Volume 55 Number 32
                    Produced: Fri Aug  3  5:13:57 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Finances - Teachers, Tuition, and tiny bit on Davening
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Finances and Judaism (2)
         [Orrin Tilevitz, Chaim Shapiro]
Rabbi's salaries
         [Carl Singer]
Yeshiva high school tuition
         [Dr. Josh Backon]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2007 06:07:04 -0700
Subject: Finances - Teachers, Tuition, and tiny bit on Davening

As a teacher, I certainly don't think that day school teachers are
overpaid.  The salary for a starting physics teacher in the Boston
suburban area, with a master's degree, might be:

public school:  42,000 + full health insurance and pension
Jewish school:  35,000 + partial health insurance and no pension
private nonreligious preparatory school:  32,000 + full health insurance
                and small pension 
Catholic school:  30,000 + partial health insurance and no pension

While the Jewish school is better than the Catholic school, it's still
bupkes....  And after say 10 years of experience, the public school
teacher gets significant salary increases, maybe into the $50-$60K
range, while the day school teacher is still in the high $40K's.

Honestly, I switched to public school at least partly because the
pay/benefits are significantly better.  But even so, there's no teacher
I know who takes off the summer without getting some paid employment to
balance the books.

Probably, the tuition at day schools is mostly justified.  Those who
posted about average per-pupil-spending are right on the money.  I think
in Cambridge, MA they spend something like $19,000 per year per student
on high school education.  This is less than what Maimonides/Gann [local
Jewish schools near Boston] charge per HS student, but not out of the
ballpark.  I think both Maimonides and Gann are charging in the
mid-$20K's this year.

I do think it is interesting to note that all of the local Jewish
primary schools charge around $15-$20K per year, except for Chabad,
which charges around half that.  How is this possible?  Does Chabad
spread their general collections of tzedakah into their schools?  That's
what Catholic schools do to keep costs down.

But I think that while Rabbi Teitz is correct in his calculations and
comments about day school tuition being reasonable, he is unfair to
parents to say that no one complains about college tuition after they
complain about day school tuition.

First of all, people complain *all the time* about affording college!

Second of all, college lasts many fewer years than day school education,
say 4 years vs. 13 years in the majority of cases.  This redoubles as a
problem because it means that you are virtually guaranteed to be paying
multiply for siblings who attend day school, more than for college.

Third of all, the financial aid for college is structured completely
differently, and includes tax breaks.  It also includes
lowish-interest-loans, which are not only unavailable for lower grades,
but totally inadvisable for primary/secondary education in my opinion.

As an aside, I liked Chana's idea and thought it was really sweet, the
idea of having at-home Friday night services.  We did that when I was a
little girl and there was no nearby option.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

p.s. Just because the day school tuition is justified, doesn't mean that
anyone can actually afford it.  So I think the question remains of how
to bear the costs.


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007 07:13:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Finances and Judaism

Having just put kids through the yeshiva system, I am well aware of the
burden on anyone who does not make a very good living.  But I strongly
doubt that most schools waste much money.  At the same time, it is also
beyond question that in most schools teachers are grossly underpaid, at
least relative to what people of the caliber required to teach could
earn outside of schools.  They are also not paid nearly enough to
support living in a big city.  The better schools get some retired
public school teachers, who can subsist on low salaries because they
have substantial pensions, and teachers with working spouses who like
summers off.  But many teachers are there only because they can't get a
better job.  They may be paid what they are worth but, as they say, you
pay peanuts, you get squirrels.

For reasons I'll set out in a separate post, tuition vouchers are a
terrible solution.  But it is not the only solution: how about
contributions from alumni?  While of course many orthodox Jews are as a
poor as, well, churchmice, there is enormous wealth in this community.
Much of it is squandered on such things as dinners out, second homes,
expensive vacations, fancy weddings, lavish houses (not merely houses
that are expensive because they're near a shul), and supporting
sons-in-law in kolel.  Sure, I assume orthodox Jews give to charity at
rates exceeding the general public, but then I hear stories from my
friend, the treasurer of a small shul in suburban Connecticut, who can't
make ends meet because he gets grudging annual donations of $1,000 from
investment bankers, when they could easily afford 100 times that amount.
Most of these wealthy orthodox Jews passed through the yeshiva system.
Most colleges make concerted efforts to maintain contact with, and ask
for contributions from, their alumni.  I hear that 70% of Princeton's
alumni contribute annually.  A shul I've been associated with for over
30 years, Old Broadway Synagogue, the only shul in Harlem, survives only
because Rabbi Kret, Zt'l, stayed in regular contact with shul alumni,
and their descendants, for decades.  By contrast, how often do you think
wealthy orthodox Jews give money to their grade or high-school almae
matres?  How many of you have done so?  How many of you have ever been
asked?  When was the last time you got a note from the principal of your
high school congratulating you on an accomplishment? And if you wouldn't
give, if asked, because it was a lousy school, perhaps market forces
should dictate that that school should not survive.

From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007 14:31:24 EDT
Subject: Re: Finances and Judaism

Art Sapper provides the following selective quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"[t]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation
of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Need I remind Art that Jefferson was one of the earliest, and most
important advocates for free public education as a means of preparing
the community for Democracy and the best and the brightest, regardless
of background, for public service?  In order to provide the appropriate
leadership for the Republic, and allow the flourishing of Democracy,
Jefferson recommend that Virginia provide 3 years of publicly financed
education to all children in 1779.

He also remarked regarding his advocacy for a more intense, continuing,
merit based public education in his Notes on the State of Virginia,
"Twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually and
instructed at the public expense... (Spring "The American School
1642-2004", 6th edition)."  This educated class would form the
leadership of the Republic.

I am sorry Art, Jefferson would see your contribution to public
education as your obligation.

Chaim Shapiro


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2007 07:56:51 -0400
Subject: Rabbi's salaries

> The Rabbi's at the schools are extremely well paid.  (Much more than I
> make) for working half a day and summers off.  They like to cry poor but
> clearly the Rabbinic establishment is taking care of itself well.  I'll
> never afford the hotels or the kosher cruises they go on.  No summer in
> the catskills for me.  No yearly trip to Israel.  And they do take 2nd
> jobs with their free time.  Charging parents to tutor their children
> after school, or sometimes charging adults to learn with them.  Torah is
> a very good business proposition.

I have no dog in this fight -- my youngest child has already graduated
from high school and I am not a school Rabbi.  And although I've paid
over half a million dollars in tuition for my childrens' education -- I
feel it was money well spent.  I used to kid my children that their
tuition was the Cadillac that isn't sitting in my driveway -- but be
that as it may....

I feel the above characterization of Rabbis is grossly inaccurate -- I
believe it reflects a justified frustration with the cost of schooling,
but, nonetheless it isn't inaccurate. ,Anecdotally I can speak of
friends who are school Rebbes, who had to go to a gemachs to secure a
down payment for their homes and who have raised 5 or more children in a
3 bedroom house.  Who haven't been to Israel since before they were
married, etc., etc., Who don't have employee contributed pensions .....

We need to compare the per pupil cost of our "private" education vs. the
per pupil cost of the public schools. Remembering that "private" is not
subsidized by taxes, etc., as much as "public" is.  And we need to look
at the results - our next generation of Torah observant adults.

Jewish education is an expensive bargain.



From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2007 16:53:28 +0300
Subject: Yeshiva high school tuition

Since posting my message this week on the high cost of yeshiva high
school tuition, I have been inundated with dozens of private emails. All
support me, all are terrified of posting publicly on Mail Jewish for
fear of retribution by their schools. Even I was flabbergasted by the
$350,000 (three hundred and fifty thousand dollar) annual salary taken
by a headmaster at a MO school in the midwest.

As I had mentioned, my yeshiva high school [K-12] in the 1960's had 520
students and 6 administrative staff: one principal, one assistant
principal, one secretary (in the days when letters had to be typed
manually on a typewriter), one bookkeeper (in the era before computers
where bills were manually prepared, there was no such thing as
electronic fund transfer, and each check was manually processed and then
deposited in the bank), and 2 janitors (who did an excellent job
cleaning and maintaining the buildings).  Academic excellence was par
for the course (most students took 4-5 AP exams) and the Limudei Kodesh
program was rigorous. Many of the guys eventually received semicha
although they worked in the professions (law and medicine). The boys
played basketball outside and had weekly gym and swimming at the local
Jewish Community Center. There was even a dramatics club which put on an
annual play. Tuition was $750 a year (which adjusted for cost of living
index would be higher today by a factor of 6.3: in other words $4725 (I
checked this again on 3 websites which calculate value of money).

Today the school has 580 students and tuition is $20,000. It is, in real
terms, 425% higher than the comparable figure in the 60's. The school
has the following administrative staff: Director of Admissions (what's
this Harvard which has to screen 5000 applicants??), 2 administrative
assistants to the director of admissions, a director of operations
(what's this the CIA??), a few administrative assistants and custodial
staff, an activities coordinator (what's this? A "tummeler" at a
Catskills resort?) and of course 2 administrative assistants to the
activities coordinator, a director of technology, director of community
relations, 2 administrative assistants to the director of community
relations, an executive director, 6 principals and assistant principals
(elementary, middle and high schools), 4 administrative assistants to
the principals, a school headmaster, a director of marketing, 2 college
counselors (for 35 students??), director of a "learning center", a
"specialist" at the "learning center", a psychologist, a guidance
counselor, a social worker (for whom? The unwed mothers from the South
Bronx ???), director of athletics, assistant director of athletics,
director of libraries, assistant director of libraries, a many many
others.  Did I mention the director of "chesed" projects??  Each
administrative staff member makes at least 3-4 times (in real terms)
what the administrative staff made in the 1960's.


Now multiply administrative staff salaries (at least $100,000 each) by
the number of administrative staff nuchshleppers and then divide the sum
by the number of students.  At least $10,000 in tuition per student
could be saved if most of the nuchshleppers were escorted out of the
door and asked not to come back. And all this without any effect on
academic level or level in Limudei Kodesh. Multiply this $10,000 by the
number of students studying at day schools in North America and you come
to hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted. If 10% of this figure
could be plowed back into raising teacher salaries, I'd be thrilled.

College counselors: that's why the Ribono shel Olam created the
Internet: there are a number of excellent websites that guide the 12th
grader through the process of picking and choosing a college that fits
his/her needs. Gevaldig! We just saved $250,000 in salaries and thus
$431 in tuition.

Librarians: there are excellent DVD's that train the person in
information literacy including use of databases on the Internet
(including the "hidden web") and commercial databases at public
libraries. Mazal tov! We shaved off another $250,000 in salaries and
thus $431 in tuition. Let retired teachers (now grandmothers) volunteer
to run the actual print library at the school using free open access
computer programs for librarians.

And to the poster who complained about the high cost of heating the
facility: I volunteer my time running the house committee (Vaad Bayit)
of a 30 apartment condo in Jerusalem. We are going over from a central
fuel oil furnace to carbon heating film in individual apartments at a
one time cost of $12 (twelve dollars) for a 250 watt heating panel per
room and at an operating cost per panel per hour of $0.025. That, by the
way, is the job of the Director of Operations, the overpaid nuchshlepper
who is supposed to save the school money in the day to day operations of
running the school.

Dr. Josh Backon


End of Volume 55 Issue 32