Monday, July 16, 2012

Abstaining from SACS for Another Year

It's official: Teaneck Patch reports that the State has given the official Kibosh to a fall opening for the Shalom Academy Charter School.  Board of Trustees Acting Commissioner wrote:

"The Board of Trustees and founders of Shalom Academy Charter School have not only failed to meet the necessary statutory and regulatory requirements to gain final approval, but have also not demonstrated overall leadership and organization capacity,"

They could try again next year or they can do the decent thing & move aside & let someone else with some management skills try to open a Hebrew charter in  BC.  If they do decide to try again, hopefully parents will make sure to "double register" & not accept any statements that say everything is rosy & we just need to take care of one small paperwork item & we're almost ready for an opening the next year.

What's that expression? Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on you.  Fool me three times...

[Update:  Bergen Record/Teaneck Suburbanite reported on it as well. Apparently the founder hung up on a reporter.  Classy]

Monday, July 9, 2012

Student:Teacher Ratios

Salaries, most of which are for teachers & aides, are by far the biggest driver of costs in all schools, including Yeshiva's.  Pointless to talk about cost cutting without addressing the cost of maintaining a low student/teacher ratio.  A lot of people insist that it's crucial to keep the ratio low, but I don't know if any scientific studies have proven that it improves education.  Here's an  article that argues that we need fewer teachers in the public schools and that having fewer of them would save a lot of money without impacting education.  I think the same argument can be made for yeshivas.  I don't think the education level was any worse 40 years ago when there were much fewer assistant teachers.  

Let's discuss but please leave out the politics mentioned in the article.  Plenty of other blogs for righties & lefties to duke it out over who should be running the various branches of government.

America Has Too Many Teachers

Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated.


President Obama said last month that America can educate its way to prosperity if Congress sends money to states to prevent public school layoffs and "rehire even more teachers." Mitt Romney was having none of it, invoking "the message of Wisconsin" and arguing that the solution to our economic woes is to cut the size of government and shift resources to the private sector. Mr. Romney later stated that he wasn't calling for a reduction in the teacher force—but perhaps there would be some wisdom in doing just that.
Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers' aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.
Or would they? Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has shown that better-educated students contribute substantially to economic growth. If U.S. students could catch up to the mathematics performance of their Canadian counterparts, he has found, it would add roughly $70 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 80 years. So if the additional three million public-school employees we've hired have helped students learn, the nation may be better off economically.
To find out if that's true, we can look at the "long-term trends" of 17-year-olds on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.
Nor can the explosive growth in public-school hiring be attributed to federal spending on special education. According to the latest Census Bureau data, special ed teachers make up barely 5% of the K-12 work force.
The implication of these facts is clear: America's public schools have warehoused three million people in jobs that do little to improve student achievement—people who would be working productively in the private sector if that extra $210 billion were not taxed out of the economy each year.
We have already tried President Obama's education solution over a time period and on a scale that he could not hope to replicate today. And it has proven an expensive and tragic failure.
To avoid Greece's fate we must create new, productive private-sector jobs to replace our unproductive government ones. Even as a tiny, mostly nonprofit niche, American private education is substantially more efficient than its public sector, producing higher graduation rates and similar or better student achievement at roughly a third lower cost than public schools (even after controlling for differences in student and family characteristics).
Associated Press
St. Joseph's Catholic School in Kennewick, Wash.
By making it easier for families to access independent schools, we can do what the president's policies cannot: drive prosperity through educational improvement. More than 20 private-school choice programs already exist around the nation. Last month, New Hampshire legislators voted to override their governor's veto and enact tax credits for businesses that donate to K-12 scholarship organizations. Mr. Romney has supported such state programs. President Obama opposes them.
While America may have too many teachers, the greater problem is that our state schools have squandered their talents on a mass scale. The good news is that a solution is taking root in many states.
Mr. Coulson directs the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom and is author of "Market Education: The Unknown History" (Transaction, 1999).
A version of this article appeared July 9, 2012, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: America Has Too Many Teachers.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Silence is Deafening

Last we heard SACS was going to find a temporary location in Englewood so they could submit their application by June 30th to the Department of Education which would make its decision by July 15th on whether or not to approve the Charter School. They had a lease on 125 Galway Place in Teaneck but were not prepared for the June 21st meeting at the Township Zoning Board seeking a certificate of occupancy for educational use.  The meeting was pushed off to July 19th but that is after the deadline for submitting their location to the DOE.

Anyway June 30th has come & gone & no parents have heard a peep from the "school."  Local papers haven't had anything on it so I'm guessing they are in the dark as well.  It's probably time to throw in the towel for a Fall 2012 opening.  They can still have the meeting with Teaneck on the 19th so maybe they can get the approval on Galway place for Fall 2013.

If anyone has any more information please let us know.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Abe Foxman Has a Plan

Seems like everyone these days has a plan to solve the tuition crisis in the Jewish Community.   Here's one from Abe Foxman, head of the anti-defamation league, as reported by JTA.  Personally I don't see Israeli's giving up their American donation dollars to help fund schools for "rich American Jews" as many Israelis perceive us.

Op-Ed: How to turn around Jewish education investments
By Abraham H. Foxman · June 27, 2012

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Much has been said and written about the financial priorities of the Jewish community and whether they are misdirected. All too often in these discussions, an artificial dichotomy is created between two goals: sustaining American Jewish support for Israel and attending to the domestic priorities of the community in the United States.

Reams of paper have been used in arguing where the financial priorities of the community should lie.

We need more and more to integrate these two challenges: to recognize, as the Taglit-Birthright Israel project has, that rather than a competition, the twin goals of strengthening Israel and strengthening the American Jewish community are linked and reinforce each other.

I believe the best way to strengthen a Jewish community that is diminishing through assimilation is through Jewish education. That is why, in my recent remarks to the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, I called for a five-year, $500 million-per-year reinvestment in the Jewish Diaspora.

For whatever reason, it is very difficult to raise money in the Jewish community in the United States for Jewish education. It has always been much easier to raise money for Israel. Raising funds for Israel is certainly important. But what if we redirected some of the community purse back to the U.S. for the purpose of giving the next generation the possibility of a fuller immersion into Jewish life through all that a Jewish education has to offer?

Education, among other things, makes the real Jewish connection to Israel. And the best way to ensure continued Jewish support for Israel is by having a highly identified Jewish community.

Let’s face it: American Jewish ignorance on Israel is the primary obstacle to American Jewish identity, continuity and American Zionism.

Here is where we are falling down as a community. Too many young Jews receive only rudimentary Jewish training. And those who do often stop studying and practicing their faith at age 12 or 13, right after their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah.

Throughout the crucial teenage years, when peer pressures are intense and young people are truly learning what it means to be responsible adults in a confusing and challenging world, we neglect their spiritual development and allow the highly secular mass media and educational systems to work on them unchecked. When they go off to college, we hope that Hillel and other Jewish campus organizations will attract them. But why should they when our Jewish youth have seen their religion and their being Jewish treated as unimportant in their own homes and communities?

Why not let American Jews continue to raise the money for Israel, but let Israel take the money and invest in American Jewry. Invest in the infrastructure of day schools, whether Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Reconstructionist, and to make scholarships available so that Jewish schools can be more affordable, especially for those students most willing to continue their Jewish education through high school and beyond.

Times have changed. Many years ago, when Israel was struggling to survive as a fledgling agrarian nation-state, $500 million would have been a princely sum. Today, Israel is a nation that has its own millionaires. The economy and tourism are robust and growing. That sum of $500 million is not as significant in Israel as it used to be.

Imagine how far we could advance Jewish education with such a commitment, which comes to $2.5 billion over five years. That is a significant sum of money for schools, scholarships and teachers.

A certain percentage of the money -- perhaps 20 percent -- should be invested in programs to continue, enhance and ensure bringing young people to Israel. There should be no waiting list.

We have developed the most exciting audio-visual Jewish identity program that anyone could dream of and it is called Israel. We know it works. This is the tourniquet. I believe that if 100 children go to Israel, one-third will be Zionists forever, for one-third it won’t matter and one-third will be “different.” That is a pretty good investment for $3,000 per youngster.

The remaining 80 percent of the money should be invested in Jewish education in the U.S. -- in expanding its infrastructure, in substantial tuition subsidies, and in playing teachers’ salaries that will attract the best and brightest. Only an estimated 35 percent of Jewish children are now attending private Jewish schools and yeshivas. The main reason is the cost, which averages $14,000 a year per child -- and sometimes much more.

If I could, I would make Jewish day school education at all levels available and affordable for as many Jewish families as possible. This would mean building many new schools and providing scholarships for those who need them. It would be expensive, but worth every penny. Such a program could help bring about a vibrant Jewish future in America, which will reap benefits many times over in terms of future support for the Jewish state of Israel.

(Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.)