Letter: We Need To Help Our Teachers

(An update to my previous letter)

To Whom It May Concern:

I am sitting down to pen a letter that is on everyone’s mind yet we all don’t have an answer and maybe we can brainstorm together.

I was talking to my neighbor of mine the other day whose wife works as a teacher, and he was telling me that the school where his wife works joined the Torah Umesorah tuition initiative program, which provided a $10,000 raise this year. (Which, by the way, not all schools that joined gave that much.)

And he was telling me that this year he is much more tight financially than last year before the raise, mostly due to playgroup and babysitting raises, tuition raises and the cuts he is getting from government welfare cuts (he explained to me it is on a sliding scale; the more you make the less funds you receive but normally worth it to make more.)

But with all these raises (this is not including the regular inflation, plus sharp increases of rent that I know he was hit with) he is so tight that his wife might have to leave her teaching job next year.

His wife is a great teacher, the school gets multiple requests every year to have her as their child’s teacher – and was offered by multiple schools a principal job which she doesn’t want.

Now I know there is no quick fix answer, but Torah Umesorah did all this to try to find an answer to the teaching crisis that is going on, where it is so hard to find qualified good teachers…. and here we are in an even worse situation than before.

(I experienced the issue personally as one of my children was stuck going from one substitute teacher to another last year after his teacher had a medical emergency)

For myself, I took a lesson from this that I will try to tip generously before every Yom Tov – and I try my best to give what I can.

If I can maybe ease their financial stress (which assume will make it easier for them in the classroom if their financial stress is eased), that would be great.

But I know that not all parents can afford that so lets brainstorm together to figure out what we can do for OUR children so that we won’t be stuck with not qualified teachers…

We must step up to the plate before it is too late as we are in a real crisis.

And no, I don’t work in the Chinuch field, besides raising my own children – but I don’t make money from that.

I am expecting to see a bunch of comments of how teachers hardly work… but people should realize that this our future generation and after talking to people in the field it is a very high stress, high patience job,

In addition, teachers that work all day outside the classroom, will likely not perform in the classroom at the desired level.

It is physically draining and needs a lot of prep to be a good teacher, so it is like full time.

So, for the benefit of our children, we want them only working in the classroom so that they can be at full capacity in the classroom.

I know how everyone is suffering from inflation, but we don’t want to be left with just not the most qualified teachers as they are leaving the teaching field as financially they can’t make it.

We are in a crisis, not the teachers – as what will be with the future of our children if they will just have inexperienced teachers.

I personally approached some well to do parents in my children’s school to see if we can make a Simcha fund and a Yom Tov fund.

Now I know this isn’t something that every school could do, as parents are very financially stressed with tuition as it is.

So let’s brainstorm together to figure out a viable solution for the future of our children.

A concerned parent for the future of our children,

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  1. I am a teacher for close to 20 years and there’s nothing more that I enjoy than doing what I’m doing! Just this week, my husband told me that he doesn’t think it’s feasible to continue teaching because we literally can’t pay our bills! This is so hard for me to even consider! My students are so dear to me and there’s nothing that I enjoy more than giving over my lessons!! I wish there was a real solution so that I could stay where I feel I belong!

    • Stop threatening, just leave. If there is a better paying job for you with the same hours, perks, etc. take it. Everyone has to do what works best for them.

      Personally, I’m not worried that the schools will run out of qualified teachers.

  2. If the Teacher’s financial situation is as tight as described above then monetary gifts can be given to the teacher from maaser money.

    Double (triple or more!) up on your teachers gifts so they can stay in this special job of educating our children!

    (Don’t pasken from a TLS comment and ask your LOR, this is what my rabbi told me)

  3. I dont understand these letters. Im not a teacher and i dont live in Lakewood but from what I know they get nice tuition breaks. So their lack of high salary is fair.
    My kindergarten son in NY is $9500. $9500!!!!!!!!! They do not give discounts for his age. We make under 80k and are trying to get by in a small 2 bedroom. Thankfully we get some discount for my older children.
    So if your gonna start a fund u can send some money to me too.

    • Hey, I never reply to comments, especially inane ones, and certainly wouldn’t waste my time on something as silly as this one, but just to set the record straight:
      Teachers are paid a lot less than you think, rent has only been climbing without a stop, inflation makes grocery bills crazy and – shoe drop – yes, teachers may get tuition breaks – but it usually comes off their salary. FYI, starting office salary for inexperienced entry level position is at least double, if not triple a teachers. And their job stays in the workplace when they leave.
      And – just wondering about the “high salary”?
      Find me a single Rebbi or teacher that is feeding their family without taking a second day job, being supported, or otherwise, is independently wealth

    • First of all it sounds like you are in a tight squeeze and you sound a little bitter about that. Hashem should help you with everything you need!
      To your point the reason we talk about, and try to prioritize, our Rebbeim and teachers is not simply because they are members of our community who are struggling financially.
      Rather it is because they are providing the klal with the priceless gift of being mechanech our children.
      Without Rebbeim and teachers we have no future. period. end of story.
      Ask all the ehrliche Yidden of yesteryear whos children did not have Yeshivos and and Bais Yaakovs. Where are their grandchildren today?
      Rebbeim and Teachers are doing for the klal, therefore it is the klals responsibility to help them. And yes, to help them BEFORE other people who are struggling.
      I’m sure you are an indispensible member of your community but Mechanchim must stay a prority.

  4. I have a question and not asking in a condescending way.
    I was reading an old voice that was discussing this issue. They teachers principals etc writing. Most of the teachers said they were making 26-30,000. I’m assuming this is for half day?
    Does anyone really think with no experience etc they can leave teaching and all of sudden make more? And have every Vacation and summer off?

    • I don’t know you got those numbers from my wife has been teaching for over 6 years and now with the push to give teachers a raise is only making $21000

  5. Catch 22, he needs more money to pay higher tuition which goes to pay teachers who need more money to pay higher tuition which goes to pay teachers who been more money to pay higher tuition etc…………

  6. The solution is to figure out simple consistent and easy ways where teachers can come away with more money in their pocket without the burden falling directly onto the schools… I’ll start with three
    1. Giving a slightly higher tuition break per child, this way the payroll stays the same but each teacher proportionally walks away with more money in their pocket. Don’t know why but from my experience it’s easier for the school to get a few dollars less from tuitions then to write out a few dollars more on a check 💁‍♂️
    2. Having a seperate charge of just a few dollars a month from each student which goes directly to increasing the teachers paycheck. So it would be tuition + $10 per month per child for the teacher.
    3. This is something that I know some schools already do, have an internal (parent body only) fundrasing event to cover bonuses for teachers during high stress and high costs time such as yomim tovim.

    Hopefully others can chirp in with some more ideas and we can get things done once and for all

  7. OK, so just from tuition ALONE, before dinners etc, an elementary school class brings in about $200-$250k per year if my math is correct. So a midsize school with 4 parallel classes will have an income of about $8million. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to where all that money goes…

    • For starters the average class does not bring in that much.

      Here’s a partial list of some of the most basic expenses that schools have

      Minimum 1 hebrew and 1 English teacher salary per class
      Plus they chip in for principles deans ceo cfo administrators office staff bookkeepers kitchen and janitorial staff nurse librarians computer teachers gym teachers teachers assistants specialty teachers etc… salaries
      Plus they also chip in for:
      Mortgage or rent
      Office supplies
      Classroom supplies
      janitorial supplies
      General maintenance supplies
      Seforim and books
      And the list goes on and on…..

  8. The system is so messed up. The whole of Lakewood is in the government program rut, so they’re not appreciating what they’re getting. Don’t take the raise, stay on maximum programs and all is well. Yes, I was a teacher as well, the hourly pay of a teacher is probably of the higher ones, and a teacher with many years of experience doesn’t have so much prep, and ALL the PAID vacations. Let’s stop crying Nebach!!!! Yes, it’s not an easy job. But who said life is easy!!!!! Hatzlacha Rabba to us all, and let’s lower our crazy standards in every way, simchas, latest matching clothes for our kids, crazy fancy homes. Let’s show our children TRUE values!!!!!

  9. Maybe maybe we should cut down on the amount of girls school teachers. There is no reason my daughter has to learn a million subjects with a million teachers especially when most of the subjects are not relevant and necessary. Once we eliminate teachers we can possibly pay each teacher better.

  10. Why wouldn’t that lady take the principle job that’s being offered to her if it pays more floose? I thought the extra floose would be welcomed.

  11. I honestly dodnt care wether the teachers are struggling or not I believe they shouldn’t participate in a broken system that discriminates against people that dodnt have enoough money to bribe themselves into a school. There are countless parents thay were shattered emotionally and physically due to our horrible system of rejectionand bribery. I am Waiting for the day that the whole system collapses. The best thing for a teacher is to leave a system that causes so much pain and sorrow to so many Yidden .

    • Wow, sounds like you’re in serious pain. I’m sorry that you went through whatever it is that you went through but your comment is not consistent with reality. B”H the system for the most part is amazing and not broken at all. Is it perfect? No. But the schools for the most part are aware of the issues and do try to fix things in whatever way they can. Your comment is obviously coming from a place of pain so I won’t judge but please let’s keep this conversation focused on the positive and not take cheap shots at those that we need most. Hatzlacha Raba!

      • Ur talking the way ur talking becuase it worked for you and you should be thankful, but I have spoken to many many people that went through allot of pain. My horroble experience is unfortunately very very common.

      • Have you spoken to parents who applied to school in the past few years? I have and yes, if you give a huge donation ($30-100k), they will accept you even if you’re the wrong type. It’s a sad and disgusting reality.

  12. As an experienced teacher with close to 20 years of experience, I still have to prep/mark at least 4 hours a week. (And that’s not including report cards/pta…) I love what I do. I barely get a tuition break, even in the school where I teach because I’m an English teacher. (Explain the logic please.) I thought that maybe there should be a program where all teachers/rebbeim in chinuch get a significant – really significant – tuition cut, regardless of where they teach.

  13. The usual Lkwd whine. If I make more money I lose welfare benefits, the amount of rent I pay under HUD will increase. The welfare mindset is thoroughly entrenched in Lkwd and other frum communities on the east coast.

    • Not everywhere & this constant casual talk about Welfare is an embarrassment. Do American Yidden want to be known as Welfare moochers cuz we can’t make it on our own? It’s a terrible concept that has set in in to many Heimish communities.

      • Data indicates that the welfare mother president Reagan demonized many years ago is now a frum mother with 8+ kids and a handful of public aid.

        Someone with a subpar education cannot be expected to generate and income that affords a private school education at today’s prices. Nor can they be expected to afford ‘gowns’ for social events. Nor would I have the expectation that they have the education and ability necessary to be instructors in private schools. Unfortunately many in the tri state area do have these expectations.

  14. My sister has taught in a girl’s yeshiva for many years. Due to the school’s financial situation, many months she did not receive a salary. She can get by financially because her husband makes a decent salary, but she has had discussions with the principal about being paid regularly. Due to the large number of students on reduced tuition, the school is always fundraising.

    • Sorry – not the norm in lkwd. Most schools pay on time.

      Let capitalism work! If she isn’t getting paid, she should leave her job whether its in a school or otherwise. Dont stay at a dead end job & whine that we should artificially raise your salary just “because”.

      If schools didn’t have rabbeim, the’d pay more. Obviously, there are people willing to work for the current salary+benefits of being a rebbe/teacher.

    • according to my understanding that this is what is making mosdos drown their tremendous mortgage payments and fees from buildings not their daily operation but this is the new norm in Lakewood and they think they need this to be viable but this is killing all their budgets

    • Many schools and yeshivas are bursting at the seams and the need for a new building arises. While they’re building a new building, they might as well make it look presentable. When they reach out to donors, the mossad wants to make sure that the money isn’t going to waste.

  15. I’m not trying to knock anyone but this is what happens when a city is built in Lakewood principles (& there’s nothing wrong with that as we need all types of Jews). Where I live most Charedim are educated professionals making (esp with the wife also a professional) a nice living. They can afford to pay tuition which attracts good teachers cuz the pay is good & on time. There’s also groups here like the federation which pours millions into Day school education & teacher development & benefits as well as other not Frum groups & individuals that support Torah.
    Maybe there are groups out there Frum or Not that recognise the importance of a day school education & will help out.

  16. Can I just point out, the teacher’s playgroup Morah raised her rates so she could afford to pay her increased tuition for the teacher’s raise. Vicious cycle

  17. As a husband of a teacher and a son of a principal let just share some facts on what’s happening in your son’s or daughter’s school. My wife has been teaching in one of the bigger boy schools for over 4 years in that time every married left the school except for 1 every single that got married left except for 1 maybe 2 and in that time the school hired only single teachers. So just keep that picture in mind before you say anything. Realize that yes the teachers are leaving and your son or daughter is being taught by a girl straight out of seminary. Now all this is even if the school can find a teacher (which at this point means someone with a pulse) my father had a class in his school that still doesn’t have a teacher.
    So now that you know some of the facts you might want to rethink all of your (people in the the comment section) animosity towards people trying to fix a broken system.

  18. Although I am sure the letter writer is very sincere, this is not an issue that is specifically one that affects teachers only, it affects the vast majority of middle to low income individuals in this town who do not make 6 figure +salaries. Look around, not everybody is a big shot with a fancy car and house. Ask your friend in shul how much credit card debt he has you might be very surprised…. It’s time for lifestyle changes everybody. When you’re lifestyle becomes the standard then the people below you in the food chain suffer when all their costs go up

  19. This post is about how WE can insure that OUR children have the very best educators. To get quality, you have to pay. To encourage our best and brightest to go into chinuch, the numbers have to work. It is to OUR benefit to do our utmost to figure out how to pay to keep teachers that WE want for our children.
    The struggles of the middle class are real, but that is not the topic of the post. (BTW, I too am in the middle class)

  20. Another comment from my previous post.
    Why is it that its always about teachers who like said before arent paying close to the tuition we pay? What about mashgichim who also have an important role with regards to the spiritual well being of klal yisroel? My husband works full time no vacation has crazy hours and gets peanuts. He comes out in somwhere maybe around mid $30k by the end of the year. We do not get SNAP WIC welfare or section 8. Maybe start a fund for mashgichim too.

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