Penultimate Post

Feedback is always good because, even when it is negative, it encourages further thinking and analysis of the matter at hand.

The majority of people who commented on last week’s post, or who contacted me directly, disagreed with what I wrote, regardless of their own tuition situation (including my own husband, for the record). I have had some time to mull over my earlier thought process, and it all comes down to this:

Communication. I don’t think I made that point strongly enough last week.

Time and again, despite earlier mistakes, the school continues to send out communication that upsets people. Timing is tantamount to success, always. Therefore, sending out emails regarding financial aid and scholarship application while the Business Manager is on vacation, and unavailable to field questions, will fuel people’s anger. In addition, sending out an email to the entire school, when only a small percentage of families meet the requirements, adds to the general feeling of degradation amongst families benefiting from financial aid. In fact, a number of people expressed just that to me – why does the whole school need to know what we are being put through if we ask for help? The feeling seems to be that people already believe they are being scrutinized, that everyone knows (or thinks they know) who is getting help, and by sending out all these communications to everyone (including The Questionnaire) it furthers the feelings of inadequacy and helplessness amongst those in need.

Is there a better way to do this? Probably. When the initial re-enrollment forms are sent out, there is a box at the bottom to check if you plan to apply for tuition assistance. So, it is clear from the time of registration who is applying, and who is not. In this great age of technology, it is pretty simple to create a “group” email for all those that checked the box, and to send those emails only to those people.

One comment on last week’s post (from someone who clearly lives outside of Boca) said:

I don’t think it is a bad idea for you to petition those on the HDS finance committee to publicize details on the formula they use to determine who gets tuition assistance and in what amount such assistance will be awarded. I can’t imagine they would have any objection to revealing that. You seem concerned that groceries and clothing expenses are not taken into account because you are not asked to disclose those expenses on the scholarship application – I would imagine that there is a general assumption for those expenses taken into account, but if it isn’t, or if the assumed amount is unreasonable, then you have a legitimate concern.

I understand that the people making the decisions about financial aid are supposedly anonymous (i.e known by many, but not officially). I wonder if anyone would petition HDS for those details. And I would be interested to see how exactly they figure out how much a family can pay. I heard this week from someone who received a contract asking them to pay double what they paid the past year, even though neither spouse is making any more money than they were…

I got an anonymous email from someone saying how pleased they are that my children are leaving the school, because that is 3 children fewer that they will be paying for. I don’t respond to anonymous emails, but I’m sure you are reading this, and here is what I say to you: tuition is about $16,000 for each child. About $3000 of that goes towards another child’s tuition. As far as the school tells it, there is no family receiving 100% tuition assistance. In fact I believe it maxes out at either 50% or 60%. Which means that every family at the school is contributing something. If every family on tuition assistance leaves, you will not be paying for other people’s children but in order to survive without merging with another school, HDS would
a)have to significantly raise tuition for the families left behind, and
b)downsize their teaching staff as fewer classes per grade become necessary.
So then you create a new problem – the teachers who are let go will most likely pull their kids out too, and the school shrinks further and is less likely to survive.
So, before people walk around saying “good riddance”, just remember, everyone is paying something, and every dollar coming in keeps your contribution where it is.

Next week will be the final post in this resurrection series, and likely my final word on the tuition “crisis” in Jewish Day Schools. A lot remains unsaid, but as my family leaves the system, at least for the time being, I will leave it to those who are still within to hash it out, and maybe come up with a plan for the future of Jewish education

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Plony Almony
    May 31, 2012 @ 18:13:58


    I’m not sure why I feel compelled to read your blog – much less to write responses – but I am.

    The email you received from the individual who is happy that they no longer have to participate in the support of your children’s yeshiva tuition, is evidence of the sentiments that I alluded to in my response to your post last week. Sadly, though, that email is an extreme example.

    One has to wonder why a person who could be so mean would bother spending so much money on yeshiva tuition. Apparently, the tenet of “love your neighbor like yourself” is completely lost on the sender of that email. I wonder if God thinks that sending one’s children to yeshiva is more important than how you treat neighbors – clearly the sender of that email feels that way.

    Like I said, the feeling of resentment by the “haves” for having to support the “have-nots”, I think, is natural – turning that resentment into embarrassing another, however, is a whole different ball game. If the sender of the email is a yeshiva graduate themselves, his or her parents deserve a full refund…

    All of things you mention above, i.e., people knowing or thinking they know who is receiving tuition assistance, the insensitivity of those tasked with communication regarding and execution of the tuition assistance program, the nasty email that you received… are all indicative of a system gone awry. None of those things are at all in the spirit of the very thing – Jewish education – that is supposedly the goal of everyone involved.

    You mentioned that this week will be your final post on this topic – I hope you will reconsider, I am enjoying it.


    • vanessabrooksceo
      May 31, 2012 @ 23:13:28

      It is sad, isn’t it, that we have come to this, where one Jew resents another, because he doesn’t feel like being generous to his neighbor. Reminds me of many people who go on and on about health care not being a “right”, and therefore if you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. Personally, my somewhat liberal self believes in basic equality for all mankind…

      As far as continuing my blog, I have so much more material that I could use, however, between my work, my kids and ordinary household affairs, I don’t have enough time to devote to regular writing. I will continue to blog from time to time, but most likely it will relate more to my business for now


Please comment - anonymously if you choose

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: