Readers’ Scoop: Why I Feel Schools Can’t Stay Afloat

Readers-Scoop-Logo smallDear TLS,
With all the talk recently of the school crisis, especially with the closing of Bais Hatorah, I’d like to give my opinion as to why I believe the schools are suffering financially so severely, and what I believe the solution is.

Baruch Hashem my family of 8 children were placed in schools a few years ago, but getting there, like many parents, was ‘Gehenom’.

What I mean by ‘Gehenom’?

Well put it this way. My wife and myself went through months of ‘torture’, including not eating properly, in fear of having to move from Lakewood because of not finding placement for our children.

Is this normal? I don’t think so.

I understand there is a shortage of elementary schools, and a limited amount of space per school, but that’s not the issue.

It was the WAY we got in.

So far, I probably sound like hundreds of other parents who have experienced a similar nightmare, but the reason I’m writing this is as follows.

After the torture was over and we finally got accepted into the schools, I never wanted anything to do with the school again.

Yes, I pay tuition, but the buck stops there. I don’t donate any extra moneys, I don’t help out with dinner fund raisers and I don’t encourage my in-laws or grandparents to give to the school either. Perhaps if we were treated with a little more dignity, and not like just another number, perhaps my feeling towards the school would be different. And perhaps, instead of donating my extra $500 to Oorah each year and my $500 to 10 other different causes, I’d donate it to my children’s schools.

You may say that by withholding donations to my own children’s schools, I’m cutting my nose to spite my face, its just the way it is.

And I’m just one parent.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were another 100 parents like us, who don’t feel the proper ‘Hakoras Hatov’ to our children’s schools.

So maybe, just maybe, this may be the reason some schools are losing their supporters and are falling apart, while Oorah and other organizations stay afloat.

Just my opinion.

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  1. Excellent point. However that may be the Nisoyon of Tzedakah. Giving even if you dont like the Hanhala, especially if it benefit’s your childrens Chinuch . A Good Z’chus to come into Rosh Hashanah with.

  2. You are absolutely correct. I had a similar experience and ultimately all my children were accepted into schools. However the whole process left such a bad taste in my mouth that I too give significant dollars to many organizations and yechidim but would not give anything extra to my kids schools. My wife and I avoid interacting with the schools as much as possible and look forward to the day when we do not have to deal with them anymore. If the schools in town want people like myself to fund them they would have to dramatically change the way parents feel about them and it will take a long time before our perception changes.

  3. One additional point. You rightfully point out that our experience not only affects what we would donate but also how our parents and In-Laws respond. My parents and in-Laws were painfully aware of the difficulties we had in placing our kids and certainly have the same animus towards the school system in Lakewood. This has certainly affected their interest in contributing. The upshot of all this is that the schools have put themselves in a bind where the only funds they can rely on are tuition dollars which will never be enough to cover their budgets.

  4. We tried for 7 months to get my 5 year old daughter into a school. Everyone rejected her for one reason or another. School is full… we have TV/Internet at home…. wife not tznius enough, etc, etc. They all suggested Shalom Torah in Manalapan, but I refuse to have my young child shuttled an hour each way. We enrolled her in public school and so far she loves it. We also have a Hebrew Tutor so she is not falling behind, and she is also getting an open view of the world. So far , so good.

  5. The writer says: “After the torture was over and we finally got accepted into the schools, I never wanted anything to do with the school again.”

    Can you please elaborate? We want to know. thanks.

  6. why wouldn’t you get rid of your TV (internet u can have if u need it for work usually) and have your wife dress a bit more tznius in order to get your daughter into school. You rather your child in Public School so you don’t have to give up the TV?

  7. While you raise a valid point, I think there is another critical issue at bay.

    If the schools would LEASE property instead of buying, then the tuition would cover the costs.

    If there is a class of 25 paying an average of $4k, then $100k would be coming in. That would be more than sufficient to pay the expenses of the class.

    But when you factor in exorbitant mortgages, $100k does not cut it.

    Take a look at beis hatorah. The problem wasn’t that the tuition wasn’t covering the rebeim etc., but the problem was that there was a huge mortgage for a huge campus.

    So, as long as yeshivas focus on real estate investments instead of focusing on your child’s education, there will be a problem.

    Its time for the parents to get together and say “enough!” Its time for parents who are faithfully paying the tuition to say ” we want accountability, and want fiscal responsibility.”

    A true cheshbon would reveal that it is in the parents (and childrens) best interest to lease a building and pay smaller monthly fees.
    There would be no need to put huge amounts of pressure to “donate” money towards the required 20% down payment as well as higher monthly payments.
    The parents would be happier paying smaller bills.

    The only ones who benefit from the costly school mortgages, and costly building campaigns are the ones whose names are on the title.

    After speaking to an askan about this issue, he agreed, but said “school operators need the financial incentive of owning real estate, or else they will not get involved.”

    I replied, that if they really got involved in chinuch to teach Hashem’s children Torah, then THAT would be their focus, and not building a real estate portfolio.
    Its truly a shame to see a yeshiva fold because the school made a sour real estate investment at the parents expense.

  8. You people sound so bitter. If your child misbehaves do you treat them that way as well. When your children will be married and not agree with you will you stop helping them as well.
    Am I missing something here?

    The reasons Yeshivas are closing is all together another reason. You dont need a blog to figure it out. Stop blaming other people. Step up to the plate and help, stop crying.

  9. Your mention of. Bais hatorah debunks your whole point. Bais hatorah is not one of those schools that is like pulling teeth to get into and the parent body is very happy with and appreciative of the school and even after that they are still in the red
    Your point of people not giving there extra maser money to there schools rather to other places is more the point

  10. Now that your children are in school and getting the chinuch for the last few years you still hold a grudge?Its like a couple that when they were going out ,one of the them was giving all types of excuses why they were not commiting.At the end they got married I hope the other spouse is not holding a grudge for the next 20 years.

  11. I can tell you first hand Bais Hatorah was a pleasure to deal with and eventually get admitted into. They never make anyone feel unwelcome or unwanted. Granted, there are times where they must reject people, but that is usually related to their mahalach, and their expertise in deciphering if a child can or will succeed in the yeshiva. They do not want to accept a child who will not excel.
    All the parents love the yeshivah, nobody feels any resentment, nobody. Sometimes we feel overburdened, as we’re paying tuition already, so why should we have to keep paying and soliciting more. However, the vast majority are supportive and do whatever they could do, no matter how much.little that is.

  12. I am shocked and dismayed at this letter writer. I am also a parent that had lots of trouble getting my child into school …..months of agony and frustration. Yet I cannot understand how you can feel this way. Agreed there is a problem with school enrollment in lakewood and it’s very aggravating to all thiose that are involved. BUT once your child is enrolled you should be grateful and thankful that your child is receiving a great jewish education. Right now there are teachers and a while lot of people putting in hours of work and time and dedication to ensure your child receives the education she is supposed to be getting with care and kindness. How can you be so blinded by your ego that you don’t show gratitude to those that are helping you raise your child B’derech Hatorah. they say a child learns by example and the parent is the role model. WHAT KIND OF CORRUPTED MESSAGE ARE YOU SENDING YOUR CHILD/? yes you were hurt and you felt humiliated that your child wasn’t accepted at first……but now that she’s there and she’s being taken care of …show some gratitude help them out in whatever way you can …all you have is yourself to blame for the mixed messages you are sending youtr child/children.

  13. I know a lot of people who were in the same position as you . and teir granparents , inlaws etc have money and won’t give a dime to their schools. The schools claim that we stood on our principals, but in reality they shot themselves in the arm . But in defense of one school Lakewood Cheder/ Bais Faiga , you cannot have any taynus on them This year they accepted more kids than ever and now they are in a hole. One class in the Cheder is learning in a hallway, and Bais faiga had to stuff many classes with 29/30 . I wish we had a leader who would take ownership of this problem that no parent should ever have to be degraded again and say I AM YOUR LEADER,I LOVE YOU . THIS IS MY PROBLEM , DONT WORRY ABOUT IT I WILL HELP YOU TO THE END .

  14. Even without the sickness you go through getrting a school to take you, the fact that financially they try to pull out for so many different charges, gives you a bad taste about voluntarily donating.

  15. How familiar this opinion is starting to sound. This also affects people who are in school and their relatives are not accepted to their.
    Same with orginazations that endorse( more like force) a candidate that will do more harm than good will cause people not to give their Tzedaka there.

  16. Great piece, and to the point.
    The problem is, the only people reading this are the parents, who are all on the receiving end in some form or fashion. The hanhalas/mechanchim do not get to see this (most), so it is just venting. For any change, maybe someone with authority might (just maybe) change their attitude of accepting kids. Think how much more $ they could have brought in for the moisad with happy parents etc….

  17. I believe that any child that is in public school, because they cannot afford Yeshiva tuition, could have their tuition funded by Oorah. Call 732-730-1000 ask to speak to the Kiruv dept.

  18. while i agree with the letter writer, but it is just a lame excuse. i have been all the way around the block . i have my kids in schools. and didnt have so many problems getting in, although i am very aware of the problems. ( i have no TV , internet is in the office. i weare black pants white shirts and my wife dress tzinusdik – all these by choice, not becuase we were forced to)

    i did have one problem however , one of my children – for a while could not fit into any school program. i had two options – enroll him in public school or pay for a very expensive program ( which i could not afford)

    i then remembered that (moderated) pays for public school children to go to yeshiva. so i contacted them. they were very curt and rude , and what it boiled down to was that because i was shomer shabbos and wear white shirts they let my child go to public school and didnt give me a cent , while at the same time paying the tutions of the children of a bunch of mechalili shabbos.

    my point is not to knock (moderated) or anyone else. we have become a very judgmental and selfish society. i dont think anyone can change it although our leaders can try. those who do not will give a din vcheshbon in the world to come. but what every individual must do try to look past all the small things in life like getting mistreated when entering school and try to understand the position of the schools even if the schools are wrong. you have to do what is right weather or not you are getting enough kovod or you will just hurt yourself . dont tell the schools to change because they have a whole thesis about what they do and why. just work to change yourself ,

    the same way you want the school to accept you with all your problems and shortcomings. – you should accept the school with all its problems and shortcomings. and until you change your judgmental additude when deciding who to support , you will suffer and we will all suffer. what goes around comes around.

  19. #17 – your post is so sad and mis-guided. The Balei Mussar and Balei Aiytza do not say anywhere that when you are treated a certain way you should ignore it or forget about it and move on. It’s a Middah tova to be able to overcome and feel that way but you are not wrong for harbouring such feelings.

    Don’t be-little this major issue. The writer of this article leaves out another major point to this problem in the fact that once (finally) after the gehenom you have to go through and you do get your kid(s) into school, the administration does not then smile and accept you with open arms and make you feel a part of the school family. NO just the opposite, they hold this brick over you always reminding you that they did you the biggest favor and took your kid so now you are beholdent to them. When a person is made to feel so miserable then they remeber that forever. They are not wrong or bad people for that.

    As a grandparent I feel the awful pain and Bizyonos my children had to deal with just to get their kids (my ainiklach) into school. The months on end of no answers of made to feel like low class people. The Agmas Nefesh and hurt of facing their kids with no answer as to which school they are in. The awful reality of not getting to pick what you feel is the best Chinuch for your kids but having to settle on whomever takes you in (with arm twisting and begging). The sick look on the face of the Menahel / Administrator when he does finally take your kids as if he was getting an enema rather than a diamond of a child. All that combined makes me cringe to think I should help out in any way. Deep down I would rather help Chai lifeline and a kid with cancer. I would rather help Bonei Olam bring a child to family with none. I would rather donate Seforim to my Shul. The very last place I want to help is those people who reluctantly have my grandchildren. I do feel bad for the Rebbi but he chose to work for these people so it is his decision. Get a job as a Rebbi in a school that cares and he would be paid better. If he chose to work for non-mentshilcha people then he understands he too will be treated by those same people in a non-mentshlacha way. of course the administrator will push the blame off on other people but the reality is he made this bed that he now sleeps in and if he pushed away the parents and grandparents then he and only he has to figure out another way to get money to pay salaries.

    I am human and I have feelings. Step on me once shame on me for letting you. Step on me all day and night and shame on you for being a (moderated)! My money will go elsewhere where it is appreciated and deserved!

  20. Accountability is the only answer. Why can’t these Yeshivas show their budgets and expenses once and for all. If it’s really not-for-profit… PROVE IT!

  21. I don’t live in Lakewood but I do work in the world of fund raising and in my opinion there is a lot of validity to this article, although its probably not the whole reason for the financial difficulties schools are facing it definitely plays a role.

  22. peoples giving trends have a lot to do with how they’re made to feel by the organization. if it’s going to be “give us money because we need it and we service your kid” forget about it.. but if it’s” you’re such a close friend of the school and we know how important this cause is to your heart” you have a much better chance

  23. This article was MARVELOUS. It should be forwarded to every school owner and operator. We are treated like absolute garbage when we apply for school. Do they expect parents to respect anything they say after stepping all over them?

  24. Back in the seventies Torah Vodaas was famous for following all the future blog advice (1)they were very easy wiith acceptance (2)they had a (then) 50+ year history of beimg very easy with those who couldn’t (or didn’t want to)pay tuition (3) their parent body consisted of working people many of whom were professionals etc.

    But guess what?They had financial problems even worse then that of most of the current Lakewood schools are now facing.And yes,(it was widely rumored) one year they almost didn’t open untill they gor a $500.000 emergency donation in those years money.

    Torah Vodaas’s experience in the seventies makes me very skeptical of those who say they would give money if the schools treated them better.Rather the Yetzer Hora is doing a job at taking away the zchus of giving from some.

  25. please don’t delete this comment. This post hits close to home. I cringe when I watch my parents blood pressure skyrocket because of what the school hanhalas put them through. Why doesn’t anyone come out and call a spade a spade. When a school demands more than one has to give and then turns around and builds gorgeous new buildings they don’t really need (bnos binah was started with classroom trailers that are quite economical) its a smack in the face to all those parents. It’s high time we force them to act in a financiall responsable manner. Until now they obviously have not. Please do not moderate this comment out.

  26. The real problem is financial oversight. If schools were run by boards who took accountability and responsibility we would not be facing this situation today. Problems are addressed after they have spiraled out of control. At that point the parents had enough, the frustrated, underpaid, and late paid rabbeim had enough, and it ultimately filters down to the children. Ask your school who their board members are. Ask your school what their decision making process is.

  27. Rav nota koslowitz z”l said this 100 times over. He helped me personally with getting into school issues and tuition issues. He held it is parents obligation to support their childs mosad as well as the community as a whole, but the core achrayos is with the parents. In his zchus let’s all support our childrens schools.

  28. Public school, especially these days, is very dangerous. Unless you want what you call a “AN OPEN VIEW OF THE WORLD”. Brother, it’s just not worth it. Believe me, especially for a girl. It looks pretty inocent now, but you don’t know what goes on there. And it’s considered the norm. Do whatever you can do now. Even if it comes a with a struggle. Be it money, be it ego. There are people who will intervene on your behalf. But please, don’t cut your nose to spite your face. I’m begging you.

  29. I spent months of torture getting into school but I was treated nicely the whole way and even though I didn’t sleep and eat for months. When I did get in on july 6th I was so grateful that they took me even though they had no room I give them so mich extra and always do whatever. I can to help.

  30. To # 17 Your preaching sounds like you are a school owner. You want to step on people and treat them poorly and then expect them to be grateful to you for being mechanech their child? I bet eighty five percent of your parent body wishes they had an alternative and did not have to come on to you for any favors. Since they do not and are forced to deal with you they are determined not to give you an extra cent.

  31. Whatever issues you have with your child’s school bear in mind:With your donations they are selling you a product you can’t get elsewhere – The enormous z’chus of a chelek in Talmud Torah.Most of us would do business with people who don’t think are nice if we desperately needed what they are selling.

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