Day Schools Stuck in Neutral - Enrollment Numbers Grow, But Only Among Ultra-Orthodox

Dec. 29, 2012

Source: The Jewish Daily Forward


J.J. Goldberg examines day school enrollment statistics published recently by the AVI CHAI Foundation in comparison with enrollment numbers published over the last decade and a half. He discovers a significant decline in non-Orthodox enrollment, with an overall enrollment soar due to an ongoing Orthodox baby boom.


Among the findings he notes a calamitous drop in Schechter school enrollment. In 1998, the year Avi Chai first took attendance, Schechter enrollment totaled 17,563 students in 63 schools nationwide. This year, enrollment is just 11,338 students in 43 schools - a 35% decline.


He also finds an explosive growth in ultra-Orthodox or Haredi school enrollment, including both Hasidic and non- schools, reflecting high birthrates. Modern Orthodox schools, by contrast, are essentially holding their own.


In absolute numbers, Haredi enrollment increased from 86,702 in 1998 to 121,940 in 2008, a 41% rise. The three non-Orthodox streams grew in that time from 36,897 to 38,630, or 4.7%.


In the three years since 2008, following the collapse of the economy, non-Orthodox enrollment dropped 9.5%, to just 34,977. Non-Orthodox enrollment is even lower this year (by 5.2%) than it was in 1998, when Avi Chai first counted.


Goldberg concludes:
"Here, then, is the most important insight to be found in Avi Chai’s numbers: Day schooling isn’t catching on among non-Orthodox Jews, despite two decades and millions of dollars spent pushing the idea. The proposition that day schools are the answer to assimilation isn’t panning out."


See the full article at The Jewish Daily Forward.

Updated: Jan. 03, 2012