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Tackling the Tuition Crisis in Teaneck

Over the last few weeks popular topics of conversation have revolved around what else we need from the store, if we remembered to make an Eruv Tavshilin, why it’s so cold in shul (women), why it’s so hot in shul (men) and why the cost of tuition for kids in yeshiva keeps going up. In fact, according to a recent study of Orthodox families with children in school, 89 percent of those polled cited tuition as their number one issue.

On Sunday, October 22, at 8 p.m., Congregation Beth Aaron of Teaneck and the Young Israel of Teaneck will host an event at Beth Aaron called “Tackling the Tuition Crisis.” Maury Litwack, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Advocacy Network, will provide a comprehensive overview of the tuition crisis, describe efforts to gain equitable funding through local and state governments and offer ways people can get involved. He’ll share solutions that have worked and what we need to do as a community. The Teach Advocacy Network is dedicated to securing government funding to ensure that Jewish schools are safe and fairly funded. They also fight for equitable government funding, tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts to make a difference for our students, families and schools.

According to Litwack, the tuition crisis, as it’s now being referred to, has been getting worse over the last 15-20 years. “The costs of education have been going up rapidly,” Litwack told The Jewish Link. “The cost of tuition is pricing some people out of providing their children with a Jewish education. Some families are being forced to rethink vacations, cost of living and in some cases, how many children they have. It’s affecting people’s way of life.”

People are now looking for potential solutions to the problem. A Teaneck resident himself, Litwack stressed that those of us in New Jersey should be especially interested in learning more. Schools in Pennsylvania and New York, our two border states, are receiving serious benefits that dwarf what New Jersey has gotten thus far. The reason, Litwack explained, is simply that the people in those states have addressed this issue in their states, and New Jersey residents need to be more aggressive at fighting for their fair share of government funding. Teach NJS, the New Jersey arm of the Teach Advocacy Network, has begun fighting for funding, but it requires greater participation of the community.

“For the long-term sustainability of Jewish life, you need Jewish education. We need to make that as affordable and attainable as possible,” Litwack reflected. “There’s an understanding that this is a crisis. But a crisis requires serious investment of time and involvement over the same period. For those who want to make a meaningful difference, there’s a lot that they can learn at the program. For those who want to move beyond discussion around dining room tables this is going to be an excellent forum to do so. Jewish education should be a communal responsibility.”

Teach Advocacy operates in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and California, covering 186,000 children. Thanks to their efforts, 450 day schools and yeshivas receive government funding. To learn more about Teach Advocacy, the tuition crisis or how to get involved in solving it, visit www.teachadvocacy.org.

The event is free and open to the public. Beth Aaron of Teaneck is located at 950 Queen Anne Road in Teaneck.

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

 

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