I read with great interest Dr. Simcha Katz’s columns in Jewish Action over the past year in which he describes the Orthodox Union’s activities to pursue government support to help alleviate the extraordinary costs of yeshivah education.
In pursuing government support, however, I believe that frum communities may unknowingly be courting two serious dangers.
I am concerned about the prospect that our efforts will engender a high degree of sinat chinam among parents, administrators, and other supporters of public school education.
In my hometown, there is currently an undercurrent of tension between public school advocates and a group of people (many of whom are members of the Orthodox community) who seek to establish a Hebrew language charter school. I shudder to think of what new tensions would arise—in towns across the state—if the Opportunity Scholarship Act or a similar effort to enlist governmental support for parochial education were enacted.
Public education advocates are very sensitive to any effort to support alternative education models that draw on public funds to advance their cause. They see government funding, especially in the difficult economy, as limited and constrained, and they decry any effort that appears to divert such funds.
Were such legislation to become law, another danger is that it would foster an increased level of entanglement between our state government and our yeshivot. In such circumstances, it is reasonable to assume that successive state governments may seek greater oversight over how our schools are run. I wonder if all our schools are prepared for such close scrutiny.
I hope these concerns inform the OU’s thinking as it pursues initiatives in this vein.
Highland Park, New Jersey