December 26, 2014
Originally published in HaYidion
A decade ago, the Jewish community debated whether vouchers violated the church-state wall and whether this “slippery slope” was worth the potential boon of millions in government aid to Jewish day schools. Since then, numerous judicial rulings have answered the church-state question and created an environment in which more than $1 billion dollars in 19 states, both blue and red, is now being spent on various school choice programs. The question of “possible” is moot. Every Jewish day school is eligible for some form of government funding. Every Jewish day school can participate in advocacy that could deliver services and short-term aid. But most importantly, every Jewish day school can pursue advocacy that could create transformative funding for their school and community.
That’s where Jewish day schools, and their professional and lay leaders, must envision, plan, build and assume responsibility.
Through my work with OU Advocacy, I have traveled throughout the United States and have met Jewish day school leaders across the country to discuss the potential support government funding could provide. Surprisingly—shockingly, even―not one Jewish day school I or my colleagues have visited has taken complete advantage of the full-range of government resources available. Security aid is granted annually by the federal government; textbook aid is provided in nearly every state; “Title Services,” such as professional development, are available in some form to nearly every non-public school and even broadband services are subsidized through the federal E-rate program.