The Future of Jewish Education
"It is quite clear that for most day schools, the current economic downturn has had a pronounced adverse impact, affecting them in a variety of ways: enrollment, tuition arrearages, scholarship applications, fundraising, and staffing capabilities. It has also affected the families of day school students, among whom there are clearly a number who are experiencing stress. Moreover, many of the consequences of the situation are still unfolding. There is reason to believe that there may be an even greater negative impact in the school year that has just opened on school finances and enrollment," concluded expert Dr. Marvin Schick in his illuminating, fact-finding research The Impact of the Economic Downturn on Jewish Day Schools (Avi Chai Publication, Sept. 2003).
There is a conception that the future of Jewish education belongs only to day schools. No merit to Sunday schools for example. But the day schools' future is based on fund-raising and tuition.
Dr. Schick's research goal was to expose the recent economic crisis influence on this system of education. He pointed out the following:
"Enrollment is a critical issue for organized American Jewry and the philanthropic sector because over the past decade there have been heightened efforts to encourage Jewish parents to send their children to day school and to enlarge the capacity of these schools. Also, any overall enrollment decline, at least in certain schools, would make it difficult for them to balance their budgets and meet obligations.
We first asked whether parents have "withdrawn their children, giving job loss or financial hardship as the reason." We were told:
Table 2: Decline in Enrollment
Non-Orthodox: Yes 14, No 13, Total 27*
Orthodox: Yes 8, No 52, Total 60
All Schools: Yes 22, No 65, Total 87
*One non-Orthodox school responded it "did not know".
The fact that one-third reported an actual loss of students, on the grounds of parental economic hardship, in itself can be regarded as significant. Although two-thirds of the institutions said that no parents gave this reason for withdrawing their children, on closer consideration the situation is more serious."
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