The opinion piece by Mark Nordlicht and Jeff Kiderman of Affordable Jewish Education (“Embracing Innovation in Yeshiva Education,” Dec. 24 online) is puzzling in that it failed to address two key points — affordability and Jewish education. In terms of the former, neither of the models highlighted (Rocketship Education or KIPP: Empower) has shown the ability to deliver a lower-cost education on a sustained basis relative to comparable public schools. In terms of the latter, there simply is no model or curriculum for introducing blended learning techniques for Judaic studies, a point that Yeshivat He’Atid notes in the FAQs on its own website. While Affordable Jewish Education and its supporters should be commended for their desire to address the tuition crisis, their time and money would be better spent working together with existing schools, rather than starting experimental schools that they admit may “negatively impact” our valued communal institutions.
In Westchester County, our schools have done a remarkable job in a challenging economy to provide for families in need, while continuing to compensate our valued educators appropriately. By helping support families on scholarship and funding blended-learning pilot programs, AJE can have a positive impact on the broader landscape of Jewish education. We simply do not have the critical mass to support multiple yeshiva models. We are better served having one strong yeshiva with strong philanthropic backing than two weak ones, which could have long-term deleterious effects on our community.