April 20, 2021

Penalty for Being a Religious American Parent

Rabbi Boteach writes today about the penalty for being a religious parent in America. It’s something that I’ve brought up before, but deserves to be brought up again. For each parent that wants to send their child to a school that teaches their values, they not only have to pay for the tuition of the school, but for the cost if their child was going to go to a public school.

You wonder why parochial schools either are small or don’t have traditional teachers? It’s because if they were to pay for these things, they would be paying double to send their kids to school– and our government, not realizing that money doesn’t solve problems, continues to dump even more money into failing school systems. Speaking of costs, the Rabbi says:

This week, I received by mail the tuition-fee schedule for my children’s private Jewish day schools that I already owe for next year. I’ll withhold the exact amount because I don’t want to give you a coronary, but with seven children in private religious education, and with tuition for Jewish day schools in America running at about $9,000 per child (and that’s with a discount), you can easily imagine the astronomical bill.

Well, you say, it’s only fair, I mean, the government shouldn’t subsidize religious education, but…

The United States, alone among the great democracies of the world, shows utter contempt to religious parents by making them pay twice for their children’s education, refusing to put even a single dollar of their tax money toward their children’s religious schools.

When I resided in England, as the rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years, my children attended some of the best Jewish day schools in the world. The cost to me was minimal because the Jewish day schools have all of their secular studies subsidized by the government while the religious studies are, of course, paid for by the parents.

But even solidly secular countries like Canada and France, whom Americans perceive as being hostile to religion, all have government subsidies for religious schools. Only America, the most religious of them all, brutally punishes religious parents by not allowing their hard-earned tax dollars to fund their children’s parochial schools.

Do you sense that something’s wrong here, when a country can declare that homosexual marriage is ok, and still have subsidies for religious schools? Where is it an establishment of religion to give parents a break if they want to send their kids elsewhere. It’s their money. If they’re supposed to be using it to educate their kids, then let them use it, and not subsidize education they do not want.

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6 thoughts on “Penalty for Being a Religious American Parent

  1. Good post MIn. Never really thought about the double whammy the government puts on parents who’d rather send their kids to parochial as opposed to public schools.

  2. That is a lot of money! This man needs to hire a professional tutor for half that cost per child…

    Now I knew the system was bad, homeschoolers/private schoolers paying taxes that support p. school and all, but it really smacks to know that other countries have a workable system that the US won’t ever think of adopting.

    And you’re so right about money not solving problems…there was even a special on TV about how much money is being dumped into public schools to better the standards, and the olympic sized swimming pools that are being built as a result, really aren’t helping things that much!

  3. I think we need to be allowed to have subsidies or vouchers for private and homeschools. That would create competition among even the public schools and cause everyone to raise their standards. The public schools would be forced to compete for the students, and the ones who can’t compete would close, and, most likely, the churches in those areas would take over the education much like it did 150 years ago.

    Mary directed me to this website.

  4. Rhonda, do you think that would be much different than just eliminating the taxes that go to fund the schools and make all schools get their funding from tuition? I see that as a really good way to make schools become competitive, and specialize, which would have some of the same side effects.

    I would be prone to ask if one could sustain a high quality education without having the equipment and hands on labs, etc., but homeschoolers are proving that those things may not really be necessary– aren’t they?

  5. One thing about that idea though MIN, is what to do with people who cannot afford tuition at all? I mean, I suppose you might say they can have their tax money back to pay for tuition, but lets be real here, if people had that money back how many people would use it towards their kids education? Not to mention the problem with sliding tuition!

    I don’t have a solution that is for sure!! I have been thinking on this for years! Perhaps returning to Biblical schooling and lifestyle would solve the problem. Those who follow the Lord would work in or near the home with their children at their sides, and they would teach them for “free” with their own resources, and those who did not love the Lord would go to secular schools or remain home with their parents at will. Of course the secular schools could not be mandatory, and they would need to have some sort of tuition, plus, scholarship for those who could not afford school. (Isn’t that how most of the world has done it historically?)

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  6. I guess I understand what you are saying about people and their money– and this is a concern for me no matter whether you’re talking saving for retirement, college, etc. I mean, people today are willing to go into massive debt for things without a second thought. However, are we feeding the beast by making people more people dependent on the government to budget? We need some way to wean people off of government, not put it there in different ways. Why should government dictate to me how I spend/save my money?

    In any case, I don’t know that you can totally replace group teaching– traditional teaching– because of limited specialized knowledge and resources, especially in higher education. Certainly, a lot of the basics can be taught at home, but I know nothing of astrophysics or brain surgery and could not help there.

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