I wrote this article to discuss the tuition crisis. And to share my perspective on the new initiative Beis Rivkah has devised to help alleviate the burden of the crisis.
But, before I dive too deep, I want to take a moment to give thanks to a certain special group of people. People that—despite the tremendous energies they invest and the work they put in—are often not congratulated as they should be.
I am referring to the Board of Directors.
You should know that the hard work you do for our school does not go unappreciated.
Now, onto the real reason I penned this article: The Tuition Crisis.
Tuition is a topic that bears heavily on all our minds. We have, ka”h, big families, and that is the greatest blessing we can ask for. But big families means big tuition bills. And finding money to pay the bills is a constant struggle.
There have been many solutions discussed over the years, and many different initiatives have been tried. Some have been effective and others have failed. But we, as a community, continue to try.
Recently, the board of Beth RIvkah devised a new solution to the tuition crisis: Selling raffle tickets.
The idea is simple. Parents sell raffle tickets to their friends and family, and the money raised offsets their tuition bill. Everyone gains: The parents pay less tuition, and the school covers their bills with the money raised.
I want to take the opportunity to discuss this idea in a public forum. I am a parent with, ka’h, a large family. And I struggle to pay school fees for my children. And I am an advocate of the raffle ticket initiative.
Do I think this selling raffle tickets the ultimate solution? No. Do I believe it will solve the tuition crisis? I don’t. But I do believe it is a step in the right direction. And I believe these are the kinds of steps we need to be taking.
That is not to say the raffle solution doesn’t have its flaws. It does. And over the number of conversations I’ve had with parents in our community, I’ve heard a number of complaints presented.
Because I think the raffle initiative is a step in the right direction, I wish to address the complaints I’ve heard one by one, and offer my perspective—the perspective of a parent who would be selling those tickets.
There are three general complaints I have heard:
1) The purpose of these initiatives is to lighten the load of tuition from the parents. The raffle initiative does not achieve that. It simply returns the burden back to the parents, only in a different capacity.
It is true. Having to sell raffle tickets means taking the burden of tuition onto your own shoulders. But I believe that is where the burden belongs: On the shoulders of parents.
It is a school’s job to educate our children. It is the parents job to foot the bill of that education. We are the ones obligated in the mitzvah of chinuch, and we are the ones who must ensure the organization that cares for their education is financially viable.
That doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to lighten the burden. We can. And we should. But we shouldn’t get confused between lightening our burden and shifting the responsibility onto the moised.
Does selling raffle tickets mean we are ultimately footing the responsibility for our kids’ chinuch. Yes, it does. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And the raffle is simply a tool to make it easier.
2) Most of the people I know are parents themselves and will be selling raffle tickets as well. So what exactly is the point?
It is true. A lot of people will be trying to sell tickets to the same crowd. And that is almost inevitable.
But that doesn’t mean that the raffle is pointless. Everyone has people they know that others don’t, or others wouldn’t think of selling to them. Think relatives from out of town, co-workers, random acquaintances. Outside of the immediate Beis Rivkah parent community, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find people you know to whom you can sell a handful of tickets.
3) If the money I raise from selling tickets goes toward my children’s tuition, does that mean I am collecting Tzedakah for myself?
Yes, it does. You are collecting Tzedakah for your children’s tuition. But there is nothing wrong with that.
What about when the school gives a tuition break? Or when you are unable to come up with the school fees at the end of the year and the school allows your child to stay. Aren’t you collecting Tzedakah then too? A school runs on money, and that money comes from somewhere. If I’m getting a break it means someone else is footing the bill. That is accepting Tzedakah. And accepting Tzedakah is OK.
I receive tuition breaks from my children’s school. I will be selling raffle tickets to offset my children’s school fees. And if we call that accepting Tzedakah then so be it. I need it.
A proud Bais Rivkah parent.