Rising day school tuition is a topic that is on everyone’s mind. If a TanenbaumCHAT education costs approximately $27,000 today, what will tuition be when today’s graduates become parents and want to send their children to day school? How will anyone be able to afford a day school education?
As day school tuition has increased, “market penetration” has decreased. The number of students enrolled at TanenbaumCHAT has declined steadily since it peaked in the mid-2000s. Most people in the Toronto Jewish community make a causal link between enrollment and tuition. They suggest that if tuition were to decrease, enrollment would increase.
However, I’d like to suggest that we reverse the causal arrow. In other words, I believe that if we increase enrollment, tuition will fall.
Tuition goes up not because our staff gets huge raises. Tuition rises because there are fewer and fewer families sharing fixed costs. For example, whether we have 600 students at a campus or 300 students at a campus, our rent doesn’t go down; neither does the cost of keeping on the lights (and heat).
The best thing we could do to lower tuition is to recruit more students to our school, and by “we,” I mean not just our admissions team. I mean that each parent must become an ambassador and a recruiter for TanenbaumCHAT. Our parent body’s collective network far exceeds the most conscientious admissions office.
We all know families who send their children to public school. Those children get a scant Jewish education. Demographic studies show that the more hours of Jewish education, the more likely that a child will grow up to feel a stake in the Jewish community and the Jewish future. Some researchers have even suggested that one year of Jewish education post-bar/bat mitzvah is worth three years pre-bar/bat mitzvah.
If we all took responsibility for being part of the “sales force,” we could hold in check and perhaps lower tuition. If each of us were to share a story with our non-day school friends of how a TanenbaumCHAT teacher touched our children’s lives, helped them discover their talents and deepened their understanding of who they are as Jews, then perhaps more parents would realize that their child is missing out on something powerful.
When our friends see that our children learn to live and love their Judaism in an academic environment that opens up a wide range of post-high school possibilities for them, our public or private secular school friends will be more likely to choose a Jewish day school education.
When they see that our children internalize a work ethic that will give them a leg up on their peers at college and university, and when they see that our students develop a sense of responsibility to the State of Israel and feel comfortable in their own skin outside the “bubble” of Jewish day school, our friends will be more likely to say a TanenbaumCHAT education may be expensive but it is priceless.
Being a day school evangelist is the one thing in our control to help bring into check day school tuition. With your help, we can drive up enrollment, bring down tuition to the benefit of our current parents, and ensure that our children will be able to send their children to TanenbaumCHAT too.