Kudos to Rabbi Taubes for eloquently saying (May 1) what needed to be said regarding students with special needs and their families’ treatment as second-class citizens by our yeshivot. In the glossy literature developed by many of the schools, each purports to lavish individualized attention so that each child is able to learn in accordance with his or her level, yet children who aren’t “plain vanilla” and require more individualized attention to learn are “blacklisted” and pushed out the back door. This causes children to fall through the cracks and forces the family to consider the public school option. How do we allow this to happen?
When I went to grade school, we had an inordinate amount of Russians and Iranians in our classes. Many spoke very little English and no Hebrew – yet they were accepted. Some students had learning disabilities, some had behavioral problems, but we were all together and it benefited all of us. The belief was, back then, that all Jewish kids deserved a Jewish education regardless of country of origin, learning capabilities, or ability to pay. This was the mantra of the school’s founder and this is how the school operated. To say that money was tight is an understatement. There were no after-school programs or sushi being served at board meetings, but the school survived and flourished and we were all “in it together.”
Let us not forget our roots and the charter of each Jewish day school in the area. It is to provide a Jewish education for every child and every family that wants one. And this should be the real selling point that should matter to us all.