By Jake Adler
As our children head back to school, something will be fundamentally new. Fundamentally different.
Sure, the kids will have new books and supplies, the classrooms will be freshly set up and cleaned, and teachers will have prepared new curricula. However, this school year is unique. This year brings a revolutionary opportunity for our schools, an opportunity that should offer real hope to our schools and families. Unfortunately, this article is probably the first you’ve heard of it.
Here it is: For the first time in our country’s history, a government will invest directly in the essential parts of the secular curriculum at nonpublic schools, including yeshivas. Beginning this year, the state will start disbursing funding to help pay for the cost of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers. Let that sink in.
This program starts now. It can fundamentally change tuition costs to our parents, not to mention help our precious children become more competitive in the modern job market.
I know what you are thinking: “How will this help if tuition just keeps going up? Will it really make a difference?” Yes, it will.
When I first started working in politics, I received a call from a very well-respected menahel in the community about an issue his school was having. As we finished our call, he brought up the tuition problem at his school. His wish was that “if we had what they have in Canada where the state pays for the secular instruction, tuition would be so much more manageable.” Fast-forward ten years later to New York State, to the beginning of this school year, and we are finally on the path to realizing that menahel’s dream. It is now a reality in New York. With your help, tuition can become more manageable.
But the fight is just beginning.
If we really want to tackle this issue, then we need less talk, and we need more action. That is why we’ve already dedicated ourselves to action: We’ve united politicians, leveraged opportunities, partnered with strategists, and retained experts. There is still one critical, missing piece of this political puzzle: You.
We need every yeshiva parent registered to vote (and registered at their current address). We need every parent and grandparent not only registered but actively, religiously, voting in every single election, including primaries.
We need every single school solidifying its political relationships with its local legislators, and we need these relationships to be focused on what matters: tuition affordability.
We need our community engaged like it has never been before.
We need you.
Jake Adler is the director of government affairs at Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union.