Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AJN: "Jewish students score top marks" - At what cost?


Jewish students score top marks
STUDENTS at Melbourne’s Jewish schools have again finished in the top one per cent of the state, according to VCE results released this week. At least two pupils at each Jewish school received marks over 99, with one or more students at all schools attaining perfect study scores. Two Bialik College students, Ian Metz and Benjamin Poyer, gained the highest ENTER scores among pupils at Jewish schools of 99.9, along with Leibler Yavneh College’s Tal Ellinson (99.9). At Bialik College, 11 students scored in the top percentile of the state, with a further 37 receiving marks above 95, and almost 64 per cent attaining scores above 90.
At Mount Scopus Memorial College, three students shared top honours — Karen Freilich, Joshua Ludski and Michael Thurin scored 99.85. Seventeen per cent of the 128 graduating students at Mount Scopus received marks above 99. A further 51 per cent scored above 95, and 68 per cent above 90.
At Leibler Yavneh College, where 41 pupils graduated, and Beth Rivkah Ladies College, where 45 students completed VCE, more than half of both classes scored above 90, with 10 per cent at both schools ranked in the top one per cent. The top student at Beth Rivkah was Bina Perelman with 99.85. Ryan Dean was the top student at The King David School with a score of 99.7. The school also recorded top results, with six per cent of its 52 VCE graduates scoring above 99 and 46 per cent, or 24 students, receiving marks above 90. Yakir Landau topped Yeshivah College with 99.6, helping the college gain its best results ever with nine out of 15 students scoring more than 90, with two in the class, or 13 per cent, receiving marks over 99. In NSW, two Moriah College students were awarded first place in HSC courses.

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Our smart little Yiddishe kops. Our future Nobel Prize winners. Makes your heart swell with pride, right?

Think again. How much are these ‘top’ marks costing our community? How much do our student’s parent shvitz to put together the astronomical amounts of money needed to ensure that their little princes and princesses can have their ear-to-ear-grins featured on the front page of the Jewish News?

The annual year-12 bill for a Jewish school is around $23,000 (plus extras of course). Obviously our school’s teaching standards are nowhere near as good as the AJN implies.
Who sez? I dod. And so will you, if you take a quick survey of family and friends. You will quickly learn that nearly all Jewish VCE students (at least those with high marks) have had hours upon hours of expensive private tutoring. If our schools are truly that great, why is this needed?
Do those country state school kids coming in with great scores have private tutoring? Of course not! Their families can hardly pay for the shoes that they are wearing let alone luxuries like tutoring. What they do have are disciplined and studious pupils and dedicated and focused teachers. And obviously the country kids have far less unnecessary diversions and extra-curricular activities than members of our young ‘royalty’.

According to tutors can charge $40-$60 per hour. Of course, many in our community will demand only “the best” and pay far, far more.

Thus the total bill for a year-12 student can easily top $40,000 !! That’s tax-paid dollars. Meaning that parents have to earn approx $65-70,000 – just for that one child’s single-year education!!! Now, what if they have several children? What are they supposed to do? Go out and rob a bank? Have we gone completely mad? Think about it.

Time for our schools to have a good long look at themselves and question if they are giving the community value for money.


  1. Excellent post! Would we need tutors if the teachers and schools were doing their jobs properly?

  2. There are many questions to be asked here. Firstly do we need to have Jewish schools at all? Why? If so how many? Disclosure I have some personal biases against private schools in that if you want to send your child to one thats fine with me but don't expect me to pay for that via my taxes or donations.

    None of our Jewish schools fit within the concept of a community school anymore. They6 are schools for elites who havent made the jump to send their children to Scotch, Wesley Melb Grammar and even Xavier etc. For parents in Jewish schools, jewishness is something to be ditched as quickly as possible as it may prevent the obtaining of that perfect score.

    The community needs to have a good discussion on the way forward. If there are to be jewish schools then how does the community ensure that every Jewish child attends and gets not only a good secular education but also a Jewish education.


  3. Your writers are missing the point. One issue is the cost of private schooling, not Jewish schooling. The other more important issue is that parents want their children to be Jewish (whatever that means to them) and that is the main reason they send them to Jewish schools. As the Gen08 survey has proved, attending such schools is an important determinant in keeping kids in the community. Achieving academically is a bonus.

  4. It’s really very strange to read this sort of criticism. How can one criticise an emphasis on education in the community? It’s not as though people are praising our children for spending big or wearing designer clothes. They are being praised for studying. In their turn, parents are implicitly being praised for spending their money on education (sometimes at the expense of never being able to buy a home). I take the point that many people can’t afford to send their kids to “the best schools” but still, this is very mean spirited.

  5. I normally agree with most of your posts, but this one is silly. It has nothing to do with frumkeit or being a good yid, and seems to me like it is just a jealous reaction. Schools will charge what the market will pay, and parents will spend as much in addition as they want. Who are we to criticise how people spend their hard earned money? What should they do with the money they save on tuition? Blow it on a holiday? Buy a new car? I would prefer to educate my child.

    Mazel tov to all the students that did so well - just remember the support you have received from the community and heimishe environment when you are asked to contribute.

  6. I thought my words were pretty clear.
    Let me repeat my points.
    How can our schools charge $23,000 per annum for an education that requires and additional $15-20,000 worth of extra private tuition?
    (I happened to overhear a conversation yesterday between a woman congratulating 2 Bialik kids on their school's great result. The kids laughed and told her that had students not taken private tutorials their marks would have been nowhere near as impressive.)

    So why are we paying $23,000 a year? So our kids stay Jewish? There must be a cheaper way. And has anyone made a survey to see if kids who go to expensive Jewish schools - especially the non-religious ones, remain"more Jewish" and intermarry less than their peers who went to state schools?

    The other point I was making was regarding the big deal made every year by the AJN about the Jewish school's results. Pour the same resources into any school and you will come up with matching scores.

    And may I remind the commenters, that not every Jew in Melbourne is rich. For many paying fees and tutors is a massive strain which can affect families for many years.

  7. "And has anyone made a survey to see if kids who go to expensive Jewish schools - especially the non-religious ones, remain"more Jewish" and intermarry less than their peers who went to state schools?"

    Yes they have.

    I'll say it again. Read the Gen08 survey put out by Professor Andrew Markus and his team from Monash University.

  8. Who says the tutoring is needed? Just because too many parents think they need it, because every other child has tutors so their child can't fall behind, doesn't mean that they are actually needed.

    I know; at my child's school there were kids who got great marks without tutors.

    And as for "pour the same resources into any school and you'll get matching results" - d'ur, you don't. How do I know, because the top three non-selective schools were Jewish, and many far more elitist, and better-resourced schools were lower down.

    Schools do not charge what the marker allows; they charge what education costs. Do you think they make a profit?

    What is needed is to lobby the State or Federal government to allow State religious schools, like they have in England. Failing that, a Jewish Day school education will cost what it costs.

  9. JEWISH SCHOOL PARENT's questions remain. Why do expensive Jewish schools have so many student having tutors. A simple survey is required, possibly by the AJN, on what percentage of VCE-ers had tutors?

    And if the result is as we all suspect that it could be as high as 75%, what does it say about teh quality of our education?

  10. Tutors are not a phenomenon of "our" education - they are an epidemic throughout the private school system, where parents feel that they "must" give their child extra help (especially when marks are achieved in VCE not by doing well, but by doing better than others), irrespective of the quality of the education in the school.

    There are kids in the classes of the "best" teachers who have tutors; there are kids in every class (like my children) who do perfectly well without.

  11. Speaking of tutors, parents of the elite private schools today are of the opinion that tutors are necessary as to put their child on an even footing with their peers who are receiving similar training. It is quite obvious that kids would do better in the VCE with a tutor than if they did not have one, so good on the parents for prioritising their child's education over other things.

  12. I am sorry but this post is beyond silly. i just graduated from a Jewish school, I am Bina, the one who got 99.85. I paid much less than the annual amount mentioned. 4000 in total to be exact. I will not lie and admit to have had a tutor, teaching me ESL as the school didnt have a qualifies english as second language teacher. i will not apologise for this.

    The total cost I paid for year 12 is around the 5000 mark, and hours upon hours of hard work.

    generalisations much?

  13. I find the sentiments expressed in this post absolutely outrageous. These young people worked hard and should be congratulated. Their success is not at the cost of other students. Furthermore they will make an ongoing contribution to their communities in their chosen fields for a long time.

  14. As one of the students who seem to have sparked this specific conversation off, I would just like to point out that I have an immense appreciation for what my school has given me -both in terms of my Jewish identity, involvement and commitment, and in terms of my secular education.
    Every teacher at my school, and (as I am sure) at other schools, puts in countless hours of effort and dedication to their students. This should be valued and appreciated.
    The 'tutor culture' that currently exists in our community is unhealthy and costly, and needs to change. Sometimes a tutor is required, most often it is not.
    The pressure placed on students to achieve high marks is often over-the-top and detrimental. It is something perpetuated by parents, schools, and students alike. All three need to take responsibility for this.


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