Source: Orthodox Union
With charters having recently been granted for two online schools in NJ, the path may now be open for a creative opportunity to solve – or at least ameliorate – the Jewish day school tuition crisis. In the case of a virtual charter school, the local education agency (LEA) along with the state pays for the full cost of education for each student enrolled in the school, including the cost of the education program, books, lab materials, and computer expenses, as well. The location of the actual computer onto which the student logs-on is irrelevant to the government, thus bringing Rabbi Saul Zucker of OU’s Department of Day School & Educational Services to suggest that Jewish day schools examine the option of having students learn their general studies at the yeshiva – but through the online program, cutting tuition costs drastically.
OU’s Department of Day School & Educational Services has proposed the following scenario for consideration:
- The students learn their general studies at the yeshiva – but through the online program (They recommend the K12 program, considered THE leader in excellent online education).
- Classes can be set up with 15, 20, 25, 50 (or whatever number one chooses) terminals, with an education coach supervising students so that they are on task.
- Students can work individually, cooperatively, or as one whole group – depending upon the class, the school, etc.
- There can be classroom discussions – or no classroom discussions, as the school community sees fit.
- It should be noted that this technology enables an educational approach which is considered the height of differentiated instruction, a concept that is universally recognized as a critical component of pedagogy.
This model implies that the cost to parents would be limited to: the limudei kodesh program, the building and associated costs, transportation, supplies and the education coaches. The educational coaching positions could be filled by parents, retired teachers, or create a new opportunity for extending additional work hours to the rebbeim/morot at a prorated pay scale. The effect on tuition reduction is substantial, a true win/win situation.
Given this general outline, there are clearly advantages, disadvantages, and many additional details to be explored and fleshed out. It is hoped that New Jersey's approval for online charter schools will create the basis for productive exploration, beneficial discussion and further consideration.