Cautious About New Schools
Tue, 12/04/2012

As an alumnus of an “established” yeshiva day school, I was interested by your coverage of the experimental startup schools (“Lower Tuition School Model Spawning Imitators,” Nov. 23).

While I admire the noble goal of trying to address the tuition crisis through lower-cost education (putting more kids in classrooms, having fewer administrators, etc.), I didn’t see any evidence cited regarding the efficacy of the new technologies, especially in the realm of Judaic education.

The article seemed focused on a new economic model promoted by a group of hedge fund managers and bankers, not an academic model espoused by leaders in the field of education or seasoned administrators.

Studies in the secular world show very mixed results from “blended learning” (particularly with younger children), and a number of states have begun to cut funding for online schools. On the Judaic front, the introduction of computers is in sharp contrast to the practice of transmitting knowledge from rabbi to student, which has sustained the tradition for millennia.

I am all for innovation, but, models designed by financial gurus are best suited for gambling with money, not kids. In contrast, schools are designed to be risk averse. In fact, I applaud the incremental strides that some existing schools are making with regard to affordability, and those efforts should be heralded by everyone looking to address the tuition crisis.

I am personally thankful to the day school system that over the generations has endured far greater social and economic challenges. Starting up new schools based on untested methods is not viable. First off, even a hedge fund manager would not put money in an investment strategy without a track record. Second, from an economic perspective, adding schools only drives up total cost and puts more burden on our communities struggling to support these vital institutions.

Ultimately we will suffer as a community if the goal of lowering costs for today’s parents comes at the expense of the next generation of children.

Harvard Law School,
Class of 2015

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