Yeshiva Day Schools: Give Parents a Choice

July 14, 2016

Source: Times of Israel


This piece, the follow up to my recent discussion of the financial and non-financial costs of yeshiva day schools, proposes what I respectfully submit is a relatively simple and intuitive solution to this fundamental flaw in the yeshiva day school model. Put in place, it would radically alleviate yeshiva day school costs without compromising our children’s Jewish education, and potentially make that education more effective and lasting.

That solution is for yeshiva day schools to alter their schedules in a way that allows parents to choose to either send their children to yeshiva day school for a full-day program (Jewish studies and secular studies) at full cost, or to send their children to yeshiva day school for a part-day program (Jewish studies only) at dramatically lower cost. Students opting into the part-day program could utilize their local public schools for secular studies.

Providing parents with a choice between a part-day program and a full-day program entails a simple request of yeshiva day schools, which they should be able to accommodate relatively quickly and at minimal expense. That’s because all of the infrastructure and resources for offering a choice already exist.

To offer a part-day option, yeshiva day schools would need to adjust their schedules so that secular classes are taught in the morning and early afternoon (when public schools are in session) and Judaic classes are taught in the later afternoon (after public school hours). Parents could elect to enroll their children for a full-day yeshiva day school program. Alternatively, children could enroll in a part-day program where they attend the same yeshiva day school classes as their full-day peers in the afternoon, but utilize the free secular education offered by their local public schools in the morning.

There are logistical challenges associated with a part-day option — transporting children between schools, aligning schedules between the public schools and Yeshiva day schools so that students can move from one program to another, all while ensuring that Jewish elements of the day, like morning prayers, are not lost in the shuffle — but none of those challenges is insurmountable.

After the first piece was published, there were those who criticized me for complaining without offering a solution. Although I wish those people had read the piece more closely (I expressly stated that I would propose a solution in a following piece), I share their sentiment. Complaints without a solution get us nowhere as a community. So in this piece, I have proposed mine. Let those who have a better solution propose theirs. Let us have a communal discussion informed by the alternatives and, most importantly, let us take action to effectuate what we collectively think is best.

If we work together and confront this issue as the thoughtful community that we are, we can solve this.

Read the entire article at Times of Israel.

Updated: Jul. 27, 2016