Monday, December 08, 2008

Chereidi school system in disarray.

Every parent is responsible for making sure their kids are prepared for their future and trained for a trade (pirkei avot). Most responsible parents consider school to be a partner in that process. Intelligent educated parents expect schools to provide a well-rounded education to their children so that they can function as productive adults who have adequate knowledge to understand issues both personal and in wider society. A voter who is ignorant is not just misguided but dangerous to a community or a country's future - not to mention their own future. To that end, every child needs a basic civic, economic, and historical education - as well as secular academic studies in mathematics and basic sciences, health and hygiene, not to mention literature and arts. However, not just in Israel but in America as well, Chereidi kids are being shortchanged.

Ynet News
Experts urge change in haredi school system to battle poverty
Tamar Trabelsi-Hadad
Published: 12.07.08, 20:06 / Israel Jewish Scene
Economists, educators say if ultra-Orthodox education system fails to introduce math, English studies, its graduates will be doomed to life of unemployment, poverty

Regardless of the current global financial crisis, economists and educators warn that the cycle of poverty in Israel is expected to expand even further, due to the Education Ministry's failure to enforce core curriculum on ultra-Orthodox schools.

Several years ago, the High Court has instructed the ministry to include in the curriculums of all sectors several basic classes – math, English, science, citizenship education, history and bible studies – as a precondition for government funding.

However, prior to the opening of the current school year, the haredi parties managed to persuade the Education Ministry to support legislation that allows haredi schools not to teach those subjects while continuing to receive funding from the State.

...Experts are now warning that the failure to enforce a core curriculum on parts of the student population will lead to a situation in which in several years- time tens of thousands of young haredi people will graduate from schools when they are ill-equipped to integrate into the employment market. Those young people will be doomed to a life of poverty and become a burden on taxpayers.

...According to Gottlieb, poverty in haredi society could worsen with the disappearance of industries based on low education and low skills workers and the growing demand for academics.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Israel Religious Action Center claims that the new legislation discriminates against haredi students who are deprived of the right to a basic curriculum that would provide them with the general education needed to become a part of society...

The Chereidi are raising a generation of kids who have no means of earning a living, true. But they also have no skills or knowledge necessary for governing a community, a city, or the country, either. This next generation will have no idea how historical events has brought things to be the way they are, and what "solutions" to problems have been tried in the past - and failed - or how global economic, financial, climate, and geo-political issues affect Israel and themselves. In short, they are too ignorant to be in charge of their own households, much less their community or city or - God forbid - the nation of Israel.

But this is only half the problem - since the Chereidi refuse, point blank, to send their kids to public schools no matter what, many kids will end up simply not getting an education at all. As the article says:

"Not all haredi youths can continue studying in high school yeshivas, and so a high percentage drops out of the education system entirely and they wander the streets aimlessly or gather to drink alcohol," he explained.

That is going to happen to increasing numbers of American Chereidi kids, as charitable giving dries up with the rest of the economy, and the average family becomes completely incapable of affording private school tuition. Already, the dysfunctional Chereidi economic teachings (forbidding men to get jobs and support their families) are having serious effects on the dayschools and yeshivas.

Saturday, December 6
Bais Faiga to Close as Teachers will Strike Due to not Being Paid

Lakewood, New Jersey: The Bais Faiga girls school which has over 3000 children, will be closed next week due to the fact that no teachers have been paid for almost 2 months. Teachers have already wanted to go on strike last week, but the Mashgiach, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, asked them to wait two weeks. The situation looks like the teachers will not get paid, so the school will have to be shut down as the owner continues to deny the funds. Mosdos in Lakewood keep getting affected by the current financial situation as reported below on YIDVID.

It is simply not possible to keep raising tuition, and it is simply not possible in this economic climate to try and squeeze more donations out of the interested parties in order to cover the tuition of those kids whose fathers refuse to work. If the schools are going to survive, they cannot continue to push the idiotic ultra-orthodox prohibition against men working to support their families. As one disgruntled parent wrote in the comments at UOJ:

4:01 PM, December 08, 2008
Anonymous Bais Faiga reject said...

i will also add my two cents on Bais Faiga.

The "owner" has the money if he wanted to pay. Dirty politics is playing a role, and the teachers are the pawns in this endless game.

The BMG Roshei Yeshiva should be commended for standing up for what is right, and trying to get rid of the "boss" of Bais Faiga, who didn't let my daughter in because I work. If only the Roshei Yeshiva Shlita would have had their way and had thrown this idiot out before, many working parents would feel at home in Lakewood.

But of course, why would "the boss" listen to the Roshei Yeshiva. Chas Vesholom to let in working parents!!

So finally the Roshei Yeshiva and R' Matisyahu told the teachers to strike. Thank you. Maybe something good will come out of this.

I can't agree more. This money-will-fall-from-the-sky fantasy the Chereidi Ravs have been teaching is simply a lie. Money does not appear out of thin air - people have to WORK to make money. If less people work and have income than the community needs to support itself, pretending able-bodied men can continue to be a burden on society (or that average women can have numerous children AND earn enough to support her husband and kids) is simply insane.

The kollel paradigm as it is now pushed by the Ravs is unsustainable, period - but only an EDUCATED person can see this. You have to have some basic knowledge about how loans, interest, inflation, budgeting, and income work. You have to understand how what's going on out in the world is affecting the prices of the things you need to buy and affecting your income. People raised in the Chereidi system are simply baffled as to why they are poor and getting poorer. They have no idea what's going on, and have no educational context to even try and find out.

Ultimately, the parents are responsible - the same parents who are often themselves hopelessly ignorant, thanks to their Chereidi education. It's a very nasty cycle. Ignorance breeds more ignorance, while at the same time breeding deteriorating personal and community conditions, as well as deteriorating school conditions. We cannot continue endorsing the production of unemployable ignoramuses - and frankly, I can't understand why anyone wants to.


Religion and State in Israel said...

Thank you Ahava for your insightful post.

Here's a quote from Rabbi Henach Cohen, the head of Chinuch Atzmai in the United States:

“It is worthwhile to point out that while many believe it is funded by the Israeli government, in actuality, the system functions primarily as a direct result of donations.

If chas v’sholom Chinuch Atzmai would be compelled to survive on Israeli governmental funding alone, schools like Beis Yaakov HaTzafon and many others would surely vanish."

Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel

Rebecca Friedman, Your Personal Chef! said...

I completely agree, Ahavah. We have three children in the lakewood school system, and it's disgraceful. They are taught that dinosaurs are fiction. Our 8-year-old has only 6 hours of secular studies a week! The culture of not working is completely dysfunctional, and is worse than the welfare mentality, because its participants feel they are doing something holy. You would be hard pressed to find a welfare mother who feels holy about not being able to support herself or her children. Not mentioned in your post is the rampant abuse of federal entitlement programs such as medicaid. People who could and should be earners are able to qualify for expensive government health benefits because of their self-imposed poverty. This is crazy! We have to pay for our own health insurance because our employers don't offer it and we don't qualify for any government programs, yet the willfully unemployed get fantastic benefits at our expense? The closing of charedi schools is just the beginning of the process. I would imagine we will see a complete collapse of the kollel system over the next ten years, thankfully. I just feel sorry for all these young people who will have no way of getting out of the poverty trap. It's a real chillul Hashem.

Ahavah Gayle said...

You're correct - welfare fraud is another big problem. Technically, they qualify, but only because (as you said) a perfectly able-bodied man refuses to work and support his family, and 2) the women can pass themselves off as unwed mothers because they don't have legal state marriage certificates. Either way it's disgraceful.