Sadly, this Crisis known to all as the Tuition Crisis is falling on deaf ears. The Hamodia recently published in their magazine (the cover article) about the crisis. The Yated’s Pesach edition addressed it in the Chinuch roundtable. Torah Umesorah dedicated a portion of their administrative conference to this issue and nothing N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!! has happened. The reason? It all boils down to controls. We no longer have the Kehilla and no longer have the proper control. Rabbonim seem to have lost their power only because the tzibbur doesn’t listen.
Rabbonim can speak but schools do as they please. The Rabbonim have no Shlit’a on the schools, and it seems the Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs do not care to listen. Many schools are privately owned and every school has their budget, has their payroll, have their needs and would rather drill their parents into their graves then to do any major fund raising. It seems the system shifts the burden onto the parents and will not broaden their own shoulders to carry the weight.
Think about this: Reb Elchonon traveled the world to raise funds for his Yeshiva, So did Reb Aron as did all other true Gedolim even up to today where we all learned of the Mesiras Nefesh (literally) of Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel ZT”L. Think about it? The Mir has thousands of people and if everyone does their share, then on paper it should work. But the great Mir Rosh Yeshiva understood that not everyone can pay and nobody should EVER be turned away or made to feel bad because they don’t have the funds to pay Schar Limud. Rather this giant of a man rose to the occasion and said I WILL DO IT! IT IS ON MY SHOULDERS! He could have maxed out when he filled the Mir building but no, he built more and more and took on more and more never dumping his responsibility on the parents.
How about the Lakewood Roshei yeshiva Shlit”a? You look at the Frum papers each week and begin to wonder…Are they EVER home for Shabbos??? Do they ever get a rest? Baltimore, LA, Chicago, Monsey, 5 towns, Brooklyn and even all over Lakewood week after week, why? Because they too understand that this is our Moisad and therefore with that comes the responsibility that we have to carry the burden. It is our Yeshiva therefore our Achrayus.
We all know the problems but nobody seems to have the solutions.
It’s one word!
Let’s look at this and we will see there is a real solution if everyone is ready to take this seriously.
1 – Schools have got to start to trust their parents. Yes some are fooling you and pay less then they should but overall the majority of our parents are good people who don’t want (or like) to made into shnorers. Parents hate begging and we hate having to undress in front of you. Trust us and we will work with you. Beat us up and we will hate you today and probably forever so you’ll never see more money today nor will you ever see any down the road.
2 – Parents have to look at their tuition break not as an obligation for the school to cover but as an obligation on us to help raise those funds. We the parents can work it off by doing things for the school, we can create projects, we can get our network of people involved with whatever we want if we would just care enough to do it. (Hundreds of men attended the Q in Flatbush. Why? Most of them have no idea who they were supporting or writing their checks out to. They came because a few chevra made it exciting 5 years ago and then built on it and built on it and built on it. They worked it and the result is hundreds of people show up and give money.)
3 – Rabbonim must begin to give regular (and mandatory) Shiurim to their Kehilos on Hilchos Tzedaka. The men, the ladies, the parents, the grandparents anyone and everyone must be taught these important Halochos. Not Hilchos Maaser (although that too is important). I am talking Hilchos Giving. Hilchos Priorities. Hilchos Responsibilities. Does Chai lifeline come before Hatzoloh? Does membership in Shul come before Lev Lachim? Does Masbia come before Misaskim? Does Talmud Torah come before Pidyon Shvuim? Does Shuvu come before Bonei Olam? Does Lakewood come before Eretz Yisroel. Or how about his crazy question…Does your relatives Schar Limud come before anything else? What is Aniyay Ircha? We need mass Shiurim and private lessons on Hilchos Tzedaka to set us straight.
4 – STOP PUNISHING THE KIDS!!!! Give them their report cards. Let them take their finals. Don’t ever ask them to ask their parents for the tuition checks. Don’t let them know anything ever ever ever about their parents finances or Hanhogos with the school. All you do is create a larger separation between you and the parents and even worse you make children think less of their parents. You may make children worry that their parents are poor or thieves or cheaters or liars or any other wild idea that can go through a child’s mind. Please stop using your students as bait or pawns in your collection game. Leave the kids out of it and we will feel less threatened and we will want to help you.
5 – Show us your books. You have nothing to hide and it is certainly true that you need the funds you are asking for so why not show us so we can help you? We may have ideas. We may feel more of a responsibility. Yes we may have questions, but by answering them and accepting us as a partner we will respond accordingly.
6 – We teach it and we need to live it – Ve’ohavta Le’rayacha Kamoicha. This is a 2 way street and shockingly to some it also applies to parents and administrators. Both sides need to think first if what they are about to say, about to ask or about to do to the other is something they would want someone to do to them. Parents – how would you feel if in business someone was cutting corners and squeezing you out of money you felt you deserved for the service you were providing. After all, in business we are entitled to a profit so why would you care so much if someone was cutting into the money you are asking for? Schools Administrators and or board members and or tuition committees – imagine if you were in this spot and think how you would feel if you were summoned with your tax returns and 20 page forms and asked to sit and spill your guts and share your private finances with strangers? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps there really are real reasons why someone needed to get away or needed to go to the bungalow or needed to send to camp etc. Not everything is nor should it be your business. If we are friends then friends want to help each other but if we are on 2 sides then we won’t trust each other.
7 – Feel the pain. If you have it share it. Get involved. Make a difference. So many great slogans or tag lines but are they for real? The answer is yes they are and they should be. Grandparents, your attitude makes a difference. Relatives, your attitude makes a difference. Neighbors, your attitude makes a difference. Gevirim, your attitude makes a difference. Middle class, your attitude makes a difference. Administrators, your attitude makes a difference. Parents, your attitude makes a difference. If everyone, no matter who you are, would look at the tuition crisis as a true investment into the future of Klal Yisroel. If everyone, no matter who you are, would try to make a difference in the Chinuch system. If everyone, no matter who you are, would truly believe that the Chinuch of our Tinokos shel Bays Rabon is the greatest and most important facet of Klal Yisroel’s existence, then maybe, we will finally be Zoche to the Siyata Dishmaya the Chinuch System needs to sustain itself.
The truth is there is so much more to write and so many more examples to give but this letter has to end at some point. Hopefully every reader is getting the drift.
As I said before, in the end it is all about one word. Attitude.
If the parents AND the schools adjust to an attitude of wanting to work together. If the community adjusts its attitude on the value of educating our children. If families adjust their attitudes about who and where to direct their funds to, then in the end this can work.
Parents must give everything they can and stop depending on the schools.
Schools must fund raise (for real) and stop killing the parents.
We all must get back to working together to create wonderful children learning in schools with happy Rabbeim and teachers and then coming home to homes where the parents are happy and there for them. We must all treat each other as brothers and sisters always looking to help the other. We need to knock down the walls created by the Saton and turn this bitter crisis into a harmonious system of Chinuch.
You may feel that it boils down to whose responsibility is it? Does it fall on the schools since they have to pay their bills or does it fall on the parents since they have to educate their child? Well, maybe, just maybe it is all of ours together. The parents need to do everything they can to pay their tuition and the schools need to do everything they can to fund raise the deficit without going back to their parents. When everyone does their job and cares about the other then this crisis will be fixed.
Let us all remember the words of the great Chofetz Chaim when asked why Yeshivos need to turn to others for assistance. After all HKB”H is the Mechalkel Chaim and can provide everything for everyone so why then does it seem that Mosdos Hatorah are forever having to come on to the Tzibbur just to exist. He answered that the system will always be one where those learning will have a Chaylek in Torah and those supporting it will have their Chaylek in Torah. Everyone needs a Chaylek in Torah to survive. Either we are the ones in Yeshiva learning or we are the ones supporting.
Be happy the opportunity is coming your way. Be happy that your hard earned dollars are investing into the future of Klal Yisroel. Be happy the funds you provide are building bricks into your home in the Oilam Hoemes for that is where you really do want to have the biggest home possible.
If we do this together we will succeed. If not, then………
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