KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
6, 2006 - יום
are the Children Anyway?"
Last week in
an Indiana school, classrooms were a little less crowded on opening day. 128
students were sent home for wearing the wrong clothes. Fed up with
inappropriate outfits, the principal at Morton High School suspended the
students, minutes after doors opened at the school. On average, Morton High
cites 20 students a day for dress code violations. Principal Theresa Mayerik
said: "This was the worst year I've seen in a long time. It's gotten out
of control, and we needed to send a message that we're not messing
and its quick resolution, brought me to think about educational system in
general. While the system is great and doing better every year, we still face
some fundamental problems within it - problems that also need a quick
resolution, albeit with an entirely new approach. I realized that the
solutions to problems such as these lies in the answer to one question: Whose
responsibility are the children anyway?
The Torah teaches
that parents are obligated to teach their children. Commentaries say that
students are referred to as oneís children. It seems to me that the
responsibility to educate our children therefore falls not only on parents,
but also on mentors, teachers and by extension the schools that they teach in.
They too have a halachic, moral and legal obligation to make sure that all
children are educated properly.
it seems that the educational institutions of today have abandoned that
obligation and donít feel any responsibility to the individual child they
are supposed to be educating. Iíve met with parents that canít afford to
send their child to the school that is right for their needs, and even worse,
parents who canít send their child to any school at all because of the
financial hardship caused by indecent tuition charges.
want to educate their children in religious schools so their children can
learn the subject matter and behavior that they believe in and in a religious
environment, find the cost of religious education prohibitive. Education of
children is the biggest expense in every household - and the burden is
weighing our families down.
children feel the pressure that schools put on their parents and many are
turned off from the educational system. Iíve had teenagers ask me, ďHow
could a school that is breaking my parentís back for money and causing
tension in our home, claim that they are interested in my growth? If their
priority was me and my learning, they wouldnít be pressuring my parents like
this for money they simply donít have.Ē
The old system
was one of ďopen registration,Ē where first the child was accepted and
then the tuition was worked out. Today, schoolís focus is on money as a
priority of acceptance into their hallowed halls. Administrators hide behind a
tuition committee, and before they tell parents that their child is accepted
they want to see where, when and how the money will be given to them.
have incredible expenses - especially religious schools with a double
curriculum and a longer school day - and they need money to exist, there must
be sensitivity to children of the have- nots. Itís terribly wrong for those
families to feel that their children are less worthy of the religious
education that they need. Donít our schools have a responsibility to teach
all our children?
is that of educating all our children.
Energetic and creative children, who would make great youth leaders or
teachers themselves, are not even given a chance because school
administrations do not necessarily have the focus on the important thing -
which is the education of ALL our children.
should not expect perfect children in their classrooms in the beginning of the
year. Administrators and teachers have to accept that some of the students
will need a real education - starting with their behavior.
many of our schools donít deal with children they teach as students, but as
issues. Children with any learning challenge or behavioral issue are given the
boot - and many of them end up on the streets. If we donít feel a
responsibility to our own children who will?
Iím not saying
there is an easy solution to these two problems that face parents wanting to
send their children to our worthy and necessary institutions of learning, but
the answer to ďWhose Responsibility are the Children Anyway?Ē is not only
the parentsí but schools, too. And like the principal in Indiana, we must
face that there is a problem and go beyond the call of duty to actively work
on a solution.
We must find ways
to alleviate the prohibitive financial burden placed on parents for religious
education. Maybe the schools can go back to hiring fund-raisers bringing in
the bulk of the money that they need to run properly so that the burden of
tuition does not fall completely on the parents.
should reassess the meaning of successful education. Itís not taking in the
perfect child and graduating a perfect child eight years later that means
success, itís educating the challenging child and seeing him graduate a
success thatís true successful education.
more articles by Rabbi Hecht
Rabbi Hecht's Website: www.sheahecht.com
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