Regarding “Committee to discuss day schools without ‘bells and whistles'” (April 3), before embarking upon such an endeavor, it would be worthwhile to consider the following:
Since the vast majority of a yeshiva’s annual budget goes towards the payment of salaries and benefits, the pay scale almost by definition would be lower than those of other schools. In a market that has become so highly competitive, what kind of teacher would the school attract? Who would serve as the dynamic rebbe whose role is so crucial to the spiritual growth of the students? Would the general studies teachers effectively instruct the students according to the rigors of the New Jersey Department of Education’s Core Curricular Content Standards? Or would the school attract people who were either inexperienced, ineffective, or burned out?
Since the contemplated school is conceived with the promise of larger classes, and the possibility that they may easily run to 30 or more, and certainly without the support of teacher assistants, which of the following modalities of instruction will be sacrificed: small group instruction, individualized instruction, differentiated instruction, resource room instruction, or enrichment?
The cost for textbooks has risen dramatically over the past few years. The purchase of a new math or reading series costs many thousands of dollars. What kind of textbooks will be acquired? Will they be second-hand and or out of date?
Since educators know that children must be taught to engage in high-order, open-ended, strategic thinking, how much individual time will there be for each child in a crowded classroom to develop these essential skills?
The aforementioned state standards are all being revised. They call for a significant infusion of technology to enhance instruction. Our educational leaders tell us that we must prepare our children for living in a highly connected, global world of learning. Given the cost of the required technology, will the children at this day school have use of the necessary tools to draw them closer to a wired world or ensure their increasing isolation from it?
Which of the following curricular, co-curricular, or extra-curricular elements will be jettisoned: science lab, computer lab, music instruction, art instruction, physical education instruction, or curricular-enriching trips?
Which of the following specialists, so necessary in today’s schools, will not be on hand to serve the needs of the children: learning specialists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, or guidance personnel?
Finally, which potential head of school, after searching his conscience, will be willing and ready to lead a school that places the constraints of the budget ahead of the welfare of the students in his charge?
Everyone recognizes that the cost of yeshiva tuition has become overwhelming for many families. However, a solution that compares schools to a Rolls-Royce or Chevy misses the mark entirely. I urge all who care about the next generation of Torah Jews and leaders to think long and hard before creating an educational system that will undermine their future.