A Lippman Kanfer Institute working paper report to help day school and community leaders thoughtfully consider the options available today for providing children and their families with a Jewish education that is effective in transmitting Jewish knowledge, fostering Jewish identity, promoting a sense of community, and developing strong Jewish values while facing challenges of limited enrollment and unstable finances.
This report is designed primarily for leaders of schools that are small (often fewer than 100 students) and of communities that have only one, or perhaps two, day schools. In these situations enrollment and financial challenges that threaten a schools viability and educational excellence frequently arise and persist and are often felt most acutely because obviously comparable alternatives simply do not exist.
The answers provided in the report fall into two broad sets.
The first set consists of a variety of strategies that schools might employ to strengthen themselves while remaining what we currently recognize as Jewish day schools (optimization strategies).
The second set of answers consists of a number of alternative educational models. If it becomes clear that it is not possible or desirable for good reasons to continue to operate a particular day school or any day school at all in a specific community, these models represent alternative approaches to providing much (though not necessarily all) of what a good day school does in terms of Jewish identity development, knowledge acquisition, and socialization.
The heart of this report consists of three charts:
1) The first lists “optimization strategies” that schools might employ to strengthen themselves organizationally and educationally. These are divided into three broad groups:
- strategies relating to marketing and outreach;
- strategies relating to finances;
- strategies relating to the educational program and its delivery.
2) The second chart describes four “full-day” alternative models to the traditional Jewish day school (with the day school as a comparative reference point).
3) The third chart describes four “supplementary” program models that might also be considered as alternatives to a conventional day school.
The comprehensive charts are accompanied by an in-depth discussion of how the report should be used by administrators, community leaders and educators in order to make critical policy decisions.
The report also contains a number of useful appendixes:
Appendix I: An Environmental Scan of American Jewish Day Schools
Appendix I I: A Listing of Resources for Day Schools