>>Btw, here comes a serious question re: tuition — I would love to hear what you think. Do you believe that sometime soon – in time for my kids highschool (Avivah’s note – kids are currently in 3/4th grade)– the Rabbis/community leaders will come up with the solution for Tution Crisis and schools will become affordable?<<
Well, to be very honest – no, I don’t think that the the light in the tuition crisis tunnel is going to show any time soon.
Too many people are acting as if this crisis came out of nowhere, as if it’s related to the recent downturn in the economy. It didn’t. It’s been steadily building and has been absolutely predictable. How can you possibly expect every person in a community to be able to afford to send their children to private school, particularly when family sizes are larger than the norm? It’s not realistic to expect a community across the board to have the earning power of the top 2% of Americans, and in order to pay full tuition, that’s what’s necessary.
And because so many people can’t afford to pay full tuition, one very short sighted part of the ‘solution’ has been to raise the tuition to bring in more money. Then it creates more of a snowball effect since those who are high enough earners continue to pay full tuition, but more people are pushed into needing scholarship assistance. The financial discrepancy has to be carried by someone, and as the gap between institutional outlay and income increase, the community coffers aren’t covering it. To solve this problem, there has to be a viable way to close that gap for the long term.
While I understand that parents are overly burdened and feel that schools need to be supported by the community (not just parents), increasing fundraising efforts in the community isn’t going to work, in my opinion. People with kids in school are already maxed out, those without kids aren’t likely to make schooling a top priority for their charity dollars, and those whose kids are out of school deserve to be able to put their money towards their other expenses (college/seminary expenses, weddings, retirement). I don’t see it as realistic to reach outside of the religious community for this, either. There are just so many causes to support, and we can’t expect everyone to make the schools a priority. And not everyone will see the schools as a necessity. After all, while you have an obligation to teach your child Torah, there are other ways to accomplish that than to send your child to school.
Until there are indications that those ‘at the top’ are willing to think outside of the box, I just can’t see how change is going to come from there. Doing what we’ve done has gotten us where we are, and continuing to do the same thing is going to make everything better? I don’t think so! Wishful thinking and pulling the wool over our own eyes isn’t going to bring us solutions.
Change is only going to come from the bottom up, as a grass roots effort. Different questions will result in different answers, and we need to start asking different questions. Every family has to think about how they can meet their child’s educational needs without bankrupting themselves, instead of focusing on how to pay yeshiva tuition. Do you see how you can generate some different answers by thinking about the issue differently? As a community we’ve got to start asking some new questions!
I also believe that as families stop being so afraid of doing something different than everyone, that’s when we’ll see some change happening, as it will be the beginning of a positive snowball. But everyone is just so afraid to be the first one to do something different! Once a person takes responsibility for their choices, it stops being so critical what everyone else is doing and how they’re doing it, because you can enjoy the peace of mind that you’re taking care of your childrens’ needs. The reality is that it’s the parents who are responsible for their child’s education, regardless of where and how they school them.
Unfortunately, it tends to be those who feel desperate who are willing to do what needs to be done – and I say unfortunately, because it’s so much more pleasant to avoid falling into the hole in the first place than to dig yourself out. Why wait to be miserable to make a change that will benefit you?
I had plenty of fears when I considered beginning to homeschool – I felt like I was jumping off a plane without a parachute! Then I did it, and I can honestly say that the hardest part was making the decision to do it. I’ve never looked back and I’m so, so, so glad that we had the courage to make that decision then, when there really was technically no reason pushing us to it (only inner conviction). It’s literally changed our lives by providing a framework for a high quality of life that includes lots of relaxed time together as a family. I look around at all the stress, the rushing, the stress! – and I am so grateful to be able to minimize that in our lives. This way of life doesn’t require a high income; what it requires is being willing to make a change.