The crisis of the lack of affordability of Jewish education has moved beyond the discussion phase. Many communities across North America are actively engaged in trying to find solutions. It is important that GAJE supporters know this.
Last week we wrote about recent funding initiatives of the government of Pennsylvania inspired, in part, by a local Jewish action committee.
This week, we draw GAJE supporters’ attention to a blog post by Yossi Prager on the website of the Avi Chai Foundation, entitled “An Area of Growing Political Consensus: Government Funding for Jewish Day School Education”. Prager is the executive director, North America, for The AVI CHAI Foundation. (AVI CHAI is a private foundation based in the USA and in Israel “committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism, and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people.”)
Prager points to a workshop last year hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) that focused on school choice issues and “achieved consensus on federal tax policy and other incentives to make day school education more affordable while continuing to sustain public education.” This consensus included, “JFNA promotes the expansion of federal tax incentives that can reduce the cost of day school education.”
Given the sensitivities surrounding the separation of church and state, Prager remarked that it was “remarkable that the Federation umbrella organization found a broad consensus among its constituents” for a nuanced approach to some manner of government contribution to help reduce the punishing cost of day school education. It is now clear, given the dimension of the problem, the issue of affordability is moving to the centre stage of Jewish communal life.
Prager reminds readers that the precedent of government assistance in the United States to day school education already exists. “U.S. day schools today already receive several hundred million dollars annually in government funding for a range of non-religious purposes and in 17 states benefit from incentives created by state tax-credit programs.”
He lists those non-religious purposes. Ontario readers will recognize in that list aspects of the health support services that GAJE and community officials seek from the government of Ontario in a manner that is equal and fair to all learning-disabled children in Ontario.
As with last week’s update, the point of bringing Prager’s blog post to the attention of GAJE supporters is to show that focused, meaningful, communally-driven efforts to make Jewish education affordable are being taken across North America.
Prager urges Jewish communities to undertake even more advocacy for additional government funding to lower the cost of day school education.
Once the new government of Ontario settles into the legislative benches, we hope and expect to see such public advocacy here to help make Jewish education affordable.