Summer is the time for vacation, especially for students who look forward to such activities as camp, sleep, travel, and plain old fun. School is the furthest thing from their minds. But their parents don’t enjoy a similar luxury. They’re the ones who must pay for these activities, and for those who have children in Jewish day schools, it’s the time tuition must be paid.
Once again, the issue of day school tuition is in the news. The Leo Baeck Day School (North Campus) has announced plans for grants up to $5,000 per child, if the family commits to at least three years there. Most appropriately, they have defined "middle class" for someone with three children at $350,000--fully cognizant of the fact that one must be very rich to afford a day school education.
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney recently called on Canadian corporations to start spending the over 500 billion dollars of cash, “dead money” as he called it, sitting on their balance sheets. “Their job is to put money to work, and if they can’t think of what to do with it they should give it back to their shareholders.”
As summer approaches, day school parents will soon be getting notifications regarding tuition fees for next year. Undoubtedly, fees will—as they do each and every year—rise at two to three times the rate of inflation. This is to be expected as cost-cutting measures that may be employed in other industries can have little impact in a service industry such as education. Unless one wants to replace teachers in the classroom with some form of online learning, cost-cutting measures are just hard to come by.
In its current form, the day school system is unsustainable. With tuition increases consistently at between two and three times the rate of inflation, more and more parents are opting out of the system. Not unlike the financial crisis, where the signs of trouble were ignored until suddenly it was too late, it behooves us to take action before the system implodes. More than a few schools across North America—including one here in Toronto—have been forced to close, caught in a double whammy of decreasing enrollments and increased subsidy requests.