By a parent and member of a school administration
There is one thing that is infuriating to those of us who work in Jewish education: parents who do not respect the school they send their children to for hours every day.
When a child sees that his parents have no respect for the school which teaches Torah, no matter how aidel or smart or dedicated s/he is to learning, the child reads the clear message from his parents between the lines: his beloved teachers and their subjects are somehow deficient. This message of disrespect is conveyed both by the parents’ financial priorities and their verbal cues.
Using money which belongs to the school in tuition payments to instead give a child extra luxuries or a nice family vacation is stealing. Speaking disrespectfully about the moisad, about the staff, about a particular teacher, about the policies and rules – is stealing. The school is robbed of funding and a good reputation. However, it is stealing not just from the school and payment of its staff, but also from your own child. The child is being robbed of a proper and appropriate respect for honest payment of dues and of respect for Torah role models and authority.
Are you a parent who demands discounts, who complains non-stop to administration about every aspect of the school, who publicly and privately disparages certain teachers, who campaigns to undermine school decisions, who criticizes the school to their friends (even in earshot of their children, chas v’shalom), who buys luxuries beyond their means, who goes on vacations with the family that would suit a gvir?
Your children are watching this show. What are they to think? What are they to conclude about their parents’ real priorities?
Maybe your own parents spoke badly about the school you went to, or didn’t pay tuition, and as a result you think this is appropriate? All the more crucial that you break the pattern.
Many people bemoan the deficiency of yiras shomayim in their children. Maybe it is because your child watched as his Jewish education was stolen. Maybe his tuition was not paid honestly. Or maybe the dignity he should have seen towards Yiddishkeit was embezzled. Without respect for education and educators, the parents have stripped away a main ingredient of education: yiras shomayim. They have stolen their own child’s Jewish education.
It is Elul. Time for a true cheshbon and rectification. This year, make a hachlata to show your children where your deepest priorities are. Champion the authority of your school, the school staff and all the teachers. Resolve to work out issues with the faculty in a respectful, gentle and kind way. Work hard to be partners with the school to the betterment of your child’s chinuch. Plan to properly pay the moisad their well-deserved tuition to the best of your financial ability, and show your children that you sacrifice for their education. Be grateful, and express your gratitude to your children’s teachers. Hold yourself to high standards in giving the benefit of the doubt to the school about their decisions.
There may be a teacher who errs in knowledge, midos or behavior. We are all human. However, more important than setting the teacher straight is doing so like a mentch. If you do have complaints, find a way to work them out in a peaceful and respectful way.
Show your children by example where your priorities are – that at all costs, you want them to revere Yiddishkeit and honesty and their education.
For those who have children who have finished school, you can still make a donation to the school they attended. Donate to rectify anything ‘stolen’ by your previous non-payment or by your previous attitude about the moisad, which may have impacted negatively on your child’s chinuch or yiras shomayim.
Chinuch is a huge job. We all want our children to get the best, all-round Jewish education possible – which should manifest in real mentchlichkeit and yiras shomayim. To do so, we need to work supportively with the schools we have. And we have to avoid these thefts at all costs.
Wishing Jewish schools and their parent and student bodies a kesiva v’chasima tovah,
A Parent and School Administrator outside of Crown Heights