Return Jewish Education to its Rightful Prestige

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40 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Part of the problem is productivity. Most professions have had tremendous productivity growth in the last few decades. Teaching has not. The student:teacher ratio is not very different from what it was historically.

    There are some other solutions, such as Khan’s Academy, but they typically only work with students who want to learn.

  2. crazykanoiy says:

    Parsonage is not tax free income. Parsonage is not subject to income tax but it is subject to SE tax. When taking personage the full amount of SE tax falls on the religious instructor instead of having the SS and Medicaid tax split with an employer.

  3. Mike S. says:

    I am all in favor of properly compensating teachers. However, as a parent who has paid in excess of three quarters of a million dollars in day school tuition, we have to be mindful that most parents cannot afford that much. And the one time I resented it was when my daughter’s teacher was making fun of the beat up old car I was driving her to school in so I could afford the tuition. Unfortunately when teachers behave that way it hurts their ability to be treated like professionals. And even with a household income well into 6 figures, we haven’t paid so much tuition without deferring a lot of maintenance on the house and slightly (fortunately only slightly) underfunding retirement. So there is a limited extent to which I can contribute now.

    So how can we compensate teachers without bankrupting parents? I am not entirely sure, but I do know some steps. First, schools cannot continue to be jobs programs for the otherwise unemployable relatives of principals and donors. Everyone in them ought to be performing a needed job and performing it well. Second, teachers should be teaching reasonably full classrooms (say, 20 kids); we cannot afford to endlessly divide children, whether by hashkafa or by ability, and pay teachers to teach 6 or 7 kids. Third, schools should look to all sources of funding they can.

  4. L. Oberstein says:

    The reasons are varied but the demands on a frum girl just back from Seminary to prepare to support a famly while her spouse sits and learns is a major reason that young women who would love to be teachrs are forced, in their minds at least, to look into a more remunirative career.The pay is just so much more and ,nowadays, the career tracks are available with much more ease than before.
    I have been told that in certain areas of concentrated Torah learning,the pattern now is for a new teacher ( I am referring to men who aspire to be rebbes in a cheder or mesifta) to teach for free for a year or more just to get in and hope that at a later date, the school will first begin to offer a salary.With Kollel wives in such abundance, what motivation do the schools have to pay a decent wage?
    Supply and demand and financial necessity speak louder than the most convincing hashkafah. It isn’t what we teach but what the community does that gives the message that teachng is more an avoication than a vocation, the frummer the communty, the less the words of the hashkafah ring true. It is what it is.Out of town, teachers are paid more and valued more because they aren’t a dime a dozen.

  5. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Ori Pomerantz, you can’t measure teacher productivity by the number of students taught. Schools should not be factories and students not products on an assembly line. Further, when too many students are in a classroom, teachers can’t give the individual attention necessary to be effective educators.

    Khan Academy videos are excellent, but they are not a replacement for teachers. I have used them in my teaching, to supplement a textbook. But no video or online program can replace the student-teacher relationship, the personalized attention of the teacher, and the classroom experience.

  6. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Mike S., your experience with that teacher was terrible. That teacher imparted an incredibly negative message that is contrary to Jewish values. I hope you spoke to him or her about it.

    You make important points. Nepotism is a problem in most fields, but it is particularly dangerous in education, where an incompetent or unsuitable teacher can cause serious damage to a child.

    I also hear your point about not dividing children excessively, but please remember that it is nearly impossible to effectively teach a class with students of wildly disparate skills and abilities. Day schools typically have an academically diverse student population and there oftentimes has to be multiple classes so that the needs of all students can be met.

  7. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Crazykanoiy, when I wrote tax-free, I meant not subject to income tax. Thank you for your clarification. Parsonage is subject to Social Security and Medicare tax, which is typically split with your employer. Tax experts argue if someone claiming parsonage needs to pay Self-Employment tax (consult your tax advisor), which means you pay the full amount of Social Security and Medicare tax (and don’t split it with your employer). But even if you are bearing the full burden of Social Security and Medicare tax, that’s only an extra 7.65%, as opposed to the average of 20% of income tax. So, unless you are not making enough money to pay income tax, claiming parsonage is still worth it.

  8. lacosta says:

    the sad reality is that ‘lachatz,dchak’ and all the other terms for oppression in the haggada do in fact refer to ‘zu habanim’ and not boys davka —but the overwhelming burden of tuition is a vice around the neck especially in more modernish haredi communities, who have a double whammy– larger family size than MO, and wanting secular literacy for their children [unlike chassidic tora only education]. unless someone has a few hundred thousand after tax dollars, frum life [with those blessed with children] will remain a burden. and those of us who can afford full tuition, are paying already a portion to cover those who can’t.

    unfortunately , when O towns get larger, one of the first luxuries that soon is deemed a neccesity is split schools: RW haredi ,centrist haredi, RWMO,MO, LWMO ,and then RW sefardi and Middle of Road sefardi, and every type of chassidus imaginable, but at least one chabad school [maybe also a meshichist one as well]. the economy of scale is pretty much lost ; and since hashkafa is ‘yeihareig v’al yaavor’ there can be no mixing of faculty , administrators, ancillary, or students amongst these institutions.

    i don’t doubt that some elect to go OTD because it’s cheaper. and many move to Israel ,in the dim hopes of tuition break , even though [at least in centrist haredi cases] the children’s education will be markedly different [ and certainly more RW] in that country…

  9. Reb Yid says:

    Part of the problem is that the field of Jewish education is not sufficiently professionalized. Few are out there advocating for them. The large communal institutions and organizations are mostly about advocating for the schools or the top administrators–certainly the teachers come nowhere near the top of their priorities. And the gap in pay between most teachers versus the top layer of administrators is quite shocking.

    Very few Jewish schools have teacher unions and the few that have are becoming fewer each year. It is also quite rare to find pensions in the Jewish educational system, other than perhaps for the top administrators.

    Like society as a whole, management and government are buckling down and making life more difficult for the individual worker and attempting to break the bonds between workers.

  10. mycroft says:

    “crazykanoiy
    May 10, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Parsonage is not tax free income. Parsonage is not subject to income tax but it is subject to SE tax. When taking personage the full amount of SE tax falls on the religious instructor instead of having the SS and Medicaid tax split with an employer”

    I’ll assume typo-it is the Medicare withholding amount-there is no specific separate trust fund paid for by wages for Medicaid.
    BTW parsonage income exclusion is an example of an exclusion that developed by historical accident. There was and still is a general income tax exclusion for value of a housing provided for the convenience of the employer, and on the premises of the employer-Catholic priests living quarters in general qualified while most Protestant clergy parsonages were nearby-thus not on premises of the employer. This was an intolerable political situation thus the parsonage exclusion was invented.

    “The definition of clergy encompasses anyone, male or female, who performs religious functions, which include leading tfiloh and teaching limudei Kodesh. (Agudas Yisroel sent a memo to schools indicating that women can be eligible for parsonage and a growing number of schools, like SAR High School in Riverdale, the Frisch School in New Jersey and Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, already give parsonage to women teaching Jewish studies full time). Therefore, the teacher’s salary, up to the amount he or she can claim as parsonage, is tax-free income. The school would be responsible for providing tax documents indicating the amount of parsonage, but the actually cost to the schools would be nothing. A little bit of administrative work on the part of the school can save faculty a lot of money. The above should not be taken as a legal ruling; school leaders should consult their tax/legal advisors to determine if and how they can give parsonage.”

    One must note that such position is apparently different from the standard interpretation of who is eligible to take parsonage exclusion see eg
    “A licensed, commissioned or ordained minister may be able to exclude from income the fair rental value of a home (a parsonage) or a housing allowance provided as compensation for ministerial services performed as an employee. A minister who is furnished a parsonage may exclude from income the fair rental value of the parsonage, including utilities. However, the amount excluded cannot be more than reasonable compensation for the minister’s services.

    A minister who receives a housing allowance may exclude the allowance from gross income to the extent it is used to pay expenses in providing a home. Generally, those expenses include rent, mortgage interest, utilities, repairs, and other expenses directly relating to providing a home. The amount excluded cannot be more than the reasonable compensation for the minister’s services. ” from
    http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc417.html

    “Treas. Reg. § 1.1402(c)-5(b)(2) provides that service performed by a minister in the exercise of the ministry includes:

    Ministration of sacerdotal functions;
    Conduct of religious worship;
    Control, conduct, and maintenance of religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations), under the authority of a religious body constituting a church or denomination.

    Treas. Reg. § 1.1402(c)-5(b)(2) also provides that whether service performed by a minister constitutes conduct of religious worship or ministration of sacerdotal functions depends on the tenets and practices of the particular religious body constituting the church or denomination”

    Thus maybe YCT and its Maharats or whatever they call them could qualify as ministers of the gospel but certainly people who maintain that a female can’t perform functions of a Rabbi should have a difficult time IMO claiming a parsonage exclusion for a female who is not ordained. Check your own legal/tax advice.

  11. Alexandra fleksher says:

    Yasher Koach, Dr. Klein, on highlighting the concerning issue of the lessening numbers of young people aspiring to go into Jewish education. It reminds me of a problem in the medical field with more and more doctors going into specialties vs. Primary care because the pay is that much better. Primary care docs are considered the idealists.

    I do believe teachers should be viewed as professionals (and we would want no less for our children), but like l.oberstein said, not all teaching positions these days require or expect much professional training. So they can get away with paying substandard salaries (morahs certainly have it worse almost everywhere thanks to the social mores Dr. Klein suggests.) Another perk that Beth Tfiloh, where the author and I were once colleagues, offers is additional compensation for graduate degrees.

    SO let’s talk about tuition. Let’s say a rebbe or a morah qualifies for 100% break and has a large family. Often these families qualify for government assistance as well, and parsonage. Then you have someone earning let’s say 200k a year (a number often used when discussing this issue!), is paying full, or close to it, in many cases spent many years in training (and paying!) for their degrees, but at the end of the day struggles to even conceive of living the lifestyle he thinks he “deserves” or at least as worked very hard for. We all know this is a very real “class struggle” in our communities.

    I think educators should get a good tuition discount. They work for the school and typically earn rather small salaries. It’s a perk. But I think they should also take part in the funding of their children’s education. I think it makes an important statement to themselves and the rest of the Jewish community. I think it’s just fair.

  12. mycroft says:

    “crazykanoiy
    May 10, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Parsonage is not tax free income. Parsonage is not subject to income tax but it is subject to SE tax. When taking personage the full amount of SE tax falls on the religious instructor instead of having the SS and Medicaid tax split with an employer”

    I’ll assume typo-it is the Medicare withholding amount-there is no specific separate trust fund paid for by wages for Medicaid.
    BTW parsonage income exclusion is an example of an exclusion that developed by historical accident. There was and still is a general income tax exclusion for value of a housing provided for the convenience of the employer, and on the premises of the employer-Catholic priests living quarters in general qualified while most Protestant clergy parsonages were nearby-thus not on premises of the employer. This was an intolerable political situation thus the parsonage exclusion was invented.

    “The definition of clergy encompasses anyone, male or female, who performs religious functions, which include leading tfiloh and teaching limudei Kodesh. (Agudas Yisroel sent a memo to schools indicating that women can be eligible for parsonage and a growing number of schools, like SAR High School in Riverdale, the Frisch School in New Jersey and Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, already give parsonage to women teaching Jewish studies full time). Therefore, the teacher’s salary, up to the amount he or she can claim as parsonage, is tax-free income. The school would be responsible for providing tax documents indicating the amount of parsonage, but the actually cost to the schools would be nothing. A little bit of administrative work on the part of the school can save faculty a lot of money. The above should not be taken as a legal ruling; school leaders should consult their tax/legal advisors to determine if and how they can give parsonage.”

    One must note that such position is apparently different from the standard interpretation of who is eligible to take parsonage exclusion see eg
    “A licensed, commissioned or ordained minister may be able to exclude from income the fair rental value of a home (a parsonage) or a housing allowance provided as compensation for ministerial services performed as an employee. A minister who is furnished a parsonage may exclude from income the fair rental value of the parsonage, including utilities. However, the amount excluded cannot be more than reasonable compensation for the minister’s services.

    A minister who receives a housing allowance may exclude the allowance from gross income to the extent it is used to pay expenses in providing a home. Generally, those expenses include rent, mortgage interest, utilities, repairs, and other expenses directly relating to providing a home. The amount excluded cannot be more than the reasonable compensation for the minister’s services. ” from
    http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc417.html

    “Treas. Reg. § 1.1402(c)-5(b)(2) provides that service performed by a minister in the exercise of the ministry includes:

    Ministration of sacerdotal functions;
    Conduct of religious worship;
    Control, conduct, and maintenance of religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations), under the authority of a religious body constituting a church or denomination.

    Treas. Reg. § 1.1402(c)-5(b)(2) also provides that whether service performed by a minister constitutes conduct of religious worship or ministration of sacerdotal functions depends on the tenets and practices of the particular religious body constituting the church or denomination”

    Thus maybe YCT and its Maharats or whatever they call them could qualify as ministers of the gospel but certainly people who maintain that a female can’t perform functions of a Rabbi should have a difficult time IMO claiming a parsonage exclusion for a female who is not ordained. Check your own legal/tax advice.

  13. Gershon Pickles says:

    I find this post self-serving, ill-informed, and based more on assumptions than on fact.

    The author – a teacher herself – wants to see teachers paid more. I’m sure everyone in the country, from mechanic to supply chain analyst and everything in between, feels the same. We all want to be paid more.

    The author says “there is an incredible amount of pressure” on teachers. I think the author can use a stiff dose of reality. Pressure means having to meet a payroll. Pressure means dealing with clients whose lives and livelihoods are on the line. Pressure means looming tax deadlines. Pressure means having a warehouse on inventory that has to be moved, with no one to take it. Teachers? Give me a break. How many schools get rid of poor teachers? In the public school side they are unionized or tenured (yes, public schools tenure teachers) and in the religious world, no one ever gets rid of a teacher. They wait till they retire. Pressure? Don’t make me laugh.

    And what about Shabbos? Do teachers know what its like to miss Friday afternoon meetings? How about yomtov – does this mean anything at all to a teacher? They get these nice long holidays twice a year – on top of summer schools – and have nothing to worry about. How many working professionals enjoy such a perk? Zero.

    And how come the author doesn’t mention student loans? Lawyers and doctors and dentists start their lived crippled under student loans in the hundreds of thousands. Teachers know nothing of this.

    The author seems aware that many teachers work only 20 hours a week – and that is a ceiling, not a floor – but says teachers take work home with them. Actually, most teachers I know grade test papers while on breaks at school. And after a few years of teaching the same material, there is very little needed to do at home.

    I can give many more examples. All I hear are teachers complaining about how little they are paid, with seemingly never any recognition of the many perks and benefits they enjoy that no one else does. This is precisely the attitude that caused public school parents to sour on teachers unions – constant complaining of their salaries, when everyone is hurting. Sure they should be paid more, but so should doctors and janitors. And a teacher who goes into that profession for the money isn’t someone I want teaching my kids in the first place.

  14. Mark says:

    I speak with great bias here, as I was chewed up and spit out of Chinuch. However, I humbly submit the following: There is a tremendous flaw inherent within the (Jewish?) education system. There is no model of a career/life-long teacher. Teachers aren’t paid enough so everyone is vying for the administrative positions. This problem is multifaceted. First, successful teachers stop teaching in order to become administrators. Why would someone go into teaching if they can only “succeed” by not teaching? And for the noble few who want to teach and not serve as administrators, there is always a stigma. People always wonder out loud why so-and-so never became a principal. Second, administrators, feel threatened by successful teachers who are looking to move up the food chain and are quick to replace the threat with younger inexperienced teachers who they can pay less (until the cycle repeats itself). Third, very often (I would argue more often than not) the promoted good teachers aren’t good administrators. This creates an unhealthy environment where students and teachers lose out.
    In the larger communities teachers can move from school to school in hopes of finding a better opportunity. However, in a smaller community, this isn’t an option. When I was told that my contract wouldn’t be renewed I didn’t want to uproot my entire family. I admitted defeat. Nevertheless, I still Daven that one day I will have the opportunity to teach Torah formally in a classroom again.

  15. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Mark, that is a sad story that is all too familiar. The same is happening in the public school system, where veteran teachers are offered early retirement so that the schools can save money by hiring inexperienced teachers they can pay less.

  16. Reb Yid says:

    Mr. Pickles:

    Where I live, teachers in the Jewish schools have little to no job security unlike most other professions, and certainly unlike the public schools in my area where quality teachers can make close to six figure salaries and beyond.

    Most quality teachers I know spend double or triple the amount of time of the actual school day. They often stay late in school or come early. The prep time at home is considerable, as well as additional time spent communicating with school superiors, parents and other teachers. True “vacation” times are relatively brief as large portions of August are devoted to preparing for the coming year.

    Oh, and most of the time these teachers have families with important roles to play inside and outside the home.

    We need to attract and then keep these kind of teachers! But given the priorities of the Jewish community, it’s a tougher and tougher sell.

  17. Alexandra Fleksher says:

    Gershon Pickles, I think it’s pretty clear from the article that the author’s suggestions are not intended for her own self-serving purposes but rather as solutions to the problem of the lack of college graduates in our communities choosing to go into the field of education.

  18. Alexandra Fleksher says:

    Gershon Pickles, I think it’s pretty clear from the article that the author’s suggestions are not intended for her own self-serving purposes but rather as solutions to the problem of the lack of college graduates in our communities choosing to go into the field of education. If we can make the field more appealing and financially feasible, then that talent won’t be lost to better paying fields.

  19. mycroft says:

    “Teachers often work for half of the day, adding up to around 20 hours per week. As a result, some feel that those teachers should be paid as if they are working part-time.”

    Not only do teachers work fewer hours per week-they work at most 9 months a year-subtract July, August, end of June, Yom Tov breaks, many schools Chanukkah and Purim breaks, some midwinter vacations,some occasional holidays-that teacher is working much less than half what a normal worker does. Why not have teachers teach 40 hours a week-if limudei kodesh teachers are not qualified to teach secular subjects-half half the school take limudei kodesh in the morning and half in the afternoon and reverse for secular studies-alternate classes year by year. You’ll be able to essentially double teachers salaries for working an almost normal work schedule. Do that and increase the school year to the length of most other developed countries and maybe our students will know more and then justification may exist for paying the remaining teachers more. Of course, there will not be so many jobs available but we should worry about what is best for students and the community.

    “And even with a household income well into 6 figures, we haven’t paid so much tuition without deferring a lot of maintenance on the house and slightly (fortunately only slightly) underfunding retirement.”
    Such income is way above the median income. Perhaps a real cheshbon hanefesh how we’ve developed a system where only the above average income can participate. We have gotten rid of talmud torahs which made Orthodoxy available to those who can’t afford day schools.

  20. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Gershon Pickles writes, “a teacher who goes into that profession for the money isn’t someone I want teaching my kids in the first place.” Don’t worry Mr. Pickles, no one goes into teaching for the money. 


    I won’t engage you on the subject of teachers having pressure. If you don’t understand the responsibility of educators—that with one word or look, a teacher can build or destroy a life—there is nothing more to say. Except that the tone and content of your post confirms my argument that teachers are disrespected and unappreciated.

    Yes, Shabbos and holidays are easier for a day school teacher than someone working in a secular firm. But what about the teacher who can’t call a bank because he/she does not have a minute free during banking hours? What about the teacher who can’t go to the bathroom whenever he/she has the need? Someone working in a firm or office doesn’t have those challenges. Every job comes with its perks and downsides. I never suggested teachers get paid as much as lawyers who work 12 months a year. But their compensation is not commensurate with the work they do. Even idealists need to eat.

    As for student loans: yes, doctors and lawyers rack up enormous debt, but they can also have 6 figure salaries. A teacher who wants to get proper training will easily spend between 50k-100k on education and never make the money to be able to pay it back.

    20 hours is not a ceiling. I had colleagues that taught from 8:15-4, with no lunch break, plus prep time. This is common in preschool and elementary school. While the first year teaching a subject is the hardest, good teachers are constantly reevaluating the curriculum and teachers are regularly asked to teach new subjects. When I taught full-time in a day school, I never taught the same courses two years in a row.

    Finally, I am not a day school teacher. I have taught in a day school in the past, but I no longer do. So all the salary raises in the world won’t impact me. But they might impact my children’s teachers. That I do care about.

    As for student loans: yes, doctors and lawyers rack up enormous debt, but they can also have 6 figure salaries. A teacher who wants to get proper training will easily spend between 50k-100k on education and never make the money to be able to pay it back.

    20 hours is not a ceiling. I had colleagues that taught from 8:15-4, with no lunch break, plus prep time. This is common in preschool and elementary school. While the first year teaching a subject is the hardest, good teachers are constantly reevaluating the curriculum and teachers are regularly asked to teach new subjects. When I taught full-time in a day school, I never taught the same courses two years in a row.

    Finally, you made an incorrect assumption about my connection to this article. I am not a day school teacher. I have taught in a day school in the past, but I no longer do. So all the salary raises in the world won’t impact me. But they might impact my children’s teachers. That I do care about.

  21. Shlomo Radomska says:

    Dr Klein’s suggestions offer a very logical path to improved teacher recruitment. Her ideas would make sense if there were a teacher shortage and a surplus of teacher vacancies going unfilled. But, the reality is the opposite. There is a surplus of available teachers and a shortage of teaching positions in most of our communities. In that case the law of supply and demand pushes teacher salaries down. The students in her school are savvy enough to understand that economic law and choose occupations other then teaching. In addition, who is going to pay for these expensive perks? Not the families on scholarship! No, the families who are the victims of cost shifting to cover the families who pay below he cost of a child’s education. These full or almost full tuition paying families are already being financially drained by the schools.

  22. Alexandra Fleksher says:

    Considering Shlomo Radomska’s comments, maybe we need to clarify whether or not the problem affects women teachers as much as male teachers. I’d imagine that the surplus he writes about is in regards to men. Some go into chinuch because they want to; others because that’s a default job option for them after many years of learning. However, the situation, as Dr. Klein attests to in her experience at Maalot, I believe is different for women. Young women are seeking more high-paying jobs, often precisely for the reason of wanting to more comfortably support (vs. the 15k a year in teaching — that’s what I was offered on one of my first interviews, WITH a graduate degree in Education) a husband in learning. They also are jumping into college or training programs for those jobs when they are right out of seminary, a prime time to devote to one’s higher education, vs. a man who might start training only after he has learned for a number of years.

    “As for student loans: yes, doctors and lawyers rack up enormous debt, but they can also have 6 figure salaries. A teacher who wants to get proper training will easily spend between 50k-100k on education and never make the money to be able to pay it back.”

    Two things: 1. I daresay that people who are spending that kind of money on their education are typically being employed in more “professional” (for lack of a better word) schools. I think the conversation might benefit by addressing whether or not this whole issue might vary between the different types of communities in the Orthodox world, as well.
    2. For those who are doctors and lawyers who have racked up enormous debt, and then must pay enormous sums of tuition each year, it’s not so easy to pay off those loans. So at the end of the day,for many, tuition is the Great Equalizer.

  23. mycroft says:

    “Gershon Pickles, I think it’s pretty clear from the article that the author’s suggestions are not intended for her own self-serving purposes but rather as solutions to the problem of the lack of college graduates in our communities choosing to go into the field of education. If we can make the field more appealing and financially feasible, then that talent won’t be lost to better paying fields”

    How about analysis of the true impact of day schools. They really began to take off in the mid 1930s and increased from then until relatively recently. Day schools have advantages and disadvantages. I attended day schools. My father attended a day school -until about age 10 with about an hour a day limudei kodesh and then public schools. My
    mother attended public schools but always attended afternoon talmud torahs for about 15 hours a week. Both my parents were more Jewishly educated than I am. I am probably lucky that there was no Jewish day school in the US city where my mother grew up-thus she could be accepted in the Orthodox community not having attended a day school. Her parents never could have afforded day school.
    IMO day schools take credit for changes in demographics-before the Nazi era the percentage of frum Jews who came to America was much smaller-there were many in Europe who called America the treife medina-thus in general those who came here had a tendency to be less religious than those who came later-thus family background and comparative ease of observing Shabbos has changed a lot.
    There are two major issues of day schools that impact Jews-one the financial ability to pay which using any reasonable comparison of day school costs and American jobs puts the day school out of reach to many if not most. Of course, the intellectual requirements of a day school-dual languages if not 3 Aramaic, Hebrew and English make it impossible to succeed for many who could easily pass public HS and go to an average college. Because of the day school pressure those people in practice are not welcomed in Orthodox Judaism. We’ve lost a lot-there are not the bright children of our movers and shakers but aren’t they also supposed to be part of mamlechet kohanim vgoy kaddosh.

  24. Bob Miller says:

    One consideration is how much a teacher will be paid for superior performance and results. Schools satisfied meeting the bare minimum will not pay extra for earned prestige.

  25. Michael J. Broyde says:

    I wanted to comment on the parsonage suggestion, which I have written about a few times and which I think is a very good idea. It is clear that to implement this legally and properly there is has to be some sort of a certification process and that not every woman — or every man — who teaches in a Yeshiva is parsonage eligible. Men have to be ordained and women have to have the functional equivalent of ordination, which I think means certification by an organization that this person is deemed religiously certified to function in an ecesiastical mode. They do not have to be rabbis, just as nuns are not priests. IN ADDITION, the school has to use them in such religious ways as part of their job. (So neither a musmach hired just to teach cooking nor a certified woman hired to teach math can get parsonage.) Without a better structure in place from organizations that provide religious credentials, there is still some risk in the wholesale providing of parsonage.

    it is worth adding that parsonage is not only cost free to schools, but reduces their costs, as FICA need not be paid on amounts paid as parsonage.

  26. mycroft says:

    “Men have to be ordained and women have to have the functional equivalent of ordination, which I think means certification by an organization that this person is deemed religiously certified to function in an ecesiastical mode.”

    Although I believe I have disagreed with Prof Broyde in other blogs about the realistic possibility of having traditional women teachers receive the parsonage income exclusion
    note in May 10 156pm post “Thus maybe YCT and its Maharats or whatever they call them could qualify as ministers of the gospel but certainly people who maintain that a female can’t perform functions of a Rabbi should have a difficult time IMO claiming a parsonage exclusion for a female who is not ordained.”
    It would require to at least consider the issue that there be the functional equivalent of smicha-I have a tough time understanding how people organizations who are opposed to giving women the equivalent of smicha then advocate parsonage exclusion.
    Although, the functional equivalent of smicha would certainly be necessary for parsonage exclusion it is not sufficient-thus to pick a famous example Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum in a Tax Court case http://www.leagle.com/decision/19725958atc1_159 ordination not enough. More relevant Lawrence v. Commissioner , 50 T.C. 494, 499-500 (1968), that a
    “minister of education” in a Baptist church was not a “duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed” minister for purposes of parsonage exclusion. Lawrence received a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from a Baptist Theological Seminary, but was not ordained. Although his church“commissioned” him after he assumed the position, the court interpreted the commissioning to be for tax purposes, as it did not result in any change in duties. The court’s analysis of his duties and, the duties he did not perform. He did not officiate at Baptisms or the Lord’s Supper, two Ordinances that closely resembled sacraments, nor did he preside over or preach at worship services. The court ruled that duties of a minister of education were not equivalent to the duties of a
    Baptist minister preside over or preach at worship services.
    In Knight v. Commissioner, 92 T.C. 199, 205 (1989) the taxpayer was a licentiate
    of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church -a status that was less than full ordination. The court ruled that he was a licensed minister, it cited the facts that he was licensed by the church, he conducted worship services, and he was considered by the church to be a spiritual leader. The court also mentioned that he ministered to the needy within the context of his duties for the church.
    Thus even in a case where the Tax Court allowed the parsonage exclusion to a non minister -he received some sort of license to be a spiritual leader, perform services etc. I’m not sure the Maharats would even qualify -standard elementary HS teachers in non theological seminaries I doubt their qualifications.

  27. CJ Srullowitz says:

    Dr. Klien’s cogent and heartfelt prescription for enhancing our yeshiva education system is on the mark. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand a chance.

    The underpayment and under-appreciation of teachers cannot be assessed in a vacuum. Its root causes are deep and dogmatic. Modern American Chareidi society creates several conditions which, combined, result in the issue above. It cannot be resolved without some of those underlying conditions being overturned, something that is not likely to happen.

    Modern American Chareidi Society presumes that in a perfect world all men should be learning Torah full time. This is not what happens, of course; eventually most men do go out to work. However, the presumption that all men should be learning Torah full time leads to an educational system that subverts the secular education he will later need to earn top dollar. It starts with the undermining of secular studies at the elementary and middle school level, continues with a paucity of secular studies at the high school level, and ends with the absence of secular studies at the college level. There are certainly exceptions, but the rule holds.

    Next, the average American Chareidi, who does go to work, will nevertheless delay entry into the working world for several years, which will be spent in Kollel. (Understand clearly that I am not judging the wisdom of this way of life; Gedolim whose ankles I do not reach have endorsed it. I am merely stating what is factual.) When he does enter the workforce, he does so with a family already in need of significant support, but with job prospects that, on average, are not commensurate with the income that he will require to achieve that level of support.

    Meanwhile, his wife will be working from Day One of the marriage. She will have got a better secular education and may very well have gone to college. Nonetheless, her secular education is not generally on par with that of the top tier of American earners, and she, as a rule, will not enter the “professions” or climb a corporate ladder. She will take a job that allows her the flexibility to simultaneously raise a family – which she will be expected to do. She is both breadwinner and homemaker.

    They will go on to have, on average, seven to eight children, all of whom, in addition to food, clothing and shelter, will require a private school education. They will then educate those children along the same lines that they were educated: “Torah only” for the boys; dual roles for the girls.

    Expenses for these families exceed – and often far exceed – their income. In the good old days (the 1980s and 1990s) grandparents and parents stepped in to fill the budgetary holes. Today, those grandparents are dead, the parents are now the grandparents (with upwards of 40 grandchildren), the largesse is less large. For many, the family money is gone, having already been spent.

    Stepping into this picture is a discussion about tuition. Many frustrations are unfairly taken out on “the tuition crisis.” But the fact is that tuition is the only big line item on a family budget that is subject to negotiation. Don’t pay your mortgage, ultimately (and, yes, I know that can be a long time), you will lose your house. Don’t pay your utility bills and your heat, water, phone, etc. will be turned off. But tuition – that’s a little flexible. You can ask for a break, you can delay payments, you won’t necessarily see your children thrown out of yeshiva over a bounced check (although those grounds, too, appear to be shifting somewhat).

    The yeshivos are under enormous pressure. They must educate children in both limudei Kodesh and limudei chol (however sparingly), over the course of a ten-hour day, and do so on a budget funded by tuition payments that their parents cannot afford and often resent paying. There’s only so far that the fiscal math can bend. So teachers get underpaid.

    When teachers get underpaid, only the most dedicated want to become teachers. When fewer people want to become teachers, those who do so are seen as less capable. Alongside the attitude Dr. Klein cites – “Those who can’t do, teach” – is Dennis Prager’s comment that anything associated with children is considered childish. This, he claims, is why Western culture has devalued the status of Motherhood. This is less true in the frum community, but not so foreign to us either. When was the last time you saw a Chosson’s seventh-grade rebbe be his Mesader Kiddushin? The rosh yeshiva is always asked – even if the talmid’s relationship with his rosh yeshiva is tenuous, and even if his seventh-grade rebbe turned him on to gemara.

    Was the seventh-grade rebbe even invited to the Chasunah? Few yeshiva bochurim dream of being a seventh-grade rebbe.

    All of Dr. Klein’s suggestions are good ones – and are generally implemented in what she calls “the generally better paying Modern Orthodox institutions.” They are not, and indeed cannot be implemented in the righter-wing yeshivos, because they simply don’t have the funds to do so. And as long as the yeshivos continue to promote and propagate the very conditions which have led to this circumstance, the results will be the same.

  28. Tal Benschar says:

    Mycroft, I am no expert on the parsonage exception, but from what you describe, one can doubt whether any Rabbi even qualifies. Semichah does not qualify one to perform any religious “sacraments” — anyone can daven, lein, blow shofar, etc. w/o semichah. Anyone can give a derasha (= preach) in shul, and anyone can minister (give comforting advise) to anyone else. The only thing semichah does is permit one to pasken shaylos, something for which it seems the Protestant minister model for the “parsonage” exception seems not to have any parallel.

    I am surprised that no one has challenged the exception on Establishment Clause grounds.

  29. Avi says:

    If I may, I think that tuition breaks for teachers won’t be possible until the broader tuition problem is dealt with. When a quarter of the parent body is saddled with exorbitant amounts of tuition responsibilities because the rest of the parent body can’t afford it, when families with both parents working quality jobs still must request tuition discounts, then schools cannot and will not give further discounts to the teachers. Indeed, Dr. Ginsbarg Klein herself acknowledges that today frum families often need two breadwinners to get by.
    Regarding the roles of husband or wife as the breadwinner in Jewish families, well, that’s another discussion.

  30. CJ Srullowitz says:

    Dr. Klien’s cogent and heartfelt prescription for enhancing our yeshiva education system is on the mark. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand a chance.

    The underpayment and under-appreciation of teachers cannot be assessed in a vacuum. Its root causes are deep and dogmatic. Modern American Chareidi society creates several conditions which, combined, result in the issue above. It cannot be resolved without some of those underlying conditions being overturned, something that is not likely to happen.

    Modern American Chareidi Society presumes that in a perfect world all men should be learning Torah full time. This is not what happens, of course; eventually most men do go out to work. However, the presumption that all men should be learning Torah full time leads to an educational system that subverts the secular education he will later need to earn top dollar. It starts with the undermining of secular studies at the elementary and middle school level, continues with a paucity of secular studies at the high school level, and ends with the absence of secular studies at the college level. There are certainly exceptions, but the rule holds.

    Next, the average American Chareidi, who does go to work, will nevertheless delay entry into the working world for several years, which will be spent in Kollel. (Understand clearly that I am not judging the wisdom of this way of life; Gedolim whose ankles I do not reach have endorsed it. I am merely stating what is factual.) When he does enter the workforce, he does so with a family already in need of significant support, but with job prospects that, on average, are not commensurate with the income that he will require to achieve that level of support.

    Meanwhile, his wife will be working from Day One of the marriage. She will have got a better secular education and may very well have gone to college. Nonetheless, her secular education is not generally on par with that of the top tier of American earners, and she, as a rule, will not enter the “professions” or climb a corporate ladder. She will take a job that allows her the flexibility to simultaneously raise a family – which she will be expected to do. She is both breadwinner and homemaker.

    They will go on to have, on average, seven to eight children, all of whom, in addition to food, clothing and shelter, will require a private school education. They will then educate those children along the same lines that they were educated: “Torah only” for the boys; dual roles for the girls.

    Expenses for these families exceed – and often far exceed – their income. In the good old days (the 1980s and 1990s) grandparents and parents stepped in to fill the budgetary holes. Today, those grandparents are dead, the parents are now the grandparents (with upwards of 40 grandchildren), the largesse is less large. For many, the family money is gone, having already been spent.

    Stepping into this picture is a discussion about tuition. Many frustrations are unfairly taken out on “the tuition crisis.” But the fact is that tuition is the only big line item on a family budget that is subject to negotiation. Don’t pay your mortgage, ultimately (and, yes, I know that can be a long time), you will lose your house. Don’t pay your utility bills and your heat, water, phone, etc. will be turned off. But tuition – that’s a little flexible. You can ask for a break, you can delay payments, you won’t necessarily see your children thrown out of yeshiva over a bounced check (although those grounds, too, appear to be shifting somewhat).

    The yeshivos are under enormous pressure. They must educate children in both limudei Kodesh and limudei chol (however sparingly), over the course of a ten-hour day, and do so on a budget funded by tuition payments that their parents cannot afford and often resent paying. There’s only so far that the fiscal math can bend. So teachers get underpaid.

    When teachers get underpaid, only the most dedicated want to become teachers. When fewer people want to become teachers, those who do so are seen as less capable. Alongside the attitude Dr. Klein cites – “Those who can’t do, teach” – is Dennis Prager’s comment that anything associated with children is considered childish. This, he claims, is why Western culture has devalued the status of Motherhood. This is less true in the frum community, but not so foreign to us either. When was the last time you saw a Chosson’s seventh-grade rebbe be his Mesader Kiddushin? The rosh yeshiva is always asked – even if the talmid’s relationship with his rosh yeshiva is tenuous, and even if his seventh-grade rebbe turned him on to gemara.

    Was the seventh-grade rebbe even invited to the Chasunah? Few yeshiva bochurim dream of being a seventh-grade rebbe.

    All of Dr. Klein’s suggestions are good ones – and are generally implemented in what she calls “the generally better paying Modern Orthodox institutions.” They are not, and indeed cannot be implemented in the righter-wing yeshivos, because they simply don’t have the funds to do so. And as long as the yeshivos continue to promote and propagate the very conditions which have led to this circumstance, the results will be the same.

  31. Jewish Observer says:

    “What about the teacher who can’t go to the bathroom whenever he/she has the need? Someone working in a firm or office doesn’t have those challenges”

    – Ithos comment, stated with certitude, reinforces my thought that no one should make assumptions about the the benefits of yenem’s profession. I would bet the writer never held a corporate job.

  32. mycroft says:

    Tal Benschar
    May 15, 2015 at 11:14 am

    “Mycroft, I am no expert on the parsonage exception, but from what you describe, one can doubt whether any Rabbi even qualifies. Semichah does not qualify one to perform any religious “sacraments” — anyone can daven, lein, blow shofar, etc. w/o semichah. Anyone can give a derasha (= preach) in shul, and anyone can minister (give comforting advise) to anyone else. ”
    Logical point-but it is clear that American law even before the parsonage exclusion has treated Rabbis as the Jewish equivalent of priests and ministers see eg Chaplains in the military.

    The only thing semichah does is permit one to pasken shaylos, something for which it seems the Protestant minister model for the “parsonage” exception seems not to have any parallel.”
    The flip side of the argument has been accepted by the Tax Court and acquiesed to by the IRS The Tax Court in Salkov 46 T.C. 190 (1966) held that a Jewish cantor was eligible for the parsonage income exclusion. It concluded that the cantor qualified because he was commissioned by, and was a duly qualified member of the Cantors Assembly of America, which functions as the official cantorial body for Conservative Jewry and because he was selected by a representative Conservative congregation to perform the functions of cantor.
    In Silverman v. Commissioner , 57 T.C. 727 (1972), the Tax Court, also held that a cantor of the Jewish faith was a duly ordained,commissioned, or licensed minister, looked, in each case, to the systematic manner the cantor was called to his ministry and the ecclesiastical functions he carried out in concluding that he was a minister within the meaning of parsonage exclusion.
    In Rev. Rul. 78 301 the IRS followed the Tax Court decisions in Salkov and Silverman and held that a Jewish cantor who is not ordained but has a bona fide commission and is employed by a congregation on a full time basis to perform substantially all the religious worship, sacerdotal, training, and educational functions of the Jewish denomination’s religious tenets and practices is a minister of the gospel within parsonage exclusion.
    Thus one can see that Cantors who I suspect none of us would treat as clergy are treated as clergy for the parsonage exclusion shows how the exclusion is heavily based on the”Protestant minister model”

    “I am surprised that no one has challenged the exception on Establishment Clause grounds”
    It has been challenged and the courts have so far succeeded in avoiding invalidating the parsonage exclusion which by its terms discriminates in favor of religion by invoking the standing principle-claiming that those challenging the exclusion don’t have standing to bring the lawsuit.

  33. mycroft says:

    Tal Benschar
    May 15, 2015 at 11:14 am

    “Mycroft, I am no expert on the parsonage exception, but from what you describe, one can doubt whether any Rabbi even qualifies. Semichah does not qualify one to perform any religious “sacraments” — anyone can daven, lein, blow shofar, etc. w/o semichah. Anyone can give a derasha (= preach) in shul, and anyone can minister (give comforting advise) to anyone else. ”
    Logical point-but it is clear that American law even before the parsonage exclusion has treated Rabbis as the Jewish equivalent of priests and ministers see eg Chaplains in the military.

    The only thing semichah does is permit one to pasken shaylos, something for which it seems the Protestant minister model for the “parsonage” exception seems not to have any parallel.”
    The flip side of the argument has been accepted by the Tax Court and acquiesed to by the IRS The Tax Court in Salkov 46 T.C. 190 (1966) held that a Jewish cantor was eligible for the parsonage income exclusion. It concluded that the cantor qualified because he was commissioned by, and was a duly qualified member of the Cantors Assembly of America, which functions as the official cantorial body for Conservative Jewry and because he was selected by a representative Conservative congregation to perform the functions of cantor.
    In Silverman v. Commissioner , 57 T.C. 727 (1972), the Tax Court, also held that a cantor of the Jewish faith was a duly ordained,commissioned, or licensed minister, looked, in each case, to the systematic manner the cantor was called to his ministry and the ecclesiastical functions he carried out in concluding that he was a minister within the meaning of parsonage exclusion.
    In Rev. Rul. 78 301 the IRS followed the Tax Court decisions in Salkov and Silverman and held that a Jewish cantor who is not ordained but has a bona fide commission and is employed by a congregation on a full time basis to perform substantially all the religious worship, sacerdotal, training, and educational functions of the Jewish denomination’s religious tenets and practices is a minister of the gospel within parsonage exclusion.
    Thus one can see that Cantors who I suspect none of us would treat as clergy are treated as clergy for the parsonage exclusion shows how the exclusion is heavily based on the”Protestant minister model”

    “I am surprised that no one has challenged the exception on Establishment Clause grounds”
    It has been challenged and the courts have so far succeeded in avoiding invalidating the parsonage exclusion which by its terms discriminates in favor of religion by invoking the standing principle-claiming that those challenging the exclusion don’t have standing to bring the lawsuit.

  34. SA says:

    If I may make my own crass comment regarding CJ Srullowitz’s rather utilitarian description of parents and grandparents, let me point out that nowadays, more often than not, those (great) grandparents are NOT dead; on the contrary, they are living far longer than ever before. This means that if they have money, since they are no longer working, they must preserve it for themselves; if they don’t have money, then the (grand)parent generation may have to help them financially, and potential inheritances are being drawn down, or at least delayed.

    I”m not disputing CJ’s view of things, just tweaking it.

  35. Daniel says:

    Ideas 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8 are different ways of saying “pay more money.” For example, discounts on tuition actually remove money from the school’s accounts. Since money is fungible, it is the same.

    Idea 4 (equal pay for women in equal jobs) is a baseless canard. None of our schools actually have men and women in the same jobs, so there could be no comparison. And to compare a 4th grade rebbe who could not be hired without 8-10 years of post-high school schooling, with a 4th grade morah who is hired directly out of the author’s seminary 1 year after high school, is insulting and ridiculous. Moreover, it is also just a way of saying “pay more money.”

    Idea 7 (parsonage) is already done in all of our schools. The notion that it is applicable to morahs is not clear as a matter of law, as pointed out by several other posters. I am a tax lawyer at one of the top firms in the country.

  36. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Jewish Observer, I certainly agree with you that one should not make assumptions about other people’s experiences (Al tadin es chavercha…). That said, my comparisons between teaching and a corporate job were indeed based on my own experiences working in a day school and working in the corporate world.

  37. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Mr. Rodomska, in some communities, there is a teacher shortage. And in others, there is certainly a shortage of qualified teachers. Many of those applying for teaching positions (particularly women) are only planning to teach for a few years, while they pursue training in other fields. They are not career teachers. I have heard that there is a major surplus of teachers in Lakewood, but that is not true of all communities. I am not arguing that everyone should go into education. I am arguing that those with the passion, talent and desire to teach should stay in the field and that the community should work hard to keep them. I will further argue that students today are not all savvy on supply and demand, as they are eschewing education for the “therapies,” which are getting more and more saturated each year.

    Finally, the whole purpose of this article was to consider ways to improve teachers’ compensation without putting an additional burden on parents paying tuition. Hence the emphasis on partnering with foundations.

  38. CJ Srullowitz says:

    Tweak accepted. These and those.

  39. Jewish Observer says:

    “my comparisons between teaching and a corporate job were indeed based on my own experiences working in a day school and working in the corporate world”

    – fair enough. I suppose my experiences, based on 29 years in various corporate jobs, differ from yours. I can tell you the pressures I have experienced include – missing meals, being stranded in airports overnight, going without sleep for days, having to work right up until Shabbos and immediately afterwards, etc. etc.

    I believe my point remains Vlad that the “my challenges are bigger than yours” tactic is generally not a well received tactic.

  40. Leslie Ginsparg Klein says:

    Jewish Observer, I believe you misread what I wrote. Gershon Pickles claimed that teachers have it easy and don’t have challenges like those working in the corporate workplace. I responded that teachers do have challenges and listed a few that are particular to teachers. I then stated that “Every job comes with its perks and downsides.” I had no intention of playing “my challenges are bigger than yours.” Rather, I intended to point out that teaching, like other professions, comes with challenges. I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to clarify.

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