular education of the yeshiva children , so that they will stay in Yeshiva. THIS IS A REAL SOLUTION!!!!

    Ah no, for one thing it would be illegal under NY state law. For another it would not be that big a jump in the total numbers of kids in the NY public school system.


    To Lesschumras – actually you might be able to follow the state curriculum and not compromise Lemudei Kodesh. Almost any subject can be converted to allow enhanced Lemudei Kodesh, i.e., Math: essential for properly learning chumash and gemara; Ancient History: taught to include time periods and geography of the Tanach, Mishna, Gemara; US History: the same; Language: study of Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, Greek, French-all to understand original holy texts; Music and Poetry: comprehend tefilos; English and Speech: would enable future rabbonim to put two intelligent English sentences together as our past Gedolim did in their host country.

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