I read your article, “Day Schools Cultivating a Secret Resource: Parents” (May 16), with great interest. Abrams Hebrew Academy participated in the Measuring Success survey two years ago and used the results of that survey to address areas of perceived weakness in our school.
This year, our parents participated in the survey again, and we were heartened to see that opinions about the areas identified in the first survey as weak were substantially improved. A majority of Abrams parents would recommend the school to their peers, and that is great news for us. I totally agree with Measuring Success’ managing director, Sacha Litman, that the greatest driver for recruitment is perceived quality, and positive word of mouth is the most important element in increasing enrollment.
Abrams also participated in a three-year Yeshiva University benchmarking project led by Harry Bloom. The concept was that lowering expenses would limit the rise of tuition and make day school more affordable.
Although Litman states that there is no correlation between lowering tuition and increasing enrollment, after 33 years as director of Abrams Hebrew Academy, I vehemently disagree. It is fine to survey people who are already part of the day school community, but what about the Jews who, when faced with $50,000 a year tuition, determine that it is unaffordable and do not even pick up the phone to inquire about the school? These Jewish families, the “vanishing Jews,” contribute to the dwindling enrollment in day schools because they are discouraged from even making that first call by the high tuition fees.
Once families are in the school, involved in the community and confident that their children are receiving a superior education in a nurturing environment, tuition is not a barrier. My question is how Measuring Success or any other survey measures the “vanishing Jews” and the reasons why they don’t even take the first step in enrolling their children at a Jewish day school?
Director, Abrams Hebrew Academy Yardley, Pa.