Monday, December 31, 2012

Get Your Tax Deductions In

Less than 10 hours left to help solve the tuition crisis while simultaneously reducing your tax base for 2012.  Give to NNJKIDS to helps all of the local Yeshiva Day Schools or to AJE to help fund the "affordable" blended learning schools popping up all over.

Or give directly to the schools. Hopefully they will use the funds to keep tuition from rising and not to fund a third teacher in each Kindergarten class.  Fortunately they all have web pages making it very easy for anyone with a credit card to give.

Here are the links for the JDS's in BC:

Ben Porat Yosef

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SAR Parents: Be Afraid

Word is, SAR is going to try a progressive tuition system where everyone making over $400K will be getting a tuition hike of 15% next year.  Everyone making under that amount will be entitled to a reduction in the amount of the increase.  This will allow them to avoid their typical 5% annual increase for the next several years.

The $400K crowd might be able to afford the increase, though with the expected new taxes for their income bracket, if they have 4 kids in SAR & SAR High it still won't be that easy.  But what bothers me more is making people in the 200K and 300K brackets go through the scholarship process, when they are in the top 2% of American earners. I image many of them are going to start looking at Westchester Torah  Academy.

I have no problem with multi-millionaires from Fieldston wanting a school with tons of bells & whistles (though I'm skeptical that any of them actually improve education).  They earned their money & have a right to spend it however they want.  They donate a lot of money & the clout they have from those donations force the school to focus on "academic excellence" rather than affordability.  My problem is that until now there was no other option for everyone else who just wanted a normal yeshiva education for their children that they could afford.

Personally, if I was a multi-millionaire from Fieldston I would be much more concerned about the future of Modern Orthodox Judaism in America than I would about maintaining the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence in my children's school. I would much rather donate to AJE than SAR.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Season to be Jolly

How awesome is it to have off from work when your kids have school?  I hope the He'atid clones copy this policy.

Monday, December 24, 2012

AJE Embraces Innovation

The following op-ed from the founders of the Affordable Jewish Education project is being published in the Jewish Week this week.  AJE is a sponsor of He'atid, Tiferet Academy and Westchester Torah Academy:

Embracing Innovation In Yeshiva Education
Mon, 12/24/2012
At the Affordable Jewish Education Project (AJE), we are proud to be partnering with three new yeshivas to aggressively embrace educational innovation with an eye towards affordability.
Yeshivat He’Atid launched this past September in Bergen County with 116 students, and Tiferet Academy and Westchester Torah Academy will open in September 2013 in the Five Towns and Westchester, respectively. There have been concerns expressed about both the newness of our model and the effects new schools will have on existing yeshiva day schools.
Given the havoc the tuition crisis is wreaking on our communities, however, we feel an urgent need for an immediate push to embrace innovations in the way we teach our children.
While we would be honored to be able to take credit for these incredible educational innovations, the ideas that our schools are implementing are already the norm in many schools across the country; we are simply partnering with experts in the field to adapt those models to our schools. Over 40 states have virtual schools or online learning initiatives and a recent study estimated that "two thirds of districts are offering some online or blended program." The compound annual growth rate of pre-K through 12th grade online learning is 43 percent, and that number is growing every year.
Some of the largest foundations focusing on U.S. education are already investing aggressively in blended learning initiatives in order to improve educational quality in both public and charter schools. The foremost goal of the Gates Foundation’s “Next Generation Learning Challenge” grants totaling $24 million is "increasing the use of blended learning models." The Dell Foundation, Hume Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation have also spent millions of dollars on similar initiatives.
Why has blended learning been growing in popularity at such a rapid pace? Because studies are showing that it works. A 2009 meta-analysis by the U.S. Department of Education found that "in recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective."
Rocketship Education, which runs seven elementary charter schools servicing 2,500 students in Northern California and has been implementing blended learning since 2007, has shown very impressive results. Despite 90% of its students coming from poverty and starting out 2-3 grades behind, Rocketship's students outperform every elementary school in the area and are on par with their affluent peers in Palo Alto.
In KIPP: Empower, a blended learning elementary school in Los Angeles that uses the same in-class rotation model being adopted by our new schools, 94% of students scored at or above the national average in math, with 54% scoring in the top quartile. Those results were even better in reading, with 76% of students scoring in the top quartile.
We have the tools available to provide a personalized learning experience to our students in small groups by empowering our teachers with tools to track each student’s progress using real-time data. Why not take advantage of these amazing tools? In our schools differentiation is the rule, not the exception; each child experiences a truly individualized educational program.
It is possible that in the short run, establishing new schools may negatively impact some existing day schools. On the other hand, we have never encountered any industry, for profit or non-profit, where the value to the consumer has been enhanced by limiting choice. Yeshiva day schools exist only to serve the community. They are a means, not an end. If they are structurally unable to meet the needs of the community in their current form, we need to have an outlet that does.
Our current yeshiva day school network leaves the vast majority of families priced out of yeshiva tuition, or left with little remaining income for savings or for worthy charities. This has placed an unbelievable burden on young families. We strongly believe that providing a Jewish education to our children should require sacrifice, but a reasonable sacrifice. Our day schools all teach middot, derech eretz and chesed to our students, but the task becomes easier when the school itself sets an example that is sensitive to all families across all levels of income.
It is our hope and expectation, however, that our new schools - and we are already starting to see this in the respective neighborhoods in which we are operating - will encourage existing schools to finally embrace innovation in ways they had been unwilling or unable to do so previously.
We firmly believe that by adopting this model we can elevate educational quality and simultaneously reduce the cost per student of educating our children. We are not saying that all yeshiva day schools need to follow our exact model. What we are saying is that there should be at least one option for every student in every community to enjoy the benefits of a high-quality Jewish and secular education at a price that is affordable for the average family. Ultimately, a rising tide lifts all boats and we believe aggressive innovation could dramatically expand the pool of students attending Yeshiva day schools, thereby strengthening not only the new schools but the broader Yeshiva day school ecosystem.
Mark Nordlicht is founder of The Affordable Jewish Education Project (AJE) and Jeff Kiderman is the executive director of AJE. They can be contacted at

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Much Should Be Spent on Security?

In the wake of the horrible tragedy in Connecticut there's been a lot of talk about making schools safer.  I think some good suggestions that aren't crazy expensive include having every classroom door have a lock on it, having shades on all windows and the classroom door window, and having emergency pull stations in every classroom that automatically calls the police & sets of an alarm to alert everyone in the building.

There have also been some absurd suggestions, like having every kindergarten teacher come to class with a loaded gun every day.

The real question is do we spend the money to fully secure the building against a crazed armed gunman.  My answer is no.  It is simply not practical.  A crazed gunman can simply shoot a guard and shoot glass to get in.  To really secure a building you would need multiple highly trained armed guards.

Even with emotions running high we must think rationally.  Can we really protect ourselves 100% against every potential danger?  Sometimes it's just up to the man upstairs.

There's been some criticism about schools charging a "security fee" along with other junk fees.  Personally I think it's good that this cost is broken out separately from tuition and other expenses.  I think parents are more willing to pay extra if they know the money is being used to keep their kids safe.  If it's just built into regular tuition parents might assume the money is going towards superfluous administration, assistant teachers or extra-curricular programs.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Does He'atid High Already Exist?

I didn't realize it when I wrote my last post but apparently there is a low cost Yeshiva High School that is already in operation in New Jersey.  It's called the Pre-Collegiate Learning Center and it's in East Brunswick, NJ.

And when I say low-cost, I mean LOW COST.  $5,000 per student!!

How do they do it for $5,000 per student?  Watch the video below (but don't expect any detailed budget analysis):

Or check out their website.  Or like them on Facebook.  Or read about them in the Jewish Week.

Or attend the next parlor meeting, this coming Tuesday, December 18 in Highland Park, NJ at 7PM.  For more info or to RSVP, please contact the office at (732) 387-2693 or send an email to

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

He'atid High

Now that our kids are getting a little older it's time to start worrying about high school tuition.  Some of the Yeshiva high schools that draw a lot of students from Bergen County include Frisch, TABC, Maayanot & MTA.  I compiled the total cost for sending a child to each of these schools for 4 years, assuming no scholarship, one-child in the family attending, fees paid on time, no dorm & no changes in the fees.  Here's what it comes to:

Frisch      $105,950
MTA         $97,840
Ma'ayanot $85,365
TABC       $88,576

Some of the critics of He'atid argue that younger children don't have the attention span to learn from a computer.  I disagree.  But I wonder if those critics would have the same problem with a high school that emphasized computer-based learning.  I don't really get how computer based learning saves money in early childhood if you still have 2 teachers in the room but in high school there can be periods where you don't need a teacher at all.

We need someone that can get this off the ground.  Help us GD!