Day Schools -- A waste of community resources?
I have several problems with this. I'll start with general policy and move to my more jewish concerns.
Per capita state funding might be OK if the recieving schools agree to not be selective in their admissions and retention as a condition of accepting the "King's shilling." As it is, private schools are notoriously selective; we just got the tuition contract, and the fine print gives them the right to bounce the kid for any kind of vaguely defined reasons, including having parents who are a pain in the ass. And, they won't even give you a pro-rated tuition refund. I'm only sticking with them because I know the administration and trust their judgement, also I can't convince the missus that we'd be better off sending the kids to the local public high school, which is perfectly adequate, in my opinion, although the kids might have to deal with a little culture shock at first.
Given that kind of selectivity, no wonder many private shcools spend less per capita and have better performance. All the problem kids are dumped on the public schools. Selective private schools shouldn't be receiving government handouts; they should be subject to extra taxes!
My next concern has to do with public financing of religious indoctrination, er, "education." I'll be damned if my tax dollars are going to be used to indoctrinate impressionable young minds to follow religious beliefs that I find offensive, such as Fundamentalist and Dominionist Christianity, fundamentalist Islam, and Chareidi Judaism. Of course, membors of those faiths might not want to subsidize my indoctrinating my kids into the Hebrew Secular Humanism known as non-Orthodox Judaism. Fair enough. Thus, the obvious solution is no funding at all for religious education. At the very least, it will slow down the introduction of madrassas to the United States.
And, finally, from a Jewish standpoint, I don't see the value to the Jewish community for universal Day School education in any event. Day Schools force the community to spend scarce funds on duplicating what is already being provided by tax dollars (science labs, gyms, and other secular education.) It's even questionable whether a higher level of academic achievement in Judaic subjects translates into increased Jewish committment. (I derive this from my observations of fellow Day School parents.)
It may well be that "informal education," including youth groups and summer camps, might be a far more cost-effective way to build Jewish identity and committment . There's even some empirical evidence, as presented in the Young Judaea Alumni Study.
- According to Professor Steven M. Cohen, “The Young Judaea experience exerts a powerful impact upon adult Jewish identity years after the alumni have completed their active involvement in Young Judaea. The Young Judaea experience lowers intermarriage, elevates ritual observance, raises community activity, promotes involvement with Israel and increases all other types of Jewish involvement.”
- Young Judaea’s impact on Jewish identity compares favorably with results recently reported by the Orthodox Union, in its study of the impact of its youth movement, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). Young Judaea is the only pluralistic youth movement able to make such a claim