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Friday, January 27, 2006

Tax Credit Apathy?

This is an anonymous "prinicipal's" take on Wednesday's meeting between pols and Jewish leaders about the NYS tax credit proposal (I posted about it here):
Let's get the record straight about this meeting

1. Agudah invites Yeshiva administrators to a meeting at headquarters

2. Vito Lopez speaks and urges everyone to attend Feb 14th rally to support tax credits

3. Fragin from Pataki's office speaks and urges everyone to attend Feb 14th raly to support tax credits

4. Avi Schick speaks about how important it is this year to support tax credits

4. Sen. Marty Golden speaks and demands that community get organized and attend the Feb 14th rally in Albany to support tax credits

5. George Klein says something with no real message only that he has been doing this for a long time

6. The well respected Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel then gets up and tells most of the people in the room that the Council of Torah Sages opposes my school's participation in the February 14th rally

AM I MISSING SOMETHNG?
Why was i invited if the Agudah doesn't want me to go to the rally that the politicians want me to attend? I don't think that Agudah is bad but they obviously did not think this one through
Obviously. I can't imagine why the Agudah does not want to put themselves behind this proposal in a meaningful manner - and by meaningful, I mean more than just standing up at a meeting and blowing hot air. They're all, "Tuition crisis, tuition crisis, blah, blah, blah." If they are not interested in supporting a proposal that will put money in their so-called constituency's pockets, then their leadership should just step down now. If the Orthodox community does not step up to the plate to support and show gratitude for our elected officials who are putting their necks on the line to support a proposal that helps private school parents, then why should we expect them to get behind future proposals that will give even more assistance to private school parents? I keep seeing comments on how this proposal is "small potatoes" because $500 per pupil is "worthless". Come on, people! Everything starts small. If our elected officials test the waters with something like this, and sense that the community they are trying to help is not particularly receptive, then who expects them to try this again anytime soon?

With that in mind, I encourage anyone from both the private school and public school communities to head up to Albany on Feb. 14 for a rally to show our support for the efforts of Governor Pataki and other elected officials who have sponsored and promoted the tax credit proposal. I think everyone can get behind a proposal that gives parents choice in how to educate their children.

20 Comments:

Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

OM, I think the reason why the Concil of Torah Sages is saying not to go is very clear. And it's the same reason why they have NEVER allowed yeshivas to rally for anything (Soviet Jewry, Israel, etc.) Bittul toirah.

10:11 AM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

It's quite simple actually. They don't want the Yeshiva to commit Bitul Torah and Bitul zman by going to the rally. But that does not mean that they will pass up the opportunity to go to a meeting with important people and take pictures with important people.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, OM. The agudah is heading down the road to irrelvancy. Every day they get closer and closer. they aren't sending the students to the rally because theyre afraid it will make them "not frum enough". So they sit on the sidelines and act like complete idiots. The tuition crisis will soon be as bad as the shidduch crisis. hmm. maybe if they send busloads of girls and boys to the rally they can kill both crises with one stone? But seriously. The UO world has been focusing far to much on keeping their UP credentials, and not enough on the abyss they are headed into in terms of social issues. not sure if this tax credit is the answer, but the agudah, who do seem sure that vouchers are the answer, should make up their mind one way or the other.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Are they (agudah) afraid of this tax credit because it will dilute their pro-voucher argument?

11:43 AM  
Anonymous day-school-parent said...

Despite desperate efforts to make the school voucher (or tax credit) debate about "school choice," vouchers remain an elitist strategy that is about subsidizing tuition for students in private schools, not about expanding opportunities for low-income children, as proponents of the proposal claim (perhaps Orthodox proponents don't even bother claiming that - I don't know). I, for one, totally disagree with the idea of public dollars going towards funding private schools (85% of which are religious and since when is the U.S. government obligated to support religious education - of any nature?), or for making it a little easier for a small, privileged minority to attend private schools, when our public schools, particularly in urban areas, are in the state of total disarray and disintegration that they are. That's where the true crisis lay. And that's something we should ALL be worried about. All Americans - even Orthodox Jews who choose to educate their children in private religious schools - have to live in this society and interact with other members of their communities (most of them public school graduates). Every time for the last 30 years that vouchers have appeared on the ballot, voters have shot the proposal down. So, while your encouraging of everyone - from both the private and public school communities - to attend the rally is nice, your suggestion is laughable. I've yet to meet one public school parent or teacher who supports school vouchers.

11:44 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Um, ok. Let me go through this slowly, day-school parent. The tax credit we are discussing here is not a voucher. The proposal will probably help far more public school parents from failing districts with paying for extra help for their children's education than it will help private school parents. This initiative is about giving all parents in failing school districts (under a certain salary level) some choices when it comes to their children's education. I'm flummoxed that you keep calling it a voucher. No money is being given to schools by the government - it's being given to parents, to refund them for instructional expenses, such as test prep courses, tutoring, etc. Why is that a only private school issue?

12:58 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

"day-school-parent," why do you (and other perfectly literate sounding people, seem to be completely unable to comprehend the terms of this proposal? It provides NO benefit to those who earn more than 90K, and begins to decrease at and even lower income level. Whatever one thinks about the proposal let's make sure we are not debating some other proposal first.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous day-school-parent said...

http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oId=2546

2:06 PM  
Anonymous day-school-parent said...

How about getting the community together - with the schools, rabbonim, lay leaders, perhaps even the local Jewish Federation working together - and make our own concerted efforts toward coming up with solutions to our community's "tuition crisis." How about developing a community scholarship fund? It's happening in communities around the country. One central fund that all Jewish day schools can tap into to aid needy families' tuition burdens. I'm sure the New York area could follow this model. Particularly in the Five Towns area you're so fond of describing, OM, (with parents - or nannies as the case may be - pushing couture-clad babies around in $1,000 strollers) I'd think there would be plenty of people to approach to spearhead such a project.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

day-school-parent, this is what the OU is proposing as part of an overall initiative which would include tax credits. Read this:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=11970.

Key excerpt:

According to the OU proposal, foundations and federations can also play an important role in creating communitywide scholarship funds and doling out basic grants to Jewish schools.

Keep in mind, as the article points out, the NY federation gives no money to day school. Zero.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous day-school-parent said...

I commend the OU for working to tackle this problem, especially for pushing the idea that community foundations, federations, and philanthropists can play a huge part in making day school affordable for Jewish families - religious or not. And while the UJA-Fed. in NY doesn't currently give to day schools (which surprised me; I did not know that), it seems promising that sometime in the future they will develop a "scholarship superfund," as they call it. That is truly a step in the right direction. This model is working in other communities and the organized Jewish community (read: non-religious) is becoming more and more aware of the absolute need for day school education (and the subsequent need to fund it). In the name of "Jewish continuity," Jewish leaders are beginning to push this agenda - within the federation world and within the circle of our country's mega-philanthropists.

I still disagree with the issue at hand; the idea that the government should be involved in all this. I truly believe that the U.S. government MUST devote its resources - and, in fact, work to vastly INCREASE those resources - towards public school education and public school education only, end of story.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous SephardiLady said...

It is, quite frankly, infuriating that the Agudah is not in support of the rally full force. Their lack of support just goes to show that they are unwilling to work as a community and be pragmatic. Those that are unwilling to look beyond their differences and work together as a team are, in my opinion, contributors to the "tuition crisis."

I think that we can all afford a few hours out of our schedule to help make day school and Yeshiva more affordable for our own people. To the Agudah, please show some compassion or, if the tuitions continue to increase at the same pace, we will all know what bittul zman means!

7:39 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Sephardilady, what can I say. Your comments are always spot on. Please continue to hang around here, you are a tremendous asset to my comment section.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthomom, just because you may disagree with another commenter's politics doesn't mean you need to be sarcastic (first response to dsp) or passive-aggresive (2nd response to dsp, via sephardilady). It takes all types and maybe blogging is the wrong hobby for you if you don't want to hear other people's opinions.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, Anon, did you not notice that it is OM4's blog and, as such, she can react however she'd like-whether it's with sarcasm, or passive-aggressively. This is her blog, this is her soapbox, and if she can't express people however she'd like then it's your decision of whether you want to comment or not. But don't tell her blogging is the wrong hobby-perhaps commenting is the wrong hobby for you!
Mom, keep it up. The bitul torah argument was one that I was fully expecting; aside from lending their name to the effort it doesn't seem like AIA is going to be very helpful here.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure it's her blog and she can use whatever tone she'd like to on her own virtual soap box. But why blog - especially about controversial or political subjects - if you're not interested in hearing what other people have to say? It'd be pretty dull if everyone had the same opinion. Of course we can disagree - I just think we can and should do it in a respectful and mature manner, as adults.
Just for the record, I happen to really enjoy reading OM's blog; I'm a daily visitor and I even voted for her in several JIB categories. And - incidentally - without readers who comment (like me - and d-s-p) she wouldn't HAVE a blog. We're what makes the blogosphere go 'round. :)

1:31 PM  
Anonymous SephardiLady said...

Why blog about controversial subjects? Some reasons I can think of: to raise awareness for various issues that our leadership does not want to tackle, to give people a forum to express ideas that might not be heard otherwise, to debate issues that are not being debated in create ways, and more.

Orthomom is doing a great job of bringing these issues to the forefront. (And, yes, orthomom, I intend to stick around here and make my voice heard.)

The issue of tuition is _by far_ the most important Jewish issue on the agenda. And, yet, while it is a huge issue, it is an issue that does not generate grassroots action like the issue of 22.5 year old single girls does (the so-called "shidduch crisis).

6:16 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Hmm. Anon, while I do appreciate what everyone has to say around here, if I do throw in the sarcasm(as you pointed out), I generally do so when someone gets the facts wrong, as I felt dsp did in this instance. It had zero to do with politics, and everything to do with the facts that people seem to keep getting wrong vis-a-vis the tax credit proposal. Also the passive-aggressiveness you are so sure you detected was simply not there in this case. I loved Sephardilady's comment, and wanted her to know that. Not every comment of mine has snark in it. This one didn't.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous SephardiLady said...

Maybe I don't know anything about pyschology, but I certainly didn't pick up any passive-agressive behavior.

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