Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Right or a Privilege?

I know this issue has been brought up in many blog such as Ruchnigashmi and YO and has been the point of discussion in The Jewish Ethicist, if schools have the right to pick and choose elite students in the study of Torah. In theory, I agree that the teaching of Torah is an unalienable right for every Jew and no school should ever turn down anyone who wishes to have a Jewish education, whether they can afford it or not, and schools should not decide to accept a student based on money or yichus; however, I do not feel in this case the answer to the question posed to the JEthicist, "Some schools in my area try to maintain a student body drawn from the "best" families. Is this an ethical practice?", was entirely correct. A school is a money making device. The Torah requires the father or grandfather to teach his son Torah and pay for if necessary. This means paying tuition and maintaining respect for the authority of the school. The community is not responsible for that burden. There is a minimum the father must teach his son and that is it. Beyond that a person must learn himself and take responsiblity for his own actions and education. Schools today not only teach Torah but also secular studies. Schools, being a business have a right to maintain a certain clientele that fit their agenda. If you don't like it find a different school. Torah must be maintained at the highest level. If you want the name brand or even a better education, if you so believe a particualr school provides so, meet the expectations and requirements. If you can 't, be happy with your lot and strive to be the best you can be. Many people say they don't have money to educate their children or they are upset at the eliteness of a particular school; well then, don't attend that school. A person doesn't have a right to attend "Harvard"; if you make it, good for you. Elite schools give regular students a base to strive to be like the elite. Take that away and we will all be ignoramouses. Don't become communist or socialist when it comes to education. We all know what happened to the USSR.


Blogger Josh said...

EN, while I agree with your conclusion that every school has the right to be selective in its admissions criteria, I think you made some inaccurate claims.

A) A school is not a money making enterprise. Every Jewish school I am aware of is not-for-profit. Of course, they have a budget to maintain, but there goal is not to walk home having milked parents of their money for a service. They are supposed to provide the best education they can.

B) A school has the right to be selective in the families it accepts. This admissions criteria is ludicrous. Harvard does not makes its admissions decision by family name. An elite school can select for the brightest, best leaders. But it does not become the best by welcoming only certain families.

Jewish education should set its sights on excelling. But this can only be accomplished by honestly setting success as its sole goal and criteria.

9:05 PM  
Blogger EN said...

Josh- The points you make are valid and accurate. However, I maintain the small point that I was trying to make that a school does not HAVE to cater to anyone al pi halachah and nor does it seem bad to accept certain families. Why should Harvard be able to select admissions based on brains, what if someone is stupid or lazy but wants to attend? The fact one is based on mental prowess and the other on yichus makes no difference in my analogy. A school sets the rules. Take it or leave it. If they wish to milk the parents, tough on the parents, they should become a rebbi instead of a lawyer. It is all part of the benifits of being a Rebbi.

9:18 PM  
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