Letter: Mechanchim and Morahs want phones for their students

I hope this message is received in the most positive manner, with only toeles intended. Especially in this time of din, I would never want to cause any pain or negative feelings towards fellow yidden. Please keep this in mind if you choose to comment on the points made in this letter.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the mosdos: the Roshei Mosdos, the Rebbeim, the Moros, the teachers, the secretaries, and various faculty members, who are the true heroes of the unfortunate times that we are living in.

There is an important matter that I would like to bring to the attention of Roshei Mosdos, but I don’t want to to sound disrespectful or ungrateful.

There is no way for our children to benefit from the hard work of the mechanchim, mechanchos and secretaries via teleconference, unless there are enough phone lines for the children to use simultaneously. It is therefore crucial that every child should have access to a phone line to enable uninterrupted learning on a daily basis.

I really don’t want to sound confrontational, but I also would like to point out a few facts:

1. B’chasdei Hashem, most mosdos have received the PP Fund, which is a generous opportunity (to the tune of hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars) to support their payroll. We all know that it is money that the mosdos desperately need, especially now. Still, it would be money well spent if the mosdos would utilize at most 4% of the grant to arrange distribution of subsidized cell phones for their families.

2. Parents should certainly pay tuition during this matzav. I would like to mention once again the hours and hours the administration and staff in each mosad spent preparing, revising, and teaching stimulating lessons during the hectic Erev Pesach weeks. And now again, they worked throughout Chol Hamoed, Motzaei Yom Tov, and Bein Hazmanim to provide the highest standard of chinuch despite our compromised situation. I can’t imagine that it should even be a question whether tuition should continue to be paid on time. Having said that, the utilities, maintenance, and general expenses of a typical mosad have been drastically reduced, if not eliminated at this time. The mosdos are therefore saving thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars a month. Can we use some of that money to sponsor the phones?

3. A simple way to work out the sponsorship of the phones can be to credit each parent’s tuition bill up to $100. This can be done when they provide a receipt for a phone line/cell phone purchase.

4. It is debatable whether those families who truly cannot afford to pay tuition at this time, should be eligible for a free phone. I am just putting out that thought as something each mosad can choose to decide.

To summarize: Parents should have tremendous feelings of hakoras hatov towards their children’s mosdos. And we are asking the Roshei Mosdos to provide phone lines to enable our children to benefit from their hard work!

Best wishes for a geulah keroiva bimheira,

A Fellow Yid

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    • seriously a 2nd line?! most family’s need for or 5 cell phones to keep up with this what this letter writer said is a no brainer of course the schools should pay for it its a drop in the bucket to how much were paying nad not taking anything for it

    • If you are mentioning Optimum that assumes you have internet. I have (filtered ) optimum and ordered 5 Obi200 from amazon and connected them to google voice for free lines. and a one time equipment fee of about $50.00

  1. There are very few phones to be had in wholesale form. Most likely the phones will not work anyway when 10000 kids try to connect to a tower designed to be able to hold 250 callers at one time .

  2. I hate to tell you this but the schools are collectively broke. Yes its true that some of the parents will continue to pay their tuitions on time but many, many people have seen their incomes drop off a clip. They are not paying anyone.

    In addition: MOST CHILDREN IN OUR MOSDOS ARE ON SCHOLARSHIPS!!! it does not cost $4500 to educate a child, so the discount for utilities you are talking about are only relevant for someone paying full tuition.

    Many schools are actually using the loans to be able to continue paying their staffs, many of whom would be harmed greatly by being put on unemployment since they receive parsonage payments which may not be included in their income for unemployment purposes.

    No one has money. do the best you can, but only count your own

  3. The money should be used to pay their staff & parents should be given a break from tuition. Many parents are unemployed or lost significant amounts of money. With a decent break in tuition – those who dont have enough phone lines will be able to buy their own phones

  4. On eBay you can get these sprint 3g basic basic phones for 29.99 the phone is called a Alcatel one touch cinch 1018b spring basic voice phone -black
    And if your looking for a real affordable 4g sprint option there is a phone also on eBay which is called cool pad snap 3312a sprint android 4g late flip phone and it’s 35 dollars. And as far I’m concerned it’s tagable for free and also a Verizon Kyocera 4g flip is 94 dollars on ebay the seller is tag so it comes tagged.
    And the service for sprint is 8dollars. A month with tello. Which is under sprint

  5. Our Mosdos are saving tremendous amounts of money on their Utilities (electric, water, paper towels, paper goods), building Maintenance, prizes, & Security. I believe these savings should be used towards a reduction in tuition. A 5% reduction would probably be a fair amount.

  6. To Fellow Yid
    Two points
    1)You are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle here and that is that many mosdos don’t come close to covering their budget with Tution alone and rely heavily on fundraising which is virtually non existent at this time.
    2) while you are making busy figuring out how much money the mosdos are getting why don’t you also figure out how much money each parent got from the stimulus and if they are using it to pay their Tution or maybe they can use some for a phone.

  7. Regarding your first idea, PPP funds can only be used for: payroll, (which must account for at least 75% of the money) , mortgage or lease payments, and utilities. It can’t be used for other purposes or else the loan won’t be forgiven. Also, the maximum amount of PPP loan/ grant is 2.5X of the organization’s monthly payroll. While we all hope this is over soon, the possibility exists that it will go on beyond 2.5 months total.

  8. To Joe Kay: 1) The mosdos are deferring their mortgages and that is worth 10 fundraising events. A FellowYid didn’t even mention the nice amount of cash flow the mosdos are earning now through their lunch programs.
    2) The oilam is really trying their best to pay. That’s why the letter writer had good chap to only credit tuition for the phones. Only those who pay will earn the credit anyways …And the majority are paying!

  9. There are ruchnius concerns with kids having their own cell phones. Also, there may health concerns as well due to the RF radiation.
    Many parents don’t have money right now and need to watch the children that are home from school. It is imperative to consider both sides when thinking about the loss of income.

  10. Kudos to my our menahel,he got 500 phones sponsored with 2 months service ..gave out to any family that needed. Bh we got 2….hashem should bless him

  11. I am concerned about the safety of cell phones, especially for children. Please do some research on the topic. No one can say for sure one way or the other if it increases brain cancer. I do not think it is worth the risk. Perhaps if there is no other choice, the school should make sure that the cell phone usage is very limited in daily time amounts.

  12. There is no way the phone grid can hold up with 30K students on the phone, many for up to 8 hours a day. In addition, the cell phone companies will possibly shut most phones down for abuse of service. 8 hours a day / 11000 minutes amonth, is abuse of service. Most companies consider anything more than 1500-7000 minutes a month as abuse.

  13. Rote learning has it’s place in education when teaching some foundational knowledge (the alphabet, memorizing the periodic table or bones in a human body, for example). It is most effect for ‘fast’ learning, the lines in a poem or play for example. Contemporary pedagogy recognizes that meaningful learning, active learning and associative learning are more effective ways to teach children and adults.

    That being said, why are these day schools depending on outmoded pedagogy methods to teach using a medium (telephone) unsuitable for learning?

    It seems to me with the funding provided to schools for technology (at the greater publics expense) preprogramed tablets would be most effective in providing students with the type of interactive learning that works with how human brains actually work.

    Naturally this post has an expectation that educators are staying abreast of new teaching techniques.

    The problems our schools face at this critical time is the inability for these schools to progress to newer techniques. The solutions have been out there for years. The schools, teachers and administrators are decades behind when it comes to adapting to the new techniques available.

    Putting an 8 year old on the phone to listen to a teacher drone on isn’t going to be effective and may in fact turn these kids off to learning.

    We cannot change this system in real time, but we should certainly look to seeing how technology can be integrated into our educational system in the future. For now money will be spent on phones, further keeping the children of our community at an educational disadvantage.

  14. Hey all.
    Just note; Sprint service in the Lakewood area is extremely weak. Furthermore, many 2g and 3g phones are no longer supported by their network.
    Therefore,they and the many MVNOs that use their service are not great options. And, most 4g flip phones have browsers that cannot be locked or filtered.
    A better option is good2gomobile, which uses AT and T. You will need a GSM phone that is 3g or higher to use their network.

  15. You still need an actual phone. Ppl keep saying oh you can find this company for $8 month or that company for $10 a month (& Verizon wireless is only $10 if you already have over a certain amount of users on your plan which not everyone does) but you are still required to buy an actual phone. Personally I tried to get a free phone from Verizon, what you can do if you get a very old phone which I was fine with) but the only way to actually get it for free is to keep the line for 2 years. Even at your $10 a mth (which doesn’t include taxes and fees) that alone is $240. Per kid. $25 phones from plenty of the prepaid companies are sold out. I know this from personal experience.

  16. I discussed this with an askan back when this all started. If everyben hasdarim the systems for wirkrss phones were struggling, how could it handle when all children need access via cell service which is then another 50,60k thousand users or my numbers are off and much more…

    Yes kids are getting bored of teleconference. Its not sustainable for all. Wish a kosher tablet could be approved but most smart teenagers can hack it in seconds. Also that’s assuming all houses in Lakewood have wifi, but they dont

    If we could split usage via web access/ internet and cell service maybe that my help but then internet service will start possibly slowing down and there goes the business people especially all those working from home…

    Now the upside of all this
    The best part is having my son ask me to sit next to him to listen to his geshmak rebbe and how my son listens and interacts with him and his classmates. BH. It felt great to see and hear my son learn torah and almost join him in class sitting next to him

  17. I think that all the schools should lend cell phones to all their students that need just like the public school lent laptops to all their students that need

  18. Would appreciate if people would recommend inexpensive quality voice plans (based on actual experience).

    I have had terrible experience with Tello voice quality. Curious if others had a different experience.

    Recently, there was an ad locally for a unlimited voice/text plan for $12/month, but I don’t recall who placed the ad or whether the voice quality was good.

    Overnight, I find that all of my kids suddenly need their own phone.

  19. @Eli: Parents can and should still remain in control of the phones they give their children. I don’t live in Lakewood, but I found some old cell phones and was able to connect thru Tello.Com for $8/month per line (just over $10 with taxes and fees; discounts available for multiple lines/family plans). I also set up 2 Google voice lines. And one child gets the house phone or a parent’s cell phone.
    Our children know that cell phones belong to their parents and have guidelines. It’s a privilege, not a right. They know that if they abuse or misuse the privilege, they lose it. I’m not getting cell phones for my children to run around town with hefker.
    So far, so good. Everyone has a place, a phone, and is seriously learning B”H.
    Parental encouragement goes a long way!

  20. We don’t need 8 hrs of learning through a phone, or to abuse thousands of minutes. These kids are going to put the phones down and look at what their brother is doing instead of listening.

    All assignments should be given out weekly. Monday we study this, Tuesday we study that. More reading and writing. Give an hour long lesson 1-2 times a day. Let different age groups take blocks of time. Youngest boys and girls on the phone 8-9, while older siblings practice assignments. Then 9:30-10:30, those kids get on the phone while the youngest get help reading. Then 11-12… you get the idea.

    Not ideal, but this whole situation isn’t. Parents have all learned these lessons. Older siblings have as well. They can all help the kids get through what they’re struggling with. Not everyone family can afford 5 phones.

    Ancestors kept the Torah and education alive with no schooling, just lessons before chores. People are blessed to live in a world where they can dedicate half a day or more to learning. We can get through this and life will be back to proper schooling soon enough.

  21. Although technically speaking you are right that a second or third grader doesn’t need a cell phone, an older kid could be having his regular ten to four, five, or even until eight o’clock each day! thereforethis still equals an overloaded system! & each student would need his own phone. hatzlacha rabah!

  22. My Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Bernie Sanders said in Shiur,
    “The schools took in more than enough money and reduced their expenses enough, that you should demand they give some of their money to you!”
    A Talmud of Yeshivas Socialism D’Lakewood

  23. If you are mentioning Optimum that assumes you have internet. I have (filtered ) optimum and ordered 5 Obi200 from amazon and connected them to google voice for free lines. and a one time equipment fee of about $50.00

    • Unfortunately Google Voice is not a solution for many. My kids schools are using teleconference lines that are not accessible via Google Voice. Google Voice will not connect to teleconference numbers that charge it to access the line.

  24. If the public school kids were able to get tablets from the boe, shouldn’t they be able to at least get the private school kids some phone plans.
    Fair is fair. Nobody’s education should come before someone elses.

  25. As someone who has been in the telecom industry for a long time here are a few points.

    1) All phone companies while they say unlimited do have a limit to how many minutes they will give you. They incur per minute costs and are working on the law of averages. If a phone goes over a certain amount of minutes consistently it will raise flags and they may cut you off. It’s usually the more “boutique” carriers that do this, the bigger ones (i.e. Verizon, ATT) don’t do this as much.
    2) There is no such thing as free lunch. Most of the schools are using the free conferencing services. They are free for a reason. The phone company offering this service is able to charge a lot more per minute to the carriers sending them the call. This makes my first point even more. T-Mobile for instance will charge you a penny a minute to call these “specialty numbers”. Other companies (such as Exchange Telecom) charge long distance to call these numbers as well.

    IMHO there are two solutions.
    1) Get a system that has “normal” numbers to the phone companies wont mind as much and tell phone company what exactly you will be using the service for (e.g. for the students to call in to a local number) This way you know they wont cut you off.
    2) Get a kosher device that will stream the calls via the internet. I know that Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway is going to be doing this. They invested in tablets that were created just for this and they are locked down and not able to do anything else except for the students to connect to their class.

  26. Great idea! Cell phones are not the answer though. During conferences time the network is overloaded with all my kids and neighbor’s kids conferences and we need Verizon etc to fix this issue first!

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