Opinion: Fund High Schools and Forget About Seminaries | Meir Bergman

TLS recently reported on Yesodos Bais Yaakov high school that announced its permanent closure following this school year. The school had previously announced that it would not be opening this year due to a lack of funds, but after intervention by askanim, enough funds were raised to keep the school afloat for one more year.

The story of this high school, and many others struggling to stay financially viable, got me thinking about ways to ensure that our daughter’s education would never come under threat due to financial troubles. After some thought, I now believe that the simplest, most straightforward way to go about this is to stop sending our children to seminary. I know that even touching upon this concept might upset some people, but before heading to the comments section, hear me out.

Right now, parents have to take into account paying for at least three, and sometimes four, levels of education for their daughters. They must pay for elementary school, high school, seminary, and possibly a college education as well. Of those tuition commitments, the most expensive one is a seminary education, especially if the seminary the girl attends is located in Israel, with tuition and expenses usually topping $25,000.

With the prevalence of attending seminaries in Israel, parents have to already begin preparing to pay for that year in seminary when their daughter is still in high school. That means that there is less money for them to pay their daughter’s high school tuition bill. Add up hundreds of parents being unable to pay a full high school tuition bill so that they can pay for seminary, and the cause of the cash crunch faced by numerous high schools becomes pretty obvious.

One might argue that even if this is correct, they wouldn’t want to give up a seminary education because they believe that the lessons imparted to the girls are invaluable. I think that assertion is highly debatable, but even if it is, we can still do without them. I can guarantee you that if parents paid full tuition high schools would be able to harness the resources necessary to give a girl a full seminary education before they graduate from 12th grade.

The bottom line is, we need to provide our schools with the funding they need to give our children a well-rounded education without fear of them closing down because they simply can’t pay the staff. Adding an extra year of unnecessary education that could better be spent by a girl earning some money to set herself up for marriage is silly and should be discontinued.

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  1. The premise is completely false for a number of reasons :
    Firstly if I would not send my daughter to seminary I highly doubt I would donate 30k to the school, I’ve paid full tuition all the way through! Gave a nice donation each year at the dinner feel like we did our due.
    Secondly , most high schools are financially viable with tuitions paid it is the small schools that struggle(doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be open but of the few families that send there what is the likelihood of them being able to donate 30k !,,
    Thirdly ,many people get a lot of grants and only pay around 15k and they are getting something for their money it’s not a donation!! It’s a service that is being provided an amazing year in ey !!! And to compare more teaching in high schoolinstead of sem by the same teachers in the same derech is ludicrous!! The teaching in sem is different the atmosphere is different and the girls are more mature and ready to hear it.
    Lastly we have many girls waiting around four 4-5 years before the get married the dating is sparse, should they have another year of just waiting around? Or should they spend the time growing and fortifying themselves for what’s ahead.

  2. I don’t really get it.

    1. The girls are going to go somewhere that will in all likelihood cost money.

    2.even if you find some ‘extra’ money, who is going to insure where it’s spent?

  3. not sending to seminary would just mean less debt for most, not more money to pay for high school. Sorry, the people that are saving up for seminary or not going into debt for it are the ones paying full tuition anyway. Everyone else is not negotiating on tuition bec they need to save for seminary, they don’t have money for either of them. The diff is that seminary doesn’t negotiate, it’s full price or nothing.

    Try again.

  4. Just to clarify something there are a few seminaries out there that will negotiate. If you don’t have the money but can pay a reduced fee explain to your daughter how you think she should go but she has a choice of certain seminaries. If shes mature she will understand 25k is a huge sum to shell out for 1 year in sem. Not really justified in the long run. The girls come home need a new wardrobe some go to school some might take a course and land a job hopefully sooner than later. This all adds up then iyh a wedding and support. Youre talking 150k plus. Nothing to sneeze at!!

  5. And while we’re at it may I suggest that we also cut out meat. Before you all start screaming please hear me out. Meat is highly debatable whether it’s necessary or even healthy. Chicken and fish are easily more healthy and affordable than meat.
    We simply need to tell our families that we will not be serving me any longer and instead give the money to the high schools
    By my back-of-the-napkin calculation, if every family cut out meat, we would have an extra two million dollars to give to the high schools.
    This way, even if girls still go to seminaries, we will be able to support all of our failing high schools and give all the girls the education they so richly deserve
    How is that for a really simple and elegant solution?

  6. Although our children are all grown up by now B H I do have a couple of thoughts about this particular subject, But as of now people think of me as a reasonable person , I do not want to ruin my reputation, So I will wait with my comment for another issue. Respectfully Bubbie Zelda,

  7. I give TLS credit for printing stuff from this guy and Gutfriend.
    They’re highly entertaining and give a good laugh.
    On a positive note, they remind people to stop and think through ideas before putting them down.
    I’m sure they drive site traffic as well (& there’s nothing wrong with that).

  8. I am an administrator in a boys high school. I have to say, that I have spoken to numerous parents regarding tuition for their children, and they tell me, that this year they can’t afford it. I asked them what happened this year…

    The response to me was ridiculous.

    I have to send my daughter to EY for SEM, and its very expensive, so I can’t afford what you are asking.

    To put it plain and simple.

    The parents are willing and able to pay for their child to go to SEM in EY, and pay a crazy amount of money, but for their sons high school, they say, that they can’t afford it!!!!

    How crazy is that!!!!

    This whole system has to change!!!!

    But I am not holding my breath, BECAUSE IT WONT CHANGE!!!!!

  9. I don’t know abt all of Lakewood but I would think a majority is like me. I can’t afford either! I don’t know what I’ll do when my daughter gets to sem but I definitely don’t have the money to pay for either hs or sem! Saying I for sure won’t send won’t help me pay for hs now. And there are places to send to seminary that give a discount and they’d prob be the only option id give my girls.

    • Same here I have no idea how people are managing financially, I am a professional working hard making a decent living paying full tuitions and still struggling this is really insane.

  10. Like College Seminary should be a choice but as we know in certain circles you have to go.

    I think the bigger problem is supporting your children in Kollel. If the wife can support the family then great go to Kollel. But to make parents take out loans (as was recently written in the Yated) so they can marry and support their children is wrong on so many levels.

    Bottom line. You want to get ahead in the Frum world?? Do NOT follow what everyone else does. Be more of an independent thinker. If needed talk to your Rosh Yeshiva/Rav/Mechanes, and you would be very surprised what they may tell you in private then what they may say in public. Most real Rabbonim are NOT stupid people. They understand not everyone can learn in Kollel and support a Kollel family. Same with Seminary it may not be for everyone. Just b/c your friend is going does not mean you have to go.

  11. To the high school administrator – just so you know, I kept my seminary daughter local this year. I am paying more for her seminary costs right here in Lakewood than my sister, who sent her daughter to seminary in E”Y, is.

    And no, I’m not willing to cut out seminary altogether (but I did pay high school tuition). My daughter has an older sister, as others pointed out, we don’t know when the next stage will happen. Let her have her seminary year.

  12. No offense, but who in the world has enough money to save up for their daughters year in seminary. Don’t most families just figure it out hopefully somehow?

    Stop spending other people money

  13. don’t know if my comment will be allowed, but here goes.
    Every mosed wants full and outrageous tuition that many can not afford. since there are so many kids and never enough room in the schools, they have the parents over a barrel. we were all taught just sit and learn and don’t worry about parnossa. So we did that only to have our kids turned away for lack of funds. Don’t let your kids near computers/internet. Fine. When a seminary girl returns from Eretz Yisroel and wants to find a job to support a husband in learning, most well paying jobs demand “must be web savy, and have email experience”. First question from a shadchan where did the girl go to seminary? She didn’t go, what’s wrong. No gelt? How do you expect to pay for the shadchan or a chasuna? Oh she wants a learning boy? He only wants a girl who will let him sit and learn for 10-15 years. No support, no shidduch. Sorry my dear daughter, you can’t get a learning boy since we couldn’t send yo to seminary because we had to pay full tuition tho the elemntry schools your siblings are in. No degree because college is traif. No online degree sinc eonline is traif. Please get a job as a baby sitter and you might just be able to save enough money to go to eretz yisroel to cry at the kosel. on second thought, Hashem can hear you here also. better to send all your money to pay the schools tuition for your siblings. When will we wake up and smell the coffee?

  14. I think we have created a system in our community (or rather, it has evolved) that is unsustainable for most.
    lots of years of kollel plus
    a bunch of kids
    men going to work later in the game, thus starting out with low incomes when they already need a large one.
    expensive tuitions 5-6000 per year through 12th grade
    seminary – up to 25,000 but most people i speak to didnt pay that much)
    (college) – ??? ranges in price but it’s not cheap
    wedding- 30,000 for basics for a kallah?
    support- 1000 to 1500 per month for 5-7 years

    and this list doesnt even mention the regular stuff like medical insurance, braces, clothing and shoes. camps. sunday activities…

    you need to be a millionaire! how is average joe doing this?
    i want to know!!

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