The New School Year and What I’m Not Blogging About

I won’t be blogging about:

  • My conversation with the principal about the school supply list. After she asked me twice whether I have a baaya kalkalit (financial issue) I said that I have permission to complain about unnecessary expenses even if I’m not desperate enough to ask for a scholarship.
  • Waiting until after 8:05 for the first grade teacher to show up on the first day. The principal came in and told the parents that they could go to work, with no word about the whereabouts of the teacher. My son told me to go home, and I did because my husband was with my 3yo and needed to to go to work, and I knew the principal was around, but I wish I had stayed. Some of the kids were brought by older siblings, and none of the other parents seemed bothered. Don’t worry, I will complain.
  • My son in yeshiva, who reluctantly came home for Shabbat, and whose siblings were so excited to see him (not to mention his parents).

Instead I will share with you a conversation that took place recently, between a female teacher and a father, each of whom has children in the private school system. The teacher teaches in a mamad (public religious school) in another town. The father was shouting at the teacher about the schoolbook system, which I have blogged about before. To her credit, the teacher remained completely unfrazzled, even when the conversation switched to an attack on bad teachers, the teacher-training system, faulty promotion of teachers, and more. The parents agreed that their private school has only a few very good teachers, and that they wait for their kids to have a lucky year. Diplomatically I refrained from pointing out that good teachers like herself prefer the public schools, because they get incomparably better benefits.

The teacher took over the discussion proceeding to criticize the Misrad Hachinuch (education ministry). Apparently, recent cuts have seriously hurt the system and there will be only one supervisor for 30 (!) schools. (I again diplomatically refrained from mentioning that the private schools have no supervisors from outside their system.) She said that the Misrad Hachinuch has lost all credibility and they may as well lock the door and go home.

At this point the father’s wife interjects: “The only solution is the private system.” There’s a moment of silence while everyone digests this. Her husband says, “Nu, gam haprati lo hatzlacha gedola” (“the private system is  not such a great success either”). The teacher sums up by saying that the only reason the private system works is that “We gave birth to our children, and the “chevrah” (group of friends) supports them.”

A woman I met recently explained that the issue of mixed swimming determined her choice of schools. The private school expects the families they accept to only swim at beaches and pools with separate hours for men and women (we observe this also). She didn’t want her sons to be conflicted about it when they got older. She would feel differently if she weren’t the “only one.” I guess people like me don’t count.

We in the religious community are so unsure of ourselves and our ability to retain our children that we feel we must send them to expensive, inferior schools to avoid exposing them to kids whose level of observance is lower than our own. As I wrote in a related post giving more background on this issue, if the private school parents could all get together and send to the mamad, they would be the overwhelming majority. It’s not like the religious views of the parents differ from the mamad’s. The mamad doesn’t encourage mixed swimming, or uncovered hair (in fact, covering hair is a requirement for married, female teachers).

I know the demographics differ from community to community, but what goes on around here is ludicrous. I did notice that many parents with older kids in private schools sent to the mamad this year.

Kicking ourselves in the foot.

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Comments

  1. We in the religious community are so unsure of ourselves and our ability to retain our children that we feel we must send them to expensive, inferior schools to avoid exposing them to kids whose level of observance is lower than our own.
    that is probably the most important sentence in the post. This thought involves the old discussion of how much to expose our kids to…
    and regarding The mamad doesn’t encourage mixed swimming, or uncovered hair – isn’t there a difference between not encouraging mixed swimming/uncovered hair and between discouraging it?

  2. We in the religious community are so unsure of ourselves and our ability to retain our children that we feel we must send them to expensive, inferior schools to avoid exposing them to kids whose level of observance is lower than our own.
    that is probably the most important sentence in the post. This thought involves the old discussion of how much to expose our kids to…
    and regarding The mamad doesn’t encourage mixed swimming, or uncovered hair – isn’t there a difference between not encouraging mixed swimming/uncovered hair and between discouraging it?

  3. mominisrael says:

    Rafi, we’re talking here about elementary school when these issues don’t come up so much. When they get swimming lessons in 5th grade (minimal, but the private schools don’t get any) the swimming is separate.
    I guess you are right, the elementary school doesn’t make an issue of it because so many of the parents don’t observe it. But this shouldn’t be an issue in elem. school. Another problem is that when parents sign up for first grade, they think they are tied to the system through twelfth.

  4. mominisrael says:

    Rafi, we’re talking here about elementary school when these issues don’t come up so much. When they get swimming lessons in 5th grade (minimal, but the private schools don’t get any) the swimming is separate.
    I guess you are right, the elementary school doesn’t make an issue of it because so many of the parents don’t observe it. But this shouldn’t be an issue in elem. school. Another problem is that when parents sign up for first grade, they think they are tied to the system through twelfth.

  5. I am so glad you are writing about school issues. I must pay more attention to your posts, as b’ezrat Hashem, i’ll be thrown into it soon.

  6. I am so glad you are writing about school issues. I must pay more attention to your posts, as b’ezrat Hashem, i’ll be thrown into it soon.

  7. I’m one of 2 mom’s in my 3rd grader’s class who cover their hair. (though there are more in the girls class). But honestly, that doesn’t bother me since all the others are friendly as are their kids.
    All the RZ (chardal) kollel wives, on the other hand, do cover their hair but ignore my existance completely. Even though we see eachother regularly. And they certainly don’t encourage their kids to play with mine – after all, we don’t ship the kids out of town to a school that keeps out most sepharadim and where one is taught proper snobbery.
    Ironically our mamad has separate sex classes from 1st grade starting from a few years ago when the kollel arrived and insisted on it as a condition to send their kids to the school. In the end, 2 families send their daughters (one only has girls and can’t afford to send out of town anyway) and all the rest send boys and girls out for school. So the school changed for them but its still not good enough – after all, they don’t refuse entry to non-shomer shabbat families nor do they force the female teachers to cover their hair (though the vast majority do). Oh, and there is a chiloni russian man teaching gym (the fact he’s got a background that all would envy is irrelevant – i do belive they’d rather sports be banned).
    Personally i think derech eretz is far more important in elementary school than an extra hour a week of misnah. But then again, i’m the silly american lady who has a university degree (horror of horrors!)
    shoshana

  8. I’m one of 2 mom’s in my 3rd grader’s class who cover their hair. (though there are more in the girls class). But honestly, that doesn’t bother me since all the others are friendly as are their kids.
    All the RZ (chardal) kollel wives, on the other hand, do cover their hair but ignore my existance completely. Even though we see eachother regularly. And they certainly don’t encourage their kids to play with mine – after all, we don’t ship the kids out of town to a school that keeps out most sepharadim and where one is taught proper snobbery.
    Ironically our mamad has separate sex classes from 1st grade starting from a few years ago when the kollel arrived and insisted on it as a condition to send their kids to the school. In the end, 2 families send their daughters (one only has girls and can’t afford to send out of town anyway) and all the rest send boys and girls out for school. So the school changed for them but its still not good enough – after all, they don’t refuse entry to non-shomer shabbat families nor do they force the female teachers to cover their hair (though the vast majority do). Oh, and there is a chiloni russian man teaching gym (the fact he’s got a background that all would envy is irrelevant – i do belive they’d rather sports be banned).
    Personally i think derech eretz is far more important in elementary school than an extra hour a week of misnah. But then again, i’m the silly american lady who has a university degree (horror of horrors!)
    shoshana

  9. mama o'matrices says:

    Oh, M.i.I, do I need to say that I agree?
    I find our religious schools to be so very sad in their focus on getting the halacha right – as opposed to thinking about *how* they teach. If you teach religion, you have to teach it well – or you lose something crucial.
    Like the opportunity to deliver an education, hm?

  10. mama o'matrices says:

    Oh, M.i.I, do I need to say that I agree?
    I find our religious schools to be so very sad in their focus on getting the halacha right – as opposed to thinking about *how* they teach. If you teach religion, you have to teach it well – or you lose something crucial.
    Like the opportunity to deliver an education, hm?

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