Monday, December 26, 2011

Are WE the problem?

Brigham Young University is a private University in Utah that is owned by the Church of Latter Day Saints.  Tuition per semester, according to the schools website, is $2,280 for LDS members and $4,560 for non-members.
At Catholic elementary schools, the average per pupil tuition is $3,383 which is approximately 62.2 % of actual costs per pupil of $5,436. That according to National Catholic Educational Association (
To be sure, costs for staff & many other expenses are lower in other parts of the country than they are in BC.  But an enormous part of the school costs, and the resulting lower tuition, come from funding from a centralized Church body.  The burden of paying for education does not fall entirely on those with school-age children.  People donate enormous sums of their wealth (10% by many in LDS) to the central church which in turn funds religious schools, among other things.  People in these communities also often leave significant portions of their wealth in their estates to the churches.
In Judaism, there is no central authority.  At least there hasn’t been a universally recognized one for the past 2,000 years.  But that is no reason why there can’t be significant voluntary donations that would help defray tuition costs.  While the mandatory contributions, in the form of tuition, have to come from after-tax dollars, the voluntary contributions are tax-deductible and could be paid for with much greater ease.
Unfortunately, a culture of pettiness and selfishness engulfs our community.    When schools instituted a Scholarship Fund to be paid by parents along with tuition word got out that the schools couldn’t legally require payment of it.  Many people said they couldn’t afford to pay it.  But sure enough, once it became mandatory, nearly everyone paid it.  So we cheated ourselves out of $2500 tax deductions.  Congratulations. 
If only we had the sense of community that the Mormons and Catholics had we would less of a tuition crisis.  People whose kids have grown up and have the most means and least expenses would be subsidizing the younger parents who are mostly at the beginnings of their careers and can least afford to pay.
NNJKIDS was formed to help address this problem.  So far they are collecting enough to cover about 2% of school costs.  We could be doing much better and we should be doing much better.
Yes, schools need to be doing a better job of cutting costs. But WE need to do a better job of raising revenue. There’s blame to go around for the crisis we are in.