Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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Forward to the Toilet

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

“The Jewish Daily Forward”, which generally seems to state moving beyond Judaism is moving forward, has (yet another) article bashing an (American) Orthodox Jewish community…

(Forward) Orthodox Town of Lakewood Grabs Bigger Computer Subsidy Than Poorest Cities - How Does Jersey Shore Town of 93,000 Outstrip Newark?

Hmm, a Jewish community doing something better than a non-Jewish community – something must be wrong here!

A federally backed program subsidizing Internet access for low-income students has committed more money to schools in the heavily Orthodox Jewish town of Lakewood, N.J. in recent years than to schools in any other municipality in the entire state.  Yet after several years of participating in the E-Rate subsidy program, Lakewood’s schools report having far fewer Internet-capable devices per student than any large New Jersey city…

Oh no, not enough internet!

In 2011, schools in Lakewood received $282 in E-Rate commitments for every student served by the program. Schools in Newark, the largest city in New Jersey and one of the poorest, received just $82 per student that year.

Less than one-tenth of the E-Rate money has gone to Lakewood’s public school system, which has one of the worst high school graduation rates in New Jersey. The rest is granted to the town’s private schools, the vast majority of which serve the ultra-Orthodox community.

As well as Internet connectivity, E-Rate funds can also be used for things like telephone systems and voicemail for administrators, but schools in Lakewood report similar numbers of phones in their classrooms, compared to other schools.

Well, clearly there’s something wrong if every classroom doesn’t have internet when paid for by a program that can be used for voicemail systems.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders (we know they’re ultra, because they where black hats!) in Lakewood have railed against the dangers of the Internet, especially for young people (which is ridiculous, it’s not like “normal’ families are having problems with cyber-bullying leading to suicide and the influx of adult materials or radical religious-terrorist materials affecting their teens and turning them into terrorists), raising questions about why the town’s Orthodox schools have benefitted so heavily from E-Rate. One Lakewood Orthodox girls school… reported having five Internet-capable devices in a school of 1,025 students, despite receiving $700,000 in E-Rate subsidies.

“I think it’s unfair,” said J. Michael Rush, a former official with the New Jersey Department of Education and a former public school superintendent who lives in Lakewood…

There you have it.  “It’s unfair.” 

So let’s get to the numbers and discuss fair…

$22,000 – PUBLIC cost per student in Newark, NJ public school system (source, statement by NJ Governor in 2010).

$9,500 – average estimated PRIVATE cost per student in Lakewood, NJ private Jewish religious schools. 

$0 – PUBLIC cost per private school student in Lakewood, NJ.

An Askan in Lakewood… what’s an Askan you ask?  In Orthodox Jewish communities there are people who voluntarily become community advisors or helpers.  They bring their expertise and develop expertise in helping solve communal or frequent personal problems.  For example, one might specialize in knowing about government programs to get therapy for children with developmental challenges.

So an Askan hears about the E-Rate program, reads the details and figures out it can offer some grant money to help schools cover their infrastructure costs related to communications (phones, voicemail, internet where the school decides it’s of value).  The religious schools, which have to buy or rent their buildings, pay taxes, electric, water, gas, pay to bus students, pay for teachers, administration, and security, are struggling to get by.  Not all the parents can pay, and even fewer can pay the full tuition. 

So he helps his children’s school fill out the paperwork.  Then another school calls and asks for help.  He’s seeing grants come through or get denied, and figuring out exactly how the program works, what it approves and what it doesn’t.  Over a few years he helps most of the schools in town apply, getting them a massive $282 per student.  That’s 2% of the per student cost!

Hey, it helps and that’s great.

Then along comes the (supposedly Jewish) Forward to COMPLAIN that because he actually properly followed the program, properly determined how to apply and get approval, and legally used the funds… but because an interested smart community time donor is more effective than a school district employee in Newark – it’s not fair!

Damn religious Jews, caring enough to make their communities succeed!

One possible explanation for Lakewood’s success in obtaining E-Rate subsidies could be its unique situation as a town with large numbers of poor students in private schools. That means that the private schools qualify for high-cost items at high levels of reimbursement usually available only to public school districts. That, in turn, means that dozens of independent institutions in the town are constructing their own pricey network infrastructures with E-Rate funds. None can take advantage of the economies of scale achieved by large school districts.

Economies of scale by large (public) school districts at $22,000 per (Newark public school) student????  hahahahahaHAHAHAHAHA.

Somehow the (ultra, cause they wear black hats!) orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. operate their own religious private school systems at 1/3 – 1/2 the cost of the public school systems and consistently achieve significantly better graduation and testing results than the public school systems.  And they pay for it themselves!

AND THAT’S NOT FAIR.

2 comments:

Leah said...

....well here's some reassurance, though. Isn't there something about the End of Days that says when the world gets topsy turvy?????

Neshama said...

Let's hear about PESACH Sheni!!

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