On April 24, GAJE will mark the third anniversary of its forming with the important, urgent mission “to make Jewish education in our community affordable for every family that wishes to send its children to a Jewish day school.”
In our view, the future of Jewish education in our community is the community’s most important current priority. Still.
The fact that Jewish day school education is not yet affordable for the majority of middle -income families merely adds to the gravity of the situation and points without relent to the significance of finding a permanent reduction in the cost of tuitions.
We do not gainsay the progress that has been made to bring down the tuition figures: The issue of affordability is squarely in the centre of community planning and priorities. Communal leadership is actively seeking answers. Community schools seek creative ways to contend with the burdens imposed by parents by high tuitions. CHAT led the way in proving the empirical truth of the proposition that where the education is known to be excellent, the level of tuition will indeed be a factor in enrollment. CHAT reduced annual tuition by nearly a third – albeit at this stage for only a five-year trial period – and entry-level enrollment for next year has soared as a result.
Even with the significant reduction by CHAT however, the level of tuition for Jewish day school education in our community is unconscionably high for most middle-income families.
We have often written about the implications of high tuitions, declining enrollments and shuttered day schools for the Jewish future of our community. We are at a watershed moment. The funding and education-oriented policies our community chooses and enacts will determine the Jewish shape of our community in the years to come – for good or for ill.
GAJE is developing a tuition plan that will enable our schools to accommodate the widest swath possible of middle-income families. We are also focused on bringing legal pressure upon the government to change its unfair, discriminatory education funding policies. We hope to be able demonstrate some measure of success in the months ahead.
In our founding documents we wrote, “by striving to make Jewish education more affordable, we fulfill a moral obligation to our community and a historic obligation to the wider Jewish people. The status quo is an affront to conscience. Inaction is not an option. Nor is failure.”
Perhaps during the upcoming year – GAJE’s fourth – we will see positive change to the benefit of all of the young families of our community.