Georgia No Longer Has The Scariest Public Schools

Listen, I love the idea of free Jewish education. (What, you think I wanted to teach Sunday school out of the goodness of my heart? I’ve since found out that free tuition isn’t even part of the deal, but I’ve already signed the contract. So the goodness of my heart it is.)

Anyhoo, every parent knows how the kvetch goes about the cost of private day school, but is a Jewish public school such a good idea? Some families in South Florida have gotten together to make it a reality, and the first day of classes at band new Ben Gamla is next week.

But wait, it’s not much like religious day school at all: Students will learn Hebrew, Jewish history and Jewish-related topics for two hours a day and eat kosher lunches (will the cafeteria lades wear shaygels and hairnets?) and but no Torah, no Talmud. Oh, and no Jewish symbolism like mogen davids or menorahs. But the charter school (a tax-funded, privately-managed educational institution) caters to a community with a large Israeli population, so a secular education is just what these families want.

I suppose if this was made available to my family, I’d give it a chance, but not without major reservations. Oy, it’s giving me a headache: How do you teach “Judaism” without religion, or at least a picture of a darn shofar? And if you do, why bother? And is it really possible to keep the lines of synagogue and state clear? As part of the public school system, won’t it have to give everyone Good Friday off? And don’t you agree that if a group of Christians wanted to open their own public school, we’d be storming around with our lawyers?

I guess I don’t how to feel about “culturally identified” schools that will obviously have so much fuzzy religious crossover. Blogger bud Schvach tipped me off to the Arab-themed charter school in NYC (hey, can’t wait to see their cheerleading uniforms!), and gosh, what a surprise, they’re having kind of hard time keeping the jihad out of the classroom. Does anyone really believe you can have an Arab- or a Jewish-themed school that teaches anything about the other objectively?

I admit to wishing there was free Jewish school here that will teach my kids Hebrew, but I have enough problems with a public Montessori that has mandated tests. It all just strikes me a baaad idea.

Tell me why you disagree.

11 thoughts on “Georgia No Longer Has The Scariest Public Schools

  1. “Tell me why you disagree.”
    I can’t.
    I’d love to have an inexpensive Jewish education for my son but I can’t support the government doing it. It’s a slippery slope. Where I grew up, most of the population was rabidly Southern Baptist and they would have jumped at the chance to turn the local schools into psuedo-religious schools (which is what this Jewish school will be). Instead they had to rely on tricks like the “Free Pizza Party” tickets they would have their kids hand out at the schools.
    Plus, there are other issues. Will the teachers be Jews? If not, I wouldn’t want my son learning about Judaism from a non-Jew. They might have ulterior motives or innocently use context from their Christian background.
    I’d be okay with the school catering to some of the secular aspects of the culture, like teaching Hebrew, but I think it’s a bad idea for the goverment to get involved in teaching religion, sorry, “about religion.” Besides, parents and the Jewish community can do a better job educating our kids than can the government anyway.

  2. I agree completely, especially with the fact that parents and the Jewish community can, AND SHOULD, do a better job educating our kids than the government about Judaism.

    I am not comfortable with blurring the line between church and state, even if the “church” is a synagogue.

    Thanks Yenta for letting us know what is going on- that is why I read Yo Yenta! (well, that and your great sense of humor…)

  3. I’m in agreement with everybody else … I’m sending my kids to private Jewish day school … yes it seriously crunches the family budget, but no I don’t expect the goyim to pay for it, anymore than I expect to pay for all my neighbors who send their kids to the local christian schools & I certainly don’t think tax dollars should be given to the Jihad High described in Schvach’s blog.

    I’d really prefer public schools that everyone went to, but I’m not interested in places that don’t instill the love of learning and often aren’t safe.

    Yenta — Interesting thing about the school you describe is that it appears to endeavor to teach secular Jewishness — does that include a Zionist curriculum? If so, would this school compete in athletics against an Arab-themed or Muslim-themed charter school? wouldn’t that lead to war? .. or maybe this is the path to peace?? who knows, maybe we could settle our differences on playing field instead of a battlefield? nah too hollywood trite, I don’t like it …

  4. Hey Yo:
    Thanks for the marquise.
    As we all know, the Jewish education of our young is the future of Judaism (forget about ‘continuity’). I want Jews to live Jewishly and ‘doing Judaism’. As an academic subject to be studied by spectators, I’d rather have Biology. The cost of funding Jewish education is the task and financial burden of the Jewish community alone. With all the tzedakah given by Jewish philanthropists, I don’t see why we Jews can’t provide full-time Jewish day schools that include Jewish religious curricula for all our children, providing their parents approve.
    Take a walk down York and 1st Avenues in Manhattan to see how Jewish philanthropic cash has been spent at The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and the NYU Medical Center.
    All that Jewish cash should instead be invested in our Jewish future. Providing a full-curriculum Jewish education for our kids shouldn’t bust a family’s finances.

  5. Schvach — This is where my oldest son graduated from 8th grade & two of my younger sons go to school now:

    Our lovely hostess teaches here:
    (bless her heart), where my oldest prepped for his bar mitzvah & God-willing so will his younger siblings.

    Both are wholly private and enjoy very good $$ support from our local Federation, otherwise they wouldn’t be in operation. Of course, the donations only cover part of the cost … and the teacher salaries are paltry (I know I was on the SS board). Still, there’s lots of places like these assuring our future … so let’s hear it for all the parents, students, teachers, and donors that keep these places open.

  6. Schvach,

    I understand your point, but I would suggest that spending all that “Jewish cash” on a full-curriculum Jewish education for our kids instead of on a cure and the treatment of cancer is not the right solution. If the parent of a Jewish child would die without treatment at The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that family would think that the Jewish cash was spent well. And I want to remind you that family could be any of us- you never know.

    That being said, I hope that Jewish philanthropists will continue (and even increase) their support of Jewish education so that families can afford it. My own niece is being raised by my Jewish sister and her Catholic husband. He was very willing to raise her as Jewish, but when they looked into the cost of Jewish pre-school there were no sliding scales or schlorships for all the great private Jewish programs. My sister was very hard pressed to explain to her husband why our community could not help support their decision and she is now attending a private Catholic pre-school with a schlorship. It is MOST upsetting for me to see her “cross” herself or talk about the father, the son and the holy ghost. I won’t even begin to get into what our parents think of it…

  7. Cori — Got to respind to your post, because I’m the son of a Catholic father & a Jewish mother & I got 11 years of catholic school education. I got a good education and a strong sense of guilt … but seriously, the catholics kick our Jewish butts when it comes to addressing the needs of families — on tuition cost, they simply have alot more working class and low income congregants and so I think they are used to making provisions for them (or at any rate that certainly seems to have been the case at the high school I attended) … and while I haven’t been inside a catholic church in years, I’m willing to bet you’ll see alot more kids at their services than at many of ours. Sad but true, outside of the Orthodox, we need to do alot better in this area IMHO.

  8. Dan:
    The Orthodox tend to pay ‘through the nose’ for their children’s Jewish educations.I know that Chabad Lubavitch requires all its followers to shell out for the schooling of their kids, and the families I know suffer plenty (financially) as a result. I think you’re right about the Catholic Church’s commitment to providing kids with Catholic religious educations; we Jews can use their lesson on setting the correct priorities (Catholic parochial school kids even wear uniforms, and that costs too). Of course, salaries may be lower for Catholic parochial schools, providing their teaching staffs are populated by clerics who have no families to support. I assume this saves the schools a considerable quantity of cash.

  9. Schvach — Good point about the salaries. As I recall the nuns who taught me in grade school all lived together in the same house. The uniforms actually save money, according to my Mom — about five or so white shirts, a few navy pants & matching ties … *shudder* this is bringing back scary Catholic school days …. seemed there was always some kid named Tom or Mike O’something trying to beat me up back then …

  10. While there is little doubt that private jewish schools have done a poor job of remaining affordable to all, any American Jew who does not support the Ben Gamla school concept is a secular dupe.

    Wake up, your tax dollars are already going to support Arabic and Chinese public “language” schools. Why should your tax dollars be used to teach your own kids Spanish, French or Latin in a public school? Why not Hebrew? In this country if one group does not unite and take their piece of the pie, some other group will take it right out from under you.

    And make no mistake about it, once non jewish parents see the academic results of these schools they will be camping out in line to enroll their children too.

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