By Klara

Register Your Complaints

My hand was shaking when I wrote the check for my daughter’s high school registration this week. $2,000! I have to say it again — $2,000! And it’s not even included in the tuition, which means that it’s not part of the scholarship money, which means . . . well, now you know why my hand was shaking.

No, not only with the thoughts of how am I going to manage this huge expense in my budget. (We are both teachers; need I say more? You’re all nodding in understanding, right? How pitiful is it that everyone knows that educators are at the bottom of the salary ladder. But that’s a different kvetch; I’m trying to stay focused here.)

So back to where I was — writing a check for $2,000 for a registration fee with a hand shaking from, dare I say, anger? A feeling of futility? Chagrin? Bewilderment as to why this costs so much money, why I need to pay it each year, and what it’s actually for? Does the school business office go to Hawaii to register my daughter? Are they redecorating on my behalf? I mean, what does it take to register a child? And why is it not part of the already exorbitant tuition?

Finally, why do we all agree to pay it? For those of us who have more than one child in school, this means we are literally paying thou-sands of dollars annually and we don’t even know why. At least I don’t know why. If you do, please tell me; I’m all ears.

When I’m in search of answers, I look to the best guidebook of them all, the Torah. In last week’s parshiyot, Moshe Rabbeinu gives a detailed account of where every penny — I mean every piece of gold, silver, etc. — went. How much was used to build each part of the Mishkan. Amazing that Moshe Rabbeinu is giving all that information to B’nei Yisrael. Did they think he was taking the gold for himself? This is Moshe Rabbeinu we’re talking about! This is also Bnei Yisrael he’s reporting to, the ones who just dumped all their gold without a second thought, and certainly no requests for any accounts, in order to build a golden calf! So why is the Torah giving us an accurate description of where each piece of gold went in the building of the Mishkan?

Listen very carefully to the obvious answer, our collectors of the registration fees. It’s to teach us that when you demand sums of money, no matter how big or small they may be, you must give a detailed report of how that money is being used. What’s good enough for Moshe Rabbeinu is certainly good enough for you!

I have to say that I feel a lot better getting that off my chest. My hand may still shake when I write a check for my other child’s registration fee, but at least there’s a chance that someone might be reading this and realize that the parent community needs to be treated a bit more respectfully. When you take our hard-earned money, it would be nice to know where it is going. Hey, if it’s to build the next Beit HaMikdash, I have no complaints, but for some reason I can’t get the image of hula dancers out of my head.

Klara has been an educator for the past 30 years in the United States and in Israel. She holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Klara presently teaches at a Jewish day school and has been involved in Jewish day schools in the United States and Canada. For questions or comments, she can be reached at klarakvetch@gmail.com.

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